I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Volcanoes are fascinating objects. They tower into the sky and blot out the horizon. Inside, there is magma that is being pushed up from the Earth’s core that is searching for ways to lather the surface. Now that I think about, they are the Earth’s pimples. Ewww. They are no laughing matter, though, because when they do erupt, the lava flows create a path of destruction and the smoke and plume can erase the sun and prohibit planes from flying. Yet, they can also be vehicles of creation, as many of the Earth’s island masses are formed as a result of the lava flows from volcanoes. Like I said, fascinating. Which brings me to Hassan Whiteside, one of the NBA’s most fascinating players. He’s 7′ 0″, 265 pounds, so he does blot out the horizon on the court for many and pummels the rim with a ferocity unmatched by many. Yet, he’s quick and nimble on his feet to hunt down rebounds and chase blocks. Inside, though, is a swirling mass of unknown, as he can disappear on the offensive end at times. But volcanoes eventually erupt, and that’s exactly what happened with Mt. Whiteside last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 20 2 0 9 1 0/1 10/18 9/11

For the season, Whiteside is the 38th player according to Basketball Monster. You’re getting elite rebound and block numbers with above average field goal percentage.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’m old enough to remember when # was something located at the bottom right of the phone dial pad. Geez, I’m old. I’m also old enough to remember when Stan was a person’s name. Now? It has a definition in the dictionary: an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity. Shoutout to Eminem. That’s what you call influence. Anyways, Khloe Kardashian must be a Tristan, right? How about you? No?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 16 4 0 1 3 0 9/12 1/3

How about now? Damn Tristan! He played 34 minutes and produced his third double-dub of the season. We all thought Larry Nance Jr. would be the man at center for the Cavaliers, yet he only played 14 minutes last night and has failed to reach the 20 minute mark in each of the past four games. If you need boards, Tristan is your guy. Just don’t expect much else and the free throw shooting is craptastic. I figured there wouldn’t be many other instances to stan for Tristan this season, and I’m an equal opportunity writer, so enjoy being a Tristan for a day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I often reminisce about the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder squad: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and…..Cole Aldrich. I kid, I kid. Serge Ibaka aka I-block-a…aka Air Congo….aka Serge Protector was a freaking animal, blocking over 3.7 shots a game and grabbing 7.5 rebounds. Man, that team. One of the greatest video game teams of all time? Anyways, Ibaka was raw from an offensive stand point, but was a maven on the glass and defensive end of the floor. If he could hone his offensive game, we were looking at the next superstar. The athleticism was that profound. Well, he did ascertain an offensive game and extended his range out to beyond the arc. Unfortunately, the rebounds went down and the block numbers cratered to the 1.3 mark set last season. He lost a lot of that dog, as he preferred to just chill on the perimeter and shoot jumpers all night. Well, it looks like Bow Wow made a visit because, so far, Ibaka is grabbing more rebounds (over 7 for the first time since 2014) and the blocks have ticked back up. We will never see the 3.7 level again, but any increase is a good increase. We are not here to talk about the blocks and boards, though. We are here to talk about the scoring Serge Ibaka exhibited last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 10 2 2 0 1 1/1 15/17 3/3

A career-high!!! And he wasn’t just camped out outside. He was running in transition and making hard cuts to the basket in the half court. Ferocious dunk after ferocious dunk. Now, he may not start every game, as Jonas Valanciunas will likely go up against bruisers, but he should consistently get around 28 minutes regardless, as Coach Nurse does like play small-ball with Ibaka at the 5. I think a huge change for Ibaka this season is the fewer attempts from downtown. It’s allowed him to shoot a higher percentage from the field and gets him more involved for rebounds, as he’s not just spectating on the perimeter. Don’t ever expect any assists from him, but points, rebounds, and blocks with good percentages are on the menu. Ibaka is currently the #36 player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Watching Chris Paul can be so fun. When he’s not catching spit followed by hooks from fellow old man Rondo, CP3 is hustling, using his old man tricks to take down young teams that dare challenge him. He’ll drive the lane, fake passes, shoot from 8 feet behind the line. He doesn’t care. Trying to keep the ship afloat without Harden is his responsibility and he’s gonna do it. Like the old curmudgeon in your neighborhood that refuses to offer candy to trick-or-treating kids, this grumpy old man will shoo you off his lawn and do what he wants.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
13/27 1/1 5/12 32 7 11 2 2 2

We got classic, but still grumpy CP3 tonight! Paul had a sensational game, carrying the Rockets on his back and beating an up-and-coming Brooklyn team. It always amazes me how he gets so many rebounds for someone who looks to be 5’11 tops. Ride him while Harden is out, but if he keeps playing 37 minutes, expect some rest games soon.

Here’s what else happened last night:

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Derrick Rose early on Wednesday morning in a jovial mood. How could he not? It was Halloween, a day to have fun, dress up, scare little kids, and eat lots and lots of candy. But as he drove up to the practice lot of the Timberwolves practice facility a little after lunch, things just didn’t feel right. The cloud that’s been hovering over the building for the last month or so looked a little darker. When he stepped out of the car, the wind was brisk and sent shivers throughout his whole body. As he approached Coach Thibodeau’s office, there was an eery light emanating from the crack between the bottom of the door and floor. Then a BAM! And a BOOM! KA BOOOOOOOOOOOOYACKA SHAKALA! WTF??!! Lying on the floor, Derrick Rose and entered Coach Thib’s office. “What’s wrong coach?” Coach Thibs responded with, “We are 3-4. 25th in defensive rating! Andrew Wiggins has four years and $147 million left on his contract! Jeff Teague can’t play tonight and Jimmy Butler is playing hard ball and won’t play until we trade him!!!…..And your hair looks f**king ridiculous!!!!” Derrick was not fazed. “Coach, I got this.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 4 6 2 1 6 4/7 19/31 8/11

I’d say he did. Derrick Rose to the occasion with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Tyus Jones all not playing by logging 41 minutes and bringing the Five-Oh. The fifty-burger was a career-high, which bested his prior mark of 42 points back in 2010. Now, Derrick is 30 years old and we all know about the injury history. He hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season since….2010. He’s obviously not going to bring the cops every night or shoot 31 times, but prior to last night, Derrick was a viable fantasy asset: 14.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 0.7 steals. No threeecolas and the field goal percentage was/is/won’t be pretty, but he was providing some decent counting stats. More importantly, he was getting over 28 minutes of run a game with the upside of moving into the starting lineup and getting more when someone sat. Scoop him up if he’s still available. If you own him, no one is going to buy high, so just let it ride. Happy Halloween!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Klay Thompson was not having a good start to the 2018 season. He had failed to reach the 20-point mark in any of the first seven games and was shooting under 40% from the field and 14% from downtown. Klay is a career 45% shooter from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. Regression hit hard and heavy last night, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 5 0 1 0 2 14/24 18/29 2/2

The third time he has eclipsed the 50-point barrier in his career and the third time he has notched a record: 11 three-pointers during a playoff game (2016), 37 points in a quarter (2016), and the 14 threeecolas last night bested his teammate, Steph Curry, who held the previous record of 13 (2016). Klay has some of the most ridiculous heaters I’ve ever seen. Anyways, for fantasy, he’s currently the 76th player according to Basketball Monster. The minutes are down, assists are down, threeecolas are down, and field goal percentage is down. The only concern would be the minutes and assists, but the shooting will come around. He’s just too good, and reminded us all in a big way last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Entering last night’s game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 131st on Yahoo rankings, mainly due to the high turnovers, low free throw percentage, and lack of threeecolas. Well, Giannis said F U to all the rankings and went HAM last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 15 4 0 2 3 1/3 13/29 4/6

Granted, it was the Knicks but I don’t see many teams being able to slow him down, especially in this Budenholzer offense. He’s averaging a ridonkulous 16.5 rebounds, 25.5 points, 6.4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal so far. The usage rates for each game have been 41, 38, and 37! The lack of threeecolas have always been an issue, and I don’t see that improving too much this year. The poor free throw shooting should improve, as he’s a career 74% from the charity stripe, and the turnovers should abate by a huge margin. Currently, he’s at 7 per game, while his career rate is 2.5. Ain’t nothing but a G thang, baby! G will be that top 10 player you drafted sooner rather than later.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Entering last season, most of the focus was on how the Bulls would adapt to the post-Jimmy Butler era. Given the current laugh-a-minute situation in Minnesota, it seems like the return of Lauri Markannen, Zach Lavine, and Kris Dunn has resulted in a big win for the Bulls. The team will be looking for big contributions from all three, as well as their marquee free agent signing of Jabari Parker and first round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., to build upon a lackluster 27 wins from the previous year and, more importantly, show flashes of progression. The East is now Lebron and DeRozan-less, so the Bulls will be looking towards that 8 seed as a realistic target.

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Sorry Andre, but there is breaking news: Joel Embiid will have surgery to fix an orbital bone fracture and will miss at least 2 games but could be out as much as 4 weeks. I would wait to hear something more sound before dropping him, but it definitely makes Richaun Holmes a nice pick-up. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled recap:

Andre “Beast Mode” Drummond had his old school ground and pound game working last night as he led the Pistons to an 11 point win over the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Even without Blake Griffin, who went through warm-ups but could not play and is now headed for an MRI on his injured ankle, the Pistons were able to blow the game wide-open in the 3rd quarter mostly because of Drummond’s pure dominance in the paint.

Andre put the beat down on Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi to the tune of 0/24/23/4/0/1 with only 1 turnover in 37 minutes. Drummond shot 10-16 from the floor and 4-7 from the line, which is the type of efficiency spoiled fantasy owners have come to expect from Mr. Drummond this season. The free-throw shooting still isn’t Curry-esque, but it has become strong enough to elevate Drummond to the elite fantasy player level.

Besides the lesson in classic center play that Drummond gave the Wizards, here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?