With the season minutes away, and drafts likely complete, there is still time to dig deep for those watch list wonders and sneaky waiver pickups. Whether these players are in a new scheme, new location, getting more minutes or just primed for a breakout, there are potential underrated stars to be had on every team. I highlighted the Eastern Conference earlier in the week, now we’ll tackle the Western Conference and look for players who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner than later.

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The Portland Trail Blazers are an odd team for fantasy basketball. They are a good regular season team, but for fantasy there are only two stars and Jusuf Nurkic, a borderline top 100 player. They’re in a tough spot because everyone knows they’re not going to compete for a championship, big free agents are hard to lure to Portland, Oregon, and the team is too good to get a high draft pick. Damian Lillard is locked up, for this year and the next, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021. He has gone on the record stating that he’d like to stay in Portland, but if the Blazers front office doesn’t do something drastic, this team is going to be on the proverbial treadmill for years.

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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? With the season coming to a close in the next few days, this will obviously be my last Any Given Saturday of the season. It’s been a pleasure writing for y’all! Anyway enough of that, let’s get to the juicy stat lines. Anthony Davis put up another huge rainbow, going for 34/12/4/2/4 on 13-for-24 FG (0-for-1 3P, 8-for-10 FT) and only two TOs as he led the Pelicans over the Warriors on the road in Golden State. He’s been an absolute monster all year, and especially so in the second half of the season. Best of all, he’s managed to stay relatively healthy. I don’t think anybody is even close to him in terms of fantasy MVP. Long live the Brow. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re probably in your fantasy basketball championship week. If you’re not, you have a sick addiction to NBA basketball and still care how your friends’ weeks are going, or you’re a a masochist and want to see how you could have done if you made the finals. It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the NBA, with injuries, teams resting key guys, and extreme tanking. I would move your league’s final week up at least one week if I was you, because your team at this point in the year probably doesn’t resemble what it was even three short weeks ago. I think if you’re wise you will draft guys on mid to upper tier teams next year, who actually will be playing for something down the stretch. One of these guys is Paul Millsap. The Nuggets are battling for a playoff spot and Millsap got all the run he could handle going 2-36-9-2-0-0-1 on 13-of-18 shooting and 8-of-11 FTs. He could be on a lot of winning squads with four games this week. With that said, there have been some key steamers and beneficiaries of rested players and late season injuries. Here is what went down on a key Friday night for Fantasy Basketball:

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I’m going to take a break from numbers this week. A break from Trey Burke, Quinn Cook, and Denzel Valentine impacting fantasy playoff teams infinitely more than Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard. A break from dealing with players on tanking teams sitting indefinitely every time someone steps on their toe, or from players on playoff teams resting without notice. Heck, a break from the NCAA tournament that only has one projected lottery pick left to watch.

This is probably going to most interest dynasty and keeper league players, but those already itching to rank and project players for next season will find this intriguing, too. Today, I’m going to look at who this summer’s free agents are. That period from the draft (draft lottery only 47 days away!) through the first week of free agency is probably my favorite on the NBA calendar, since about a third of the league seems to change teams. So many new dynamics to consider for so many teams. The impact on fantasy is huge, too. I’m definitely no insider with information to help predict who’s going where, but I do find it helpful to know whose value is likely to remain the same and whose has a wide range of outcomes. The latter are often good targets if you need to get risky to improve your keeper/dynasty team over the summer. Do you have a Terry Rozier type that would gain a ton of value if he moved on to a starting role? Is he free to do so? Also, remember to think of which teammates might be affected by these players should they change teams. For example, are the players blocking Mario Hezojna’s path to more minutes likely to get out of his way? Then again, might LeBron, PG13, and CP3 all be coming to your player’s team to squash his usage? Here are the most fantasy relevant free agents. Wow, this summer could be a big one.

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First of all, Joel Embiid is ok and it is probable that he makes it back for the game in Atlanta on Friday. Now, the second most important thing out of Philadelphia is Dario Saric’s huge game. Super Dario went off for 2/26/14/5/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 36 minutes. The 76ers are rolling right now and I would not want to play this team in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Sorry for the quick open but it is getting late here in Arizona. So 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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Average. Middle. Meh? I guess it all depends on perception. Someone born into poverty would be praised if he/she achieved average economic status. On the flip side, if you are a one-percenter, I assume that average would prompt seppuku. Average is often associated with boring. He/she was average in the sack. The higher above the line probably correlates well with intenstity of orgasm. For flip side? Supplant higher with lower. Why does average get such a bad rap? It ain’t great, but it puts food on the table. It often gives 1.5 children and a white picket fence, if you are so inclined to have either. With that said, we are a “what have you done for me lately” society. We are all about celebrating the highs, while conveniently eschewing the trials and tribulations. Well, yesterday Joe Harris was not your Average Joe.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 30 7 2 1 0 1 6/7 11/14 2/2

The CLE defense is atrocious, but let’s not forget about the……REVENGE!!!! Harris was drafted by the Cavaliers back in 2014. He played two seasons there, never averaging more than 10 points or scoring 3 points a game. During the 2016 season, though, Joe underwent surgery on his foot and was traded to ORL a week later. Then he was immediately waived. BKN picked him up and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years with the Nets has produced…..wait for it (an homage to HIMYM)…..average results. This season, in particular, Joe is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 boards, 1.5 dimes, and 1.8 downtowners in 25.1 minutes a game. He’s scored double figures in 41 of 71 games played, but has not eclipsed the 20 point threshold once. Anyways, I clowned him earlier in the season, but Harris is no Average Joe, and the Nets don’t think so either. Even with all the wing players that they have, Joe has been getting consistent playing time for most of the season. He can shoot and is able to drive strong to the rack and finish. An Average Joe on most nights, but yesterday, he was anything but.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Basketball is a funny game. The Atlanta Hawks were riding a six-game losing streak and heading to Utah to face off against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Dennis Schroder, the point guard for the Hawks, had failed to score 20 points in each of the six losses. Then, a funny thing happened. The D went missing. Did Dennis change his name to Ennis? No!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 5 7 0 0 2 3/7 16/28 6/10

Forty burger! Against a team that was 8th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Against Ricky Rubio, who was 10th in defensive real plus minus. Schroder had a 42.7 usage rate last night! Going forward, though, I wouldn’t expect too many performances like last night. Taurean Prince, who had been the alpha in terms of usage, got Prince’D, so someone had to step up. In addition, while Schroder has had a couple of big games this season, they have been too few to count on. Expect scoring to be in the 18-20 point range with 5-7 assists, and 2-3 boards.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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