I’ve been on hiatus, probably since about a month to go in the 2017-18 season. I blame myself, and my schedule, for not being loyal to my readers. My league had ended, as I ranted about in my last piece, but yours probably didn’t. For those looking for the league winners I had been providing throughout the season, I apologize. For those who are reading my column for the first time ever here in July, I applaud and welcome you to Beyond the Glory.

For those who don’t remember, I was literally two game 7 wins away from being the only Razzball writer to have the Rockets and Celtics in the finals, and then I got neither. I would have basked in that glory for at least a year, but being bold only brought me close to brilliance. Either way, I am back and will be knocking out more content in the offseason, before going back to weekly columns for your reading pleasure.

Oh, the offseason. The start of the NBA season is many months away, yet something inside of me is far too excited for fantasy basketball. Call it what you will. We are the midst of the baseball season and fantasy football prep has begun in earnest. With all of this going on, though, I come home at night and turn on the NBA Summer League. I don’t know why, but my remote leads me there. The only reasonable explanation is that I am pumped for the new draft class. I am pumped to see free agent signings and I am pumped for LeB… I promised myself I wouldn’t go there. I am going to hold strong, because in truth, I’m not excited for anything but basketball, fantasy basketball, and Kevin Knox (more on him later) for 2018-19. So let’s get into the recent draftees and who they may compare to this upcoming year, giving us some pre-pre-preseason sleepers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The NBA is now a year-round drama, but the last 24 hours have been nuts! LeBron James finally made his decision and will join Laker Nation, whose fans are preparing for the next chapter in their colorful existence. Not only do we get to see LeBron adorn the sacred Purple and Gold, but the theatrics of LaVar Ball and Lance Stephenson, which could simulate the experiences of the Ultimate Fighter Challenge. It wasn’t all about Lebron, though. Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Chris Paul committed to the Warriors, Thunder, and Rockets respectively. The West now hoards all the talent, while the East looks to be the land of opportunity.

Free agency dominoes have, and will continue to fall over the upcoming weeks, but don’t let that distract you from another piece of the NBA machine: SUMMER LEAGUE.

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We choose to supersize that meal or put cheese on the burger so that our stomachs look like Kuato in Total Recall. That’s our choice. We choose to wear the jimmy hat or live dangerously. That’s our choice. We choose to draft KAT over Anthony Davis in fantasy. That’s our choice. But there is so much out of our control. The world we were born into. Our parents. What we look like. In a videogame, we choose what difficulty level we play on. In life, that has been chosen for us. Some play on hard, while others get cheat codes. Willy Hernangomez hit the genetic lottery. 6′ 11″ 240 pounds, athletically skilled, and good looking. Sure, he worked his ass off to get where he’s at. Lifting weights, running, and plucking eyebrows, but he had a nice base to work with. Last year during his rookie campaign, he was a monster per-36: 16 points, 13.6 boards, 2.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% field goal percentage, and 73% free throw percentage. Unfortunately, he only played 18 minutes per game. Out of his control. Regardless, Willy was viewed as a franchise piece, but then the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter. The minutes plummeted to 9 a game, even though the per-36 numbers were still robust. Out of his control. If you go back to my earlier blurbs regarding Willy, I mentioned that he hooked up with Hornacek’s daughter. I’d hit up the Google machine right now. Wouldn’t you? I’m still not dismissing that angle, so maybe Willy had some control in the matter. Anyways, after bitching and complaining, he finally got his wish and was shipped to the Hornets. Too bad the Hornets had some guy named Dwight Howard. Can’t forget about Cody Zeller as well. So, Willy was not freed and the situation looked identical to the one in New York. But, Zeller is out for the season due to injury and yesterday, Willy played a season-high 22 minutes.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 15 11 0 2 0 0 0/1 2/3 11/14

Per-36 in CHA, Willy is at: 17.7 points, 14.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture and there’s no reason to push Dwight, so Willy should see significant run to end the season. Free at last….free at last….Willy is free at last.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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What’s up Razzballers? Fan favourite Aaron Gordon had a monster line, destroying the lowly Suns to the tune of 29/11/8/3/1 on 10-for-18 FG (3-for-6 3P, 6-for-9 FT) and three TOs. It was a clean and lethal stat line, and exactly the kind that you needed on the Saturday of your playoff semifinals. AG’s been a beast since his return and I really hope you stashed him where you could. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Marvel Universe has been on quite a heater lately, culminating in the recently released Black Panther movie. With that said, an underappreciated and rarely talked about character is The Juggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength and durability, is virtually unstoppable once in motion, and immune to mental attacks when donning a helmet. He’s fought and taken on all comers. Sounds alot like LeBron James aka LeJuggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength? Check. Is durable? Has played 1130 career games and missed 111, with many of those due to “rest.” As this fivethirtyeight.com article stated, LeBron has “never missed a playoff game” even though he has the “sixth-most regular season minutes of all time.” He’s in the top 3 all time of games played per season as a percentage of the player’s teams’ total regular-season and playoff games. Among active players, “no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James.” I think that’s a resounding Check. Is unstoppable once in motion? Check. Immune to mental attacks? He had his moments early in his career when it seemed like LeBron was mentally fragile, but as time has gone on, he’s shown to be impervious to distractions both on and off the court. Check. Last night, LeJuggernaut messed around by rampaging through the Milwaukee Bucks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 12 10 2 1 6 3/7 16/29 5/8

There are 12 games left in the regular season and the Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. IND, WAS, and PHI are only one game back in the loss column. It’s winning time and LeJuggernaut has been unleashed for the stretch run. If you don’t believe me, take a look below:

PTS REB AST BLK STL
OCT 24.6 7.1 8.6 1.1 1.0
NOV 29.6 8.7 8.5 1.2 1.5
DEC 27.5 8.2 10.3 0.8 1.9
JAN 23.5 7.3 7.4 1.1 1.8
FEB 27 10.5 10.5 0.4 1.7
MAR 30 10.3 9.1 1.2 1.6

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are two points of a fantasy basketball season where seasons can be won and lost: the first is at the draft and the second is when there are about twenty games left in the season. The draft is obvious. That is when you set the foundation of your team. The second point is a little more subtle.

For those owners in head-to-head leagues, this second point is important because you are setting your team up (hopefully) for the playoffs. You want players who have a lot of games and are on teams who will not be resting them during the critical time. The subtle part is directed more at owners in roto leagues. There are still enough games left to make moves in categories you can climb in or maintain your lead in categories you are ahead in.

The waiver wire is your tool to win the league at this point. Young players are finally putting it together and playing well and injuries are opening up time for bench guys who have played well when given minutes. The Golden State Warriors, and their massive amount of injuries to star players, is a team to focus on in order to find one or two players who can help you with that late season charge.

Quinn Cook is the player I want to focus on in this recap, and if you need threes, points, assists, steals, I will pause for a moment so you can go and pick him up. While we are waiting for those owners to get back can we just talk about how dumb they are for not picking up Cook yet and having him active for this game against the lowly Suns? Wait, wait, quiet, they’re coming back…

Welcome back, we were just waiting quietly for you. I hope you were able to add him. Cook is a 2-way player, no, that is not sexual. It means that he is one of two players each team can send back and forth to the G-League during the season. Cook has dominated G-League play for most of the year and now, because of injuries to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, Cook is getting 40 minutes per game and putting up more than decent fantasy point guard stats. Last night Quinn Cook went for: 5/28/4/4/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 40 minutes. This was on 11-17 shooting, including 5-7 from three. Pick him up.

Here is what else I saw on a busy St. Patrick’s Day:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I was younger, I used to love watching The Jeffersons. Always made me laugh. It wasn’t until later in life that I fully appreciated what the show was about, though. Race and the American Dream. It was possible for people of color to achieve success and move up the proverbial ladder. In the case of George Jefferson, he was able to accomplish it through the opening of a chain of dry cleaning stores. But there are a myriad of ways to accomplish the feat. Which brings me to Al Jefferson of the Indiana Pacers. The 33-year-old has played 14 seasons in the NBA. A once 20/10 player had been relegated to bench mob, averaging less than 15 minutes a game over the past two seasons. Last night, though, he got his opportunity due to injuries for both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 20 12 2 1 1 0 0 9/15 2/3

What year is it? Anyways, it was a season-high for points, rebounds, and minutes played. With Sabonis out until next week and Turner possibly out as well, Jefferson is movin on up that depth chart.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?