Tonight was clearly defined by the insane performances by some of the leagues best big men. Crazy points, boards, and stocks were being earned all night long. Joel Embiid beat up on Charlotte’s inferior front line, driving to the bucket, getting insane put-back dunks, and swatting shots into oblivion. One of the best examples of his diverse skillset showed him bring the ball up across half court and then orchestrate a perfect give-and-go that led to an Embiid statement dunk. To top things off, he showed his range by hitting the tying 3-point shot near the end of regulation. He’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/18 19/22 1/2 42 18 4 0 4 3

This was an MVP performance from the big man. He must have been shaken by that Sabonis dunk last night, as he came out and crushed. How many other big men can hit 19/22 free throws in practice, let alone in a tightly contested game? The boards were huge, as were the blocks. He’s really starting to heat up, so ride him if you got him.

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In Latin, Anno Domini means “in the year of the Lord.” Any coincidence that Anthony Davis is the fantasy lord? I think not. AD was the consensus overall number one pick coming into the season, and for good reason. He hammer times and moon walks over the competition by literally doing everything. For the infidels who blasphemously inserted another player on the throne, take a look at last nights line and ponder your unfulfilling existence.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 16 8 3 3 1 0 13/21 6/7

This wasn’t no “Devin Booker score 70 points in a double digit loss” line. This was a “let’s beatdown the Houston Rockets by 19 points” line. Bend the knee.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Each NBA franchise participated in a handful of exhibition games designed to determine who will receive meaningful minutes when the games count, see which rookies have the moxie to handle the men they are trying to steal jobs from, figure out which two-way players will be relegated to the G-league, and ascertain whether preseason really deserves a hyphen or not. Coaches agonize over different rotations, who can play with who, what offensive sets might work, who is smart enough to make defensive decisions in the wink of an eye, and whose agent was lying when he said their player had been putting up 3,000 three pointers a day in an effort to improve their range. All this is done while those same coaches secretly plead in their inside brain, “Please God, don’t let anybody get hurt, sleep with another player’s girlfriend, or be swayed by their buddy from the 4th grade to think that they truly deserve 15 shots per game.” All of those could significantly change rotation plans, kill that elusive team chemistry, or generally cause chaos.

So after the past week of games, we are here to answer or try to answer the following questions:

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At long last, the new NBA season is upon us! You’ve finally learned your Adebayos from your Anunobys from your Anigbogus. Now, let’s get our Miltons, Meltons, Okobos, and Okogies straight. The Charlotte Michael-Hyphens (Kidd-Gilchrist and Carter-Williams) and the Miami Derrick Juniors (Jones and Walton) broke up, but I think all three NBA Reggies are still on the Pistons, at least. It’s going to be a great season. We’ll start playing more with numbers next week in this column. But for now, let’s talk drafting!

Fantasy drafts are the best. Snake, auction, slow, in-person. Whatever the format, I’m in. You’re likely a grizzled veteran of fantasy hoops drafts at this point as well, if you’re part of Razzball Nation. But whether you are or not, I’m hoping I can give you a couple advantages you may not have thought of yet. Or maybe, with all the aspects of a draft to consider, something I mention will be a helpful reminder when you’re frantically scrolling through late round players that all look terrible.

Last year, I went pretty in-depth with a two-part draft strategy series (Part 1, Part 2). Some of the names may have changed, but it holds up pretty well (thank goodness I said something positive about Donovan Mitchell). This year, I’ll try to keep it a bit more brief, but no promises.

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With the season a week away, and drafts in full swing, now is the perfect time to dig deep for those late round fliers. Once you get past round 9, I believe the best strategy is to pick players who may pop in a moments notice. Whether they are in a new scheme, new location, getting more minutes or just primed for a breakout, there are potential underrated stars to be had on every team. I will go team by team in each conference and highlight a player who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner rather than later.

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October is upon us and that is a wonderful thing. The leaves turn beauteous colors while the weather provides crisp breezes. Both adults and kids get to dress up. Kids to beg for huge bags of candy. Adults to fantasize and act silly. There is even a holiday when some folks get to stay home from work to celebrate the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus! But the real greatness of October lies in the fact that it is the month where our sports converge together like women for the 70% off sale at Nordstroms. College football, which if you haven’t heard, is its own religion in the South, and the NFL are into their second month. The guys in the US and Canada start wielding sticks and slapping pucks around, as the NHL season begins. Our national pastime breaks into its glorious playoff season. But for fantasy hoopheads, the most important thing that happens is the NBA season kicks off in earnest.

It is almost here. We have just a few days until October 16, and there are mock drafts, real drafts, online drafts, auction drafts, snake drafts, and dynasty drafts scheduled over the next two weeks in every hamlet in this fair country.

On September 28th, we saw Gordon Hayward in the Boston Green to kick off the preseason. Each team will play five games that don’t count in preparation for those that do. What then to watch for to help you  hoodwink all your buddies and have the best draft imaginable?

I will look Division by Division to give you some keys to watch that might provide some guidance.

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Heading into the offseason, it was clear that the Magic were in desperate need of a playmaker. As a result, many draft analysts, myself included, were anticipating that the Magic were going to select Trae Young with the 6th overall pick in the draft. The unexpected happened instead, as the Mavericks traded up to select Luka Doncic while the Hawks selected Trae Young at number five, leaving the Magic with the decision to take the best player available on their board or select based on need, which would have been one of the point guards in Collin Sexton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Magic chose the former, but in doing so left a big hole at the point guard position and added to a crowded front-court that already consisted of arguably their three most talented players in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and potential breakout star Jonathan Isaac, the 5th overall pick in 2017. Common sense suggests that it is likely that the Magic will explore the trade market throughout the season, potentially dangling Vucevic to address the need at point guard. Without strengthening the back court and given the inexperienced level of the team, another season missing the playoffs in the desecrated East division seems likely.

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It’s fitting that my rookie contribution to Razzball would be focused on this year’s rookie crop. I may tend to start off posts with a heavy Kevin-centric focus. I’ve been obsessed with Fantasy NBA for 15 years. Have I won chips? More than zero. Are my fantasy prognostications correct? Ride with me for a solid 50/50 shot at accuracy. What about real basketball? Was I a scrappy D3 player that really understands the game? I’m on the bottom half of bad pickup games, but I can dunk on an 8-foot rim. So yeah, you could call me an expert. Let’s begin!

UPSIDE!!!
The promise, upside, and mystery of rookies entice us Fantasy GMs every season. Yet there is statistical history that proves love, like Jon Arbuckle for Veterinarian Liz, generally goes unrequited.  Last season there was a boon in productive rookies, with 8 being standard league relevant (12 team, 13 player roster): Ben Simmons (27), Donovan Mitchell (39), Jayson Tatum (42), Lauri Markkanen (66), Lonzo Ball (78), John Collins (92), Kyle Kuzma (116), Jarret Allen (143). While that rookie class surpassed the hype, what’s in store for this year’s group? These youngsters carry a lot of weight in dynasty leagues, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on standard redraft leagues.

For a deep dive in terms of dynasty, check Craig’s rankings here and here.

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Here we are Razzball Nation, deep in the hole of the NBA offseason when many a free agent chips fell, the NBA draft came and went, and the Summer League, where the stars of the future showcased their talents, concluded.

In true Dynasty Deep Dive fashion, I shall leave the free agent signings for my colleagues to cover, but deliver the final edition of the Dynasty Deep Dive rookie rankings so you can ponder and utilize for your upcoming dynasty rookie drafts. Be aware that these are my opinions and not indicative of anyone else at Razzball. Also, these rankings should be viewed through a long-term prism, as they are for the totality of a player’s career. Do not use for redraft leagues.

The rankings have been broken down into four parts and will be published accordingly. Who wants to read through a 12,000 word essay in one sitting? We do this for fun right?

So let’s get on with the show and enjoy my Top 15.

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So here we are. Time for those Dynasty Deep Dive rookie rankings that you have been clamoring for. The draft has come and gone and we now know the landing spots for those who had their names called out on draft night. In addition, many of the undrafted rookies were fortunate enough to find themselves a home as well.

Remember that these rankings are for the entirety of a player’s career arc, not for 2018/19 redraft leagues. They are also representative of my own thoughts and not of anyone else at Razzball. We all have our personal biases and preferences in how we evaluate the long term future of NBA players. As always, I am happy to answer questions. Find me on Twitter @storytelling41.

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