The Dallas Mavericks have one of the greatest European basketball players ever – and they also have Dirk Nowitzki. The baton is being passed from Dirk to Luka Doncic, as the Mavericks jumped at the chance to draft the Euroleague Player of the Year, even forfeiting a first round draft pick in 2019 for the opportunity. When you add in the fact that DeAndre Jordan will now jump center for his home state Mavs (a few years later than originally envisioned and devoid of Clippers intervention) with an expected second year leap from point guard Dennis Smith Jr., you can see why Mark Cuban is feeling giddy. Anyone who has ever watched Shark Tank knows Cuban does not like to lose, so he could not have been pleased about a 24-win season. In a stacked Western Conference, the Mavs are not ready to start printing playoff tickets, but after upgrading 40% of the starting lineup, they definitely don’t intend to be looking up at the Sacramento Kings again.

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For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).

Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.

So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.

Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.

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Hey y’all. We’re back again, like we never left, with another Saturday Special. Today we’re kicking it off with none other than the Tall Baller From the G himself, Dirk Nowitzki. He had a nice little vintage performance, as he led the Mavericks to a win over the Thunder, going for 19/5/4/2 on 7-for-10 shooting with four threes. Dirk’s no longer a fantasy stud, but it’s nice to be able to show love to one of the greats when they deserve it. Dirk might get sporadic rest days as the season goes on, but he’ll generally be given free reign to do as he pleases while the Mavericks happily tank for a pick. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Howdy basketboys and girls, welcome back to another Saturday recap special. There was a great game last night as Ben Simmons and the Sixers almost cooked Steph Curry’s Warriors. The Sixers jumped out to an early 47-28 lead after the first quarter, but the Warriors did Warriors things and pulled off their own 47-15 rout in the third quarter to take back the lead and put the game away. Simmons had 23/8/12 on 11-for-15 shooting and only one turnover in the close loss. Wow. We knew he was great, but he’s blowing past everyone’s expectations this season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy basketball:

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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 […]

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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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Good morning, sportsfans! We’re back at it again with the second installment of Baids’s patented Saturday Daily Notes! As you may have gleaned from the title, tonight’s short schedule belonged to Karl-Anthony Towns. The KAT was purring tonight, going for 31 points and 12 rebounds on 11-for-18 shooting with 7-for-8 FT shooting for good measure. Towns is killing it this year, putting up top-10 value with ease. The Timberwolves are looking mighty scary so far, and they might just get better. But enough about KAT, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy basketball:

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Timing.  It’s a bitch.  Losing one of your bedrocks the weekend before the H2H playoffs is the injury gods spitting into our faces and hitting us across the jaw!  No joke, last night I had a dream that DeMarcus Cousins straight cold-cocked Salah Mejri in the face.  Must’ve lingered from a convo I had with Grey last week about how there’s no more NBA fights, and Mejri always seems to wanna mix it up.  Weird how spot on that dream could be!

Anywho, my trip out West certainly didn’t help my focus!  We got some awful news Saturday that LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be out indefinitely with minor heart arrhythmia.  He missed the final 9 games in his rookie year and 10 days in 2011 due to heart-related issues, so if the further testing done today is positive, maybe we could get him back by the semi-finals next week.  For teams scrapping their way in a do-or-die quarterfinals in the playoffs, unless you have an open INJ spot, Aldridge can probably go.  Get well soon, LA!  In the meantime, David Lee (12/6/2 – 18 mins) and Dewayne Dedmon (9/7/0/0/2 – 22 mins) should get a little added run, but those numbers quoted there were in that weird game Saturday night against the Dubs, with Kerr and Pop benching everyone.  I’m sure ABC was THRILLED when they heard GSW was DNPing everyone and the Spurs were going to be without Kawhi Leonard and LA!  I’m not huge on Lee, but I think he’s your biggest benefactor, and could help deeper leagues or be a streamer for those boring Pts/Reb cats.  Hopefully losing LA doesn’t make you a Ded Mon!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Fun night for JB last night! I was driving down a desert road, opened up my suitcase, did… something with a lot of things… and next thing I know I’m raging next to Benicio Del Toro and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a hotel bathroom! KCP was absolutely unconscious last night, hitting 12-18 from the field (8-11 3PTM 6-8 FT) for a career-high 38/4/1/4/0.

Somebody call the ThrAGNOF police, we’ve found a face! As Slim noted on the Pod, KCP has some of the wildest game-to-game variance with his scoring, but as we saw last night, when he hot, he hot! The big changes for this year is he’s taking and making career-high treys (2.3 for 5.6), and making them at fantastic 40.3% clip. Even though he’s at a career-high scoring, he’s actually taking less shots per game than last year. And you know I’m an addict for AST:TO – 1.8:1.4 last year to 2.9:1.3 this season. So much to get addicted to! Let’s just hope the good times keep rollin’, and John Travolta won’t have to stab a foot-long needle in my heart if things go sour! Here’s what else went down on a busy night of basketball last night:

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So I’m not a basketball historian, and I’m still a young pup. I barely remember the Bulls glory years – I was in elementary school when they won titles 4-6 (yikes, aging the crap outta myself), but I do vividly remember the Byron Russell push-off and I cherished my Michael Jordan cards. I still have a bunch of em! This one is still in a nice case and one of my favorites… Anyway, when I saw Jimmy Butler go off for 52/12/6/3/1 last night, I was about to make all sorts of tongue-and-cheek MJ parallels…

Got the same reverse layup and everything! But then it dawned on me… Butler is more like Scottie Pippen if there was no Jordan. Pippen’s best season was 93-94, unsurprisingly the year without MJ, and went 22.0/8.7/5.6/2.9/0.8 on 49% shooting with 0.9 treys. So far this year, J Buckets is 25.3/6.8/4.4/1.7/0.3 on 46% shooting with 1.1 treys. While Pippen was obviously one of the best defensive players of his generation, Butler is a much better FT shooter and gets to the line more. But the rest is really close, and I thought kinda interesting food for thought. So the answer for the Bulls is simple – find a Michael Jordan for Buckets to play next to! I’m a problem-solver – if only every team’s issue in the NBA was this easy! Hah! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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