Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’re a habitual bad drafter like I am, you’re probably well acquainted with the power of the waiver wire. First I was a bad drafter in fantasy football and now that non-skill has transferred over to fantasy basketball. I often make too much of my hay on the wire. I have never won the championship in my fantasy football league—an indication that I haven’t had the top-end talent necessary to take home the trophy. But I have made the playoffs every year except one—an indication that timely, intelligent pick-ups on the wire are not to be taken for granted, especially in football where long injury absences are common. I also made the playoffs in my first year of fantasy basketball as an expansion team after auto-drafting. It’s a 14 team, 9-category, head-to-head Yahoo league for perspective. I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but to lay out my strengths and weaknesses, to cement my waiver wire guru credentials.

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Ah, centers. The literal giants of the fantasy basketball world. There are 56 centers listed below, with the shortest being Montrezl Harrell who stands at 6′ 8″ tall. In the United States, the average height of a male is 5′ 9″, which puts Montrezl in the 99.988 percentile. But he’s the shortest player in this piece. Many, if not most, are seven feet or taller. In the entirety of the world, there are approximately 2800 people seven feet or taller, which translates to 0.000038% of the population on Planet Earth. And 1.7% play in the NBA! Crazy! The outliers don’t stop there, though. Nikola Jokic is the only center who is projected to average over 4 dimes per game, with a whopping 7.5! Since these literal giants tower over the landscape, it would make sense that they dominate the blocks and boards categories. There are 15 players projected to grab at least 10 boards per game. 12 are centers. For blocks, 19 players are projected to reject at least 1.5 shots per game. 13 are centers. Let’s all bow down and pay homage to these titans of the fantasy basketball world.

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What’s up fellow Razzball readers and fantasy basketball enthusiasts! After recharging our batteries over the summer, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming NBA season. These can range from checking the names of the players from this year’s draft and/or casually checking all the offseason transactions, which can escalate to frantically searching for recorded games of Limoges to scouting the strengths and weaknesses of Sekou Doumbouya’s fantasy game. It’s all about how each and everyone enjoys the fantasy basketball game.

Now, I have to admit I can relate more to the latter example and, as such, I am preparing my top 155 projections for roto leagues, which will be published in the upcoming weeks and mark my third straight year on this fine site.

Last year, I decided to grade my projections from the year before, in an attempt to judge myself and try and make them more accurate in the future. Go me, for hating myself I guess, but it’s a fun little project before I dive into the actual projections every summer. If you are curious and ready for some math, check last year’s article for a full explanation on the method used. If you prefer the “too long, didn’t read” approach, know that the main metric is the difference between the projected and the actual overall per game value for each player.

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I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.

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Karl-Anthony Towns is an amazing player. He’s a seven-foot, 250 pound player who can post up down low, break ankles on the perimter, and drain threeecolas. While I question if he has enough dog in him to lead a team to the promised land, there is no denying his status as one of the elite fantasy players. Since entering the league, KAT has finished as the 12th, 6th, and 5th player in fantasy. So far, he’s the #7 player this season and puts up funky lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 18 3 2 4 3 1/4 11/20 5/5

I want to go to Funky Towns, though.

Can we Voltron up and get Andrew Wiggins out of Minnesota? KAT is averaging 16.2 shot attempts per game, good for 31st in the league. Wiggins is at 15.5 shots per game. Imagine a place sans Wiggins where KAT attempts over 20 shots per game and sees an uptick in usage and assist rate? That’s a place I want to go. The beyond funky contract of Wiggins makes it an almost impossible task, but one can dream.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I first started writing these recaps, Grey imparted into my tiny brain the wisdom of not writing about the same player in the lede. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but it made sense and I’ve tried to adhere to it as much as possible. But, but, but….Yes, I’m studdering mother [email protected]#!er. Sometimes a player is so good, so brilliant, so dominant that he moon walks over all the competition and I’m forced to do it. Let’s call it the James Harden fast rule.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
43 10 13 2 0 9 6/12 8/19 21/27

That’s four straight games with at least 40 points. According to Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen), Harden joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players over the last 30 years to score 400 points in 10 games. According to Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA), Harden was the first person in NBA history to score at least 40 points on eight field goal makes. He now has four trip-dubs on the season and 39 for his career. He’s been the #1 player for fantasy over the past seven games. All that is nice and dandy, but do you know what the craziest stat is? With both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon off the court, Harden has a 51.8 usage rate, an increase of 10.3%!!! The Harden Fast Rule is that when Paul and Gordon are off the court, James is gonna eat.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I remember watching Reggie Miller at UCLA and being mezmerized. Man, oh man could he shoot. Chants of Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! would reverberate throughout Pauley Pavilion. Then, he got drafted by the Indiana Pacers and the same chant was sung. One of the greatest shooters I’ve ever witnessed. He was a career 39% shooter from downtown. At the zenith, he attempted 6.6 while making 2.8 threeecolas per game. Back then, those were amazing numbers. The game certainly has changed, as Steph Curry leads the league with 11 threeecolas attempted with 5.1 makes per game. What hasn’t changed, though, is the Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! chant, only this time it’s for Reggie Bullock.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 1 1 0 0 7/12 12/21 2/2

Played 43 minutes in an overtime game. Bullock missed five games due to an ankle injury earlier this month. Since returning three games ago, he’s scored 15, 24, and 33 points and shot 4-for-10, 5-for-7, and 7-for-12 from downtown. Did the Pistons go all Steve Austin on him or something? Bullock is a 40% shooter from downtown, but this most recent heater of 55% is something else. He’s been a top 30 player for fantasy over the three-game stretch without contributing much in any other category! Now, the efficiency is obviously going to come in, unless the Pistons truly did turn Bullock into the modern day, six million dollar man. With that said, he’s been getting a ton of open looks because defenses have to sag down on Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond down low. There will be adjustments, so the volume of threeecolas will come back down. On the season, Bullock is averaging 5.6 attempts per game. Until then, enjoy the ride and chant at the top of your lungs, Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Boy, the way Lonzo played

Cleveland wishes LeBron had stayed

Man, they really had it made

Those were the days

Dated All in the Family reference aside, the Lakers really abused the Hornets last night. Side note: The All in the Family theme song gets super inappropriate after the first verse talking about how freaks used to only be in the circus and that there’s too many people on welfare, but that’s Archie Bunker in a nutshell. Okay, back to B-Ball… Charlotte was coming off a back-to-back, so it was a perfect storm for the Lake-Show to put up some big lines. The Lakers had two players with double-doubles: LeBron James and Lonzo Ball. For LeBron, this was one of many, and for Ball, this was one of many to come, but for two players to get a trip-dub in one game is special. This feat has only been accomplished five other times, most recently when Jason Kidd and Vince Carter did it back in 2007, when the Nets played in New Jersey. Those were the days! Mark Wahlberg would have been proud, even though he’s a Celtics fan, because it was the Perfect Storm for the Lakers to have a historic night. Ball went  2-16-10-10-5-1-2 on 7-of-11 shooting making 1-of-2 FTs, while James went 2-24-12-11-1-0-3 on 7-of-15 shooting and 8-of-12 from the line. On another side note, George Clooney got a bunch of men killed in that movie over some damn fish… Anyway, here’s what else went down in the NBA on Saturday night:

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You are all pretty familiar with the reliable rookies this year and are playing them every night – Luka, Trae, JJJ, and crew.  This week I’d like to showcase some of the other rookies who have considerably less hype and perhaps not any useful results yet either.  Even mining the forgotten talents of the draft turns up some good players, which again speaks to the strength of this year’s class.

Please, blog, may I have some more?