If you think there was a changing of the guard in Cleveland, then you forgot about the Spurs’ offseason. This is a team whose slogan should be “out with the old, in with the new.” Losing one of the best players in the NBA is hard, but gaining youth while maintaining veteran leadership is impressive. What makes the Popovich era so great in San Antonio is his ability to rebuild while contending and, while last year was a down year, I think things pick up quite nicely for the Spurs in 2018-19. Now for the fantasy spin on this years Spurs squad.
John Wall went from hero to zero back to hero in Washington this season. Nobody will argue that John Wall is the most talented player on the Wizards, but when he went down with a knee injury and the team started playing its best basketball of the season, people started questioning Wall’s value to the team. His selfish play was viewed as holding the team back in the day-and-age of the Hoosier method of at least three passes before a shot. The team’s hot streak wore off, however, and everyone started clamoring for Wall’s return. Now the Wizards are battling for a playoff spot and John Wall stepped up for one of his best games of the season: 4/29/7/13/3/3. I mean, wow, nice game and nice timing. Anyone still playing in fantasy who has John Wall is as excited about the timing of this as the city of Washington D.C. Anyway, here is what else I saw last night as teams battle for the last playoff spot and just plain old last place:
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:
There are always a few players that magically appear at fantasy playoff time and help propel some teams to victory. Championship teams know this and they read sites like Razzball and closely watch the waiver wire so they can be the team that snags the hot rookie who finally put it all together or, in the case of MarShon Brooks, the veteran that nobody even still thought was playing professional basketball in America. Brooks popped up a few games ago and had a huge night, but he was injured and missed the next game, which is why he is still on waivers in most leagues. Last night he showed that the big game was not a fluke, however, as he finished with a line of: 5/25/4/7/2/0. He hit 9-17 from the floor, including 5-10 from deep. Wow! I thought he would be a nice THRAGNOF at the end of the year, but his all-around line makes him a must-add in every league and a must-start in nearly all formats. So stop reading this and go get him! Here is what else I saw last night:
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.
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:
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:
Back in 2004, Dwight Howard was an affable kid with human heads as shoulders. Selected #1 overall by the Orlando Magic out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Dwight looked to be the next superstar of the NBA. Look was an understatement. He averaged a double-dub, played in every game his rookie season, and was named to the All-Rookie Team. The next three years, Howard got bigger, stronger, and led the Magic to the playoffs. In 2008, he became Superman when he donned the cape in the dunk contest. All was good in the world of Dwight. But then things began turning the other way. The Magic couldn't advance in the playoffs and the league started to employ the Hack-a-Dwight, due to his atrocious free throw shooting. Then, in 2012, he asked to be traded, tried to get his coach fired (allegedly), but ended up signing with the Magic and hugging his coach. Huh? It got worse, though. Dwight had back surgery and missed the rest of the 2012 season. Then, asked to be traded to BKN, but got shipped to LA instead, where Kobe ripped him a new one. Houston for three years, then Atlanta, then finally Charlotte. I can't wait for the ESPN 30 for 30 on Dwight, but I'm not writing about that. I'm writing about that fact that Dwight went:
The first 30/30 game since Kevin Love accomplished the feat in 2010. Harvey Pollack, the Sixers' Director of Statistical Information back in 2010, told John Hareas of NBA.com that "there have been 131 30/30 performances." Wilt Chamberlain did it 103 times! Ha! Well, add Dwight to the list.
Here's what else I saw last night:
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.
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:
Here's what else I saw last night:
Whether you're in your head-to-head playoffs or gearing up for the final month of the roto season, I'm here to help you figure out which moves to make to maximize your chances to win. Last week, I discussed the amount of games played per week and for the remainder of the season for each team and how to value their players accordingly. This week, I'll go through some free agent specialists to consider picking up. Next week, I'll return to my bread and butter: punting categories. As always, I don't only mean those that went with a season-long strategy of punting free throw percentage. By this point, you have so much more information about exactly what your team needs and, almost as important, what it doesn't need. Of course you know that you should be focusing on steals if you're only about 20 behind two other teams in the roto category or going all in on field goal percentage if that's the only category you need to swing the final score in your playoff matchup. But, from my own experience, I know that you're probably still focusing on players and categories that can no longer help you. It's so hard to decide to sit a 25-point scoring all-star for the final month of the season. But, if you're running away with points in a landslide, those points do nothing for you anymore. I remember multiple seasons where I had to completely ignore all stats except for steals and blocks for the final few weeks of a roto league. Sitting a guy like Damian Lillard (past 30 days: 0.9 steals and 0.2 blocks) for someone like Dewayne Dedmon (1.3/1.2). Forget the names and focus on the stats. So, today, I'll give you some players you may be able to grab who can help you in the specific categories you need. This time of year, that's going to include some surprise players that are getting extra run and/or usage. So, this will also be a reminder to focus on what's going on now as opposed to the numbers we got used to in the first half of the season.
I remember this time back in college. A buddy of mine was visiting over Spring Break, and brought a guy that went to school with him. I had a bag of shrooms, a bag of trees, and Die Hard was playing on the tv. 'Twas looking like a fantastic night. After we puff, puff, passed, and munch, munch, munched....my buddy's buddy started saying that he wasn't feeling anything and wanted some more. We advised him that he needed to chill out and let things percolate a bit, but he kept insisting. A few hours later, we found him curled up on a chair in the middle of a room, with a blanket over him, and swiveling himself round and round. My buddy's buddy was bugging out big time, but that's what he gets for being impatient. Which segues perfectly to Nemanja Bjelica.
Prior to last night, Bjelica started four games for the injured Jimmy Butler. He averaged 10 points, 9 boards, 2.5 dimes, and 1.5 steals. Not bad, but not great. Here's the thing, though. He was playing a ton of minutes. 45, 34, 34, and 33 to be exact. Last night, he played 40 minutes. It was just a matter of time. Remember earlier in the year when Butler was underperforming? Similar deal, in that it took time for things to gel. Anyways, will he be dropping 30/12 every night? Probably not, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. He has the ability and, most importantly, is going to continue getting a shit ton of minutes.
Here's what else I saw last night: