It’s been just over a week since a friend of mine pointed me toward the Kevin Durant/Michael Rapaport beef that had bubbled up on social media. At the time, I somewhat gleefully read through their back and forth until I felt my emotions start to turn. KD, from all the stories I’ve heard and books that I’ve read, does not strike me as a happy man. The texts he sent to Rapaport support this. Then I saw the follow-up video that Rapaport put out that provide additional context for his spicy IG chat with Durant and I felt even worse. KD might be unhappy, but Rapaport strikes me as something far more distasteful than the aloof ennui of the unfathomably talented. After eating my fill of online garbage, I sent the following text to my buddy:

I wish I could get that time back. 

I can’t, obviously. None of us can. But what we can do is make up for the time lost, and Durant did just that in his return to NBA action on Wednesday night. All told, the Nets played 23 games since KD was last in uniform, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him.

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It’s about that time again, isn’t it? The trade deadline has come and gone, the sun is starting to peek out with some regularity, and teams who have had long, dark, unsuccessful winters are beginning to look ahead to a little summer vacay. Even with the expanded playoff format for this season, there are still a handful of teams that are done. We haven’t gotten to “Cancun on three” yet, but if you’re in Orlando or Oklahoma City you can start thinking about it. 

For this week’s Hangin’, I looked at a couple of these lost causes and the opportunities for fantasy help that exist there. It’s not an exhaustive list, but all of the teams featured are 12th or worse in their conference and have gestured toward giving up. But just because they’re done with the year does not mean that the year is done with them. Every game needs to have 240 minutes of statistics accounted for, and we’re in the interest of compiling numbers. 

This is a bigger one, so let’s get to it. 

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Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:

*PLEASE NOTE: RECORDS AND STATS TAKEN BEFORE THE GAMES ON 3/28*

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Yep, I’m going to subject you all to my friends and family league yet again. We’re at the midway point of our regular season after today, so I wanted to go back and see where my predictions from the preseason were right and wrong, and which fantasy players are performing better or worse than their average draft position (ADP).

What I hope you can take from this is how to better formulate your strategy in your own leagues, and what seems to work best for people in a relatively average league. Our league is listed as a “silver” league on Yahoo!, which isn’t really scientific but indicates our team levels combined are slightly below the average of “gold.” We have two platinum, one gold, four silver, and five bronze managers. It’s a top-heavy league, which is the case in most scenarios as the people who run the league seem to be far more invested.

Anyways, the below records and rankings are based on if the scores stay the same as they are at the writing of this article. Those are subject to change, but not by much.

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When this life makes you mad enough to kill

That’s rock bottom.

When you want something bad enough to steal

That’s rock bottom.

When you feel you have had it up to here

Cause you mad enough to scream but you sad enough to tear.

That’s rock bottom.

Slim Shady has come a long way from his first album when he was using his pen to escape the feelings associated with hitting rock bottom. It has been nothing but platinum status since 1999 for the Detroit wordsmith and miles away from where we find our feature player’s performance to date.

I am not sure what the complete opposite of a diamond plaque would be, maybe gravel? Pebble? Pellet? Who knows, but what is certain is that this player finds himself in the running for that unappealing designation.

We can talk about the Flintstones in length to offer up variant rock formations that best describe granule offerings this player has provided in fantasy. This player has cobbled together a disappointing season so far for his owners and it has been nothing but debris in his wake.

Presenting: RICKY RUBIO

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If you haven’t heard of statistical scarcity before, it’s a pretty simple concept. Basically, the less of a statistic available in the pool of rostered fantasy players, the more valuable it is. It’s important to keep in mind that this is comparative scarcity as well. So even while league wide there may be rebounds being grabbed, we’re going to look at the top 188 players in 9-cat according to Basketball Monster and see where their production lands.

Sure, Dwight Howard has grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game this season, but he doesn’t do enough to warrant being in the top 188 for fantasy value and he’s only rostered in 12% of Yahoo! leagues as of the writing of this article, so he’s probably not producing that for many teams. Make sense?

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Those of you who have been with me for the last four years know of my love for Nikola Jokic. I was rooting for him from the moment he entered the league because I had been watching him from his days playing for Mega Basket in the Adriatic League and his steady rise to superstardom has been a pleasure to behold. Centers were pretty dominant earlier in basketball but the super teams during the last decade in Miami (Lebron, Wade, Bosh) and Golden State pushed the sport toward small-ball lineups, evident by the fact that Shaq was the last center to win the MVP award in 2000. Jokic looks like the only center from his generation that can be as effective in his team’s play and a candidate to win that award again for centers. But I’m personally in love with his passing and court awareness.

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I’ve managed to end up in the positive three of the last four days while netting 65% of my bet, on average, with my biggest win being 10x my bet. The one day I didn’t hit was because I faded Steph Curry on a career night. Whoops. It happens. Let’s see if we can get the big one now and cash out.

And, by the way, screw Dwane Casey as I had Delon Wright in all my lineups last night. Way to go, you a-hole.

It’s a five-game slate tonight that starts at 7:30 ET and with the news midday yesterday that Kevin Durant is going to start a seven-day quarantine means people will be flocking to Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert in droves. It’s probably not wise to fade both of those guys, but fading one can make your lineup contrarian enough to nab the big one. I’ll probably fade one in 1/3 of my lineups, then the other in 1/3 of my lineups, and have 1/3 of my lineups with both. One important thing to keep in mind that a lot of people will overlook is that LeVert had his 61.3 Fanduel point blowup without KD AND Kyrie.

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