I’ve got a punt free throw percentage dynasty team that I love so much that I practically cheer for missed free throws. Logically, I know this is silly, but bricked freebies are my brand, I guess you’d say. For those of you punters that can relate, today I’ll give you some adjusted player rankings for the season. And if you haven’t tried a punt strategy, or haven’t been successful with one, maybe this’ll pique your interest for next season.

Last week, I listed the top 20 players in each category as well as the relevant bottom 20. This week, we’ll kinda do the opposite. I’ll remove some categories that you might benefit from ignoring, whether it was part of your plan or you just found yourself uncompetitive in a category that’s not worth trying to catch up in by patching it together at the expense of other categories.

First, free throw punters. I’ll give you the top 20 in per-game value (and others that make big leaps) for 8-category and 9-category with free throw percentage removed (through 12/5). All of today’s lists come from Basketball Monster stat ratings. Keep in mind that you’re not just looking for the worst free throw shooters. Those are the guys that benefit the most from removing this category, but it doesn’t mean they’re the most valuable to your team. They ARE, however, significantly more valuable to a free throw punter than anyone else. So, if you’re at the bottom of your roto league in FT% (or if you never compete in head-2-head), don’t try to just add a couple good FT shooters to fix it. Maybe that gets you a roto point or two at most. Go all in, and trade off some good FT shooters for the guys below, especially those that are cheaper since they benefit the most from punting (in bold) and watch your team gain in FG%, rebounds, and blocks.

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The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player using a single number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but 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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Welcome to the Kawhi Leonard-return waiting room. We hope you enjoy your stay. Leonard is getting close to returning to action and it can happen as soon as this week. But as the gods of basketball always seek to keep balance, the gods both giveth and taketh away. Unfortunately, both Stephen Curry and Devin Booker went down with injuries that could likely keep them out for an extended period of time. Even my boy Tim Hardaway Jr and his $70 million contract caught the injury bug and will be reevaluated in two weeks. Maybe this is a good opportunity to buy kinda low on these guys, if you feel comfortable you can make the playoffs by giving some immediate production for them. As for last week’s calls, Rudy Gobert was eased back into action but the fact he beat his initial 4-6 weeks timetable by a week is a great sign. Pascal Siakam pulled a Houdini and disappeared, while Wesley Johnson is bringing great defensive stats with awesome consistency (nine straight games with at least a block and a steal), but his shooting is off. The attempts are there so be patient and he will eventually start making them. Moving to the sell candidates from last week, Justin Holiday’s window of opportunity to sell high will remain open for a little longer as Zach LaVine’s return got pushed back to January. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came back to Earth, averaging a more realistic 12.3 attempts from the field and Rajon Rondo has actually benefited from Anthony Davis’ absence and his usage warrants a pickup. Before the prologue gets into the “too long didn’t read” category, let’s get to this week’s Buy/Sell suggestions…

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I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

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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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Another Wednesday, another Buy/Sell column for you good folks. As established in the last post, I will start by briefly assessing the performances of the players I included last week. Will Barton has not yet taken off with two underwhelming games to end the week, but I still believe he is the one to benefit the most from the Millsap injury. Bojan Bogdanovic is on a THRAGNOFy streak for the ages and, in the past three games, is averaging 17.0/1.0/1.7/0/0.3/0/0.7. I can’t believe that a player averaging 36 minutes in those games has so little peripheral stats, but he is the wing scorer Indiana needs and trusts. Denzel Valentine is filling up the stat sheet and has been more than useful. Kris Dunn had his breakout performance yesterday with a career-high 24 points and as Son says, “the PG competition in Chicago in Dunn.” Finally, Lord Covington’s shot started to fail him as predicted (35% in his last five games), so I hope you capitalized on the sell high opportunity. Without further ado, let’s look at this week’s candidates…

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In the animal kingdom, lions hang with lions, while gazelles chill with gazelles. Makes sense, as one group likes to eat the other. In the human world, things are a bit more complicated. Humans come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and live in different environments and locations all throughout the world. With that said, a human is still a human. It’s cool to identify with another person or group that has similarities to you, as it brings a level of comfort and security. I get it. But most of the problems of this world arise when we focus on the differences to discriminate and differentiate. When I was younger, I’d often see kids referred to as “sellouts” if they didn’t hang out with kids of their own race. Seriously, who gives a shit? I’m not hanging out with someone just because they are Korean. If said person is cool, that’s all that f***ing matters. So, it is with tremendous angst that I must voice my displeasure for the cat community, which texted me all Sunday about Karl-Anthony Towns. Yes, cats and dogs are basically humans. They think KAT is one of theirs. He’s been meowing and purring for the past couple of years, but on Sunday, a transformation occurred. KAT was howling like a wolf. KAT was playing like the dog that he is. 32/12/2/0/1/1. 12-of-26 from the field, 2-of-6 from downtown, and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. Ahh-woooooooooo! KAT is not a sellout. KAT is just a baller. A very, very, very good baller.

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There was only one game in the NBA last night. There’s 14 games on Wednesday, then zero on Thursday. C’mon NBA. You couldn’t at least split up the Wednesday slate so that we could at least play DFS? Anyways, watching the game last night reminded me of the Running of the Bulls festival in Spain. The Bulls were allowed to run rampant and get any shot they wanted. The Lakers defense was matador-esque, at best. It got so bad that I started preparing the lede for the post with Antonio Blakeney, who scored 15 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out a dime in 18 minutes. Who’s Blakeney? Well, for a half, he was this. But then, the Bulls remembered who they were: tied for last in offensive efficiency and 25th in defensive efficiency. The Lakers started chipping away, the crowd at Staples started feeling it, and the energy kept elevating. And then….it was Randy Newman time.

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Am I a few months too early on my title? Yup! Do I know Thanksgiving is on the mend? Yup! Am I talking about Denzel Valentine? Yup! Did we all just become best friends? Hell ya we did. Like Denzel Washington, Denzel Valentine is efficient, reliable to perform when called upon, and a jack of all trades. Some of the best movies of Washington’s era have won slews of awards. He has won 39 total awards in his career, including three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards. Denzel Valentine? He was the Lansing State Journal Player of the Year as a senior in High School, George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year (Michigan State award), The AP National Player of the Year, The Big 10 Player of the year, and a 1st Team All-American all in his senior year of college. Between these two Denzel’s we have a ton of awards to talk about, both on and off the court. Today, we talk about Denzel of the Bulls from House Chicago. Yes, I am re watching Game of Thrones for the 3rd time and that’s just the way I speak now.

He sure got game

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There was a time when Top Ramen was life. Cheap, easy to make, and quite delicious. It’s a good thing I didn’t stay poor for long because researchers concluded that eating too much ramen noodles could increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Hold on. Let me go smoke a cigarette real quick. Ok, I’m back <cough cough>. I knew I had made it in the world when I was able to eschew the Top Ramen and scrape open a box of Golden Curry. Still easy to make, but to fully experience the awesomeness of each packet, rice and some veggies were a necessity. You need a cooker to make rice. That’s a huge step up in the hierarchy. It’s akin to when man figured out how to make tools and weapons to hunt and gather. Anyways, thinking about those wonderful days of my life got me thinking to the brothers, Seth and Steph Curry. Seth is Top Ramen, while Steph is Golden Curry. Both are productive and satisfy one’s fantasy appetite, but Steph takes it to a level that only a few can appreciate. Last night, Steph scored 39 points, grabbed 11 boards, dished out seven dimes, and pilfered three on 14-of-24 shooting from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. The 39 points and 11 boards were both season highs. Now, Kevin Durant did not play in this game and the opposition was the Brooklyn Nets. With that said, this Curry has been hot and spicy to the tune of the number two overall player in fantasy.

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