This is it. This is the week you have been waiting for all season. The final fantasy week for the majority of leagues has begun and I hope you are fighting for the championship. I’m rooting for you owners, the ones who adapted when DeMarcus Cousins went down, streamed like madmen and secured a playoff spot. For you that were ready to give up when your star-studded backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry got injured and you lost your matchup to a 3pt-punt team due to triples, but still scratched and clawed your way to the finals. One more week of hustle and the trophy is yours.
What’s up Razzballers? Fan favourite Aaron Gordon had a monster line, destroying the lowly Suns to the tune of 29/11/8/3/1 on 10-for-18 FG (3-for-6 3P, 6-for-9 FT) and three TOs. It was a clean and lethal stat line, and exactly the kind that you needed on the Saturday of your playoff semifinals. AG’s been a beast since his return and I really hope you stashed him where you could. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
KRAMER: Wide open, I was wide open underneath! I had three inches on that guy. You two were hogging the ball. GEORGE: Me? It wasn't me. I never even saw the ball. All you do is dribble. JERRY: I have to dribble, if I give it to you, you just shoot. You're a chucker. GEORGE: Oh, I'm a chucker. JERRY: That's right, every time you get the ball you shoot. GEORGE: I can't believe you called me a chucker. No way I'm a chucker, I do not chuck, never chucked, never have chucked, never will chuck, no chuck! JERRY: You chuck. GEROGE: Kramer, am I a chucker? KRAMER: You're a chucker. GEORGE: All these years I've been chuckin' and you've never told me? JERRY: Well it's not an easy thing to bring up. You're a punter. It's not an easy thing to bring up. But you are. The good news is that your opponents are, too, but they may not know it yet. No, you probably didn't plan to punt a category. But, at this point in the season? Yes, you should be punting at least one category. It might be because you're out of the running in assists in your roto league. Maybe you're just stuck in the middle, 300 rebounds behind the team ahead of you, and 300 ahead of the team behind you. Or, in head-to-head, you've seen your playoff opponent's team, and you know you'll double that team's threes easily, while it's even clearer that you have no chance to compete in FG%. You are now punting those categories that can't help or hurt you. You can use the word ignoring instead, if that helps. You're not trying to get players that are bad at the categories that no longer matter. You just don't care about them anymore. So, it's going to take a bit more work to figure out who's worth more to your team now. That's where today's Run The Numbers comes in.
Basketball is a funny game. The Atlanta Hawks were riding a six-game losing streak and heading to Utah to face off against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Dennis Schroder, the point guard for the Hawks, had failed to score 20 points in each of the six losses. Then, a funny thing happened. The D went missing. Did Dennis change his name to Ennis? No!
Forty burger! Against a team that was 8th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Against Ricky Rubio, who was 10th in defensive real plus minus. Schroder had a 42.7 usage rate last night! Going forward, though, I wouldn't expect too many performances like last night. Taurean Prince, who had been the alpha in terms of usage, got Prince'D, so someone had to step up. In addition, while Schroder has had a couple of big games this season, they have been too few to count on. Expect scoring to be in the 18-20 point range with 5-7 assists, and 2-3 boards.
Here's what else I saw last night:
If you are wondering about the title, just look at the postscript at the end of the article. It's not basketball related but some things are far greater. The playoffs have started for most fantasy leagues and I hope your teams are competing in them. May the basketball gods bless you with no injuries to your key players (ahem Stephen Curry) and good percentages to lead you to the championship. If you are instead in a Roto league, like I prefer for the most part, these injuries affect you less but it's still a good time to focus on the categories that can give you the most points in the standings and shape your team accordingly. On a completely different subject, as soon as I saw Josh Richardson and James Johnson celebrating after a made triple, I knew I had to include it in the article. Master Yoda, you sure look taller.....The phrase “teamwork elevates you” gets a new meaning with these guys. As per usual, let’s check the performance from last week’s suggested players, but before that, an extra shout out to my man Nemanja Bjelica, who I mentioned 2 weeks ago and is straight carrying my teams for the past weeks (ranked 18th during this period). Larry Nance Jr. has taken full advantage of the starting role in Cleveland, with three double-doubles in his last 5 games and will maintain this production for as long as Tristan Thompson is sidelined. On the other hand, Jakob Poeltl’s impressive defensive numbers faded this week as he averaged only 1.0 block after going for 2.7 per game during the previous two weeks. Finally, Skal Labissiere had two solid games before going down with a minor injury, while Marcin Gortat and Al-Farouq Aminu proved good drop calls as they had at best forgettable performances.
Russell Westbrook gets triple-doubles so often that I think most fans take for granted the greatness that we are witnessing. Like NBA history making greatness. Last night, Russ picked up the 100th triple-double of his career, as he led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over the lowly Atlanta Hawks in a game they were supposed to win. Westy scored 32 points, dropped 12 dimes, and pulled down 12 rebounds to become the third-fastest player to reach the 100 trip-dub mark. Only Oscar Robertson (277 games) and Magic Johnson (656 games) got to number 100 quicker than Russ, who accomplished the feat in just his 736th game. These stats tell me two things: 1) Russell Westbrook is really awesome and we are lucky to be able to witness his greatness and 2) The Big O was friggin’ unbelievable! 277 games? I mean, what? Nikola Jokic better hurry if he wants to even come close to sniffing that kind of epic-ness. LeBron James, the so called “King,” has played in over 1,000 NBA games and he is not really even that close to 100 triple-doubles (ok, he’s pretty close, but still). I am saying (typing) all of this in an effort to put Westbrook’s greatness in perspective (because I am sensing that he is not getting the kind of love he deserves, most likely because ya’ll jealous of the man’s killer threads and overall sense of style). But anyway, yeah he’s good. Russell Westbrook also only trails Robertson (181), Johnson (138), and Jason Kidd (107) on the career triple-double list and trails only Kidd on the my head’s shaped like a basketball list. However, since we are a fantasy basketball website I will stop boring you with general NBA history and give you Russ’ final line from last night: 0/32/12/12/1/1. I know, zero threes, what a bum. Here is what else I saw last night:
“ Energy and persistence conquer all things.” (Benjamin Franklin)We're past the three-quarter turn of the NBA fantasy season. This week starts the fantasy playoff, and only half of our teams will fight to be the winner of the Razzball Commenter Leagues. Congratulations to Pikachu, the winner of the best record for the regular season. Taking a look at the Pikachu's team demonstrate the importance of a good draft. Pikachu's team draft analysis:
|Player||Player value||Draft selection|
|Dirk Nowitzki||41||Added from waiver|
|Spencer Dinwiddie||55||Added from waiver|
Anthony Davis gave all his fantasy owners, and fans of basketball, a scare at the end of last week when he exited with a hand injury. His owner in one of my leagues immediately messaged, “Well, there goes Davis, probably season-ending.” Well, it wasn’t season-ending and he made it back just in time to play on his 25th birthday. Davis and his fantasy owners were celebrating in style as The Brow put up the rarest of triple-doubles: 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks! Yes, 25 points on his 25th birthday is pretty friggin’ cool, but watching a guy block 10 shots and also hit a three pointer while only turning the ball over 2 times in 40 minutes is just plain amazing. His final line was: 1/25/11/3/3/10. Wow! Here is what else I saw on a packed Sunday night:
I remember this time back in college. A buddy of mine was visiting over Spring Break, and brought a guy that went to school with him. I had a bag of shrooms, a bag of trees, and Die Hard was playing on the tv. 'Twas looking like a fantastic night. After we puff, puff, passed, and munch, munch, munched....my buddy's buddy started saying that he wasn't feeling anything and wanted some more. We advised him that he needed to chill out and let things percolate a bit, but he kept insisting. A few hours later, we found him curled up on a chair in the middle of a room, with a blanket over him, and swiveling himself round and round. My buddy's buddy was bugging out big time, but that's what he gets for being impatient. Which segues perfectly to Nemanja Bjelica.
Prior to last night, Bjelica started four games for the injured Jimmy Butler. He averaged 10 points, 9 boards, 2.5 dimes, and 1.5 steals. Not bad, but not great. Here's the thing, though. He was playing a ton of minutes. 45, 34, 34, and 33 to be exact. Last night, he played 40 minutes. It was just a matter of time. Remember earlier in the year when Butler was underperforming? Similar deal, in that it took time for things to gel. Anyways, will he be dropping 30/12 every night? Probably not, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. He has the ability and, most importantly, is going to continue getting a shit ton of minutes.
Here's what else I saw last night:
I recently reviewed the transactions that happened during the offseason and realized how much of an impact they had for this year’s playoff-bound teams. And while Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Victor Oladipo had a huge impact on their teams, I personally think the most successful one was Daryl Morey’s acquisition of Chris Paul. The Rockets are playing D’Antoni basketball, racking up threes at a historic pace and are currently on a 16-game winning streak. The opposition does not seem to have an answer for their P&R and the fact that either Paul or James Harden are always on the floor spells double trouble. And unlike another Team Rocket, they don't seem likely to go away easily... And now, after trying to shamelessly exploit your childhood nostalgia by including a Pokemon reference, let’s move on to the usual review of last week’s calls. Alex Len was useful when he played, but Tyson Chandler’s return demoted him to a bench role again and he is an easy drop in my book. David Nwaba and Nemanja Bjelica, on the other hand, are getting starter minutes and look capable to maintain them going forward. The same can be said for JaMychal Green, who enjoyed a great week averaging 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks. With Memphis going nowhere, he has a great ROS outlook. On the sell front, there is a rumor that Adam Silver warned the Chicago Bulls to stop benching their healthy veterans, but even if they do return to the rotation it won’t be for more than a handful of minutes each game. Finally, Ersan Ilyasova’s minutes took a major hit in Philadelphia as predicted and will struggle to maintain fantasy relevance in standard leagues.