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.
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.
Can't believe it, but another fantasy season is in the books. I hope you enjoyed it and can celebrate some success. I'll keep the talk short this week and get to the players we have to thank for our wins and those we have to blame for our losses. Obviously, players have hot streaks, so some of the most valuable players were valuable for, like, a month or maybe half a season. However, I'm going to compare season-long results to average draft position and highlight a few players that performed dramatically differently than expected. I thought about using total season stats, but the differences there often are so heavily influenced by injuries that I don't think it's a good way to judge how well a player played. So, I'll just be looking at per-game stats for 8-cat and 9-cat. Players that exceeded their draft position the most ("most" being subjective, since someone that was drafted 10th and finished 3rd could be considered more or less of a value than someone that was drafted 120th and finished 60th, for example). Then, those that finished most below their ADP. You get it. Sort of a breakouts and busts with 20/20 hindsight. I used the Yahoo ADPs (should be a mix of 8 and 9-cat leagues) and the Basketball Monster Player Rankings.
You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud. Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same. The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money. Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:
We choose to supersize that meal or put cheese on the burger so that our stomachs look like Kuato in Total Recall. That's our choice. We choose to wear the jimmy hat or live dangerously. That's our choice. We choose to draft KAT over Anthony Davis in fantasy. That's our choice. But there is so much out of our control. The world we were born into. Our parents. What we look like. In a videogame, we choose what difficulty level we play on. In life, that has been chosen for us. Some play on hard, while others get cheat codes. Willy Hernangomez hit the genetic lottery. 6' 11" 240 pounds, athletically skilled, and good looking. Sure, he worked his ass off to get where he's at. Lifting weights, running, and plucking eyebrows, but he had a nice base to work with. Last year during his rookie campaign, he was a monster per-36: 16 points, 13.6 boards, 2.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% field goal percentage, and 73% free throw percentage. Unfortunately, he only played 18 minutes per game. Out of his control. Regardless, Willy was viewed as a franchise piece, but then the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter. The minutes plummeted to 9 a game, even though the per-36 numbers were still robust. Out of his control. If you go back to my earlier blurbs regarding Willy, I mentioned that he hooked up with Hornacek's daughter. I'd hit up the Google machine right now. Wouldn't you? I'm still not dismissing that angle, so maybe Willy had some control in the matter. Anyways, after bitching and complaining, he finally got his wish and was shipped to the Hornets. Too bad the Hornets had some guy named Dwight Howard. Can't forget about Cody Zeller as well. So, Willy was not freed and the situation looked identical to the one in New York. But, Zeller is out for the season due to injury and yesterday, Willy played a season-high 22 minutes.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 15 11 0 2 0 0 0/1 2/3 11/14
Per-36 in CHA, Willy is at: 17.7 points, 14.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture and there's no reason to push Dwight, so Willy should see significant run to end the season. Free at last....free at last....Willy is free at last. Here's what else I saw yesterday:
If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re probably in your fantasy basketball championship week. If you’re not, you have a sick addiction to NBA basketball and still care how your friends’ weeks are going, or you’re a a masochist and want to see how you could have done if you made the finals. It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the NBA, with injuries, teams resting key guys, and extreme tanking. I would move your league’s final week up at least one week if I was you, because your team at this point in the year probably doesn’t resemble what it was even three short weeks ago. I think if you’re wise you will draft guys on mid to upper tier teams next year, who actually will be playing for something down the stretch. One of these guys is Paul Millsap. The Nuggets are battling for a playoff spot and Millsap got all the run he could handle going 2-36-9-2-0-0-1 on 13-of-18 shooting and 8-of-11 FTs. He could be on a lot of winning squads with four games this week. With that said, there have been some key steamers and beneficiaries of rested players and late season injuries. Here is what went down on a key Friday night for Fantasy Basketball:
First of all, Joel Embiid is ok and it is probable that he makes it back for the game in Atlanta on Friday. Now, the second most important thing out of Philadelphia is Dario Saric’s huge game. Super Dario went off for 2/26/14/5/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 36 minutes. The 76ers are rolling right now and I would not want to play this team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Sorry for the quick open but it is getting late here in Arizona. So here is what else I saw last night:
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:
For playoff bound teams, every win at this point in the season is huge. This was not only a big win for the Washington Wizards, it was avoiding a terrible loss. Yes, they are missing All-Star point guard John Wall, but the Boston Celtics were starting someone named Guerschon Yabusele. I did some digging and discovered that Mr. Yabusele, before donning a jersey and being announced with the Celtics’ starting five, was one of those giant security guards that stand at the bottom of each staircase with their arms crossed and their backs to the court during the game. In fact, prior to playing 18 minutes in last night’s double-OT loss against the Wizards, the most exciting thing to ever happen to Guerschon on a basketball court was high-fiving Marky Mark Wahlberg after a Kyrie Irving game winner. The Celtics may have ultimately lost the game, but to get as close as they did is a real testament to just how much the Wizards play down to an opponent’s level. I am pretty sure a Division II high school basketball team could take Washington down to the wire. Besides the Wizards almost losing the Celtics G-League squad, here is what else I saw last night: