There are a lot of differences between Jimmy Butler and myself. I, for example, am not a five time NBA All-Star. I’ve also never been named the Most Improved Player, won a gold medal, or screamed at Karl-Anthony Towns with such vigor that I had to be sent to Philadelphia. But perhaps the biggest wedge between Jimmy and myself is our feelings toward rear-view mirrors.
See, I’m a look back kind of guy. There’s wisdom (and cars!) back there if you care to investigate. This willingness to wallow, to ruminate, to linger and consider all the roads not traveled means that I signed myself up to do the tedious work of taking long, wistful gazes at how this first ever RazzJam went down and try to glean something useful from it. Son, our fearless leader and fellow RazzJam League 14 draftee, is here to keep an eye on my blind spots. You strike me as a reasonable guy, Son, you’re pro-mirror, right?
The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.
The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.
Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.
With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.
It’s been an up and down rookie season for Coby White of the Chicago Bulls. In his second professional game, he scored 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. The next five games, he scored a combined 31 points. He would then score 20 points in back-to-back games, only to drop a single-digit turd the next. To his credit, he never turned shy and meek, continuing to jack up shot after shot, despite creating enough bricks to soften the nationwide homeless crisis. Sounds like another Coby, expect he spells his name K-O-B-E. Maybe KOBE has channeled some of his spirit into Coby, because he’s been balling the F out lately. Last night was the latest iteration.
In 33 minutes off the bench. The last three games, Coby has scored 35, 33, and 33 points while playing 33, 34, and 34 minutes. He’s shot a combined 35-for-61 (64%) from the field and 18-for-31 (58%) from downtown! Coby! Kobe! Coby! Kobe! What an amazing run. He’s even chipped in 3 steals, a block, and 16 rebounds. Now, this is a ceiling outcome for Coby. Let’s just not dismiss the fact that he’s shooting 38% from the field on the season. He’s developed, grown, and become more accustomed to the NBA game, so improvement was to be expected, but this level of play is unsustainable. For fantasy, he’s going to continue being the guy off the bench for the Bulls and playing over 30 minutes. The points, tres, and and sprinkling of boards, dimes, and steals will be provided. With that said, expect the field goal percentage to be in the 40% range, which will have us remembering that there is only one Kobe.
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2019 season with rebuilding expectations, as the team traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Two full months into the season, the Thunder are one game above .500 and are currently the seventh-best team in the stacked Western Conference. A big reason why has been the play of Chris Paul who, like a good neighbor, has provided stability to the team. Last night, Paul aaaaaaalllllmmmmmooooooooosssssttttt messed around.
On the season, Paul is a top 25 player for fantasy. Over the past 15 games, he’s been a top 15 player and averaged 33.1 minutes, 17 points, 1.5 tres, 5.5 boards, 7.5 dimes, and 1.4 steals. He’s been shooting 48% from the field and 94% from the line. The usage rate has been 21.6 and the turnovers have been a miniscule 1.7 per game. Now, Paul is 34 years old and since the 2015 season, he has missed 8, 21, 24, and 24 games. It may be time to explore getting some insurance, as there’s a good probability that Paul will miss more than a few games. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never misses a game? The Stocktonator.
I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.
I’m such a degen that I signed up for the first NFBKC Draft Champions league as soon as it came out back in late July. What can I say? I’m a pookie for the drafts. Anyways, it’s a 12- team, 8-cat league with a $150 buy-in and implements KDS and TRR. KDS stands for Kentucky Derby Style, which allows owners to rank their draft order preference. TRR is Third Round Reversal, so during the draft, the first two rounds proceed as a normal snake draft, but in the third round, the 12th team picks first. The starting lineup consists of 4 guards, 4 forwards, 2 centers, and 2 flex spots. There are no trades or waiver pickups, so what you draft is what you roll with for the entire season.
For this piece, I’ll provide the draft board and give you my thoughts on why I chose the player I did in each round. During the draft, I utilized a spreadsheet that tracked everyone’s picks and showed I how fared in each category based on my projections, which I will post in the middle. Finally, I recommend that you look at teams 2, 3, 5, 7, and 12, as all have won at least 3 contests in the past at the NFBKC.
Is Cory Joseph an upgrade over Frank Mason? Are Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza a better SF combo than Iman Shumpert and Ben McLemore? Is Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes a better big man combo than Willie Cauley-Stein and Kostas Koufas? Is Luke Walton an upgrade at coach over Dave Joerger?
If you answered yes to at least three of the above questions, then the Kings will improve on last year’s 9th place finish in the Western Conference.
The Kings were fast, exciting, competitive, and really fun to watch last season. With the development of the young core (De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley), and veteran additions, this team is poised to make a playoff run.
I’ve always enjoyed the Godzilla franchise. When I was young, it was all about the monsters fighting, special effects, and destruction levied upon the landscape. As I got older and delved into the origins, I appreciated the franchise that much more. As with most things in life, though, the journey is cyclical and it’s back to the good old awe-inspiring, destructive force. Which brings me to Giannis Antetokoummpo. All season, I’ve been calling him G, as he’s a straight gangster, and when he balls the F out, it’s been Nuthin’ but a G Thang. There have been moments of O. M. G. But yesterday, everything became crystal clear.
A 50-burger and this…..
He called Ben Simmons a “f’ing baby” but then Simmons came back and dunked on his head. In addition, Joel Embiid produced a 40-burger and the Sixers defeated the Bucks, 130-125. I felt like I was watching a Godzilla movie in which he had to fight Gigan, Destoroyah, Mothra, and Ghidorah at the same time. Anyways, Gzilla is a freaking beast. Top 5 player over the past seven games. He’s been averaging 30.3 points, 1.1 treys, 13.1 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block while shooting 58% from the field and 82% from the free throw line on a whopping 11.4 attempts! The turnovers are high, but whatever. Now, with Malcolm Brogdon out for a while, Gzilla may be making more appearances down the stretch, as Brogdon had a usage rate in the low-20s. Other teams better hope they have a couple of monsters to negate Gzilla, because he’s coming to wreak havoc.
I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.
The fantasy playoffs are finally here. If you are a roto fan, like me, this does not mean much apart from a slight focus to the categories you stand to gain or lose some points. But for my H2H people out there, this is when the real season begins. Every game and every stat counts and players that are not performing or have a medium-term injury are not welcome any more. Be aggressive with your adds and drops and don’t keep players “for the next matchup” unless you are absolutely sure there will be a next matchup. Because most fantasy leagues are past their trade deadline, this article and all the rest until the end of the season will focus more on adds and drops to the waiver wire and much less on trade targets.
Taking a look at last week’s candidates, the Grizzlies played just 2 games, so Delon Wright can not be adequately judged. He looked good in both these games and I still like him due to the potential of a Mike Conley shutdown. Harry Giles was average at best and the return of Marvin Bagley does not help, while both Danny Green and Malik Beasley proved worthy Sell suggestions, as there are better options available on your wire. As mentioned above, the time for hard but necessary cuts is now, so if a player is underperforming don’t hesitate to get a hot free agent in his place.
O is the most important letter in the alphabet. Without it, we cannot spell food. It is so amazing that it can transform into a number without changing shape, and without 0, a game can never end. Before you saying anything, ties are stupid. Let’s not forget about the Big O, often elusive but well worth the wait. So, is there any wonder why Kelly Olynyk is today’s lede?
Continues to start and played a whopping 45 minutes! Since entering the starting lineup 12 games ago, Kelly O has averaged 26.9 minutes, 13.7 points, 5.2 boards, 2.4 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 tres. He’s been shooting 52% from the field, 43% from downtown, and 95% on 1.9 attempts from the line. Over the last eight games, though, the minutes have rocketed up to 32.3 minutes and he’s been a top 25 player! Oh, Kelly O! You make me want to bellow and bestow good tidings for providing fantasy inferno. A few weeks ago, I was worried what would happy to Kelly O once James Johnson returned to the mix. I no longer have any worries from that angle. The one concern I do have is will Spoelstra stick with him if the shooting efficiency comes down, because Kelly O is not going to shoot 57% from the field forever. He’s more like a 48% shooter. Until that time, though, enjoy the ride.
Los Angeles, we have a problem. A season that started with nothing but optimism has quickly spiraled into a whirlwind of under-performance, coach questioning, and rumors, as the Lakers are currently the 11th seed in the West, six wins below the Spurs, who are currently holding onto the final playoff position. What is more discouraging is that they have won only five of their last 18 games and the chemistry is visibly mediocre, to say the least.
LeBron’s defense has come into question, and for valid reasons, as at times he seems disinterested on that end of the floor. The only player that seems to have come alive, proving me completely wrong in the process, is Rajon Rondo, but the Lakers have a long way to go. It is going to be a very interesting summer for them and I expect many changes both in the coaching and player personnel.
Apart from Rondo, last week’s buy suggestions of Joakim Noah and Tyus Jones were also misses, as the former saw his minutes reduced and the latter disappeared due to the return of Jeff Teague. On the contrary, Luke Kennard is starting to look like a must own player and I encourage you to hurry and get him because he won’t be available for long. Finally, both sell candidates, Harrison Barnes and Justise Winslow, have not done anything to convince me that they should be removed from the trading block of your team.
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