A few years back, there was this popular book series that was also one of the first click-baitey lists I remember seeing online. It was called “Eat This, Not That!”. Or, as it might as well have been called: “Feel Guilty Every Time You Have A Deep-Fried Onion Appetizer.” They’d present two relatively similar items at a restaurant, one with roughly half the calories and a fraction of the saturated fat. That one was usually smaller, and shockingly, not deep-fried. I remember grumpily learning that some of the absolute worst things you could eat were also some of my favorites, of course. That would be these beauties:

The Triumvirate: The Awesome Blossom, The Bloomin’ Onion, and The Cactus Blossom. No thanks! I won’t be substituting grilled salmon and fresh vegetables! I LIKE having my entire recommended weekly allowance of calories BEFORE my entrée arrives!

So, this week, I thought I’d take from that and from another idea I’ve always liked: Comparing nameless stat-lines. So, let’s do a Roster This, Not That! How’s this going to give us an advantage? What I’m going for here is, unsurprisingly, picking two players with relatively similar stat sets. One will generally be a player that your typical fantasy manager will value close to his draft price, and the other will be an overachiever, and possibly an under-the-radar one at that. Then, if you think that player might not be properly valued in your league, you should try to acquire him, as he could come cheap. If you have the player he’s being compared to, you could even see if you could make the swap and upgrade somewhere else at the same time. Now, if the other manager is up on their current player rankings, you may not get a deal, but, even so, they could be skeptical that the surprising player can keep it up. I’ve admitted before that I’m reluctant to change my perception of a player quickly. I pretty much value players where they were drafted for a little too long, since I’m resistant to believe the small sample size is more predictive than the career body of work. Which is right? That’s part of the fun, of course. So, here are a handful of comparisons I came up with (see if you can guess a few). It’s less about these specific players than the overall concept. Make sure you’re not just sticking with the big names. When it comes to fantasy, you’ve got to think of these players as a set of numbers.

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Thought I’d have a little throwback fun this week. Who’s tired of the Jordan vs LeBron debates? Yep. Me too. Jordan never lost a finals! LeBron hasn’t lost a conference finals in 8 years! Look at his teammates! Look at HIS teammates!… blah, blah, blah. Here’s the real question we care about in our world: Who was the better fantasy player? Now, it’s not quite the same argument as greatest of all time, because there are at least a handful of other players that have been more valuable fantasy-wise than one or both of these guys, but lets see if we can make some sense out of their fantasy careers. Thanks once again to Basketball Monster for having historical player raters.

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There’s a famous song for people who have clear cases of either “no-first-name” or “no-last-name” disorder. You may know it.  Let’s take Paul George for example. Paul George, Paul George… no last name, no last name… you can call him Paul, you can call him George… no last name, no last name. Well the lyrics are entirely true, because, in fact, he has no last name. For those who don’t know what the hell I’m spewing, it works really well to the tune of Frère Jacques. If you don’t know what that is, you had a deprived childhood and should let your parents know about it… in disgust. There have been some other star-studded players in the NBA with no last name. Chris Paul, Ray Allen, Bill Russell… oh did I forget Michael Jordan? There is something in the water with these surnames, it’s called basketball-jones, or Michael’s secret stuff.

There is one player’s name that I just can’t seem to figure out. Not God Shammgod, Fennis Dembo, or Pooh Richardson. Not Yinka Dare, Uwe Blab, or Fat Lever. (All of those are real names). I am talking about my next candidate for your Beyond the Glory viewing. Bogdan Bogdanovic. A name that sounds like a mix between your neighbor’s schnitzer-poodle and my grandmother’s bunyan medication. The thing is, Bogdan is a damn good basketball player and could be coming to a fantasy team near you, very soon. This name sounds familiar, you may be saying to yourself. Was this the name of the dish I ate at the local Turkish eatery last night? Is that the sound a horse makes while on it’s death bed? Is that the native tongue of Borat? All valid questions. It sounds familiar because there has already been a Bogdanovic in the NBA for some time. Bojan Bogdanovic broke into the league in 2014 with the Nets and now finds himself on the Pacers roster after a brief playoff run with the Wizards last year. He’s been a nice player, only useful for fantasy purposes when he goes on 3PM binges. But today we focus on his 25 year old brother, and recent signing of the Sacramento Kings.

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The Bulls came into Toronto having beat the Raptors in 11 straight games. It took overtime, but the Raptors snapped the losing streak behind DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Double D shot 17-38 and helped erase a 16-point deficit in the 4th quarter to secure the win.

DeRozan battled all game against Jimmy Butler, who also went off for 37/10/6. Despite these two all-stars’ phenomenal performances, the game was overshadowed by the fight between Serge Ibaka (16 and 6) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks):

Usually Lopez only fights mascots, but took exception to Ibaka’s shove in the back. Fortunately the guys were separated rather quickly, but the league will obviously review the fight and make a decision later on whether either player will be suspended any games. Personally, I’d expect both guys to miss at least one game, but hopefully it’s just a fine and they return for their teams’ next game.

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As many of you probably know, I have a major thing for shooters; particularly guys that are great at the end of the game.  Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, etc.  Buddy fits that mold to perfection.  In order to be a great shooter, one must have have tremendous focus, and a great work ethic.  Based on that description, these are the kind of high quality guys that you want on your team.

Everyone knows that Buddy can shoot.  Almost 10 attempts from deep per game during his senior year.  He drained over 45% of those.  I see no reason why he won’t average around 3 treys a game in the NBA.  The bigger question is: Is Hield Just a THRAGNOF?  I contend that he is not.

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For those of you who didn’t watch the Sixers vs Lakers game on Tuesday, you really missed out on something special.  It was Kobe Bryant’s final game in Philly (where he played high school ball), and the atmosphere was absolutely electric.  Kobe led off the game by draining 3 treys in his first four shots, with fans cheering every time he touched the ball.  Unfortunately, the adrenaline could only take his aging body so far, and the inefficient Kobe of this year, soon took over.  There were flashes of former glory throughout the game, but it’s clear that his brilliant career is coming to an end.  “There’s so much beauty in the pain of this thing,” Bryant said of his struggles on the floor.  Thankfully, he is playing the season out, and giving his fans a last chance to say goodbye.

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Kobe has given us some incredible moments over the years, and like him or hate him, you have to respect him.  He is one of the greatest competitors in NBA history, and he plays with as much intensity and heart as anyone that I can remember.  Bryant always put 110% into the game, and that constant strain is likely what wore his body out.  However, it’s also what makes him one of the greatest to ever play the game.

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It’s going to feel very odd watching a Laker team without Kobe Bryant.  I suppose all stars come and go, but Bryant just seemed to defy all odds up until this year.  It’s even stranger to see Kobe starting to show up on some waiver wires.  As for me, I own him in a couple leagues, and will be holding him for the duration of the season.  Just for the principle of the thing.

Kobe is among the last of the old guard, with veterans and retired players like Pierce, Allen, Garnett, DuncanNowitzki, Nash, and Shaq.  New players like Curry, Harden, Westbrook, Leonard, Durant, Davis, and George, have risen to take their place.  It’s a pretty incredible cycle if you think about it.

Ok, enough of the nostalgia, lets get into the waiver wire for this week!

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Who is the hottest team in the NBA right now?  The Pacers are surprisingly playing well and OKC is still winning through injuries, but those Utah Jazz are as tough to score on as the bookish chicks in college!

5-1 since the trade deadline, the Jazz have wins against Portland, San Antonio and now Memphis in that span (their loss was against the Lakers, but we’ll overlook that), and other than that fluke Lakers game, no one has scored over 82 points.  And we all know the key to the Jazz D is Rudy Gobert.  Moving into the starting line-up, Gobert has been playing unreal with a 15/24/1/0/0 line last night on 6-10 FG and 3-4 FT.  He was on a 6-game streak of 3+ blocks, so a random outlier of 0 last night isn’t a biggie especially since Marc Gasol loves his mid-range.

I’ve seen a few comments of owners looking to trade for FG% and a big man boost, and I would be all-in on trying to bring Rudy to those squads.  Even his FT% is improving at 11-15 from the stripe the past 3!  And the Jazz have that oh so saucy 4/4/4 playoff sched.  Yesterday on the Podcast, I asked Slim if he would take Gobert or Hassan Whiteside first in next year’s drafts.  It’s really really close and comes down to a points need (Whiteside) vs. steals need (Gobert).  It’s crazy that probably the biggest value change during the deadline was just the stubborn Jazz finally unleashing the beast that is Gobert.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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As we head into August, now is a perfect time to take a look back at the free agency period for the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season.

While there is one big name yet to sign (Eric Bledsoe), a few less-intriguing options still on the market (Michael Beasley, Andray Blatche, Kent Bazemore, Jordan Crawford), and another who’s unsure whether he’ll play or retire (Ray Allen), most of the fantasy basketball world knows where guys will be playing this season.  Of course, that still doesn’t include the possibility of Kevin Love finding a new home by the end of the summer, but that could be the subject of an entirely different article.

There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Love will land in Cleveland, which will make them a huge force in the Eastern Conference — and in the entire NBA.

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When the mythical beast of the Goromotaro was awakened, we’ve seen very few bigs able to top the 20/20 plateau.  It’s what hindsight is!  Then Anthony Davis goes out and drops a 40-burger topped with multi-cat sauce.  “Welcome to King Burger where you can have it your way but don’t get crazy!”  Brow went too crazy!  40/21/3/1/3.  Sassy.  Almost a rainbow, definitely a Goromotaro, and certainly spiking the Brow value into probably the 3rd pick next year.  I said early on in the year I’d go top-5, but he’s locked in the three hole now.  You can set it and forget it.  Plus he’s a redonk 29 for his last 29 at the stripe.  Just so valuable that one of the big Boards-N-Blocks can actually hit free throws.  So in drafts next year, you can pass on Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan later on.  Plus you won’t be looking at your roster and taunting it like Katt Williams when pulled over by Shaq.  “No – could you hit a free throw!”  Here’s what else I saw over the weekend:

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You know, Raymond Felton broke his hand last year, and this is no joke, less than two weeks after Twinkies were officially discontinued.  I imagine him hearing the news after a Knicks loss, and punching the glass out at a NYC convenience store.  “How will I ever carboload before rolling onto the court!”  Then Twinkies, after being bought out and licensed, again appeared on store shelves in July 2013.  And ohhhh boy, was it an offseason to remember for Roly Poly Felton!  Even though he’s always looked like a big boy, concerns about his weight surfaced yet again, and this year his stats were down before a myriad of injuries took their toll.  This past groin injury, where Felton reportedly heard a “pop”, finally got him to listen to the advice of the trainers.  “When my little guy down there told me something was wrong, I finally listened.”  Knicks head athletic trainer Roger Hinds had to think on the fly, eventually settling on a 12-grain/cashew cream vegan Twinkie-substitute.  Instead of the 15-17 off-the-shelf Twinkies comprising the majority of Felton’s daily diet, he was down to 12-14 “healthy-makers” (as he called them) while rehabbing his groin injury.  “The first three or four were kinda funky, but then you get that urge for more-and-more just like the old ones.”  After losing 34 pounds in 72 hours, Felton was ready to rejoin the team in practice.  “I felt great out there, mobile, my arms stopped running into my love handles when I was drivin’ to the hoop.”  Another 42 pounds came off in the next week, and he was ready to play last night.  And man, did those 76 lost pounds come in handy!  13/5/14/1/0 against the Heat in a surprise win.  I caught up with him after the game: “No J.R. Smiff in the game helped me keep the rock and everything runnin’ through me.  He can untie e’rybody’s shoelaces all I care!”  Back to reality, I did watch this game, and the bulk of those assists came on dishes to Carmelo Anthony burying jumpers, so the assist total is obviously a big outlier.  But Felton did look good.  Made good moves, looked agile, and more importantly, made the Knicks look better while playing 39 minutes.  We can have fun all we want, but I think I was wrong to be a little dismissive on him returning.  I like him right now over D.J. Augustin and Kendall Marshall for example.  More staying power, and while the most injury prone of the bunch, I think helps you more in the long-haul.  Must-own in 12-teamers, depends on need and depth in 10ers.  Here’s what else I saw last night:

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