The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s been an up and down rookie season for Coby White of the Chicago Bulls. In his second professional game, he scored 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. The next five games, he scored a combined 31 points. He would then score 20 points in back-to-back games, only to drop a single-digit turd the next. To his credit, he never turned shy and meek, continuing to jack up shot after shot, despite creating enough bricks to soften the nationwide homeless crisis. Sounds like another Coby, expect he spells his name K-O-B-E. Maybe KOBE has channeled some of his spirit into Coby, because he’s been balling the F out lately. Last night was the latest iteration.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 7 3 0 0 1 6/9 13/21 3/3

In 33 minutes off the bench. The last three games, Coby has scored 35, 33, and 33 points while playing 33, 34, and 34 minutes. He’s shot a combined 35-for-61 (64%) from the field and 18-for-31 (58%) from downtown! Coby! Kobe! Coby! Kobe! What an amazing run. He’s even chipped in 3 steals, a block, and 16 rebounds. Now, this is a ceiling outcome for Coby. Let’s just not dismiss the fact that he’s shooting 38% from the field on the season. He’s developed, grown, and become more accustomed to the NBA game, so improvement was to be expected, but this level of play is unsustainable. For fantasy, he’s going to continue being the guy off the bench for the Bulls and playing over 30 minutes. The points, tres, and and sprinkling of boards, dimes, and steals will be provided. With that said, expect the field goal percentage to be in the 40% range, which will have us remembering that there is only one Kobe.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My buddy was talking about his girl a week or so ago and mentioned that he loved taking her out to eat now. She doesn’t eat sushi, which is healthy on the wallet. He no longer needs to take her to fancy steakhouses now because the last time he took her to one, she ordered her meat well done. “Woman,” he said, “if you want your meat cooked well done, I could’ve just taken you to Fatburger!” Meat should be cooked on the rare side so that it’s extra tender and juicy. Veal is no different. Beal on the other hand? Well done, all day and all night, especially when cooked into a 50-burger.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
53 5 4 2 1 7 5/11 15/27 18/20

A career-high and the second 50-burger of Beal’s career!!! Mmmmmm, delicious! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what provides deliciousness every day? The Stocktonator. Over the past four games, Beal has garnered a usage rate of 40% and averaged 34.8 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 3.8 dimes, and 2 steals, while shooting 46% from the field and 85% from the line. He’s been a top 40 player. On the season, he’s averaging 6 dimes per game, which accounts for the lower overall value. When the dimes are getting cashed, Beal is a top 25 player for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Phoenix Suns liked Deandre Ayton during the 2018 NBA draft. So much so that they drafted him with the number one overall pick. In hindsight, the pick looks silly because they selected him over the likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young. If you look at the Suns history of drafting in the first round, it makes sense why they selected Ayton.

2017 – Josh Jackson. G-League.
2016 – Dragan Bender. Bucks.
2015 – Devin Booker. Yipee!
2014 – T. J. Warren. Pacers.
2013 – Alex Len. Hawks.
2012 – Kendall Marshall. LOL!
2011 – Markieff Morris. Knicks.
2010 – No first

Luka and Trae both had some perceived risks. Ayton was the safe pick because he was a big man who could shoot. Now, Luka should’ve been the pick, but it’s not like Ayton is a bust. Last night was an example of the fantasy goodies he can provide.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 21 2 0 2 2 0 11/15 4/4

Prior to last night’s game, the Suns were bringing Ayton off the bench, like a bunch of bobos. Regardless if he starts or comes off the bench, though, Ayton produces. Over the past seven games, he’s averaged 32.9 minutes, 18.1 points, 11.9 boards, 2.1 dimes, and 1.7 blocks. He’s converted 58% of the 14.1 shot attempts and shooting 78% from the line. That’s been good for top 30 production for fantasy. He can score down on the block or from the top of the key. The stroke is pretty. Is he a transcendent player like Luka? Negative, but he’s very, very good and could finish as a top 15 player. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what is transcendent like Luka? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s amazing how time can cause us to forget some of the greatest talents in our midst. The NBA, like any other sport, is a “what have you done for me lately” league. We sometimes forget that a potentially transcendent talent has yet to make his NBA debut. All the summer hype slowly disappears when the player, who’s talents surpass narrative, has been missing in action. The high school hype, the college hype, the draft hype, and injury hype, all wither away into the abyss, before sprouting it’s head once more, and injecting something special into our veins. The NBA needs a savior, in a dark time when stars are injured and ratings drop. The savior I am speaking of is not Zion Williamson, shocker, I know. I am talking about Michael Porter Jr.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Michael Porter Jr. was one of the top overall recruits in high school. At 6′ 10″ and 218 pounds, he was literally a giant amongst boys. Unlike most big men, though, he did most of his damage from the perimeter. He possessed both the handles and jump shot of a guard. With his height and athleticism, he would rise up over any challenger and drain shots from all over the court. Because of the stupid rule that forces players to showcase their talents in college for one year before entering the NBA, MPJ eventually decided to play for Missouri. Unfortunately, he injured his back and underwent surgery, forcing him to miss most of the season. As a result, he fell in the NBA draft before the Denver Nuggets selected him with the 14th overall pick. Back injuries are tricky, and the Nuggets selected MPJ for the long game, so the process was going to be a slow and tedious one. For the first 31 games of the season, MPJ played in 22 of them and averaged 9 minutes per game. Then, on December 29th, he received his first start and did what he do, which is score, score, and score some more. He scored 19 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 1 dime in 26 minutes. The Nuggets were short-handed that game, so I dismissed it as a one-off thing, but it looks as if the genie may be out of the bottle. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 5 1 0 0 1 2/3 11/12 1/2

In 23 minutes off the bench. He posted up smaller defenders, broke down bigs on the perimeter, showcased the Harden-esque step-back J, and attacked the rim on closeouts with dexterity. Over the past four games, he’s been a top 60 player for fantasy, despite averaging only 19.6 minutes. Now, before we go crowning his ass, MPJ is not going to shoot 74% from the field, which is what he’s done over the past four games. When that happens, the points will obviously go down, which will be an issue because most of his fantasy value is derived from scoring. He may be a hero right now, but he’s a zero in the defensive stats and dimes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a zero, and always a hero? The Stocktonator. In addition, his real-life defense isn’t great, which could be an issue regarding playing time because the Nuggets are legitimate contenders this season. I’ve added MPJ in every league where he was available, as the scoring upside is immense, and there’s always that small percentage chance that he could be the greatest thing since….most people go with sliced bread. I get it but not really. How about the internet? Nike Airs? Deodorant? I’m going with the Apple Pan banana cream pie. For those in LA, you know. For the unfortunate, you know what to do if you ever go to LA. Anyways, I’m not expecting much from MPJ to be honest, but willing to see where it leads.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2019 season with rebuilding expectations, as the team traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Two full months into the season, the Thunder are one game above .500 and are currently the seventh-best team in the stacked Western Conference. A big reason why has been the play of Chris Paul who, like a good neighbor, has provided stability to the team. Last night, Paul aaaaaaalllllmmmmmooooooooosssssttttt messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 11 8 0 0 5 3/6 9/18 4/4

On the season, Paul is a top 25 player for fantasy. Over the past 15 games, he’s been a top 15 player and averaged 33.1 minutes, 17 points, 1.5 tres, 5.5 boards, 7.5 dimes, and 1.4 steals. He’s been shooting 48% from the field and 94% from the line. The usage rate has been 21.6 and the turnovers have been a miniscule 1.7 per game. Now, Paul is 34 years old and since the 2015 season, he has missed 8, 21, 24, and 24 games. It may be time to explore getting some insurance, as there’s a good probability that Paul will miss more than a few games. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never misses a game? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks played one of the most exciting games of the season on Tuesday, October 10. The Heat eventually came out victorious in overtime 135-121, but only after Trae Young pronounced the game “over,” right before the Heat scored six straight points to tie the score in the final 59 seconds of regulation. The Heat then scored 16 straight points in overtime, making the final outcome a formality. The fireworks didn’t start or stop there, however. Trae Young had a relatively quiet first half (8 points and 6 assists), but he came out aggressive in the second half and scored 10 quick points and finished with 11 points in the quarter, and then the fourth quarter happened. Young was in rhythm and headed for another gaudy stat-line before Erik Spoelstra made the astute decision to put Derrick Jones Jr. on him. Jones Jr. is length personified, or as Scott Van Pelt used to say, “He’s all arms and legs, he can’t buy pants at the mall.” Jones’ length and quick feet turned a potentially explosive night into a sour one for Trae Young and the Hawks—Young finished the fourth quarter with only two points. He was unable to draw fouls to counter Jones’ length and physicality, though it was not for a lack of trying. There might be some brewing animus between Jones and Young. Fortunately for us, the Hawks and Heat matchup one more time this season. Get the popcorn ready.

Please, blog, may I have some more?