I love watching National Geographic, Animal Planet, etc. Always so fascinating. Sometimes you see why many think God exists. Other times you see where the inspiration for man-made objects came from. All the shows, all the channels….everything, though, comes down to survival. One particular video that’s always etched in my brain is the one where 30 Japanese hornets kill 30,000 honey bees. Crazy. I immediately pictured that video when I saw what Kemba Walker did in Portland.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 1 3 4 0 3 6/11 13/26 8/8

Kemba was an All-Star last year, and his numbers are almost identical this year, so it’s only appropriate that he is filling in for Porzingis. Kemba does it all. 2.8 downtowners, 3.4 boards, 5.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 22.6 points. The only thing he doesn’t contribute in is blocks. That just makes him the most thick-skinned person on Twitter.

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The City of Detroit has long been the s**thole of America. High crime. Low tax base. Corruption. Racial tension. Having the auto industry shut down plants and move them to other areas certainly didn’t help. One of my favorite movies of all-time, The Kentucky Fried Movie, put it best.

I remember during the housing crash, I’d log onto sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin, to see the true carnage. There were places in Detroit that you could buy for under $1000. Insane. Not all was bad, though. The Pistons teams of the late-80s, early-90s brought bling and optimism. Yes, they were the Bad Boys but bad equaled good in that context. Could history be repeating itself? Since Blake Griffin was acquired by the Pistons, the team has rattled of four straight wins. His presence has been so immense that the team gets a win even when he doesn’t play. Last night, Blake went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 9 6 0 0 3 3/7 9/20 0

Since arriving in Detroit, Blake is playing 36 minutes, scoring 20 points, grabbing 9.5 boards, dishing out 6 dimes, blocking 1, and stealing 0.5. It’s only been a three game sample, but things are looking on the up and up. The cheapest house that I can find on Zillow in the Detroit area for a 4bds, 1 ba, 1,777 sqft is $5,900. That’s progress.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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What’s up Razzballers? We had an epic standoff last night between two of the league’s best teams, the Celtics and the Warriors. And this game didn’t disappoint. The Celtics pulled out to an early lead, but Steph Curry simply proved to be too much to handle as he led the the Warriors to the big win. On the night, Steph put forth 49/4/5/2 on 16-for-24 FG (8-for-13 3P, 9-for-10 FT) with only one TO. This guy is a cheat code. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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If you have been reading my recaps this season, then you know one of my favorite terms is: Waiver Wire All-Star. I use this to refer to players who started the year undrafted in almost every fantasy basketball league out there. Even in my deeper leagues Tyreke Evans was sitting there just waiting to be added by some lucky owner who is probably competing for a championship right now.

A great draft is super important, don’t get me wrong, but it is these savvy waiver wire pick-ups that win leagues. ‘Reke has not only been a good pick-up, but he is returning top 40 value in most leagues. That means that a third or fourth round (depending on your league size) pick was just hanging out, playing video games, watching Netflix, waiting to get the call to the big show.

Last night Tyreke Evans went off again and almost messed around for the second night in a row putting up this juicy slash: 2/23/6/10/1/0. So congratulations if you snagged ‘Reke in your league. Here is what else I saw last night:

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When watching Kyle Kuzma play basketball, all I can think about is the Notorious B.I.G. One of my favorite songs is Juicy.

Many in the NBA thought Kuzma wouldn’t amount to nothin’. Now he’s in the limelight ’cause his hoops game is tight. Now honies play him close like butter played toast. Ha! What a line. Biggie Smalls was the illest. Anyways, Kuzma went from negative to positive and it all started when he was drafted 27th overall in the NBA Draft. The Summer League followed, where he dominated and led the Lakers to hoisting the trophy. Then the regular season started. He scored double figures in five of his first seven NBA games. It was on, baby bay-bee. In fact, there’s only been one other game in which he failed to score double digits. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s played 27 games, yet only started 11. Kuuuuuuuuuuuz! It all came to a culmination last night against the Rockets.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 38 7 4 0 1 0 7/10 12/17 7/10

This is no fluke. Kuz has been balling from day one and is only going to get better. It’s on, baby bay-bee!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In my younger days, I used to run with a pretty deep crew. Most of them were older and more experienced than me. Most were better looking and had more charisma then me. Emphasis on most. Not being the man was just fine. You’d be surprised at how many layups you’d get by just being. All of this happened on the basketball court as well. Anyways, with so much attention on the alphas, dudes like me would be afforded all sorts of opportunities to score. At some point, the stars would align and everything would come to a climax. Whether it be on the court or at the club, there’s always that moment. Last night, Clint Capela had his moment.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 24 20 3 0 2 2 0 10/12 4/5

It was his first 20/20 game of the season and he actually hit his free throws. Chris Paul, James Harden, and Eric Gordon all had great games, but it was all about Capela last night. Now, most of his opportunities came because of all the attention given to the superstars on the team. No matter. Production is production. And that’s how it’s going to be all season. Capela is a top 30 fantasy player right now. Imagine if he shot better than 58% from the charity stripe.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In 2016, Daryl Morey hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach. It was a match made in heaven, as Morey believed that three-pointers, layups, and free throws were the most efficient shots to take. D’Antoni? Did someone say three-pointers? Three-coooooola. The Rockets improved from 41-41 in 2015 to 55-27 with D’Antonio at the helm. They blitzed the league with 115.3 points per game, just 0.6 fewer than the vaunted Golden State Warriors. They hoisted up an absurd 40.3 three-pointers a game and made a league-high 14.4. Then the playoffs happened. After disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, D’Antoni and Morey were bested by Greg Popovich. Pop did not figure out the magic formula to shut down the Rockets O. What he did do was disrupt the rhythm and force the Rockets to do what they were most uncomfortable doing: shoot the midrange. Pop would use Kawhi Leonard to chase James Harden all over the court and plant Pau Gasol in the middle of the lane. The other three players would be paparrazi and follow their subjects wherever they went. As a result, three-pointers, layups, and free throws were defended. Everything in the midrange was conceded. Result? Spurs 4. Rockets 2. There was only one option to pursue. Better Call Paul, as in

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I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?