Who doesn’t love drafting a rookie and watching him reach his rookie ceiling, a la Donovan Mitchell? While we’re waiting on more deadline deals to go through, and since we’ve got the all-star break coming up, I figured this was a good time to start looking more at the 2018 draft prospects in order to better our chances at landing the right rookies next season.

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Most are familiar with chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son <Hey! That’s me!!!>, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Before storm clouds gather up above and lightning fries my plump physique into a mush of cooking oil, I was just joking God. Ha ha. I’m probably fine because I’m sure he/she/it was overloaded yesterday, but….out of respect and….juuuuust in case. Anyways, because we go next level here at Razzball, I want to mention chapter 3, verses 18-19 of the Gospel of John: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. <Hey! It’s me again!!!!> This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Yesterday, the fervent followers and believers of the NBA were graced with a sermon from the Book of John Henson, chapter 3, verses 18-19.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 18 3 0 2 0 0 8/14 3/5

Granted, it was against the Brooklyn Nets, a team that is atrocious against the center position. With that said, since Jason Kidd was fired as coach of the Bucks (seven games), Henson has averaged 29.4 minutes, 12 points, 7.57 boards, 2.42 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 1.1 blocks. As long as the Bucks do not trade for a center at the deadline, have faith in the Henson. Is it any coincidence that I am Son and John is a Henson? I thinks not. See the light and come out of the darkness. If the Bucks trade for DeAndre Jordan or any other big man, then you can tear the Book of Henson out, get on your knees, and scream to the heavens: Why have you forsaken me?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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First, we lost Gilligan’s Island. Then, Fantasy Island met it’s doom. Now, the unthinkable has happened. Waiters Island has been shut down for the season. Dion Waiters is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo.com. The Heat can go in many directions. Tyler Johnson can start at shooting guard with Josh Richardson at small forward and Wayne Ellington the main guy off the bench. Or, Derrick Jones Jr. could start at shooting guard, which would keep Tyler Johnson in a reserve role to back up Goran Dragic. Since Waiters hasn’t played since late-December, the preferred lineup has been Dragic at the point with Johnson at shooting guard and Richardson at small forward. Ellington has been the main scorer off the bench and should continue to be an excellent source for 3s. It’s safe to drop Waiters if you haven’t already. I’m going to miss the antics of Waiters for the remainder of the season, but at least he should return next season, unlike the other famous islands of tv past.

Here’s what else I saw last nig

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Why did you do this to me Jahlil?? I trusted you. I placed my faith in you to turn your career around in Brooklyn. I even criticized the Sixers for not wanting to develop you and what is the return? Three DNP-CDs and a meh 10 points/4 rebounds game in 23 minutes played. I rushed to pick you up everywhere but dropped you in all but one very deep league. Even his coach admitted he is out of shape and that it is going to “take some time to integrate him more into the system”. The vegan diet doesn’t seem to work that well….

I think I support Ron Swanson’s opinion on this matter more…

Thankfully, the rest of last week’s calls were much better than the gentleman above and Marvin Williams, who was also below average. J.J.Barea and Yogi Ferrell continue to hold down the fort until Dennis Smith Jr returns, Taurean Prince had a great week averaging 15.0/3.3/5.0/2.7/0.7/1.0/2.3, Lebron James’s Fg% dropped a bit as predicted, and Andrew Wiggins continues to disappoint so much that he was ranked 264th in per game value for last week.

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I’ve always been infatuated with the “zone,” that state of consciousness when one has Neo’d the Matrix. Mental steroids and practice can induce it, but often it’s a state that transcends reality. Life progresses frame by frame, as if someone pressed the slow motion button on the VCR. My fault, I mean DVR. In the real world, a shooter believes that every shot will go in, while understanding that it’s a mathematical impossibility. In the “zone,” screw math. Everyone morphs into a video game Dion Waiters on rookie mode. Well, last night, Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic gobbled the mushroom, morphed into Super Mario, and entered the “zone.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 28 6 2 3 0 2 8/12 10/18  0

Now, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier did not play yesterday, so Mario was afforded an opportunity to showcase. When those two return, Super Mario will shrink back to the bench. Just file it away for the future that Mario has the ability to enter the “zone” when called upon.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).

Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.

So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.

Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.

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Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.

It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).

Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.

First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:

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Image result for ben simmons fresh prince

(image courtesy of Courtside Attire)

Ben Simmons became the first player, since Hambone Williams in 1967, to post a triple-dub within his first four career games last night (stat courtesy of ESPN Stats). Freaking Oscar Robertson put up three triple-dubs in his first four career games. GOAT. Anyways, the final stat line for Simmons: 21 pts, 12 boards, 10 dimes, and one steal on 8-for-11 shooting. So this is what everyone’s been talking about! Before he even played a professional game, the City of Philadelphia nicknamed Simmons the “Fresh Prince.” After last night’s performance, it may be an apt nickname but….let’s not completely dismiss the OG Fresh Prince.

Did Ben ever grab the opening tip and drain a half-court shot before his feet touched the ground? Did Ben ever cut across the lane, catch the ball at the left elbow, then scoop it underhanded without turning to face the bucket? And banking it in? Huh? Huh? So, before we go crowning his ass, let’s pay some respect to the OG. I’ll be honest. I had some doubts regarding Ben coming into this year. I did think that he would grab boards and drop a ton of dimes, but would his lack of outside shot hold him down? After watching him play, he can get to the rim at will. He is so long and such a graceful strider that resistance is futile. He kind of reminds me of Giannis in that aspect. Ben has trouble finishing strong, though, while Giannis….uh…uh….oh my…..awwwwwwwwwww. Sorry, I just had to “take care” of something real quick. I also had some concerns that the Sixers would be conservative with Ben. Well, he’s playing 34.6 minutes on average over the first four games. Concern eradicated. He’s shooting 49.1% from the field, grabbing 10.8 boards, dishing out seven dimes, and pilfering one a game. There are no threes in his game with very few blocks (0.3). And he’s turning the ball over three times a game, but Ben is going to improve as the season rolls along. Who’s better? Will Smith or Ben Simmons? Will has a more diverse and explosive offensive game. He straight up clowns his opponents, but gotta knock him for level of competition. I gotta go with Ben here. It’s just no fun playing with Black Holes.

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