Zach Randolph had a night against Demarcus Cousins and the Pels on Friday, going 5-35-13-2-1-0-3. His numbers are almost identical to last year, but he had the 3-ball going last night and he led the Kings to victory against New Orleans. I don’t think much comes of this, but it was nice to see the wily old vet have a renaissance and show that he’s still got it.

Before we dive on in, I’d just like to apologize for the brevity. I am doing this write-up from my Kindle Fire with no keyboard, and it is brutal. Please cut me some slack as I get my laptop situation fixed. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on Friday in the NBA:

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If you had a time machine, when/where would you travel to? Use the space below to write down your answers, then print, and finally frame it.

 

 

 

You never know. A philanthropic time traveller could visit one day and offer to take you on three trips. On the condition that you can name the destinations in five seconds or less. Since you already have it printed and framed, you good to go. My first destination would be 25 years into the future Biff Tannen-style. The Sports Almanac from 2017 to 2042 would be the most logical thing to get. Then, I’d go back to the time of Jesus. I have to know. Finally, I’d want to see Wilt Chamberlain play. Since 1963, there had been 152 instances in which a player scored at least 40 points with 20 rebounds in a game. Wilt had 74 of those. The crazy thing is the query on basketballreference.com only went back to 1963. Wilt started his NBA career in 1959. I could go into the game logs for those years, but I’m lazy and we are not here to talk about Wilt. We are here to talk about DeMarcus Cousins aka Boogie.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
40 22 4 0 4 6 2/6 12/25 14/21

Make that 153 times a player has gone 40/20. Boogie now has two two of them, with the other one back in October of this year. Now, we know that Anthony Davis is out for a while. In the games that he’s missed, Cousins’ usage rate has been 46.4, 30.1, and 44.0 last night. If you’re a Cousins owner, dance with the boogie get high ’cause boogie nights are always the best in town.

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I’m astonished having the Team of the Week, but reviewing the team there are three players in the top-10. Victor Oladipo has averaged a stratospheric 27.0 pts, 5.3 reb, 5.3 ast, 3.3 stl, 3.0 blk, and 58.9 FG%. Giannis Antetokounmpo is Giannis and Kyle Lowry put up 5.5 3pts with a perfect 100% from the line.

Here is how the action went down in Week 7 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

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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.

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Jusuf Nurkic had a huge afternoon in Brooklyn on Friday. He really took advantage of the Nets’ lack of viable big men. He came to Brooklyn to kick ass and chew bubblegum… and was all out of gum.  29-15-3-1-4-1. He’s got balls of steel! The Nets put up a good fight and it came down to the last shot, but they couldn’t top the Blazers.  This game was played at 12:00 Eastern time, so it could have been a factor in the Nets keeping it close or maybe the Nets are a little better than people think. Either way, they’re still 6-12 on the year, but they’re a very interesting team for low-end fantasy value. Anyway, here’s what else went down on Friday in fantasy hoops:

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Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.

It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).

Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.

First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:

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The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool, and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to 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.

And now for Week 3:

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Image result for marc gasol high school

Marc Gasol has come a long way from being the King Kong of the basketball court in high school and Pau’s little bro. He is now a superstar in the NBA, but an underappreciated one. Hmmm, does that mean I cannot call him a superstar? Does that inherently knock him down a rung to just “star?” What’s the protocol here? Merriam-Webster defines superstar as: a star who is considered extremely talented, has great public appeal, and can usually command a high salary. Extremely talented? Check. Great public appeal? X. Commands a high salary? Does $113 million work? You know what? F Merriam-Webster. Gasol is a freaking superstar and he’s making his fourth All-Star appearance this year! Last night against the Mavericks, Gasol scored 25 points, grabbed 13 boards, and dished out three dimes. So far in five games, he’s averaging 25 points, 10.3 rebounds, three assist, 1.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, and 2.3 threes a game while shooting 83% from the charity strip, 48% from the field, and 47% from downtown. Yes, small sample size alert. Damn, that happens way too often in this household. Anyways, we like seeing aggressive Gasol. He’s hoisting up 16 shots per game, which is in-line with the 15.7 he put up last year. The thing that really stands out is the rebounding. 13, 11, 5, 14, and 11 to start the season. He’s never averaged 10 per game and has languished in the 6-7 range for the past five years. We know he’s going to shoot a high percentage from the field, downtown, and charity stripe. We know he’s going to dish out dimes, pilfer, and block. But, if he gets that rebounding number anywhere close to 10 a game…..

Image result for so excited gif

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Image result for ben simmons fresh prince

(image courtesy of Courtside Attire)

Ben Simmons became the first player, since Hambone Williams in 1967, to post a triple-dub within his first four career games last night (stat courtesy of ESPN Stats). Freaking Oscar Robertson put up three triple-dubs in his first four career games. GOAT. Anyways, the final stat line for Simmons: 21 pts, 12 boards, 10 dimes, and one steal on 8-for-11 shooting. So this is what everyone’s been talking about! Before he even played a professional game, the City of Philadelphia nicknamed Simmons the “Fresh Prince.” After last night’s performance, it may be an apt nickname but….let’s not completely dismiss the OG Fresh Prince.

Did Ben ever grab the opening tip and drain a half-court shot before his feet touched the ground? Did Ben ever cut across the lane, catch the ball at the left elbow, then scoop it underhanded without turning to face the bucket? And banking it in? Huh? Huh? So, before we go crowning his ass, let’s pay some respect to the OG. I’ll be honest. I had some doubts regarding Ben coming into this year. I did think that he would grab boards and drop a ton of dimes, but would his lack of outside shot hold him down? After watching him play, he can get to the rim at will. He is so long and such a graceful strider that resistance is futile. He kind of reminds me of Giannis in that aspect. Ben has trouble finishing strong, though, while Giannis….uh…uh….oh my…..awwwwwwwwwww. Sorry, I just had to “take care” of something real quick. I also had some concerns that the Sixers would be conservative with Ben. Well, he’s playing 34.6 minutes on average over the first four games. Concern eradicated. He’s shooting 49.1% from the field, grabbing 10.8 boards, dishing out seven dimes, and pilfering one a game. There are no threes in his game with very few blocks (0.3). And he’s turning the ball over three times a game, but Ben is going to improve as the season rolls along. Who’s better? Will Smith or Ben Simmons? Will has a more diverse and explosive offensive game. He straight up clowns his opponents, but gotta knock him for level of competition. I gotta go with Ben here. It’s just no fun playing with Black Holes.

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