The New York Knicks. Where do we even start? The front office? The coaching? The players? I guess I’ll start with this. I’ve been on this Knicks roller coaster ever since my dad took me to my first Knicks game at Madison Square Garden when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Since then, I’ve been met mostly with disappointment. I have been staying positive, though, and have been looking towards our future here in New York for however many years Knicks’ fans have been saying that. But, I must say it, the future starts now.
Last season, the Knicks ended that peculiar and condensed season with a 21-45 record. They ended that season on a 4-3 run, which seemed promising, off the back of some mostly competent coaching from Mike Miller after David Fizdale had overstayed his welcome. However, this season, the coaching staff, the front office, and roster has changed. Yes, James Dolan still owns the team, but sshh, you win some and you lose some.
In the lead-up to the February 6, 2020 NBA trade deadline, there was a flurry of activity. Reports of a quiet deadline were greatly exaggerated. Below, I take a look at two of the biggest deals and break down how the new environments might affect the fantasy production of the players involved. So much of team and player success is about fit. How are roles assigned? Can a player fulfill his adequately? Would he be better suited for something different? How do the surrounding pieces in a lineup accentuate the strengths or weaknesses of any individual player? Not all of this information is necessary to make sound fantasy decisions, but it can certainly help. I won’t be doing any in-depth trade analysis or draft pick tracking. I’m strictly focused on how each of the key players will fit in their new environment.
I have sporadically mentioned in these articles how much I admire Gregg Popovic. Not only for his coaching ability, love for the game, and competitiveness, but also for his personality. The guy is a quote machine, always providing something clever/funny/deep to comment, depending on the situation. And after a game-winning performance by DeMar Derozan against the Raptors, he had this to say.
DeRozan got the star treatment on his return in Toronto but Pop was quick to bring him back to earth in his own unique way. It really makes you think about the culture of the San Antonio organization as a whole and appreciate their commitment to success through teamwork.
Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bradley Beal returned, but this hasn’t slowed down both Ish Smith and Jordan Mcrae, who continued their productive streaks. Sekou Doumbouya also looks like a big hit, as Blake Griffin should be out for the rest of the season and Daniel Gafford is a start-worthy player as long as Wendell Carter Jr. is out.
What is love? Haddaway asked that question many decades ago. Did he find the answer? Naw, just more questions but the one thing he wanted us to know is that he didn’t want to get hurt anymore. As we well know in the fantasy world, Love hurts. Last night, the Phoenix Suns were singing the same tune, as Kevin Huerter kept bringing the pain.
Baby don’t Huerter, don’t Huerter, no more. It was a career game in terms of boards and dimes. As I’ve written in the past, the thing that most impressed me about Huerter’s game was the playmaking ability. He is an excellent ball handler and can navigate pick-and-roll action competently. He’s been averaging 4.8 dimes over the past four games. I thought he would strictly be a 3-and-D player when he was drafted, but his game is multi-dimensional. Case in point, over the past seven games, he’s averaged 7.1 boards per game. Now, he’s been shooting 49% from the field over that stretch. I was always bullish on his shooting acumen, but he was only shooting 42% from the field for most of the season. If the efficiency is real, then top 50 is attainable. I have my doubts, at least this season. Maybe going forward, but top 100 production this season is reasonable, with averages of 13 points, 2 tres, 4 boards, 4 dimes, 1 steal, with 43% shooting from the field and 83% shooting from the line.
I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.
It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.
It took 171 games, over two seasons, and 5800 minutes played, but Ben Simmons finally did it. He drained his first tres.
I know you have doubts, but tape don’t lie….
The fact that I’m making Simmons the lede for making a tres is sad, but what’s worse is that it took him 171 games, two seasons, and 5800 minutes! Now, let’s not forget that on this historic and momentous night, Simmons actually played a great overall game:
In a whopping 42 minutes! Yes, it was against the Knicks but whatever. Production is production. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the production? The Stocktonator. For fantasy, Simmons is such an interesting player because he leads you down the punt one, punt two, punt three category strategy (tres, ft%, and turnovers). But, but, but….he has nightly “mess around” potential and will get his block and steal on. On the season, he’s a top 40 player despite his shortcomings.
That song always did/does get me hyped up. Was I the biggest Ja Rule fan? Naw, but I did enjoy some of his songs and he was quite popular when I was growing up. Whatever you or I think about him, you can’t deny that he brought the energy and was a success. Just like Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, who brings it at both ends of the court, attacks the rim with ferocity, and has the conjones to take the last shot and lead his squad to victory.
The game went to OT, because Ja blocked Kyrie Irving’s shot in regulation, then he dished a dime to Jae Crowder for the game-winning tres. There was some concern to start the season, as he only played 25 and 28 minutes respectively, but make no mistake about it; this is Ja’s squad and he’s a legitimate ROY candidate.
I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.
A B C D E F G. Usually we continue with H I J K L M N O P, but not today because the Buck stops at G. Is it a coincidence that G is the first letter for both Giannis Antetokounmpo and God? I don’t believe in coincidences. Both God and G have many similarities. They are both freaks and possess mind-blowing characteristics. God with the whole omnipotent and created the universe thing, while G is a physical marvel unrivaled by any human. Now, both usually just go about their business in the world by being awesome, but every once in a while, fury, rage, and anger swell up to deliver a message. Last night was one of those times for G.
Over the past six games, G has been the #4 player. The usage rate has been 32.5 and he’s even contributed 0.8 tres. 28 points, 12.3 boards, 5.7 dimes, 2 steals, and 1.7 blocks with 53% shooting from the field and 81% from the line on 9.2 attempts is down right filthy. Just wait until he starts draining those tres, though, because it’s going to happen. Regardless, having G as one of the top fantasy players is easy as A B C. What the Nets and the rest of the league learned last night was just as easy; Don’t get G angry.
Last year, I mentioned that I was a big baseball card collector as a kid, having been the perfect age when that really became a big thing. I was fortunate to have a group of friends who loved to trade cards and a dad that would take me to baseball card shows to build my collection. I had chosen Ken Griffey Jr. early on as my favorite player, so fortunately, I was on the lookout mainly for his cards. If I can ever decide to part with them, at least I have hundreds of cards featuring a Hall of Famer. The same cannot be said, however, for my brief foray into the world of basketball card collecting. I decided to complete a small set of the 1993 NBA Draft first-rounders. And from this group, like when I picked Griffey as my favorite player when he was a rookie, I chose an exciting young player to focus on. The decision to collect Isaiah “J.R.” Rider cards for a few months did not return the same joy and imaginary wealth, unfortunately. But it certainly was easy to trade for his cards!
Speaking of trading, as I write this, the trade deadline, one of my favorite days of the year, is only 15 days away. Now, after a trade goes down that day, do you want to be one of the people rushing to your app, hoping you’re the first to see if the guy that’s getting a huge bump in minutes and usage is still available? Or, do you want to be the one that they all curse when they find out you picked him up a week earlier? Obviously, we can’t stash all the players that could be in line for a big increase in fantasy value, but today I’m going to try to identify a handful of players to either stash now or to keep an eye on, depending on your league size, as the trade rumors continue to come out. And with that list, I’ll provide their per-36 minute stats. No, most won’t get that many minutes even if they are the beneficiaries of a deadline deal, but it’ll at least give you an idea of what they could do with an increase in minutes… plus, it’s fun.