Career night for Joe Ingles, who stepped in as a starter for the resting Mike Conley. Ingles went off for a career-high 34 points on just 17 shots, including eight connections from long distance. With so much scoring he only distributed two dimes, but chipped in with a pair of steals as well. Conley’s return will cap Ingles’ value, but he’s still a borderline top-100 player off the bench contributing threes, assists and good percentages.

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The Razzball team was putting in our fantasy all-star votes recently (more on that to come) and we noticed something strange: it seemed like an inordinate amount of top 50 fantasy players were from the Eastern Conference.

Upon further inspection, this turned out to be 100% true! According to Basketball Monster, 29 of the top 50 players in per-game value were from the Eastern Conference, including nine of the top 15 players. In total value, 29 of the top 50 were from the Eastern Conference, while a shocking 10 of the top 14 were as well.

Conspiracies immediately began flying, and while I don’t actually think that the league has asked statisticians to pad the stats of east coast teams because none of them are going to win the NBA championship, I thought there must be something behind this. So I started tossing out theories.

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Yep, I’m going to subject you all to my friends and family league yet again. We’re at the midway point of our regular season after today, so I wanted to go back and see where my predictions from the preseason were right and wrong, and which fantasy players are performing better or worse than their average draft position (ADP).

What I hope you can take from this is how to better formulate your strategy in your own leagues, and what seems to work best for people in a relatively average league. Our league is listed as a “silver” league on Yahoo!, which isn’t really scientific but indicates our team levels combined are slightly below the average of “gold.” We have two platinum, one gold, four silver, and five bronze managers. It’s a top-heavy league, which is the case in most scenarios as the people who run the league seem to be far more invested.

Anyways, the below records and rankings are based on if the scores stay the same as they are at the writing of this article. Those are subject to change, but not by much.

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The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.

But how does that happen?

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.

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There’s always a lot of attention on who is the top dog in fantasy basketball and who to take early on, but the back end of the draft is often ignored. This makes sense since a lot of leagues allow for picks ups and drops, so the guys you snag in the end could very well end up on the waiver wire multiple times throughout the season.

But what if I told you that it’s entirely possible to find great value at the end of your drafts? Snagging a mid round value play in the final rounds is my bread and butter, and it sets up a lot of interesting scenarios, as you will have more trade chips to dangle and dominate your league even if your top guys have to miss some time. Pro tip: They will. Even more pro tip: It’s a lot more likely this year with COVID.

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The Orlando Magic have made it to the playoffs in two straight seasons and they’ll be returning with pretty much the same lineup, same head coach in Steve Clifford, and not a whole lot to be excited about except rookie Cole Anthony. Jonathan Isaac suffered a pair of devastating knee injuries which will reportedly sideline him for the entirety of the 2020-21 season.

That will leave a huge hole to fill as he averaged a shade under 29 minutes per game last season to go with 18.3% usage. Most importantly though it leaves the team with a severe lack of identity. There’s a logjam at point guard and very little to suggest they will get a different result than last season. It looks like another year of drudgery for 30-year-old Nikola Vučević and 28-year-old Evan Fournier, who should headline the offensive side of the ball.

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There are many different types of volcanoes. Cinder cones are the most common and are fairly small in both diameter and height. Stratovolcanoes are layered with lava, ash, and unmelted stone. These erupt with great violence because pressure builds in the magma chamber then…KABOOM! Like a shaken bottle of soda. Shield volcanoes are massive, with a huge base and gentle sloping sides. Eruptions are not explosive like stratovolcanoes. Instead, lava just flows out over the sides. Think Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Hassan Whiteside aka Mt. Whiteside is no cinder cone, as he stands 7′ 0″ and weights 235 pounds. He’s more stratovolcano due to his explosive performances in the past. Back in November of 2018, Mt. Whiteside erupted for 29 points, 20 boards, and 9 blocks! It was the consistency that was lacking, though. Sometimes it was injury, other times it was being in the coach’s doghouse. This season, though, Mt. Whiteside has been a hybrid shield/stratovolcano. Last night was the most recent example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 21 1 0 5 1 0 8/14 7/8

He’s been erupting on the regular, but it’s felt like fantasy goodies have been just oozing over the edge, producing a fantasy island of extraordinary magnitude. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what oozes fantasy goodies on the regular? The Stocktonator. Mt. Whiteside is the #6 player for fantasy on the season. Points, boards, blocks, excellent field goal percentage, and the free throw shooting has been a robust 76%! I doubt Jusuf Nurkic returns and makes Mt. Whiteside dormant, so enjoy the nightly eruptions.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Back in 2008, D. J. Augustin was awarded the Bob Cousy Award, which was given to the top collegiate point guard. That summer, the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. This D. J. obviously produced good music and got the crowd to throw their hands in the air, and wave them like they just didn’t care. In 2010, D. J. averaged 33.6 minutes, 14.4 points, and 6.1 dimes. But then the lights came on and people realized that the selection of songs were limited. He didn’t have the resources to expand the library, so D. J. tried to compensate by mixing and scratching more. That just ended up in more skipping and booing from the crowd. Realizing his limitations, he stopped trying to be fancy and just kept things simple. And it worked, as he’s been getting gigs for 12 years now. Every once in a while, though, he thinks about what could have been and channels something from within. It happened last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 3 9 2 0 1 2/6 7/15 9/10

In 31 minutes off the bench. Now, Markelle Fultz had some foul trouble last night, so D. J. got some extra run. In addition, Fultz is and will be the starter for the Magic. With that said, over the past four games, D. J. has been spinning the goods, as he’s been a top 85 player, averaging 28.3 minutes, 14.5 points, 1.5 tres, 5 boards, and 1 steals. He’s been shooting 90% from the line on 5.5 attempts. Not bad. The shooting efficiency, though, has only been 42%. Orlando plays at one of the slowest offensive paces in the league, but if you need dimes and tres, D. J. can be of value. Plus, he will go retro and spin the goods from time to time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what spins the goods all the time? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Money, money, money, monnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnney. Moooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeey. Love it or hate it, we need money to survive; to eat, cloth, and find shelter. The more you have, the greater number of times you can put cheese on that Whopper, get bling to accessorize the outfits, and/or accumulate various forms of entertainment. What’s the color of money in the United States? Green. Lots of green is usually a good thing. Well, last night, Troy Brown Jr. was money.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 9 7 1 1 0 2/4 9/15 6/7

Since Brown was money and money is green, then Brown is the new green. Don’t bother Googling, I’ve done the research. The 26 points and 7 dimes were both career highs! Now, Davis Bertans did not play last night, so Brown’s offense was needed. Don’t expect this kind of performance every night, but Brown can provide some tres, boards, and steals when he plays. On the season, he’s averaging 23.2 minutes per game. Over the past six games, that number has ticked up to 27.6. With all the injuries, Brown will be the main scoring option off the bench, so Brown can be money for as long as he continues getting the opportunities. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always money? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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No, not Michael. That would be weird and unbelieveable at the same time. Did he travel in time? Or did he sell his shares in the Hornets, pass through waivers, and get signed by an NBA team? He is 56 years old, so it would be quite the feat if he was able to ball in today’s NBA, and go on a scoring binge no less. Vince Carter is 42 years old and still playing, so anything is possible. Plus, if there was one guy who could pull off the feat, Michael Jordan would have to be at the top of the list. That would be one helluva 30 for 30. But alas, Michael is not the Jordan that I’m talking about. That would be Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went 30 in 30 last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 6 1 0 1 1 6/8 12/17 3/5

In 30 minutes! Jordan gets buckets. How could he not? In five of six NBA seasons, Jordan has scored at least 30 points in one game. Unfortunately, he’s inconsistent and has never averaged more than 17 points per game. Plus, his last name is Clarkson. Ok, 17 points ain’t bad, as De’Aaron Fox averaged 17.3 points per game last season, which was good for 44th in the NBA. Clarkson just doesn’t do much else, which crimps his overall fantasy value. On the season, he’s a top 140 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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