Whaddup Razzball nation! Welcome back to another edition of Any Given Saturday! Last night, the Thunder walked into Cleveland and embarrassed the Cavs, dropping a whopping 148 points. It was a team effort, but Russell Westbrook was especially impressive, dropping a double dimebag and going for 23/9/20/2 on 9-for-17 FG (1-for-1 3P, 4-for-5 FT) and five TOs. Russ’s efficiency is trending up nicely after being abysmal to start the season. All of a sudden, the Thunder look like an incredibly scary team. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Charlotte Bobcats fandom reached it’s peak during the 2006-2007 NBA season. My Bulls had been one of the worst teams in the NBA for nearly a decade and I liked cheering for the recent expansion team. I had NBA League Pass back then, since I was providing live box scores for a website more nights than not. The Bobcats weren’t one of the in-demand teams to cover, so I got to do a lot of their games. While the Bulls had just drafted LaMarcus Aldridge at #2 and traded him for #4 Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa (yes, that happened), the Bobcats selected one of my favorite players right between those picks to join forces with other favorites Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. That’s right, Adam Morrison was going to light up my tiny 19-inch box TV that sat beside my giant desktop computer as he turned (yes, people thought this) into Larry Bird 2.0! It was going to be fun watching this franchise, in just it’s third year, develop into a contender with those pieces.

Check it out! That weird, slippery ball they used briefly!

Okay, so the ‘Cats never really went anywhere, though Morrison did have some fun 3-point shooting streaks. I still love the snubbed and rightful 2012 Las Vegas NBA Summer League MVP and two-time NBA Champ (true). And, I still wear my Bobcats hat proudly (also true). Why am I going on and on about a player who only played in 161 career games and was out of the NBA four years after he was drafted? Because, he’s the theme of today’s strategy: The ‘Stache! I guess it’s The Stash, but at least I got to talk about Adam Morrison and Victor Khryapa.

This is a good time to stock up on and stash the players that might take off toward the end of the season and lead you to a championship.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you have been reading my recaps this season, then you know one of my favorite terms is: Waiver Wire All-Star. I use this to refer to players who started the year undrafted in almost every fantasy basketball league out there. Even in my deeper leagues Tyreke Evans was sitting there just waiting to be added by some lucky owner who is probably competing for a championship right now.

A great draft is super important, don’t get me wrong, but it is these savvy waiver wire pick-ups that win leagues. ‘Reke has not only been a good pick-up, but he is returning top 40 value in most leagues. That means that a third or fourth round (depending on your league size) pick was just hanging out, playing video games, watching Netflix, waiting to get the call to the big show.

Last night Tyreke Evans went off again and almost messed around for the second night in a row putting up this juicy slash: 2/23/6/10/1/0. So congratulations if you snagged ‘Reke in your league. Here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day. It’s a day that many take for granted. Many focus on the fact that there’s basketball all day or that there’s no school or work or something about someone having a dream. MLK day is about celebrating the greatness of a man. Who called out the establishment. Who stood up for the rights of the oppressed. Who wanted to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” The King was truly a great man, which brings me to the King of the NBA, LeBron James. Last night, the LeBrons faced off against the Warriors and lost 118-108. In defeat, James went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 32 8 6 3 4 8 0/2 12/18 8/13

I almost did not make him the lede for this post. There were players that scored more points. There were players that collected double-dubs. There were multiple players who almost messed around. There were players that led their team to victory. I almost overlooked LeBron, but then I came to my senses. Look at that line! It’s freaking amazing. Ok, the turnovers aren’t great but I said he’s a King, not God. Anyways, sometimes we don’t truly appreciate the greatness of LeBron. We hold him to such a high standard that we expect more. The crazy thing is that “more” is usually attainable. Think about that. Anyways, it’s only appropriate that I made the King of the NBA the lede for a post on the day after Martin Luther King day. Both are great, yet both are underappreciated at times. Let’s never forget either.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Does anyone even remember the Wiz? I don’t know if I’ve ever set foot in one before they went out of business. Bismack Biyombo got busy last night against the Wizards, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win. He might have won you some DFS tourneys last night though, as he went 21-13-4-1-2-0 on 8-of-9 FGs and 5-of-6 FTs, and in season long leagues, he definitely helped your percentages. With Nikola Vucevic still out with a hand injury, you can enjoy at least a few more games of Biyombo starting. If you can sell-high, handle that Bis-ness. If no one’s biting, then mind your own Bis-ness.  Either way, he’s mostly a short-term asset.

Moving right along, here’s what else went down Friday night in Fantasy Hoops:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When the Nets acquired D’Angelo Russell in the offseason from the Lakers, it was expected that the former number two overall pick would be the face of the franchise. Made sense, as I’ve heard the rat population is huge in New York. I kid. I kid. Early on, Russell was playing like the face of the franchise, sporting a 35.8 usage rate. At the same time, a relative unknown started balling out, to the point where Atkinson could no longer deny what he was seeing. Every time he’d give him extended playing time, production would ensue. Coach Atkinson even moved Russell to shooting guard to accomodate. Then Russell went down with injury. And, as they say, the rest is history. Spencer Dinwiddie was made for New York City. He’s a tough, no-frills kind of player. Biggie would have been proud, as he went from “ashy to classy.” He was selected with the 38th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and spent time in the D-League, before finding a home in Brooklyn. It all culminated with last night’s performance:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 31 5 8 2 0 1 3/10 10/24 8/9

Now, Russell is expected back soon from injury. The logical expectation is that he garners the 30+ usage rate from pre-injury, which would obviously nuke much of Dinwiddie’s value. With that said, I do expect Dinwiddie to play the point with Russell at shooting guard. I also think that Dinwiddie has built up some equity, with both the coach and teammates, so he won’t be one of those bodies with concrete blocks that were shoved into the Hudson River.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What’s up Razzballers? We’re back with another edition of Any Given Saturday. Speaking of being back, professional basketball player Steph Curry returned after missing 11 games with his ankle injury and went nuts in a win over the Grizzlies. Steph went for a cool 38/4/3 on 13-for-17 FG (10-for-13 3P, 2-for-2 FT) and nary a turnover. All this in only 25 minutes. What a monster. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Dennis Smith Jr. went off in the Big Easy, going 5-21-10-10-1-0-7. It was his first career triple-double and hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for him. Carlisle gave him vote of confidence after the Mavs’ last game, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Yeah, definitely a sign of things to come, if I’ve ever seen a sign of things to come. He’s been garbaggio as the Italians say, in his last four games, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Yes, I own him, so you know what I’m hoping for. Anyway, here’s what else went down on Friday in fantasy hoops:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Like most of you, I’ve been through more fantasy drafts than I can remember. Online with old friends thousands of miles away, in-person with coworkers I’d deal with every day of the season. Basements, bars, over wings. Once, I was driving from one draft to another while the second draft was beginning, pulling over to make each of my picks until I arrived. There was a draft via text on a road trip before phone apps existed, a manual auction in an AOL chat room (not advisable), drafting online for one league while drafting in-person for another, slow-drafting, making it so that I was checking my phone every 10 seconds when the next pick might not be made for 17 more hours. Some day, I’d really like to do something on par with the show The League and draft in-person at one of the NBA Summer Leagues.

I did end up having a pretty sweet drafting experience this season. So, one of my favorite bands is 311, and I’d never seen them live in the 20+ years I’ve been listening to them repeatedly. When I found out they’d be relatively close to me last fall, I decided I wasn’t going to miss them this time. Okay, October 15th… why did that sound familiar? CRAP! My favorite league, my dynasty league, was having it’s seven-round draft that night! Yeah, I could’ve pre-ranked… but, I’d traded up in the draft enough that I’d only be drafting on my phone for about 20 minutes… and it looked like the draft would be during the opening act. I determined I’d do both, draft at the concert and just ignore the opening act and hope I’d be done by the time 311 took the stage. I didn’t count on the opening act being crazy-fun, but you can’t have too much of a good thing. So, there I was, leaning against the back wall with Tropidelic providing a great soundtrack to me drafting some top rookies I’d been drooling over for months (we keep 18 players, so the draft is all about the rookies). I finished my last pick just in time for 311 to rock my face off (and psychedelically funk my face off) while I dreamed of my rookies turning into top 20 fantasy players.

See me? Riiiiight…. there.

So, how are these rookies doing? Usually around this point, we’re nervous about our rookies’ future, since they’re getting DNP-CDs and G-League stints. But this year at Christmas time, we’ve seen the best crop of fantasy rookies in many years. Though, it’s not all the guys we expected doing the damage. For those of you that love trying to spot the future stars as much as I do, I’d like to take a look at the per-36 stats of the rookies we’ve seen. In case that’s not familiar, it’s their stats prorated to 36 minutes. It’s not a perfect projection, of course, but I figure, in most cases, the rookies at their career peaks are going to play closer to 36 minutes than what they’ve played so far. And, while they likely won’t get to 36 minutes exactly, they should make up for some of that shortcoming by greatly improving (a lot of these guys are 19 or 20) and by becoming larger parts of their teams’ offenses in the future. It’s not one-size-fits-all, as guys like Tatum, Simmons, and Kuzma might already be relatively close to what their peak minutes and team involvement might be (think of who’s likely to join their teams in the next season or two). Some rookies have hardly played or have only been role players in garbage time against third-stringers, so this isn’t going to be too predictive for them, either. But, I’d guess this’ll give us a rough estimate of the type of players the rooks might be if they keep improving as we’d hope. I left out guys that have barely played, but that still leaves 45 rookies to check out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?