Last Friday I participated in my first fantasy baseball draft, which is the informal cue that we’re beginning to come down the home stretch for this fantasy basketball season. Depending on your league settings, we’re roughly a month out before the fantasy playoffs and the silly season of DNPs, phantom injuries, and more overt tanking tactics. 

To combat the non-competitive play that plagues spring basketball, the NBA has expanded the playoff format this year to incorporate the 9- and 10-place teams in each conference, making the line between buyers and sellers ahead of the March 25 trade deadline harder to see than in seasons past. Trade targets both IRL and fantasy will be hot topics in the coming days, so I decided to see if I could parse what the future holds for the Chicago Bulls, who are currently in 9th place out East and have held my fascination for the last few weeks. 

Currently sitting at 17-20, Chicago will have to hold off the 17-21 Pacers and the 17-22 Raptors if they’re going to return to postseason play for the first time since the Jimmy Butler era. Without a 2021 first round pick and contract decisions to make, I find the Bulls intriguing and genuinely don’t have much of a clue about how they’ll proceed. I’ll give away the game early and say that I don’t have any answers and my crystal ball is on the fritz. What follows is simply a consideration of the pieces that could be in play in the coming weeks. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It was a bit of a light week for watching games here in the Hooper house. I know this is a fantasy corner of the internet, but reality always manages to find a way in. The ratio of news to NBA games got flipped in the middle of the week, so instead of longer, deeper looks into one or two specific teams, this edition of Hangin’ will feature check-ins on past (incorrect) statements and some quick hitters on what I was able to catch this week. I’m aiming to get back on track this week — aren’t we all? — so hopefully next time will be less doom and gloom and more dimes and dunks.

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The Chicago Bulls had a disappointing season by anyone’s measure as they had a promising group of talent on paper and couldn’t quite translate that to success on the court. The Bulls front office took the heat and a massive shake up ensued. For the first time in almost a decade,  Bulls fans have some hope for a franchise that has been reeling since Derrick Rose suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the closing minutes of a first round 2012 playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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I’ve posted that song at least three times since I’ve been at Razzball and…..it never gets old and always hits the spot. Anyways, I’m recharged and I know all you degenerates are itching for hoops to be back. Now, it’s #winningtime now, as the fantasy playoffs are just around the corner. Check the playoff schedules and stream, stream, then stream some more. The more minutes and counting stats you can accumulate, the better your chances for achieving fantasy glory. Josh Lloyd over at BasketballMonster.com put it best: some days are better to stream than others. When there’s a full slate of games, your best players will be active, leaving no room for streamers. You want to stream on days when the slate is small or teams are on back-to-backs. Utilize that wisdom to gain an advantage.

Here’s what I saw last night:

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The point guard position is where you will primarily be hunting for dimes. There are options later in the draft, but most have warts and will only provide around 4 per game. Compare that to the elite ones, who will dish out 7-9 dimes per game, while providing excellent free throw percentages, tres, and steals. The early rounds will dictate your fantasy path, as the top five point guards will likely be selected in the first two rounds of drafts.

To see my per-game value projections for each player, click HERE. In the “Pos” box (which stands for position, not the other thing you were thinking), type in “pg” and the table will sort by just point guards.

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The Chicago Bulls play in the Central Division alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and the reigning league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and yet, the Bulls are the most intriguing team in the division. This offseason they added veteran leadership, some talented young players, and the returning young guys are all a year older and more experienced. They should certainly be healthier than they were last year. Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. missed significant time last season. Zach Lavine also missed a stretch of games before being shut-down at the end of the season. Ditto for Chandler Hutchison. Denzel Valentine never even got rolling. Here are the major additions and departures from last season:

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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Speaking in generalities, I’d say people on the East Coast are more straight up. In New York, time is money so people don’t want to dilly dally. In Los Angeles, there’s the whole Hollywood vibe. I will say, though, that driving in rush hour may show the true colors of an individual. In Philly, they just don’t give a F. Santa Claus? Here are some batteries for your noggin. With that said, there’s been plenty of B. S. in Philly these days:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 8 1 0 2 0 10/16 6/8

Ben Simmons aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallmost messed around. If my handy dandy abacus didn’t fail me, he has 10 trip-dubs on the season. There have been many other games where he’s been so close. Anyways, the turnover are plentiful and you won’t get any treys (the ultimate stay-in-yo-lane), but the points, boards, dimes, and steals are plentiful. He had been languishing in the top 60 area for much of the season, but over the past seven games, he’s been a top 25 player because he’s increased his free throw percentage from 60% to 72% on 5.1 attempts. Hopefully that ain’t no B. S.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I usually highlight a player for the lede, but today, it’s all about the playoffs for many of you. You’ve scratched and clawed for 21 weeks. If you heeded my advice, you also likely sacrificed a few virgins as well. Anyways, don’t get complacent now. Utilize all your moves for the week. Send out the scouts and project your opponent. Where is he/she weak? How does your squad match up? Games played, minutes, and opportunities are truly king now. It’s win this week or go home. I wish everyone good fortune and let’s bring home some chips for the Razzball family!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what I saw in yesterday’s action:

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P. S. stands for postscript, which comes from the Latin word postscriptum and literally means “written after.” It’s used for an afterthought, not cool enough to be a part of the main piece. Like, oh by the way, I forgot to mention this but blah blah blah. It gets a bad rap, but as Shaun Usher of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The P. S. is the most charming part of a letter. It’s the wink you give as you walk away.” It’s the cherry on top, the bam for the wham, and the mic drop. Like, P. S. – You the shiznitz. What? What?! Which segues perfectly to Pascal Siakam.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 10 2 0 3 4 4/5 15/25 10/12

A career-high in points scored. On the season, Siakam has been a top 40 player, but over the past four games, he’s been top 25. The usage rate has spiked to 28 and he’s averaged 35.3 minutes, 26 points, 1.5 tres, 9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 1 block while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line on 8 attempts! He literally does it all. Like literally, as he can play center or be a point forward. The improvement in his game has been nothing short of amazing. P. S. is no longer an afterthought and has to be a no-brainer for Most Improved Player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?