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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Image result for eric bledsoe hair salon

Phoenix is on a self-imposed downhill slide, and Eric Bledsoe won’t have any of it.

Many are convinced that the firing of Earl Watson is in response to the soon-to-be infamous “I dont wanna be here” tweet by Bledsoe—that and, in a bigger part, because the Suns are having one, if not the most, horrendous start to a NBA season– losing by an average of 30.7 points in their first three games.  And yet, even with an assurance from Eric that he didn’t mean what he said, General Manager Ryan McDonough looks determined to trade him away for more, let’s say, programmable pieces and embrace, as if he still does not, the rebuilding process in Phoenix.

Who would’ve thought that it’d be tweet while in a hair salon that would finally do it for Eric Bledsoe? He’s been wanting a trade before the season started and now, at least according to McDonough, he’ll finally get his wish. Will it be a contender who’ll get him, or is the Suns management bitter enough to exile him to just another pigsty of a team? Well, as long as the deal would benefit them, I think they have the luxury to not care.

In no particular order, here are five takes on where Eric Bledsoe could be days from now.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So I’m not a basketball historian, and I’m still a young pup. I barely remember the Bulls glory years – I was in elementary school when they won titles 4-6 (yikes, aging the crap outta myself), but I do vividly remember the Byron Russell push-off and I cherished my Michael Jordan cards. I still have a bunch of em! This one is still in a nice case and one of my favorites… Anyway, when I saw Jimmy Butler go off for 52/12/6/3/1 last night, I was about to make all sorts of tongue-and-cheek MJ parallels…

Got the same reverse layup and everything! But then it dawned on me… Butler is more like Scottie Pippen if there was no Jordan. Pippen’s best season was 93-94, unsurprisingly the year without MJ, and went 22.0/8.7/5.6/2.9/0.8 on 49% shooting with 0.9 treys. So far this year, J Buckets is 25.3/6.8/4.4/1.7/0.3 on 46% shooting with 1.1 treys. While Pippen was obviously one of the best defensive players of his generation, Butler is a much better FT shooter and gets to the line more. But the rest is really close, and I thought kinda interesting food for thought. So the answer for the Bulls is simple – find a Michael Jordan for Buckets to play next to! I’m a problem-solver – if only every team’s issue in the NBA was this easy! Hah! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

siakam

So here we are, heading towards the start of the season and what a difference a few weeks makes. If you have been following the rookie rankings (remember these rankings are just from the 2016 NBA draft, and thus exclude draft and stash candidates), then you know that we are at the home stretch, bringing you numbers 41-60.

For those of you that have not quite caught up to speed, and only just starting to get your research together, then here is the previously stated top 40:

Please, blog, may I have some more?