Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Who doesn’t like a good favor? Go to a wedding or a birthday party and get a gift bag? Cool, unless it’s filled with soap, then not cool. Ask a friend to do something and they do it? Precious. When everyone raises their hands after you ask, “All in favor?” Nothing better, unless it’s to vote you off the island. Then…..that just makes me sad. Anyways, after his perfomance last night, we should all like  Derrick Favors:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
15 15 1 2 1 2 0 6/10 3/3

The matchup against the Hawks was ideal, but even so, Favors has been a top 60 player over the past eight games. He doesn’t play an exhorbitant amount of minutes (23 per game), which obviously caps his upside, but he is efficient and produces when he’s on court. His main source of production is in blocks and stocks. PaRappa the Rappa would be proud.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Out of all the sports, basketball is the most projectable, as there are more possessions to provide a larger sample size. But that doesn’t mean variance doesn’t exist. Blake Griffin can miraculously block a shot one game or DeAndre Jordan can shoot 8-for-9 from the free throw line on any given night. The LA nightlife can affect a team’s performance or the hotel wifi could cause players to go on tilt which affects their performance on the court. Whatever the reason, shit happens sometimes.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 0 0 0 2 8/12 11/16 3/4

C. J. Miles did that. C. J. Miles never does that. He hasn’t scored more than 15 points in any game this season. To be fair, C. J. Miles used to do that. His career high is 40 points, back in 2010. In his prime, he’d only average around 12-13 points, but he’d go off for 30+ points every once in a while. Anyways, he will likely score 5 points in the next game, so in no way am I advocating walking 500 Miles with him. With that said, it’s always nice to acknowledge greatness, even if it probably won’t be replicated.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Clint Capela was producing at a top 20 level, averaging 17.1 points, 12.5 boards, and 1.8 blocks. Then, he suffered a thumb injury and missed 14 games. Upon his return, D’Antoni gave him 33, 28, and 34 minutes of run, in which Capela produced top 100 value. Every performer needs a warm up or time to get into the groove. Well, if last night was any indication, Capela is done with rehearsing and reading for prime time.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 17 2 1 1 0 0 10/16 3/4

Capela played a team-high 41 minutes. Now, Kenneth Faried did miss some time last night due to injury, so that may explain some of the minutes bump, but Capela looks ready to go for the stretch run. Prior to the injury, he was averaging close to 35 minutes per game and produced three 20/20 games. The Rockets are getting healthy and I can’t wait to see what the main act provides.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve got to admit. I was a D’Angelo Russell hater before he came to the Nets. The incident where he exposed Nick Young as a cheater by filming him, talking about it, and posting it on social media made me think he was kind of a bonehead and a snitch. I also thought he was a guy who would never meet the expectations of being the number two overall draft pick. I also, was not a fan of his game from a fantasy perspective. He turned it over too much and he had poor shooting percentages, both from the field and the line, while contributing almost nothing in the way of D stats. However, since being traded to the Nets I have changed my tune on him, especially this season. He made a huge improvement in his FTs, going from 74% last season to 81.8% this season. He also upped his assists by 1.5 while not adding too many turnovers, and upped his scoring by nearly 5 points. He has also shown the ability to absolutely take over games and last night was one of those nights. D-Loading went 6-40-1-7-2-1-4 on 14-of-31 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. It was also his 23rd birthday, so as a Nets fan I felt compelled to give him the lede. It’s hard to believe he’s already a four-year veteran, but that’s what happens with these one-and-done guys. They also can take some time to fully download.

There was a huge slate of games last night so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Beal is too good for this John Wall-less Wizards team. He did everything in his power to carry his squad, but it still wasn’t enough. As long as Washington seems to think they should be fighting for the 8th seed, Beal should be rolling with some real top 15 potential.

Bradley Beal

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
16/25 10/10 4/10 46 6 7 0 1 1

If the Wizards come to their senses, Beal’s minutes and production will come down, but for now, fantasy GMs should be ecstatic to roster the All Star. He should offer huge boosts in scoring with plenty of production across the board. Last night, there was a lack of defensive stats, but he was too busy making nearly half his team’s points. Also of note, check those free throws!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was never a huge fan of D’Angelo Russell when he was a Laker. The shooting efficiency was poor, the D was porous, and the decision-making and decisiveness were lacking. It was as if DLoading was a picture loading back in the dial-up internet days; one line of pixels at a time. At least now the buffering just shows a ring with a percentage number. Anyways, Russell was a young pup back then. Only 19 and 20 years old. Now, he’s a grizzled, 22-year-old veteran. I kid, but he’s really developed and improved his game, to the point where he’s leading his team to victory over one of the top teams in the NBA.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 6 11 0 0 3 6/9 10/23 1/1

In his first three years in the league, Russell was a 41% shooter from the field and never topped 80% from the line. Now, he’s a 43% shooter from the field and 81% from the line. He’s averaging a tick under 20 points per game, 2.7 tres, 3.7 boards, 6.4 dimes, and 1.1 steals. He’s increased both the tres and dimes by almost 1 per game. In addition, he’s jacking up over 17 shots per game, has a usage rate north of 30, and is a top 50 player on the season for fantasy. When Caris LeVert returns from injury, things could change and Russell could cede some usage, but Russell will continue being a vital part of this Nets team. All the pixels have been revealed and the picture is a glorious one.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A B C D E F G. Usually we continue with H I J K L M N O P, but not today because the Buck stops at G. Is it a coincidence that G is the first letter for both Giannis Antetokounmpo and God? I don’t believe in coincidences. Both God and G have many similarities. They are both freaks and possess mind-blowing characteristics. God with the whole omnipotent and created the universe thing, while G is a physical marvel unrivaled by any human. Now, both usually just go about their business in the world by being awesome, but every once in a while, fury, rage, and anger swell up to deliver a message. Last night was one of those times for G.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 15 9 0 3 4 0/2 12/19 6/8

Over the past six games, G has been the #4 player. The usage rate has been 32.5 and he’s even contributed 0.8 tres. 28 points, 12.3 boards, 5.7 dimes, 2 steals, and 1.7 blocks with 53% shooting from the field and 81% from the line on 9.2 attempts is down right filthy. Just wait until he starts draining those tres, though, because it’s going to happen. Regardless, having G as one of the top fantasy players is easy as A B C. What the Nets and the rest of the league learned last night was just as easy; Don’t get G angry.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?