So, we’re three weeks into another joyous fantasy basketball season. The hot waiver pick-ups are gone or have fizzled out. Hope you got the ones with lasting value. Pretty soon, the sample sizes will be large enough to know that what we’re seeing is more or less legit. For now, there’s still a lot of regressing to the mean yet to come. Hot and slow starts will mostly fade away, and the players will be themselves over the long haul. Not everyone, as plenty of players take significant leaps or stumbles for the entire season, whether it has to do with a change of scenery, personnel, and/or usage. It can be tough to figure out whose rebounds and steals changes, for example, will stick. However, we can trust with a good amount of confidence that most players shooting percentages will end up relatively close to their previous numbers. And, this early in the season, when, say, Serge Ibaka goes 15-for-17 and then 8-for-8, percentages can be way out of line and skew value if you’re looking at rankings in a trade scenario.

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Okay, admittedly, a lot of us “Fantasy Basketball Experts” hate on Blake Griffin, due to his lack of defensive stats and overall efficiency. However, he has been straight beasting to start the year for Detroit. Let’s be honest, who else can get buckets? There’s something to be said about a player that has aggressiveness. Some players are solid fantasy players, but lack that intangible quality that makes a real difference maker in the NBA. Blake Griffin went 2-38-13-6-2-0-7 on 12-of-21 shooting and 12-for-16 from the charity stripe. He’s never going to be a blocks guy, but the out-of-position assists really float his value outside of the points and boards. Maybe there’s something abut him, that you just don’t like, but the man has been getting it done this year so far. Will he sustain it? Well, I think the points and the FG% come down some, but the rest of the numbers are fairly sustainable, so he’s pretty much a hold unless you wanna be a hater like the rest of us ‘perts.

There were eight games on the schedule this Saturday in the NBA, so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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Derrick Rose early on Wednesday morning in a jovial mood. How could he not? It was Halloween, a day to have fun, dress up, scare little kids, and eat lots and lots of candy. But as he drove up to the practice lot of the Timberwolves practice facility a little after lunch, things just didn’t feel right. The cloud that’s been hovering over the building for the last month or so looked a little darker. When he stepped out of the car, the wind was brisk and sent shivers throughout his whole body. As he approached Coach Thibodeau’s office, there was an eery light emanating from the crack between the bottom of the door and floor. Then a BAM! And a BOOM! KA BOOOOOOOOOOOOYACKA SHAKALA! WTF??!! Lying on the floor, Derrick Rose and entered Coach Thib’s office. “What’s wrong coach?” Coach Thibs responded with, “We are 3-4. 25th in defensive rating! Andrew Wiggins has four years and $147 million left on his contract! Jeff Teague can’t play tonight and Jimmy Butler is playing hard ball and won’t play until we trade him!!!…..And your hair looks f**king ridiculous!!!!” Derrick was not fazed. “Coach, I got this.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 4 6 2 1 6 4/7 19/31 8/11

I’d say he did. Derrick Rose to the occasion with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Tyus Jones all not playing by logging 41 minutes and bringing the Five-Oh. The fifty-burger was a career-high, which bested his prior mark of 42 points back in 2010. Now, Derrick is 30 years old and we all know about the injury history. He hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season since….2010. He’s obviously not going to bring the cops every night or shoot 31 times, but prior to last night, Derrick was a viable fantasy asset: 14.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 0.7 steals. No threeecolas and the field goal percentage was/is/won’t be pretty, but he was providing some decent counting stats. More importantly, he was getting over 28 minutes of run a game with the upside of moving into the starting lineup and getting more when someone sat. Scoop him up if he’s still available. If you own him, no one is going to buy high, so just let it ride. Happy Halloween!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I love cars and have fixed up a few rice burners in my day. So, when I used to have cable and spent time channel surfing, I’d stop on a NASCAR race and indulge from time to time. Not my thing. Round and round and round and round they go. Look at the clock. Three more hours to go. The most interesting times would be when the pace car would come out. Without fail, I’d get up and sit on the edge of my seat and pray that whoever was driving would just punch it and channel their inner Fast & Furious. It’s going to happen one of these days. That’s how I feel about this Pacers team. The team has been one of the slowest paced teams in the league. Not since 1985 has the team played at a +100 possessions per game pace. Last season, they finished 23rd. I need someone to press the NOS button and let his baby go! Then we could all scream Oladipo Ho! and Myles wouldn’t have to walk 500 miles. I know what you’re thinking: This site is free?

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Sorry Andre, but there is breaking news: Joel Embiid will have surgery to fix an orbital bone fracture and will miss at least 2 games but could be out as much as 4 weeks. I would wait to hear something more sound before dropping him, but it definitely makes Richaun Holmes a nice pick-up. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled recap:

Andre “Beast Mode” Drummond had his old school ground and pound game working last night as he led the Pistons to an 11 point win over the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Even without Blake Griffin, who went through warm-ups but could not play and is now headed for an MRI on his injured ankle, the Pistons were able to blow the game wide-open in the 3rd quarter mostly because of Drummond’s pure dominance in the paint.

Andre put the beat down on Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi to the tune of 0/24/23/4/0/1 with only 1 turnover in 37 minutes. Drummond shot 10-16 from the floor and 4-7 from the line, which is the type of efficiency spoiled fantasy owners have come to expect from Mr. Drummond this season. The free-throw shooting still isn’t Curry-esque, but it has become strong enough to elevate Drummond to the elite fantasy player level.

Besides the lesson in classic center play that Drummond gave the Wizards, here is what else I saw last night:

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I’m going to take a break from numbers this week. A break from Trey Burke, Quinn Cook, and Denzel Valentine impacting fantasy playoff teams infinitely more than Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard. A break from dealing with players on tanking teams sitting indefinitely every time someone steps on their toe, or from players on playoff teams resting without notice. Heck, a break from the NCAA tournament that only has one projected lottery pick left to watch.

This is probably going to most interest dynasty and keeper league players, but those already itching to rank and project players for next season will find this intriguing, too. Today, I’m going to look at who this summer’s free agents are. That period from the draft (draft lottery only 47 days away!) through the first week of free agency is probably my favorite on the NBA calendar, since about a third of the league seems to change teams. So many new dynamics to consider for so many teams. The impact on fantasy is huge, too. I’m definitely no insider with information to help predict who’s going where, but I do find it helpful to know whose value is likely to remain the same and whose has a wide range of outcomes. The latter are often good targets if you need to get risky to improve your keeper/dynasty team over the summer. Do you have a Terry Rozier type that would gain a ton of value if he moved on to a starting role? Is he free to do so? Also, remember to think of which teammates might be affected by these players should they change teams. For example, are the players blocking Mario Hezojna’s path to more minutes likely to get out of his way? Then again, might LeBron, PG13, and CP3 all be coming to your player’s team to squash his usage? Here are the most fantasy relevant free agents. Wow, this summer could be a big one.

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When my wife was pregnant, the experience was…..interesting. At least for me. I can’t even begin to try and understand what my wife was feeling. All I know is that women are the GOAT. Anyways, after the initial gamut of emotions, things became very business-like. Doctor’s office. One month. Two months. Three months. Everything was mapped out and the “ride” was slow and steady. Then, the due date approached and….well, I was Robert DeNiro in Heat. The bags were packed and the routes were mapped out with contingencies for all possibilities. At the same time, though, I was like my five-year-old son in the back of the car on a long trip: “Are we there yet? When will we be there? Why is it taking so long?” Damian Lillard and his girlfriend had been expecting the birth of their child for the past few days. Lillard had been struggling a bit with his shooting efficiency, but the raw production was still there. It could have been the matchups or anxiousness with the pregnancy. Regardless, it was Lillard Time for the whole family last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 9 6 4 0 0 3/9 18/33 2/2

A 40-burger!!! On Damian Jr.’s birthday. Y’all know what time it is.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Average. Middle. Meh? I guess it all depends on perception. Someone born into poverty would be praised if he/she achieved average economic status. On the flip side, if you are a one-percenter, I assume that average would prompt seppuku. Average is often associated with boring. He/she was average in the sack. The higher above the line probably correlates well with intenstity of orgasm. For flip side? Supplant higher with lower. Why does average get such a bad rap? It ain’t great, but it puts food on the table. It often gives 1.5 children and a white picket fence, if you are so inclined to have either. With that said, we are a “what have you done for me lately” society. We are all about celebrating the highs, while conveniently eschewing the trials and tribulations. Well, yesterday Joe Harris was not your Average Joe.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 30 7 2 1 0 1 6/7 11/14 2/2

The CLE defense is atrocious, but let’s not forget about the……REVENGE!!!! Harris was drafted by the Cavaliers back in 2014. He played two seasons there, never averaging more than 10 points or scoring 3 points a game. During the 2016 season, though, Joe underwent surgery on his foot and was traded to ORL a week later. Then he was immediately waived. BKN picked him up and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years with the Nets has produced…..wait for it (an homage to HIMYM)…..average results. This season, in particular, Joe is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 boards, 1.5 dimes, and 1.8 downtowners in 25.1 minutes a game. He’s scored double figures in 41 of 71 games played, but has not eclipsed the 20 point threshold once. Anyways, I clowned him earlier in the season, but Harris is no Average Joe, and the Nets don’t think so either. Even with all the wing players that they have, Joe has been getting consistent playing time for most of the season. He can shoot and is able to drive strong to the rack and finish. An Average Joe on most nights, but yesterday, he was anything but.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Back in 2004, Dwight Howard was an affable kid with human heads as shoulders. Selected #1 overall by the Orlando Magic out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Dwight looked to be the next superstar of the NBA. Look was an understatement. He averaged a double-dub, played in every game his rookie season, and was named to the All-Rookie Team. The next three years, Howard got bigger, stronger, and led the Magic to the playoffs. In 2008, he became Superman when he donned the cape in the dunk contest. All was good in the world of Dwight. But then things began turning the other way. The Magic couldn’t advance in the playoffs and the league started to employ the Hack-a-Dwight, due to his atrocious free throw shooting. Then, in 2012, he asked to be traded, tried to get his coach fired (allegedly), but ended up signing with the Magic and hugging his coach. Huh? It got worse, though. Dwight had back surgery and missed the rest of the 2012 season. Then, asked to be traded to BKN, but got shipped to LA instead, where Kobe ripped him a new one. Houston for three years, then Atlanta, then finally Charlotte. I can’t wait for the ESPN 30 for 30 on Dwight, but I’m not writing about that. I’m writing about that fact that Dwight went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 32 30 1 0 0 6 0 10/17 12/21

The first 30/30 game since Kevin Love accomplished the feat in 2010. Harvey Pollack, the Sixers’ Director of Statistical Information back in 2010, told John Hareas of NBA.com that “there have been 131 30/30 performances.” Wilt Chamberlain did it 103 times! Ha! Well, add Dwight to the list.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Marvel Universe has been on quite a heater lately, culminating in the recently released Black Panther movie. With that said, an underappreciated and rarely talked about character is The Juggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength and durability, is virtually unstoppable once in motion, and immune to mental attacks when donning a helmet. He’s fought and taken on all comers. Sounds alot like LeBron James aka LeJuggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength? Check. Is durable? Has played 1130 career games and missed 111, with many of those due to “rest.” As this fivethirtyeight.com article stated, LeBron has “never missed a playoff game” even though he has the “sixth-most regular season minutes of all time.” He’s in the top 3 all time of games played per season as a percentage of the player’s teams’ total regular-season and playoff games. Among active players, “no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James.” I think that’s a resounding Check. Is unstoppable once in motion? Check. Immune to mental attacks? He had his moments early in his career when it seemed like LeBron was mentally fragile, but as time has gone on, he’s shown to be impervious to distractions both on and off the court. Check. Last night, LeJuggernaut messed around by rampaging through the Milwaukee Bucks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 12 10 2 1 6 3/7 16/29 5/8

There are 12 games left in the regular season and the Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. IND, WAS, and PHI are only one game back in the loss column. It’s winning time and LeJuggernaut has been unleashed for the stretch run. If you don’t believe me, take a look below:

PTS REB AST BLK STL
OCT 24.6 7.1 8.6 1.1 1.0
NOV 29.6 8.7 8.5 1.2 1.5
DEC 27.5 8.2 10.3 0.8 1.9
JAN 23.5 7.3 7.4 1.1 1.8
FEB 27 10.5 10.5 0.4 1.7
MAR 30 10.3 9.1 1.2 1.6

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?