After years of being a superstar-dominated team, Miami now has a plethora of good players with potential. Bucking the trend of Go Big or Rebuild, maestro Pat Riley and his protege head coach Eric Spoelstra seem perfectly content running it back with what they have; a good but not great squad that can be willed to elite status with leadership, coaching, and some luck. Being underrated like the Garfield Halloween Special can be a good thing. The lack of big name talent leaves Miami as the forgotten team. In a wide-open East anything can happen and, while Miami is not expected to crack the top 4, they have as good a chance as any to grab one of the remaining playoff spots and potentially advance in the playoffs. Also, keep in mind that Riley is very much in the hunt for Minnesota Timberwolves Jimmy Butler. Adding Butler to the equation would catapult Miami into the upper echelons of the East.

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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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What’s up Razzballers!? Considering this is either the final or semifinal playoff week for most leagues, I want to say I’m proud of anyone reading this. Even if you’re in the consolation bracket (or in a roto league), it was a fun season and I love all of you. You know who else loves you? Otto Porter, if you have him on your team (if you’re against him this week then he hates you deeply). He had a pretty forgettable game on Thursday, but made up for it in a big way on Saturday going for 26/11/2/1/2 on 10-for-15 FG (6-for-10 3P) and zero TOs. This line was cleaner than Tony Montana’s! Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Sorry Andre, but there is breaking news: Joel Embiid will have surgery to fix an orbital bone fracture and will miss at least 2 games but could be out as much as 4 weeks. I would wait to hear something more sound before dropping him, but it definitely makes Richaun Holmes a nice pick-up. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled recap:

Andre “Beast Mode” Drummond had his old school ground and pound game working last night as he led the Pistons to an 11 point win over the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Even without Blake Griffin, who went through warm-ups but could not play and is now headed for an MRI on his injured ankle, the Pistons were able to blow the game wide-open in the 3rd quarter mostly because of Drummond’s pure dominance in the paint.

Andre put the beat down on Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi to the tune of 0/24/23/4/0/1 with only 1 turnover in 37 minutes. Drummond shot 10-16 from the floor and 4-7 from the line, which is the type of efficiency spoiled fantasy owners have come to expect from Mr. Drummond this season. The free-throw shooting still isn’t Curry-esque, but it has become strong enough to elevate Drummond to the elite fantasy player level.

Besides the lesson in classic center play that Drummond gave the Wizards, here is what else I saw last night:

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When my wife was pregnant, the experience was…..interesting. At least for me. I can’t even begin to try and understand what my wife was feeling. All I know is that women are the GOAT. Anyways, after the initial gamut of emotions, things became very business-like. Doctor’s office. One month. Two months. Three months. Everything was mapped out and the “ride” was slow and steady. Then, the due date approached and….well, I was Robert DeNiro in Heat. The bags were packed and the routes were mapped out with contingencies for all possibilities. At the same time, though, I was like my five-year-old son in the back of the car on a long trip: “Are we there yet? When will we be there? Why is it taking so long?” Damian Lillard and his girlfriend had been expecting the birth of their child for the past few days. Lillard had been struggling a bit with his shooting efficiency, but the raw production was still there. It could have been the matchups or anxiousness with the pregnancy. Regardless, it was Lillard Time for the whole family last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 9 6 4 0 0 3/9 18/33 2/2

A 40-burger!!! On Damian Jr.’s birthday. Y’all know what time it is.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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LaMarcus Aldridge must hate Jazz music, because he destroyed the Jazz last night. I know some people might listen to it to put themselves to sleep, but LaMarcus clearly doesn’t understand the complex rhythms or appreciate the skill of the musicians, and LaMarcus must destroy what he does not understand. LaMarcus killed the Jazz last night, going 1-45-9-2-1-3-4 on 19-of-28 shooting and 6-for-8 from the line. Although the game went to OT, LMA has been killing it all year, posting top 20 value.  Four quarters and overtime wasn’t enough for Aldridge, because after the game ended, he smashed some Thelonious Monk records and stomped on a picture of Dizzy Gillespie. On a more serious note, I could see Aldridge going in the second round next year, while you most likely got him in the fourth round this year. That’s value.

There were ten games last night so many of your fantasy playoff fates were decided yesterday. This could have been the night that made your dreams come true, or shattered them to tiny pieces. Hopefully, for most of you it was the former…Anyway, let’s dive on in to the Friday Daily Notes!

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The Marvel Universe has been on quite a heater lately, culminating in the recently released Black Panther movie. With that said, an underappreciated and rarely talked about character is The Juggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength and durability, is virtually unstoppable once in motion, and immune to mental attacks when donning a helmet. He’s fought and taken on all comers. Sounds alot like LeBron James aka LeJuggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength? Check. Is durable? Has played 1130 career games and missed 111, with many of those due to “rest.” As this fivethirtyeight.com article stated, LeBron has “never missed a playoff game” even though he has the “sixth-most regular season minutes of all time.” He’s in the top 3 all time of games played per season as a percentage of the player’s teams’ total regular-season and playoff games. Among active players, “no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James.” I think that’s a resounding Check. Is unstoppable once in motion? Check. Immune to mental attacks? He had his moments early in his career when it seemed like LeBron was mentally fragile, but as time has gone on, he’s shown to be impervious to distractions both on and off the court. Check. Last night, LeJuggernaut messed around by rampaging through the Milwaukee Bucks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 12 10 2 1 6 3/7 16/29 5/8

There are 12 games left in the regular season and the Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. IND, WAS, and PHI are only one game back in the loss column. It’s winning time and LeJuggernaut has been unleashed for the stretch run. If you don’t believe me, take a look below:

PTS REB AST BLK STL
OCT 24.6 7.1 8.6 1.1 1.0
NOV 29.6 8.7 8.5 1.2 1.5
DEC 27.5 8.2 10.3 0.8 1.9
JAN 23.5 7.3 7.4 1.1 1.8
FEB 27 10.5 10.5 0.4 1.7
MAR 30 10.3 9.1 1.2 1.6

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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“ If you play good attack, you win the game, but, if you play good defense you win championships” (Zeljko Obradovic)

 

Semifinals time. Maybe in rotisserie leagues the results are more fair, but in head-to-head there’s more excitement. If you had Kevin Durant or Gary Harris and are in the semifinals, it will be a difficult endeavor, but that’s h2h fantasy life for you. On the other hand, if your opponent has one of those players, you’re smiling from ear to ear.

Another thing I learned this week (again), is how crucial working the waiver wire is to succeeding in fantasy basketball. Corey Brewer and Buddy Hield were first-round values in the quarter-finals, and Taurean Prince, Maurice Harkless, and Quinn Cook were second-round values.

 

Here is how the action went down in Week 22 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

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For playoff bound teams, every win at this point in the season is huge. This was not only a big win for the Washington Wizards, it was avoiding a terrible loss. Yes, they are missing All-Star point guard John Wall, but the Boston Celtics were starting someone named Guerschon Yabusele.

I did some digging and discovered that Mr. Yabusele, before donning a jersey and being announced with the Celtics’ starting five, was one of those giant security guards that stand at the bottom of each staircase with their arms crossed and their backs to the court during the game. In fact, prior to playing 18 minutes in last night’s double-OT loss against the Wizards, the most exciting thing to ever happen to Guerschon on a basketball court was high-fiving Marky Mark Wahlberg after a Kyrie Irving game winner.

The Celtics may have ultimately lost the game, but to get as close as they did is a real testament to just how much the Wizards play down to an opponent’s level. I am pretty sure a Division II high school basketball team could take Washington down to the wire.

Besides the Wizards almost losing the Celtics G-League squad, here is what else I saw last night:

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The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to help improve and evaluate your team.

In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.

If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.

I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.

If you have any question let me know.

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