This year’s trade deadline moved talent to the East, which strengthened the talent level of the Conference. The Bucks, Raptors, and 76ers improved their rosters and, with the always strong Boston Celtics, form a formidable group of teams that could produce great playoff battles. It is a welcome change from the Lebron-dominated era and one I’m greatly looking forward to watching. If anyone wants to talk basketball besides fantasy, drop a comment below about which team you think ends up with the Eastern Conference title. Due to the nature of last week’s article there is no review of the suggestions, so off we go to the new ones.

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I live in Los Angeles and enjoy skiing and snowboarding. I also like long walks on the beach while strumming tunes on my ukulele. Although there are ski resorts less than two hours drive away, it doesn’t rain often here. Los Angeles averages around 12.8 inches of rain per year. Last year, LA received 4 inches of rain. Only Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego average less. For perspective, New Orleans averages 62.7 inches, while many of the big cities in the U. S. are in the 40-50 range. If it doesn’t rain often, then it doesn’t snow often, which means the slopes are no bueno, even with the artificial snow makers. Now, recently it’s been raining so much that I’ve been Googling ark blueprints. All that rain has been like frozen manna for the local resorts. A picturesque perfection of powder. Which describes the situation for JaVale McGee.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 13 1 1 1 1 0 10/15 1/3

McGee has started the last two games because Ivica Zubac was traded to the Clippers. He’s played 26 and 30 minutes, and averaged 19 points, 10.5 boards, 1 block, and 0.5 steals. Per 36, he’s averaging 18.3 points, 11.2 boards, 1 steal, and 3.4 blocks! He’s probably not going to get 36 minutes of run per night, but with only Tyson Chandler, Moritz Wagner, and Mike Muscala the only threats to playing time, McGee should get close to 30 minutes per night. The conditions are pristine at McGee Mountain. Enjoy your stay.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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LeBron James has missed 12 games due to injury. Entering last night’s game, the Lakers had four wins and seven losses without their king. After an overtime ordeal in Oklahoma City, the Lakers made it five wins and seven losses, thanks in part to the play of Kyle Kuzma.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 8 4 3 0 4 7/12 11/20 3/3

The seven threeecolas tied a career-high. Without LeBron on the floor, Kuzma has been the offensive leader, sporting a usage rate above 30. He’s averaged 34.2 minutes, 21 points, 7 boards, and 2.9 dimes. He’s jacked up 18.4 shots per game, with 7.2 being from downtown. Now, the efficiency hasn’t been good (41% from the field and 24% from downtown) and he provides little in the D cats. As a result, he’s not the best fantasy asset, which sucks because this is a fantasy website. Just let me enjoy a Lakers victory on the road in OKC with Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz leading the way.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It still blows my mind that a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, when typed into a computer in sequences, can allow us to write blurbs, watch porn, uh, I mean stream documentaries on global warming, and berate each other on Twitter. I’m still amazed that we can fly. When I talk on a phone, it astonishes me that voices are transmitted via wires or invisible signals in the air to anywhere in the world. But, none of that compares to what Anthony Davis does on the basketball court, especially last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 26 4 1 3 1 2/6 12/25 8/10

Who does that? This is A. D.’s seventh year in the league and he is moon walking, earth slithering, asteroid stomping, and universe hopping over all the competition. He has no weaknesses and is the perfect fantasy asset. There’s a reason why he was selected #1. There’s a reason he’s been the #1 player over the last week, the last month, the last two months…..for the whole freaking season. Now, we all know about the injury risk, but there’s also his playoff schedule, as he only plays 9 games (3 games each playoff week). Do you sell him, do you buy him? It’s a perplexing situation, but not as much as trying to make sense of the fantasy lines A. D. produces on a nightly basis.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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So, we’re three weeks into another joyous fantasy basketball season. The hot waiver pick-ups are gone or have fizzled out. Hope you got the ones with lasting value. Pretty soon, the sample sizes will be large enough to know that what we’re seeing is more or less legit. For now, there’s still a lot of regressing to the mean yet to come. Hot and slow starts will mostly fade away, and the players will be themselves over the long haul. Not everyone, as plenty of players take significant leaps or stumbles for the entire season, whether it has to do with a change of scenery, personnel, and/or usage. It can be tough to figure out whose rebounds and steals changes, for example, will stick. However, we can trust with a good amount of confidence that most players shooting percentages will end up relatively close to their previous numbers. And, this early in the season, when, say, Serge Ibaka goes 15-for-17 and then 8-for-8, percentages can be way out of line and skew value if you’re looking at rankings in a trade scenario.

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I’m going to take a break from numbers this week. A break from Trey Burke, Quinn Cook, and Denzel Valentine impacting fantasy playoff teams infinitely more than Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard. A break from dealing with players on tanking teams sitting indefinitely every time someone steps on their toe, or from players on playoff teams resting without notice. Heck, a break from the NCAA tournament that only has one projected lottery pick left to watch.

This is probably going to most interest dynasty and keeper league players, but those already itching to rank and project players for next season will find this intriguing, too. Today, I’m going to look at who this summer’s free agents are. That period from the draft (draft lottery only 47 days away!) through the first week of free agency is probably my favorite on the NBA calendar, since about a third of the league seems to change teams. So many new dynamics to consider for so many teams. The impact on fantasy is huge, too. I’m definitely no insider with information to help predict who’s going where, but I do find it helpful to know whose value is likely to remain the same and whose has a wide range of outcomes. The latter are often good targets if you need to get risky to improve your keeper/dynasty team over the summer. Do you have a Terry Rozier type that would gain a ton of value if he moved on to a starting role? Is he free to do so? Also, remember to think of which teammates might be affected by these players should they change teams. For example, are the players blocking Mario Hezojna’s path to more minutes likely to get out of his way? Then again, might LeBron, PG13, and CP3 all be coming to your player’s team to squash his usage? Here are the most fantasy relevant free agents. Wow, this summer could be a big one.

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The snake, The rat, The cat, The dog

How you gonna see them if you living in the fog?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_4tr_-OznU

Ah, this is the classic hip hop that I love. DMX is one of my favorite rappers, mainly because everything he raps about is probably true. He made three songs about Damien, so I assume he actually has a demon that follows him around and tells him to do bad things in order to get money and fame. I mean the man did like 12 bids…Despite that, he’s one of the most legendary rappers of all time, and I couldn’t help but think of this song after watching Lillard absolutely demolish the Kings last night. Damian Lillard a.k.a. The Omen, stole the headlines last night, going 8-50-1-6-3-0-2 in only 29 minutes, as the Blazers blew out the Kings 118-100.  He shot 16-of-26 and had 10-for-10 FTs. ”It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” and here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops last night:

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I was 8 or 9 years old when I, like nearly all other boys I knew of similar age, started seriously collecting baseball cards. This beautiful card was to blame for a lot of the shared madness.

A fun, young player that wears his hat backward and is often featured in my Sports Illustrated for Kids magazines? And, what? A rookie card is worth more money? And one of his rookie cards will be in a set by a new company with much higher quality cards so that it’ll be worth a lot of money (for an 8 year-old)? I must have this glossy picture of Ken Griffey Jr.

Thanks to my parents and some friends that were as crazy about cards as I was, in probably five years I had many thousands of cards and hundreds of Griffeys. I subscribed to Beckett Baseball Card Monthly all along, and I’d track my most expensive cards month-by-month on a primitive Microsoft Works, I think, creating line graphs to show how rich I was becoming with my handful of cards worth over $20 apiece! Anyway, I sort of still do the same thing with my fantasy players. I’ll track rankings when they come out weekly, updating both season-long and dynasty when I really have the time. It’s a great way to know the market value of your players. You might also benefit from tracking player rater data, since it’s what’s actually happened instead of a prediction of what might happen. Though, a rest-of-season rankings projection does take the season data into account, as well as prior seasons and facts about past or present injuries to the player or his teammates. There’s value in paying attention to both, of course.

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Somehow, we’re already halfway through the NBA season. You know your team(s). The only major unknowns left are who else will get hurt, who will get shut down, and who will get a big value increase due to those injuries and the shutting down of said teammates. Aside from trying to grab some young guys that might get some extra run down the stretch, what else can you do to increase your odds of winning at this point? Well, staying active and streaming hot players will work wonders. But beyond that, I suggest checking out your team’s standing in each of what I’ll call the forgotten stats. Even the most astute fantasy player is going to be drawn to points, rebounds, assists, and threes out of habit and because of the way that we’re most often presented with stats.

I’m going to update you on the leaders in the boring and unsexy categories of field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals, and blocks (in addition to FG% + FT% and steals + blocks). I’m sure some of you might be much more focused on the % categories than I just mentioned, but I think most players treat them as an afterthought. So, since others are more likely to ignore these forgotten stats, take advantage of that and focus on them if you can stand to gain points there. I think you’ll find that these categories are often led by some lesser names that can be had more cheaply than the points/rebounds/assists stars. Many are even available in most leagues.

Here are your most effective players in order of Basketball Monster’s per-game values (percentages are weighted) by category or combined categories through 1/9.

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Kris Dunn- 4-32-2-9-4-0-4. Four steals last night and is second in the league in steals per game behind Paul George. If it wasn’t for his poor FT%, he’d be a top 40 player in fantasy. That being said, the Bulls have been way ahead of schedule, especially since Mirotic has returned. I doubt they’ll make any noise in the East this year, but they have some young pieces in place to do so in the near future.  Zach LaVine’s imminent return may put a damper on Dunn’s numbers, but you have to think he’ll maintain a decent role through the end of the season.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hoops last night:

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