After a long hiatus, the preseason is finally upon us. Now come the discussion, speculation and, most importantly, the projections. Our very own SON has released his Top 100 H2H Rankings with more on the way. I am preparing the Top 155 Roto Projections just like last year, which should be ready to go by next week. In order to conquer the fantasy basketball maze, we must continue to learn, especially from our mistakes. That will be the focus of this article, as I highlight the players that greatly under or overperformed their preseason projections and focus on which statistical category had the most impact.
I’ve been on hiatus, probably since about a month to go in the 2017-18 season. I blame myself, and my schedule, for not being loyal to my readers. My league had ended, as I ranted about in my last piece, but yours probably didn’t. For those looking for the league winners I had been providing throughout the season, I apologize. For those who are reading my column for the first time ever here in July, I applaud and welcome you to Beyond the Glory. For those who don’t remember, I was literally two game 7 wins away from being the only Razzball writer to have the Rockets and Celtics in the finals, and then I got neither. I would have basked in that glory for at least a year, but being bold only brought me close to brilliance. Either way, I am back and will be knocking out more content in the offseason, before going back to weekly columns for your reading pleasure. Oh, the offseason. The start of the NBA season is many months away, yet something inside of me is far too excited for fantasy basketball. Call it what you will. We are the midst of the baseball season and fantasy football prep has begun in earnest. With all of this going on, though, I come home at night and turn on the NBA Summer League. I don’t know why, but my remote leads me there. The only reasonable explanation is that I am pumped for the new draft class. I am pumped to see free agent signings and I am pumped for LeB… I promised myself I wouldn’t go there. I am going to hold strong, because in truth, I’m not excited for anything but basketball, fantasy basketball, and Kevin Knox (more on him later) for 2018-19. So let’s get into the recent draftees and who they may compare to this upcoming year, giving us some pre-pre-preseason sleepers.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be Dwight: and there was Dwight. Dwight Howard was vintage D12 against the Suns (I know, it’s the Suns) and tore them up for 30/12/1/1/4 on 10-for-15 FG (10-for-15 FT) with only one TO. He was fantastic across the board, and the FTs weren’t even that bad, all things considered. Dwight’s still one of the more valuable centers in the league, especially if you’re punting FTs, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down as the Hornets are still hanging on in the playoff race. As long as he doesn’t get hurt, he should be good to go every time. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
What’s up Razzballers? In one of the more surprising finishes of the night, the Nuggets went into Cleveland strong and snatched a convincing win from under the Cavaliers. The King was slain in his own castle, mostly at the hands of Gary Harris. Harris was a beast tonight, much like he has been all week, and went off for 32/2/4/1 on 10-for-17 FG (6-for-10 3P, 6-for-6 FT) and no TOs. He’s been somewhat overlooked all season but is poised for an extremely strong finish as one of, if not the main guy on offence for a team jockeying for playoff position. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
Don't take Anthony Davis in the top 5. He'll miss at least 25 games. Avoid Old Man LeBron James, because he rests all the time. Tyreke Evans has only played 65 games in the last two years combined. Not even worth drafting. A few of the prevailing opinions going into the season that I thought had gotten a bit overblown. The risk of missing games is scary, but it's not often very predictable. And yes, I'm cherry picking examples, but AD has played 54 of the first 60 games and is #4 on the ESPN Player Rater (#3 per game). LeBron hasn't sat one game yet, is among the league leaders in minutes per game again, and is #1 (#5 per game). Tyreke has played 49 of 59 games, sitting five of those when the team was holding him out before the trade deadline. He's #58 (#44 per game). And sure, that's partly due to Mike Conley missing almost the whole season. Yes, there are examples of injury fears being once again substantiated, like in the case of Danilo Gallinari. It's all guesswork. It's part of the fun, predicting what a season will bring. But, figuring out the puzzle can drive you mad. Today, I thought we'd have a little fun revisiting some preseason predictions. Maybe we can learn a bit about what types of projections are more trustworthy than others. Maybe not. I also don't think this would be a great way to figure out who's great at predicting things like sleepers and breakouts, because this is a small sample size. Continue to look at the methodology behind the predictions to see if it's backed up by reason. I just figured that we rarely actually go back to see what was right and what was way off. If it teaches us something for next preseason, great.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week (in which case I’m interested to know how you manage), you have heard the news about the Blake Griffin trade. For those aforementioned people who don’t, here is the summary: Clippers get: Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, a first round pick, a second round pick and the always charming Boban Marjanovic Pistons get: Blake Griffin along with his portable clinic, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson I would love to read your thoughts down in the comments about who won the trade. My first instinct was that it all depends on Blake’s health and on how well he will mesh with Andre Drummond. Another conclusion that can be derived from the trade is that loyalty is dead in the NBA. Remember all the efforts the Clippers made to convince Blake to re-sign, which included filling the court with his photos and even raising an actual banner with his name into the rafters as a sign of their future devotion?? As always, let’s take a quick look at last week’s suggestions and how they performed. The Spurs duo of Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson were not very impressive, but their minutes are safe and will only improve moving forward. Murray is even averaging an absurd 8.6 rebounds in the last eight games. The Sacramento duo of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield, on the other hand, were not so hot as only one of them is having a good game each night. At least the Kings are sticking to their veteran-resting plan for now… Finally, Ersan Ilyasova’s minutes continue to trend in the wrong direction, but you can still get some value if you trade him right now… Moving on to the new suggestions, this will be a heavy “Buy” week as injuries and the aforementioned trade have created opportunities for more players to become fantasy relevant.
Hello everyone! Craig, Brent, and Son join me once again and we had plenty to talk about. The Blake Griffin trade starts us off and there are plenty of angles to look at. What do we think about the Clippers deciding to rebuild? How about the Pistons going all-in on this roster? Does anyone get a boost in fantasy? We hit on all of these things and more before we transition to DeMarcus Cousins' devastating Achilles injury. Where do the Pelicans go from here, both short and long term? Spoiler: a few of us think it's going to get ugly. If we were the GM of the Pelicans, what would we do now? Also, what kind of deal is Cousins looking at over the summer being an unrestricted free agent? We wrap things up by talking about the Wizards without John Wall and how the Grizzlies will look for the rest of the season without Mike Conley, both in real life and from a fantasy perspective. Please join us for the latest edition of the Razzball Basketball Podcast!
Remember Carlos Boozer? He of the lead feet on defense, yelling "HEY!" every time he missed a shot in hopes of getting a foul call? At least that's my recollection of him during his Bulls years. He actually did play decent enough team defense to not hurt the team much while putting up 15 and 10 many nights with his no-jump fade-away rainbows. Anyway, sometime around the end of his Bulls tenure, I remember finding out that this old man on the decline was younger than me. So, I guess I couldn't really call these NBA players that were considering retirement "old" any longer. Over the years, I've even embraced these guys and found that veteran players can be fantasy steals because of our ageist tendencies. And if you play in a dynasty league, they come even cheaper, of course. Of course it's fun to pick, trade for, and add young players right before they break out. We all want upside. But I think a lot of us don't realize that older, boring players do have upside because of their depressed draft values. Let's see how the NBA's advanced age players are doing on the ESPN Player Rater compared to their Average Draft Position. I do this to hopefully show that you can win with old reliable dudes, even if they're on the decline. You can even take this information to help you figure out who to target in trades for young, upsidey players.
I have no problem going to the movie theaters alone. I can eat at a restaurant by myself. I don't mind playing NBA 2K against the computer. I can exist as a lone wolf if I chose to. Ah wooooooooo! But I choose not to. There are many things that are only possible with a +1. I have two kids. Even if I wasn't married ( I am), the process would technically require a +1. Going to an event after checking the +1 box, requires a +1. Once you check that box, you're an a**shole if you don't find/beg/pay someone to fill the role. Singing love songs on my guitar while strolling the beach to wait for the sunset. Requires a +1. By the way, I do not play the guitar. There are just some things that bring perfection. Off the top of my head, it was sitting with my wife on the beach as the sun rose in Santa Barbara. For Tobias Harris, all he needed was a +1 for perfection in last night's game against the Pacers.
He played 29 minutes, so +1 would've given him a perfect minutes-to-points ratio. +1 in the blocks department would've given him a 1/1/1/1 (assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers) line. And, of course, +1 in the 3PT, FG, and FT categories would've given him perfect shooting percentages. Not bad, Tobias. Not bad. After a torrid start to the season, Tobias had cooled off. The last two games, though, he's scored 24 and 30 points. He may be heating up again. Regardless, he is still a top 50 player for fantasy. He provides threes, rebounds, low turnovers, and good shooting percentages.
Here's what else I saw last night:
I've got a punt free throw percentage dynasty team that I love so much that I practically cheer for missed free throws. Logically, I know this is silly, but bricked freebies are my brand, I guess you'd say. For those of you punters that can relate, today I'll give you some adjusted player rankings for the season. And if you haven't tried a punt strategy, or haven't been successful with one, maybe this'll pique your interest for next season. Last week, I listed the top 20 players in each category as well as the relevant bottom 20. This week, we'll kinda do the opposite. I'll remove some categories that you might benefit from ignoring, whether it was part of your plan or you just found yourself uncompetitive in a category that's not worth trying to catch up in by patching it together at the expense of other categories. First, free throw punters. I'll give you the top 20 in per-game value (and others that make big leaps) for 8-category and 9-category with free throw percentage removed (through 12/5). All of today's lists come from Basketball Monster stat ratings. Keep in mind that you're not just looking for the worst free throw shooters. Those are the guys that benefit the most from removing this category, but it doesn't mean they're the most valuable to your team. They ARE, however, significantly more valuable to a free throw punter than anyone else. So, if you're at the bottom of your roto league in FT% (or if you never compete in head-2-head), don't try to just add a couple good FT shooters to fix it. Maybe that gets you a roto point or two at most. Go all in, and trade off some good FT shooters for the guys below, especially those that are cheaper since they benefit the most from punting (in bold) and watch your team gain in FG%, rebounds, and blocks.