Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Alright! Who’s still rockin’ in the playoffs? Some of us got screwed over by late-season injuries and will forever curse the names of the players who hurt themselves and cost us hundreds of dollars and bragging rights amongst our friends. With the season winding down and fantasy playoffs in full swing, there are many players who are suddenly becoming fantasy-relevant down the stretch. The Mavericks have fallen out of playoff contention, but fantasy owners are monitoring them closely because they have some juicy pickups. Maxi Kleber went 3-18-12-1-0-1-0 on 5-of-11 shooting and 5-for-5 FTs and Jalen Brunson went 4-22-4-2-0-0-0 on 8-of-18 shooting and 2-for-2 FTs. Both of these guys have suddenly become viable options, especially with the Mavericks playing four games next week. Brunson has been ballin’ over his last five averaging 21.2 points and 5.6 assists with really nice peripherals. I would definitely add him if he’s somehow available and would strongly consider adding Kleber if you have something to lose. There’s only two weeks left for most of us, so if a guy’s not producing, or you’re like me and lost Malcolm Brogdon, it’s time to cut bait and make a pickup.Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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For some of us fantasy basketball players, this week doesn’t matter much. We’ve locked up our playoff spots and are just waiting for them to begin. For others, these last few games are critical to seeding. If you own Karl-Anthony Towns, you’ve most likely locked up a playoff spot by now, because he’s been a beast all year. If that’s your situation, you probably just wanted the game last night between the T-Wolves and the Wizards to come to an end, but it went into OT and KAT hurt his knee in the waning moments of the game. Although it doesn’t seem to be serious, he is still headed for an MRI and the Wolves could play it safe with him given their place in the standings. This is obviously bad news if your playoffs start next week and you don’t have a first-round bye. Towns played exceptionally well prior to the injury going 4-40-16-2-2-1-1 on 15-of-25 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. More will be known in the coming days regarding his knee, but this would be the worst possible timing, as he’s been cruising all year.

On a lighter note, here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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If you grew up in the 90s, there’s no doubt you heard “Steal My Sunshine” by Len. The radio stations only played it five times every hour for months on end. Remember, this was before iPods, iPhones, Spotify, and XM Radio. It was also a time when MTV and VH1 would actually….you know…play music videos, so the inundation was widespread and impossible to eradicate. The song had a nice summer vibe to it and made one feel happy, but if you dig into the lyrics, it’s about depression…at least in the beginning, but the song is ultimately about overcoming depression and being happy. Well, Alex Len has been a source of depression for fantasy owners for a long, long time. We’ve always been tantalized by the potential but he could never put it together on a consistent basis. Last night, though, it all came together….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 9 2 0 2 0 5/8 9/18 5/8

…at least for one night, a career-high night in points no less. Now, don’t get gassed because he received his first start since late December, as John Collins and Omari Spellman both did not play due to injury. He did play 36 minutes in the prior game and put up 24/10, but that game went to triple overtime. In addition, both games were against the Bulls. Put your head down in shame Bulls. Anyways, when the Hawks get healthy, Len will return to coming off the bench and receiving fewer than 20 minutes of run, but keep in mind that when injuries strike, Len does have some upside. He has eight dub-dubs on the season.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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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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You listen to Kyrie Irving and get hypnotized, as the voice is smooth and the delivery is graceful. Then he hits you with the “Earth is flat” or “Ask me July 1.” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It’s the same story on the court, as the bevy of moves get you transfixed. Dribble, dribble, then jab step with the right foot, behind-the-back dribble, change directions with the left foot, then explode to the basket for 2. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

I have a hard time replicating his moves in NBA 2K! Anyways, yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 11 0 1 4 1/5 14/19 1/1

For the season, he’s a top 10 player, and has been the #4 player over the past four games, averaging 36.6 minutes, 27.8 points, 2.3 threeecolas, 5.8 boards, 9.3 dimes, 3 steals, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 54% from the field and 90% from the line. The usage rate has been over 30. So sick. For shits and giggles, I wanted to see how this season has compared to those in the past. The 49% shooting from the field, 41% from downtown, 1.2 offensive rebounds, 4.9 rebounds, 6.9 dimes, 1.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks are all career-highs. I knew he was having a good season. I didn’t know he was having a great one. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?