It’s the summer of 2000. Who wouldn’t want to draft Shaquille O’Neal, fresh off a MVP season, in the 2nd round of a fantasy draft? Sure, his free throw percentage was terrible, but you could make up for that with a couple FT% specialists, right? Plus, Shaq still finished as the 15th most valuable player for that MVP season despite the horrendous 52.4% from the line (9-category per-game rankings according to Basketball Monster). He’d go on to, more or less, repeat his 29/13 with 3 blocks and the most dominant field goal percentage in the league (more than twice as valuable in that category as anyone else). The FT% took a slight dip to 51.3%, but this was the height of “Hack-a-Shaq”, and his free throw attempts increased from about 10 to around 13 per game. He fell all the way to the 39th ranked player. And what’s worse, his FT% negated nearly all of his positive contributions.

Last week, I discussed some of the unheralded stats: Threes, Steals, and Blocks. At this point, many experienced fantasy b-ballers know to pay a good amount of attention to those, though. Today, I’ve got three more categories to ponder that may get ignored just as much. However, these three can also hurt your team as opposed to, at worst, adding zero stats in a category (yes, a zero in a category can be a negative to your team, but I’m talking stats that can get far more negative than the best players’ positive value in the category). Today’s categories are Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Percentage, and Turnovers. The reason I bring these up is to get you focused on these stats as much as you are on the popular ones like points, rebounds, and assists. They count for just as much, and since your competition likely doesn’t value them as much, you can get an advantage in your league.

We’ll get back to Shaquille and his efficiency categories, with his best-in-the-league FG% and worst-in-the-league FT% in a moment. But, let’s start with:

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I love music. Fortunately, my young daughter does, too. We started her early on all sorts of stuff, but she eventually started requesting almost exclusively “girl songs.” So, I started combing through my CDs and mp3s for our daily drive to school, finding a decent amount of great female singers, mainly from the 90s. She really took to some (Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain), but not as much to others that I’d hoped she would (The Cranberries, Veruca Salt). We added in some more current stuff that she loves (Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor), and we have a great time. Now, I know there’s a good chance this isn’t resonating with you as much as it would if I said I’d kept trying to slip in more funk (she likes “Car Wash” and “Jungle Boogie”, at least), rock (Down on the Corner is popular with her, but there are only a few songs by Disturbed that are appropriate for four year-olds!), and rap (“Tricky” was a favorite for a while, fortunately), but stick with me, please. Because, I found something very enlightening when I introduced the very, very 90s classic, “Stay”, by Lisa Loeb. Was it that we only hear what we want to? That we won’t live forever? No, it’s this powerful line:

“You said you caught me ’cause you want me, and one day you’ll let me go. You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just so scared to lose.”

It’s like a record scratch every time I hear that line. YOU TRY TO GIVE AWAY A KEEPER??? She was brilliantly pointing out that YOU DON’T JUST GIVE AWAY A KEEPER! But at the same time, you don’t keep a player only because you’re scared to lose! Such wisdom. For decades, I swear I didn’t know that lovely song was about fantasy basketball keeper leagues.

Lisa Loeb. Fantasy Oracle.

While we’re still quite a few games away from a large enough sample of current season stats to really trust them, let’s talk keeper/dynasty strategy (dynasty being a league in which you keep a large amount of your team for next season). I thought I’d share some tips and have some fun looking back at what we thought of past rookies so that we don’t get overly excited about these 19 year-olds that we’re currently trusting to save our teams.

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Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki. He passed Shaquille O’Neal for number 6 on the all-time NBA scoring list.

While Kobe Bryant gains the headlines in his last season, Dirk and Tim Duncan have quietly shown how to adapt their game for the team’s sake, taking less money and adding more wins to their already impressive résumés.

At 37, Dirk isn’t the same fantasy monster that he used to be, but is still valuable. He’s scored 20+ points in three straight games and so far has posted better overall numbers than last season. His game is much different than Kobe’s, with much less wear and tear on his body, allowing him to remain relatively healthy later in his career. Personally, I don’t see any reason why Dirk has to tie the sneakers up anytime soon.

In addition to passing Shaqtus, Dirk hit the game winner in the Mavericks’ overtime win over the Nets. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Overtime basketball is free basketball and it usually means great stat lines for everyone involved:

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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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Sometimes things can get a little snarky here at Razzball. Sometimes? Well, yeah, Italics Baldwin. Sometimes. Uh, and ‘a little snarky’? Just a tad, yeah. What of it? Razzfall? No. You simply misread that one. I clearly typed it Razzball. Bifocal-up, son. Fine. Anyway, instead of leading off today’s roundup with Jim O’Brien’s firing and […]

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