Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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After a season opener in which he was practically a non-factor, Dallas’s offseason acquisition of Delon Wright had a much more encouraging performance on Friday night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 7 3 5 0 0 0-1 8-12 4-4

This all around contribution is what we saw from him in small doses after he broke out last season, and he should be a valuable contributor going forward on a dynamic Mavericks team. Here are some other notes from Friday’s nearly-full slate of games.

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Points guards are the Mother Teresas of the fantasy basketball world, as they like to give. Shooting guards are….the cavemen. See ball, shoot ball, take ball, then shoot ball. Rinse and repeat. These are obviously generalizations, but shooters shoot, and that’s what this post is all about. I kid, kind of. The elite at this position are across-the-board contributers, while the rest are indeed cavemen.

To see my per-game value projections for each player, click HERE. In the “Pos” box (which stands for position, not the other thing you were thinking), type in “sg” and the table will sort by just shooting guards.

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The young Nuggets are on the rise, and the future is bright with a team full of young guns and great depth. This team is fun to watch in real life, and a gold mine for fantasy purposes. Despite missing Garry Harris and Will Barton for a large chunk of the year, they still managed to finish 2nd in the Western Conference. They return this season largely the same, and will look to build on last year’s success. Barton and Harris are reportedly healthy, so that should give them an added boost. Their season ended last year by running into the buzzsaw that is Damian Lilliard, but they are a year older and wiser, so look for them to make another deep run in the playoffs.

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The fantasy playoffs are finally here. If you are a roto fan, like me, this does not mean much apart from a slight focus to the categories you stand to gain or lose some points. But for my H2H people out there, this is when the real season begins. Every game and every stat counts and players that are not performing or have a medium-term injury are not welcome any more. Be aggressive with your adds and drops and don’t keep players “for the next matchup” unless you are absolutely sure there will be a next matchup. Because most fantasy leagues are past their trade deadline, this article and all the rest until the end of the season will focus more on adds and drops to the waiver wire and much less on trade targets.

Taking a look at last week’s candidates, the Grizzlies played just 2 games, so Delon Wright can not be adequately judged. He looked good in both these games and I still like him due to the potential of a Mike Conley shutdown. Harry Giles was average at best and the return of Marvin Bagley does not help, while both Danny Green and Malik Beasley proved worthy Sell suggestions, as there are better options available on your wire. As mentioned above, the time for hard but necessary cuts is now, so if a player is underperforming don’t hesitate to get a hot free agent in his place.

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Los Angeles, we have a problem. A season that started with nothing but optimism has quickly spiraled into a whirlwind of under-performance, coach questioning, and rumors, as the Lakers are currently the 11th seed in the West, six wins below the Spurs, who are currently holding onto the final playoff position. What is more discouraging is that they have won only five of their last 18 games and the chemistry is visibly mediocre, to say the least.

LeBron’s defense has come into question, and for valid reasons, as at times he seems disinterested on that end of the floor. The only player that seems to have come alive, proving me completely wrong in the process, is Rajon Rondo, but the Lakers have a long way to go. It is going to be a very interesting summer for them and I expect many changes both in the coaching and player personnel.

Apart from Rondo, last week’s buy suggestions of Joakim Noah and Tyus Jones were also misses, as the former saw his minutes reduced and the latter disappeared due to the return of Jeff Teague. On the contrary, Luke Kennard is starting to look like a must own player and I encourage you to hurry and get him because he won’t be available for long. Finally, both sell candidates, Harrison Barnes and Justise Winslow, have not done anything to convince me that they should be removed from the trading block of your team.

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The All-Star Break means three more weeks, or 2.5 more matchups, until the head-to-head playoffs begin in most leagues. And even for Roto-Leaguers, we’re already 70% of the way through the season. At this point, you know your teams. Or, at least you can if you take a few minutes to examine them. Odds are that there are stat categories that hardly matter to you by now. Once again, that can be because of a punt strategy or simply because of the way your team and league shook out. For example, though I didn’t intend to punt any categories this season, I ended up dead last in FG% in a roto league with no chance of catching up. That category doesn’t mean anything to me now, so I can ignore it. Similarly, in the head-to-head Razzball Experts League, I have little chance to win assists in any given week. I could try to make that up or I could double down and load up on the other categories. I have a feeling your teams may have also lost some categories early. Or maybe more likely, you have a team that just dominates a category or two to the point that you can ignore it and still win. And even if you don’t find yourself far out in front or way behind in any categories, there are likely a few roto stats where you’re too far away from the teams above and below you to worry about them.

So, today it’s time to check up on who might be available and extra-valuable to YOUR team. We’re not just looking at traditional hot waiver wire pickups. Some of them would apply, but glance through this list after you know what stats you can safely ignore, and see if somebody’s right for you. Consider using the opposite train of thought when deciding who to drop, too. You’re lapping the competition in rebounds? You may want to drop an end-of-the-roster big instead of a worse overall player.

You’ll see the top players I recommend that are available in at least one-third of Yahoo leagues here, along with their 8-category and 9-cateogry punt rankings that are based on the per-game performances of the past 60 days (through 2/12) according to Basketball Monster.

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P. S. stands for postscript, which comes from the Latin word postscriptum and literally means “written after.” It’s used for an afterthought, not cool enough to be a part of the main piece. Like, oh by the way, I forgot to mention this but blah blah blah. It gets a bad rap, but as Shaun Usher of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The P. S. is the most charming part of a letter. It’s the wink you give as you walk away.” It’s the cherry on top, the bam for the wham, and the mic drop. Like, P. S. – You the shiznitz. What? What?! Which segues perfectly to Pascal Siakam.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 10 2 0 3 4 4/5 15/25 10/12

A career-high in points scored. On the season, Siakam has been a top 40 player, but over the past four games, he’s been top 25. The usage rate has spiked to 28 and he’s averaged 35.3 minutes, 26 points, 1.5 tres, 9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 1 block while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line on 8 attempts! He literally does it all. Like literally, as he can play center or be a point forward. The improvement in his game has been nothing short of amazing. P. S. is no longer an afterthought and has to be a no-brainer for Most Improved Player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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G – General Audiences. PG – Parental Guidance Suggested. PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned. R – Restricted. NC-17 – Adults Only. Then it jumps to XXX. Unfortunately, this is not a category for Xander Cage, but more of the Pornhub variety. That’s obviously NSFW. Well, we need to have a new category thanks to Paul George. PG NSFW.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
47 12 10 2 0 2 8/13 15/26 9/11

Children can still watch because there is no nudity or violence, but his performances have been NSFW because he’s been turning defenders into mush. Like the scorpion who injects venom into its prey and liquifies the insides. Plus, all the hooting, hollering, and people trying to copy his moves in the workplace is not safe. Man, I’m still so sad that PG is not a Laker. As you’ll see later, too much crying for me in one post. Anyways, PG has been freaking unbelievable this season. He’s the #3 player for fantasy, and he’s been there consistently all season long. Over the past six games, he’s the #2 player!!! The usage rate has been 33 and he’s been averaging 23 shot attempts, 38 points, 5,8 tres, 6.8 boards, 2.8 dimes, and 2.3 steals. His performance has been porn for his owners all season long.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I was never a huge fan of D’Angelo Russell when he was a Laker. The shooting efficiency was poor, the D was porous, and the decision-making and decisiveness were lacking. It was as if DLoading was a picture loading back in the dial-up internet days; one line of pixels at a time. At least now the buffering just shows a ring with a percentage number. Anyways, Russell was a young pup back then. Only 19 and 20 years old. Now, he’s a grizzled, 22-year-old veteran. I kid, but he’s really developed and improved his game, to the point where he’s leading his team to victory over one of the top teams in the NBA.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 6 11 0 0 3 6/9 10/23 1/1

In his first three years in the league, Russell was a 41% shooter from the field and never topped 80% from the line. Now, he’s a 43% shooter from the field and 81% from the line. He’s averaging a tick under 20 points per game, 2.7 tres, 3.7 boards, 6.4 dimes, and 1.1 steals. He’s increased both the tres and dimes by almost 1 per game. In addition, he’s jacking up over 17 shots per game, has a usage rate north of 30, and is a top 50 player on the season for fantasy. When Caris LeVert returns from injury, things could change and Russell could cede some usage, but Russell will continue being a vital part of this Nets team. All the pixels have been revealed and the picture is a glorious one.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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