Like most of you fantasy nuts, I am starved for basketball this time of year and can’t wait to get started. I decided to take matters into my own hands and started a league. I wanted it to be realistic and meaningful, so I set the buy-in at $200. Thankfully, I was able to gather 11 knowledgeable players and we drafted last week. Most of these guys are sharp, so there weren’t many bargains. Here is a recap of how it went down.

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The young Nuggets are on the rise, and the future is bright with a team full of young guns and great depth. This team is fun to watch in real life, and a gold mine for fantasy purposes. Despite missing Garry Harris and Will Barton for a large chunk of the year, they still managed to finish 2nd in the Western Conference. They return this season largely the same, and will look to build on last year’s success. Barton and Harris are reportedly healthy, so that should give them an added boost. Their season ended last year by running into the buzzsaw that is Damian Lilliard, but they are a year older and wiser, so look for them to make another deep run in the playoffs.

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Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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When you think of the great basketball players this season, who does your mind gravitate towards? James Harden? Paul George? Steph Curry? Karl-Anthony Towns? Giannis Antetokounmpo? There are likely 15-20 other players you would list before arriving at Andre Drummond. The free throw shooting stinks and he doesn’t provide treys, but you know what?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 21 5 2 1 1 0 9/20 3/6

That’s what’s up. Dre leads the league in dub-dubs with 58 and has posted a 20/20 game 12 times this season. He’s 10th in blocks per game, 11th in steals per game, 1st in rebounds, and 19th in field goal percentage. On the season, he’s a top 25 player for fantasy. Yes, the free throw shooting and lack of treys put a ceiling on his value, but he does so much in the other categories that…..we must never forget about Dre.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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If your fantasy team had the misfortune of facing James Harden this week, my condolences. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and you family. You ran into the buzzsaw. I would know, I was one of them. Last night Harden went 8-48-8-6-4-1-6 on 14-of-30 shooting and 12-of-15 from the line in his worst scoring performance of the week. In three games this past week, he went 19-163-27-14-7-3-15. To be fair, there were two overtime games so his numbers got a slight boost, but this is probably the greatest three-game scoring performance in recent memory. RIP to my fantasy team. On a lighter note, here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

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KRS-One was one of the greatest to ever do it. He never won a Grammy, and didn’t win a Tony, yet he smashed rappers and made girls go “Illllll!” He made you bob your head from side to side, and up and down, but ultimately he made you think about what was said, as Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everybody. At the core, though, he brought it to those MC’s that acted like they didn’t know that KRS was willing to go toe for toe and made them hope that their defense mechanism could divert his heat-seeking lyricism. Joel Embiid is the KRS-One of the NBA. He puts victims in a body bag both on the Twitter machine and on the court. Last night…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 13 3 0 1 4 4/6 10/17 7/8

In only 27 minutes, as the 76ers body bagged the Timberpuppies, 149-107. On the season, Embiid is the #10 player, averaging 33.5 minutes, 27 points, 1.2 threeecolas, 13.3 boards, 3.4 dimes, 0.5 steals, and 2 blocks on 48% shooting from the field and 80% from the free throw line on 9.9 attempts. The usage rate is 32.1! Such a boss. As KRS said, “If you don’t know me by now, I doubt you’ll ever know me.” Embiid gonna keep trying, though.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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