The 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets exceeded expectations in many ways, from player development to overall record. Few pundits had them making the playoffs, myself included, but I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated Kenny Atkinson, who has established himself as one of the  upper-echelon coaches in the league. Sean Marks can also be credited for assembling a team with a good mix of youthful exuberance and veteran experience. Although, they were bounced in the first round by Philadelphia, hardly any Nets fans could feel disappointed with how the season turned out given the low expectations.

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In a motorsport race, a pace car is utilized to….if you guessed set the pace, then winner winner chicken dinner! There are many reasons the pace car exists: to keep the competitors bunched up so that advantages of time and space are negated, to conserve fuel, and for safety concerns during bad weather or accidents on the track. In essence, they are the boring cars on the track because they don’t get to race and compete for victory. That’s not to say the pace cars are hoopties, though. They are often performance cars that would dust any commercial vehicle on the market. For example, the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 was a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which boasted 755 horsepower, could go from 0-60 in 2.85 seconds, and had a top speed of 212 mph! Bojan Bogdanovic is a pace car in the NBA. He’s boring and delivers steady production, but there’s muscle under the hood. Last night, Bojan was able to put the pedal to the metal and paced Indiana to victory.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 7 4 0 0 1 4/7 13/22 7/9

The 37 points and 22 shot attempts were both season-highs. His career-high was 44 points back in 2015. I told you. There’s muscle under the hood. Now, since Victor Oladipo succumbed to injury back on January 26th, Bogdanovic has played 15 games and averaged 32.2 minutes, 20.6 points, 3.7 boards, 2.1 dimes, and 0.7 steals. He’s shot 51% from the field on 15.3 attempts, 38% from downtown on 5.5 attempts, and 81% from the line on 3.5 attempts. He’s consistently been a top 100 player, has scored in double figures 18 straight games, and is garnering a usage rate close to 30. Bogdanovic won’t win many weeks for you, but he consistently delivers what you expect from him and has access to ceiling games.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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My wife grew up in Brooklyn, New York. More specifically, Bay Ridge. When I first met her, the neighborhood was primarily Italian. Now, it’s mainly Chinese. Everytime I head out there, I enjoy exploring, whether it be on foot, subway, or car. If I take the D train down towards Coney Island, it’s mainly Russian and Eastern European neighborhoods. If I drive a few miles north, the Orthodox Jews have laid down their roots. If I cross the bridge and enter Manhattan, Chinatown is right on the water front. But the landscape is always changing. Chinatown is now becoming hip with art gallerys and Trader Joe’s. And so it is with the basketball team in New York. Not too long ago, Kristaps Porzingis was the King of New York. Now, he’s in Dallas. But the vacuum has to be filled by someone. Welcome to Mister RobinSON’s Neighborhood.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
17 14 0 3 6 0 0 6/9 5/6

Mitchell RobinSON didn’t come out of nowhere, as he dominated in high school and was a McDonald’s All-American, but he did not play a game of college ball because he was suspended for violating team rules. At 7′ 1″ and 240 pounds, the physical talent was never questioned, yet he was an enigma and a risk because he did not play against college competition. As a result, he fell in the draft and was selected with the 36th overall pick. We saw what he could do in the Summer League, which would have gotten Mister Rogers to shout a few expletives. During the regular season, the minutes were sparse and erratic early on. He was blocked on the depth chart and he had a penchant for fouling. Despite that, Mr. RobinSON was among the league leaders in blocks per game. Then Enes Kanter got shipped off to Portland, DeAndre Jordan got hurt, and Coach Fizdale decided to give him more run. Over the past five games, Mr. RobinSON has been a top 15 player, averaging 24.6 minutes, 10.4 points, 10 boards, 1.4 steals, and 4.4 blocks! He’s even shooting 70% from the line on 4 attempts. The past two games, Mr. RobinSON has played 30 and 33 minutes. Now, Fizdale has been doing wonky things all season with the rotations, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he holds Mr. RobinSON down. The Knicks are “Not Tryin’ for Zion” after all, so Mr. RobinSON may be too good for that campaign. There’s also unknown as to how things will shake out when Jordan returns. Regardless, welcome to Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood, as he’s an important part of the community no matter how many minutes he gets.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Let’s recap the four-year Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit. One season above .500 (44-38). Three seasons with win totals of 39, 37, and 32 games. Acquired Blake Griffin and his five-year, $171 million contract for essentially a first-round draft pick and Tobias Harris, who put up 19.3 points, 6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.2 threeecolas last season. Ricky Lake Griffin contributed 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.9 threeecolas. In the 2017 NBA Draft, SVG selected Luke Kennard ahead of Donovan Mitchell. Shaking my head vociferously. His previous draft picks were Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije, Stanley Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who has turned out to be the best of the group but, of course, was traded for Cameron Bairstow back in 2016. Re-reading what I just wrote makes me think of a part from my favorite movie. There’s hope, though, as the Wicked Witch of the East….urrr….I mean SVG is dead. Not literally of course.

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October is upon us and that is a wonderful thing. The leaves turn beauteous colors while the weather provides crisp breezes. Both adults and kids get to dress up. Kids to beg for huge bags of candy. Adults to fantasize and act silly. There is even a holiday when some folks get to stay home from work to celebrate the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus! But the real greatness of October lies in the fact that it is the month where our sports converge together like women for the 70% off sale at Nordstroms. College football, which if you haven’t heard, is its own religion in the South, and the NFL are into their second month. The guys in the US and Canada start wielding sticks and slapping pucks around, as the NHL season begins. Our national pastime breaks into its glorious playoff season. But for fantasy hoopheads, the most important thing that happens is the NBA season kicks off in earnest.

It is almost here. We have just a few days until October 16, and there are mock drafts, real drafts, online drafts, auction drafts, snake drafts, and dynasty drafts scheduled over the next two weeks in every hamlet in this fair country.

On September 28th, we saw Gordon Hayward in the Boston Green to kick off the preseason. Each team will play five games that don’t count in preparation for those that do. What then to watch for to help you  hoodwink all your buddies and have the best draft imaginable?

I will look Division by Division to give you some keys to watch that might provide some guidance.

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

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Don’t take Anthony Davis in the top 5. He’ll miss at least 25 games. Avoid Old Man LeBron James, because he rests all the time. Tyreke Evans has only played 65 games in the last two years combined. Not even worth drafting.

A few of the prevailing opinions going into the season that I thought had gotten a bit overblown. The risk of missing games is scary, but it’s not often very predictable. And yes, I’m cherry picking examples, but AD has played 54 of the first 60 games and is #4 on the ESPN Player Rater (#3 per game). LeBron hasn’t sat one game yet, is among the league leaders in minutes per game again, and is #1 (#5 per game). Tyreke  has played 49 of 59 games, sitting five of those when the team was holding him out before the trade deadline. He’s #58 (#44 per game). And sure, that’s partly due to Mike Conley missing almost the whole season. Yes, there are examples of injury fears being once again substantiated, like in the case of Danilo Gallinari. It’s all guesswork. It’s part of the fun, predicting what a season will bring. But, figuring out the puzzle can drive you mad.

Today, I thought we’d have a little fun revisiting some preseason predictions. Maybe we can learn a bit about what types of projections are more trustworthy than others. Maybe not. I also don’t think this would be a great way to figure out who’s great at predicting things like sleepers and breakouts, because this is a small sample size. Continue to look at the methodology behind the predictions to see if it’s backed up by reason. I just figured that we rarely actually go back to see what was right and what was way off. If it teaches us something for next preseason, great.

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Image result for official detroit pistons logo

In 2016, there were six teams that did not have a 20 ppg scorer: Pistons, Hawks, Magic, Nuggets, Mavs, and Lakers. The Pistons’ leading scorer was Tobias Harris at 16.1 ppg. The Magic had Evan Fournier at 17.2 ppg, while the rest of the teams had a leading scorer at 18ppg or higher. The Bad Boy Pistons of the late-80s proved that you don’t need a 20 ppg scorer to win a championship, but even those teams had two players in the 18 ppg range, Isiah Thomas and Adrian Dantley. If you were wondering, Joe Dumars was at 17.2. Anyways, I have a friend in Japan that makes fly-like drones with audio equipment embedded inside. We were able to place a few in the Pistons War Room during this year’s NBA Draft. Here are some of the snippets that we gathered. SVG (Stan Van Gundy): I’m a great defensive coach. Look, we were ranked seventh in points allowed, fourth in steals, and sixth in blocks. We need more offense gentlemen! 22nd in field goal percentage, 27th in three-pointers made, and 26th in points scored is not going to cut it! JB (Jeff Bower): Calm down Stan. I know you’re a great defensive coach because…well…I hired you. We will get you offense. SCOUT: Mr. Bower and Mr. Van Gundy. We as a scouting group are in love with Donovan Mitchell. He’s a great athlete, will help us on D, and can shoot the heck out of the ball. SVG: God damn it!!! Didn’t you hear what I said earlier??!! I am a great defensive coach and we were awesome on D last season! We need offense! SCOUT: But…but….but…Mitchell is. SVG: Get these clowns out of here! Why are you studdering mother bleep bleep bleeeeeeeep! I like this Luke Kennard kid. Exactly the kind of player we need. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Detroit Pistons.

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Razzball Nation!  For most of us H2Hers the season is over, but we’ve still got Roto wrapping up and some ill-conceived H2H finals pressing through, so I wanted to take a quick look at some Daily Notes over the last stretch of action.  Really the only reason it would be fun to still have games matter is if you own superstars on teams vying for the 7th or 8th seed.  Enter Omen, stage left!

Damian Lillard showed Utah why he really hates jazz music, going 59/6/5/1/0, and somehow dropping that kind of line without a TO.  Hit 9 triples and 14-16 FT, on his way to a career and franchise high…  It’s a horror film watching him slice up oppo D’s!  Career-highs in FG%, FT%, scoring, and he’s dropped his TO rate from 3.2 last year back down to 2.6.  Funny how no one complains about his sub-1.0 STL rate though, unlike Dennis Schroder!  But when you’re hitting 3 treys a game at almost 45% from the field, you get a pass!  What a year from “Baby”, as he plays his way into a clear early-to-mid second rounder for drafts in 2017-18.  Can’t wait to unveil some ranks!  Tomorrow we’ll have the Razzies Presentation (if you haven’t voted yet – vote now!), then Wednesday my 2017-18 Top 10.  Fantasy never sleeps over here on hoops!  Here’s what else went down over the past week in fantasy basketball action:

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Ellenson

Last week for my debut piece for Razzball, I bought you my dynasty rookie rankings part 1. And what better way to follow up than bringing part 2, in which I cover my rankings from 21-40, delving deeper into the nitty gritty of those players likely to come at more of a bargain price.

If you read last week’s article, you will know the reasons why I will be reaching for Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis and in this article you will find more targets that I will be looking to aggressively draft come season start.

In traditional fashion (or following up from last week) I will bring you my favorite target, my top stash, my safe pick and the player I will be avoiding from each multiple of 10, but remember opinions are like assholes, we all have one (and any opinion shared here is that of my own, and not representative of Razzball in its entirety).

Let’s quit the jibber-jabber and get straight to the beef with the rookies I have ranked 21-40:

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