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?

In the Batman movies, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed as a subservient, damsel in distress character. “Oh no! There’s trouble in Gotham. Let me run up to the rooftop to signal the Batman so that he can take care of everything.” I kid. Commissioner Gordon was old and needed the youth, strength, and resources that Batman could provide. But, before he became a useless POS, Jim Gordon served in the US Marine Corps and was a Special Forces veteran who could kick some serious ass. That’s where we are at with Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic. He’s only 22 years old and 6′ 9″ 220 pounds. He can dribble, shoot, rebound, block, pass, jump like a flea, and run like a gazelle. He’s basically the new and improved version of Blake Griffin. Sad to see the Matrix slowly phasing out Blake for Aaron. Anyways, last night the NBA’s Commissioner Gordon put up the first 40-burger of his career:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 15 4 4 1 1 6/12 13/23 8/11

He led his team to a 121-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team led by Russell Westbrook, aka Beastbrook but I prefer to call him the Hulk. Off the court, Westbrook seems like a funny, charismatic guy. On the court, SMASH….SMASH….SMASH! Dude plays with reckless abandon, which results in an abundance of turnovers, but he will dunk on your grill at every opportunity. And keep coming. And coming. And coming. He truly leaves everything on the court, which is why I’d always want the Hulk on my side, because I know he’d always have my back. As for last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 11 5 5 0 7 7/10 11/23 8/12
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I always enjoyed Outkast when I was younger. Their music would always get me to bob my head from side to side and up and down. The thing I most admired about them, though, was their ability to change. Early on, they were a more “traditional” rap group. As time progressed, they started experimenting and adding elements to their music which made them more funky. End result? My head continued to bob from side to side and up and down. The lead singer was Andre Benjamin, who performed under the stage name “Dre.” As the group changed their style, Benjamin changed his name to “Andre 3000.” The new and improved version, perhaps? Well, the same evolution has been taking place in Detroit, as Andre Drummond has been a beast. On the season, he’s averaging:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 13.7 15.2 3.4 1.4 1.2 3.5 0 99/188 49/81

The boards, assists, and free throw percentage are all at career-highs! The turnovers are at a career-high as well, but that’s a residual effect of being a playmaker. I should’ve known big things were coming when I saw highlights of him playing at the Drew League over the summer. Splashing step back 20-footers? What? The most impressive improvement has obviously been the free throw shooting. The Pistons broadcasters analyzed the differences here. Now, it all culminated last night for Drummond against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 26 22 6 4 0 3 0 10/12 6/8

Season-high in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage. Let’s cut to Andre performing and get a glimpse of how all his fantasy owners are feeling right now:

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Hey y’all. We’re back again, like we never left, with another Saturday Special. Today we’re kicking it off with none other than the Tall Baller From the G himself, Dirk Nowitzki. He had a nice little vintage performance, as he led the Mavericks to a win over the Thunder, going for 19/5/4/2 on 7-for-10 shooting with four threes. Dirk’s no longer a fantasy stud, but it’s nice to be able to show love to one of the greats when they deserve it. Dirk might get sporadic rest days as the season goes on, but he’ll generally be given free reign to do as he pleases while the Mavericks happily tank for a pick. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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The Celtics’ impressive 16-game winning streak is now over. Is it a coincidence that 16 is half of 32, which is the number of games that the ’71 Lakers won in a row? I do not believe in coincidences, until I do. Which makes this iteration of the Celtics half the team of that glorious Lakers squad. All kidding aside, it was an impressive run. The team stepped up when they lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens is now a legitimate Presidential candidate, Kyrie is…..well, Kyrie, and the defense has been the league’s best, by a big margin according to defensive efficiency. I tried everything in the book to jinx the streak. Voodoo dolls, shrines, sacrificing of virgins, and rubbing my scrotum with four-leaf clovers. All to no avail. I had to harken back to the past. All the way back to the ancient days of the early 1990’s. It was during that time, the secret was unlocked by the Leprechaun movies. You see, in the original, the leprechaun is defeated when the well it falls into is blown up. Explosion. Fire. In the third movie, the lepechaun is defeated via flamethrower. Heat was needed and Heat we got Wednesday night, as the Miami Heat took down the Boston Leprechauns 104-98. Who led the way? None other than Goran Dragic, aka the Dragon, who was spewing fire from all over the court: 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and one liberation. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Waiters Island was booming, as Dion Waiters scored 26 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out six dimes. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. How do you beat the Celtics? Shoot 49.4% from the field, which was 4% higher than their season average. Translation: bring the Heat.

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Howdy basketboys and girls, welcome back to another Saturday recap special. There was a great game last night as Ben Simmons and the Sixers almost cooked Steph Curry’s Warriors. The Sixers jumped out to an early 47-28 lead after the first quarter, but the Warriors did Warriors things and pulled off their own 47-15 rout in the third quarter to take back the lead and put the game away. Simmons had 23/8/12 on 11-for-15 shooting and only one turnover in the close loss. Wow. We knew he was great, but he’s blowing past everyone’s expectations this season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy basketball:

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Before I begin, the Razzball site was down all day yesterday. Either the Russians and North Koreans were hacking us or our servers couldn’t handle all the pings from people wanting to read our content. We are flattered by either scenario. Anyways, we just wanted to apologize for what happened and thank you for being patient. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….

I used to hang out with this girl waaaaaaaaay back in the day. She was not the prettiest girl. She was not the smartest girl, but we could have endless conversations about nothing and everything. And boy, could she dance. If you know what I mean. When I watch James Harden play, I always think about that girl. She did not look like him, you weirdos. Harden won’t dunk on anyone’s grill or make Superman-esque plays. His game is in the subtleties. He waits and probes until he sees a defender cheating one way or the other. Then, like a Viet Cong hiding in the bushes, attacks. And boy, can he shoot and Euro-step. If you know what I mean. Anyways, last night Harden scored 48 points on 12-of-22 from the field and 6-of-11 from downtown. Kobe’s like, “Does not compute.” Ladies, he’s a very charitable guy, as he went 18-of-18 from the stripe. It’s doesn’t end there, though. Harden also grabbed two boards, dished out seven dimes, pilfered two, and blocked one. I am excited, but that’s just a tent in my pants. Now, it was against the Phoenix Suns so there’s that. But how about this? He got busy with Chris Paul making his return with 21 minutes of run.

Please, blog, may I have some more?