The Celtics’ impressive 16-game winning streak is now over. Is it a coincidence that 16 is half of 32, which is the number of games that the ’71 Lakers won in a row? I do not believe in coincidences, until I do. Which makes this iteration of the Celtics half the team of that glorious Lakers squad. All kidding aside, it was an impressive run. The team stepped up when they lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens is now a legitimate Presidential candidate, Kyrie is…..well, Kyrie, and the defense has been the league’s best, by a big margin according to defensive efficiency. I tried everything in the book to jinx the streak. Voodoo dolls, shrines, sacrificing of virgins, and rubbing my scrotum with four-leaf clovers. All to no avail. I had to harken back to the past. All the way back to the ancient days of the early 1990’s. It was during that time, the secret was unlocked by the Leprechaun movies. You see, in the original, the leprechaun is defeated when the well it falls into is blown up. Explosion. Fire. In the third movie, the lepechaun is defeated via flamethrower. Heat was needed and Heat we got Wednesday night, as the Miami Heat took down the Boston Leprechauns 104-98. Who led the way? None other than Goran Dragic, aka the Dragon, who was spewing fire from all over the court: 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and one liberation. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Waiters Island was booming, as Dion Waiters scored 26 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out six dimes. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. How do you beat the Celtics? Shoot 49.4% from the field, which was 4% higher than their season average. Translation: bring the Heat.

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Dinner was done, the kids were in bed, the dog was walked, and I was just about to kick back and finally watch the next episode of Stranger Things Season 2, when my phone buzzed. It was an email from Son letting me know that he had not left the bathroom since happy hour ended at his local sushi joint and he needed me to write today’s fantasy recap. So of course being the dedicated Razzball soldier I am, I let him know that I would add to my assist total and take the rock. It was only after agreeing to write the recap that I realized this was one of the busiest nights of basketball all season, so Son, I want to see a doctor’s note.

I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I will do my best to entertain the masses with a recap of yesterday’s action.

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Oh yes. Kemba was top shelf last night. 5-47-6-5-0-0-1. Took a lot of shots, no pun intended. 27 was the final tally, but he was hitting them (17 FGM). Kemba has been just a tiny bit of a letdown to start the year, but this game puts him right back on track. It wasn’t enough to beat the powerhouse Chicago Bulls though, as they fell 123-120 and dropped to 5-9 on the season. Man, the East is not good…The Knicks might make the playoffs! There were a lot of games last night, so I’ll try to touch on the most important/interesting stat lines. Anywho, here’s what went down on Friday in the NBA:

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The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to help improve and evaluate your team.

In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.

If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.

I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.

If you have any question let me know.

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“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” (Michael Phelps)

 

Trees don’t grow to the sky, but James Harden has made me rethink that statement. The last two weeks, he’s averaging 34.9 points, 5.3 3pts, 10.9 assists, and 2.0 steals, an unreal line and the number one spot in fantasy.

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A capella music is singing without instrumental accompaniment. According to choraldirectormag.com, here’s what’s needed to create an a capella group: soloist, great bass, original music, time together, and momentum. That basically describes the Houston Rockets. Let’s break it down. Mike D’Antoni doesn’t micromanage possessions like some coaches. Things flow naturally. Soloist. James Harden. Great bass, the voice that’s low and powerful. Clint Capela fills that role by battling down low and doing the dirty work on the glass. Original music. Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense from the Phoenix days combined with the analytics of Daryl Morey equals “Game the Math.” Time together. Self explanatory. Momentum. The Rockets offense in a nutshell. Yesterday’s game against the Indiana Pacers was a microcosm of the synergy they’ve displayed all season enroute to an 11-3 record, with six victories in a row. Harden led the way with 26 points, five boards, 15 dimes, and two steals. Capela provided the base with 20 points, 17 boards, one dime, and one block. Eric Gordon filled his gunner role by hoisting up 11 downtowners. He finished with 21 points, one board, four dimes, two steals, and one block. If this was college, you’d think he was trying to get laid. Trevor Ariza scored 15 points, grabbed five boards, dished out a dime, and pilfered two. He’s Mr. Versatility. Can hit the high, low, and middle notes. Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker provide toughness while still being an offensive threat. It’s going to be interesting when Chris Paul returns to the fray.

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A new era has dawned in Milwaukee. The Eric Bledsoe era! Hopefully, this malcontent doesn’t foul up Giannis’ MVP caliber season. Only time will tell, but from the looks of last night, he seems to be fitting in nicely. One game is a small sample size obviously, but they topped the Spurs in San Antonio which is a good sign. Any way there was an eight game slate of games on the night so let’s jump right in to the action.

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This is a crazy time of year. Halloween just ended and now we prepare for Thanksgiving, which basically means that Christmas is almost here, which signifies the end of the year, but also means new beginnings. Whew….So much. Too much. Last night, though, everything was straightforward, as it was simply a Jrue Holiday. 34 points, five boards, and 11 dimes in 42 minutes. While the calendar year is littered with holidays (Thanks Hallmark), each one occurs once a year. That’s how we should look at Jrue’s year. We know that there will be big games littered throughout the year. Just don’t expect them to occur on a daily basis. Through 12 games, Jrue has a 19% usage rate. Anthony Davis has a 28% usage rate, while DeMarcus Cousins a 33% rate. His numbers are down across the board, except in boards. Ha! The Universe is awesome.

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Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.

It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).

Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.

First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:

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DEFCON is an alert state used by the United States Armed Forces. DEFCON 5 – All good. DEFCON 4 – Maybe I should put the donut down. DEFCON 3 – Oh shit, things getting serious up in here. DEFCON 2 – WTF?! DEFCON 1 – Annhilation is imminent. Entering the 2017-18 season, the Cavaliers were at DEFCON 5. They were coming off a trip to the NBA Finals. LeBron James was still on the team so a trip back seemed like a good possibility. Then, Kyrie Irving was traded to the Celtics in August. DEFCON 4. A move that made donut stuffers think about calories and carbs, but nothing to bring a person to actually throw one into the trash. Through the first seven games to open the season, the Cavs went 3-4. LeBron was putting up 24/7/8/1/1 and shooting 58% from the field in 37 minutes per game. Ru roh. DEFCON 3. Shit was getting serious. Like William Wallace, LeBron stepped up and led his troops into battle. He upped his minutes per to 40 and averaged a ridonkulous 39 points, seven boards, 10 dimes, one and a half blocks, and two steals in the first three games of November. Record? 1-2. WTF?! The Cavs were on the verge of DEFCON 1, but then….Kevin Love found a way. 32 points, 16 boards, three dimes, two steals, and one block in 35 minutes. He shot 9-of-14 from the field and 14-of-16 from the charity stripe. With how terrible the Cavs defense is, Love is going to be needed to step up and help carry the load with LeBron. Can he hold up, though? He missed 22 games due to injury last season. As we all know, Love often leads to heartache.

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