While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m not supposed to write about the same player in the lede. I’m supposed to change it up and give others a chance. I’m all about equal opportunity but I ain’t no commie. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. Because what James Harden is doing right now, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t make him the lede every single night. Since December 13th, 2018, Harden has played 18 games. Over that span, he’s AVERAGING 42 points per game. There’s been three 50-burgers and eight games with at least 40. He hasn’t scored less than 32 points. W. T. F…..He’s AVERAGED 38.7 minutes and had a usage rate of 43.4%!!! The true shooting percentage has been 62% while the assist percentage has been 48.5%! W. T. F….W. T. F…..W. T. F!!!! Last night, in an overtime loss, Harden was ridonkulous:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
58 10 6 1 1 4 5/19 16/34 21/23

He scored 57 the prior night! I’ll never forget 2003 Kobe when he went nine straight games scoring at least 40 points. That was sick. This is…..illmatic. Shout out to Nas.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
57 9 2 2 1 5 6/15 17/33 17/18

In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?

That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh yeah! Big Bad Blake, the Earthquake Griffin is the first player to get highlighted twice by me this year! Clap it up! I really wanted to give the lede to anyone else, but no-one else’s line came close to what Blake did last night. Blake Griffin went 5-44-8-5-3-1-4 on 13-of-23 shooting and 13-of-14 FTs as Detroit topped the Clippers 109-104. Detroit inches closer to that highly coveted 8th seed in the East, and Blake is licking his chops at the prospect of a seven-game series with the Raptors. I had to shoutout Blake for bringing the defensive stats last night for once. It was his first block in the last six games so I wouldn’t get used to this level of elite blocks production.

A lot went down last night so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Off the top of my head, Phil and Joan are the most famous people with the last name Collins. Well deserved and they sit on the thrones in the pantheon of Collins’s. Is that right? Or would it be Colline? Whatever, English is my second language. Ebonics was my first. Perusing the list of Collins’s or Colline got me thinking that people that pursue fame are dumb because 99% of the time that you think you’re famous, no one gives a shit or remembers. I guess that’s something someone who’s not famous writes. Anyways, John Collins has been making a case to be on the list.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 14 1 1 0 3 1/2 12/21 5/6

Collins has played 25 games, yet is 22nd in the NBA with 16 dub-dubs. For persepective, Joel Embiid leads the league with 36 in 40 games. Over the last eight games, he’s been a top 50 player, averaging 31.7 minutes, 19.3 points, 1.3 threeecolas, 11.8 boards, 2.3 dimes, with 57% shooting from the field and 75% on 4 attempts from the free throw line. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are the D stats. The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league, so the environment is ripe for Collins to thrive. Unfortunately, the lack of D stats will keep him from challenging Phil or Joan for the throne, but that’s okay. At least he’s in the conversation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Frank Sinatra was a cool cat. A member of the Rat Pack, Sinatra was a singer, actor, producer, and was considered one of the most iconic performers of his generation. “Ol’ Blue Eyes” would make the women swoon and get Son to sing one of his most famous tunes….My Way….at a K-Town karaoke establishment.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do…And saw it through without exemption. I planned each chartered course….Each careful step along the byway….And more, much more than this….I did it my way.”

Sounds like my fantasy career, which brings me to Langston Galloway.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 3 3 2 0 0 4/10 9/20 2/3

Played 37 minutes yesterday. The prior game, Galloway played 31 minutes and attempted 15 shots, with nine from downtown. The Pistons are banged up right now, as Ish Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Stanley Johnson are all down with injuries. You could regret picking up Galloway, as he’s a career 38% shooter from the field. But then again, he is a career 35% from downtown. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. If you need threeecolas, Galloway has attempted 19 in the past two games. Chart the course. With each injury that the Pistons endure along the way, there will be minutes and shot attempts….and more, more like this….realize that you did it Galloway.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This season of 50-point games and JaVale McGee relevance is already about 25% complete. How are your teams looking? We should have a pretty good picture of what we can expect from our lineups and most players, so where can we go from here? Let’s get creative. I’ve been talking about how the practice of ignoring categories that aren’t affecting us can give us an advantage (even if we weren’t trying to punt categories), as it presents a market tilted in our favor. Shaking up the values of players and customizing them to our teams is a great way to make some effective trades. Trades that are more likely to get accepted, because they can more easily be win/win deals. Today, I’m going to give a variety of lists of multi-category “punts” to help identify targets that often go undervalued, in addition to those that complement punting teams best.

I’ve gone on and on about how most categories get overlooked. That’s something that can give savvy managers an advantage. The masses, if they aren’t looking closely at player raters and rankings, may essentially be “punting” the ignored categories like steals, for example. As I often mention, I truly think most fantasy managers subconsciously weigh points, rebounds, and assists more heavily than the other stats. It’s understandable, as that’s how most media outlets report stats, but it’s ridiculous to do so in fantasy, as all categories are created equal.

So, first up, here’s a list of some startable players with the biggest jumps in 9-cat per-game value (per Basketball Monster through 11/25) when we ignore Points, Rebounds, and Assists. These 6-category rankings should give us the players that are most undervalued, especially by casual fantasy players. Think of them as the thinking-man’s fantasy all-stars, fittingly led by it’s perpetual mascot.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Remember those times when that girl or guy would call or text and mention that the parents were gone? Ooohhh, how I miss those times? I would get so excited. Well, the last two games in Houston, Chris Paul has been a good neighbor and notified the team that he’s out. Oooohhhh, that means it’s James Harden‘s time to get us Harden excited. On the season, Harden is leading the league with a 36.5 usage rate, but when Paul is off the court, that number spikes to 45.8!!! On Saturday, Harden scored 40 points and dished out 13 dimes. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
54 8 13 3 0 11 7/15 17/32 13/15

A fifty burger with 13 assists and 11 turnovers. That’s truly messing around. Anyways, even with the 5.8 turnovers per game (which leads the league by over 1 per game), Harden is still the #4 player in fantasy. If that doesn’t get you Harden excited, then you’ve got issues I don’t want to subscribe to. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator was Harden excited, as it had him as the #1 player last night. Now that’s something you can subscribe to.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Full exposure: I had to look up what a sexton actually is. Apparently it’s something like a groundskeeper for a church, but their duties have traditionally included digging graves. And that’s exactly what Collin Sexton did to the Rockets last night. They rested Chris Paul, in what I’m sure the Cavs viewed as a slap in the face, and used that to fuel their play. Sexton had a night, going 1-29-4-2-0-0-3 on 14-of-21 shooting with nary a free throw and I’m sure it helped that CP3 was not guarding him. The 29 points were a career high, and he’s actually turning in a pretty nice rookie campaign so far. He had a lot of doubters coming into the season, myself included, but with George Hill out, he’s made the most of his opportunities.  He won’t give you much outside of points and good percentages, but for a last guy on your bench you could do much worse.

Here’s what else went down on a slightly light schedule night for a Saturday, (7 Games):

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Ok, maybe they didn’t forget him, but Andre Drummond definitely doesn’t get the credit he’s due. He might have gotten lost in a massive 13-game night, filled with double-doubles, but let’s give Dre his due. He’s leading the league in rebounding, going for 16 boards a game, and averaging a career-high 19.4 points.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
9/18 5/8 0/1 23 20 1 3 5 1

I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the 23 and 20 or the 8 combined stocks. Over the past three seasons, Drummond had been averaging 1.5 steals per game (those are guard number!) So far this year, he’s only averaging 0.9 steals, but that is still great for a center. If the steals come back up, so will his fantasy value, but the free throw percentage will always be his anchor. If you punt free throw percentage, Drummond is a clear-cut top 10 player. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?