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:

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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?

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better” (Pat Riley)

With Week 13 in the books of history, fantasy basketball reaches a critical point this week. A lot of teams are looking up to 6th place and some may be thinking of throwing in the towel. This is a mistake. In a nine-cat league, two good weeks can make an apparently bad team into a monster, that can win a league. I remember last year when I won a Yahoo Fantasy Winner League and one of the ITL Satellite leagues. In both cases, I was out of the playoffs in week seventeen. The secret was working the waiver wire and buying low on the best players for the second half of the season (a constant in every fantasy season). I bought low on Chris Paul, Gary Harris, Khris Middleton, Marquese Chriss, and Nikola Mirotic, for example. This season these things will happen again, for sure.

 

Here is how the action went down in Week 12 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

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What’s up Razzballers? We had a doozy of a game last night in Toronto between the Raptors and the Warriors. I don’t typically like to give the lede to players on the losing team, but this was the best game in a night of great games, and DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show. He was a big reason the Raptors were even competitive as he went for 42/5/3 on 17-for-31 FG (0-for-4 3P, 8-for-10 FT) and two TOs. This was in a game the Raptors lost by just two after being down 81 to 54 (!) at halftime. The end was a big clusterfrick too. No other Raptor  played more than 30 minutes, as the almost-comeback was mostly led by DeMar and the bench since Kyle Lowry was out with injury. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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.

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What a night for the Bearded One, and its not even Christmas yet! 6-51-4-8-3-0-8. Back-to-back 50-burgers, both coming in losses. The last guy to do that was Wilt Chamberlain. He’s probably the frontrunner for MVP, and he added to his case last night. CP3 was out again, and the Rockets are just not the same without him. There were a lot of games last night, and a lot of big lines so let’s jump right in! Here’s what went down last night in fantasy hoops:

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When watching Kyle Kuzma play basketball, all I can think about is the Notorious B.I.G. One of my favorite songs is Juicy.

Many in the NBA thought Kuzma wouldn’t amount to nothin’. Now he’s in the limelight ’cause his hoops game is tight. Now honies play him close like butter played toast. Ha! What a line. Biggie Smalls was the illest. Anyways, Kuzma went from negative to positive and it all started when he was drafted 27th overall in the NBA Draft. The Summer League followed, where he dominated and led the Lakers to hoisting the trophy. Then the regular season started. He scored double figures in five of his first seven NBA games. It was on, baby bay-bee. In fact, there’s only been one other game in which he failed to score double digits. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s played 27 games, yet only started 11. Kuuuuuuuuuuuz! It all came to a culmination last night against the Rockets.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 38 7 4 0 1 0 7/10 12/17 7/10

This is no fluke. Kuz has been balling from day one and is only going to get better. It’s on, baby bay-bee!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are many reasons why players ball the F out. Straight cash homie is a popular option. To pay respects for a fallen compadre is a sentimental one. For the love of the game? Often attempted but rarely executed. The number one reason? Survey says?! To get laid, of course. Now, being a Lakers fan, I immediately have to address AC Green, the legend that ended his NBA career as a virgin. Simply put, he’s not human. If Drago thought Rocky wasn’t human, then he would’ve bended the knee and kissed the feet of AC. You think a man that played 1,192 consecutive games and did not have sexual relations during that time is human? The definition of outlier does not require words. Only this. Now, Kristaps Porzingis is a giant of a man at 7′ 3″ 240 pounds. His skill on the basketball court is at such a level that many call him a Unicorn. But. But. The dude just wants to get laid. It’s been well documented that Porzingis and Jen Selter have started following each other on Instagram and liking each other’s post. If you are not following @World_Wide_Wob on Twitter, your life has no meaning. Leading up to the matchup against the Lakers, in MSG, and on the ESPN national stage, things were getting steamy between the two. At least as steamy as things can get over the internet. But that can only go so far. At some point, real life kicks in and it’s either YAY or NAY. Well…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 11 1 1 5 3 5/8 14/26 4/5

Enjoy your night Mr. Kristaps “I am warm-blooded human” Porzingis. I think YAY is in the cards or maybe YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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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?