Hey there all you Razzball readers! The Duke is coming at you with an entire rundown of the Western Conference from a 9-cat fantasy perspective. We’ll start with a top 20 player ranking, then go team by team looking at all the viable fantasy options for the 2020-2021 season and see how to fit them into your roster to bring home another chip for the mantle!

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This is Terry Rozier’s fifth season in the NBA. These are the field goal percentage numbers from the prior four seasons: 38%, 39%, 36%, and 27% his rookie year. No wonder he was nicknamed Scary Terry. Those are some awful numbers that give me the heebie jeebies. I won’t be able to sleep for a week, as I hear the echoes of bricks clanging off the rim in my sleep. I once watched Event Horizon on shrooms. That pales in comparison to the dread I have of sleeping now from Scary Terry. With that said, entering this season, we all knew what drafting Rozier entailed, but the brave were willing to overlook the nightmares for counting stats galore, as he would be the alpha in Charlotte with Kemba Walker gone. Last night, those with the iron balls were rewarded, as Rozier wasn’t scary, he was legendary. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always legendary? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
40 4 3 1 0 1 8/13 15/26 2/3

A career-high! Granted, the opposition was the no-defense-playing Atlanta Hawks, and the game went to not one, but two overtimes, but whatever. A 40-burger is a 40-burger no matter how it’s cooked. There have been brutal stretches for Rozier this season, which have put many of his owners on tilt, just itching to drop him, but he’s a top 80 player for fantasy on the season! The field goal percentage is 41%. A terrible number for most, but heavenly for Rozier. The usage has been only 23, as Devonte’ Graham came out of nowhere this season, but Rozier has provided points, tres, boards, dimes, and steals with low turnovers and excellent free throw percentage.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Fantasy basketball forces you to take a critical look at the NBA’s unmitigated success stories. Will a breakout performance translate from one season to the next? Should we expect the dreaded faux-scientific sophomore slump for rookies? Will a natural year-to-year fluctuation in shooting push a player out of fantasy relevance? These are the relevant questions we have to weigh as the NBA season winds down and the fantasy playoffs start. It will be the fantasy offseason before you know it—it’s never too early to start planning for the future.

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R. J. Barrett is the 361st player on a per-game basis for the 2019 fantasy basketball season. There are 13 active players on each of the 30 NBA teams. That means that there are 390 active players. Thanks to my handy dandy abacus, that means that Barrett is better than 29 players. Yippee……That’s kind of not good for the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But he’s put together three straight decent games in a row. Are things turning around and is there merit to Barrett being fantasy relevant?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 5 5 1 0 3 3/8 10/18 4/7

The 27 points tied a career-high, which Barrett has accomplished three times this season. Barrett can score, even though he shoots with the wrong hand. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs regardless of the circumstances? The Stocktonator. He can also grab boards and dish out dimes. There is a reason why he was selected number three overall. With that said, there is a cavernous hole in his game: the shooting efficiency. On the season, he’s shooting 39% from the field and 59% from the line. There are stretches when he shoots sub-40% from the line. I will never understand how a professional ball player can’t shoot free throws at a high clip. It’s like literally their job. Anyways, he’s only 19 years old, so from a dynasty perspective, there is hope. For this season, he’s too inconsistent and doesn’t excel enough in the other categories to make the destruction of percentages worth it. So, the only merit to Barrett is in fading him.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

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Joel Embiid is 7 feet and weighs 249 pounds. There are only around 2800 people in the world who are 7 feet or taller. With 7.4 billion people, that comes out to 0.000038% of the population! Add in the fact that he’s as nimble as a ballerina, possesses the feathery touch of players much smaller than him, and is almost as witty as Grey…..it all culminates in a human that is…..is he even human? Regardless, Embiid is truly a unique breed. Last night was just the most recent display of his uniqueness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
49 14 3 3 1 4 1/3 17/24 14/15

The #11 player for fantasy on a per-game basis, which is key because he’s missed 16 games on the season. That is the only chink in the armor. It’s a massive one for sure, but things can change quickly. Just look at KAT. On the season, Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 1.3 tres, 12 boards, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks with 47% shooting from the field and 82% from the line. He literally does it all. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what literally does it all day in and day out? The Stocktonator. Now, Ben Simmons did not play last night and could be out for a while. Without Simmons on the court, Embiid garners a usage rate of 36.4, and increase of 4.2%. He scores 1.59 fantasy points per minute! Here’s praying for the health of this outlier of a human.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On July 31, 2019, RTS Sat (Radio Television Serbia) sent a team to Memphis, as the Grizzlies signed Marko Guduric to a multi-year contract. Their first questions for the Serbian star were, Do you like Memphis? Ja. Do you like rock-n-roll music? Ja. Do you like Elvis? Uh huh huh. Fast forward six months, and the RTS Sat crew didn’t care about the 13.2 minutes in 33 games played for their Serbian. What excites you most about the Grizzlies? Ja. Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Ja. What will the name of your child be? Ja. The RTS Sat crew wasn’t messing around. Guduric wasn’t messing around. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what also never messes around? The Stocktonator. Ja Morant, on the other hand, messed around for the first time in his young career last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 10 1 1 3 2/7 9/17 7/9

In 35 minutes. On the season, Ja is just outside the top 100 for fantasy. Much of that had to do with the playing time, as there were many games, especially early on, when he was receiving only 25 minutes of run a night. That was probably by design, to bring Ja along slowly. He’s at 30 minutes per game right now. If he gets another two to three minutes per game, a top 75 finish isn’t out of the question because he averages around 18 points, 4 boards, 7 dimes, and 1 steal per game. The percentages are excellent, around 50% from the field and over 80% from the line. The most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to get to the rim and convert amongst the bigs. Over 65% of his shot attempts are within 10 feet from the basket. He’s 6′ 3″ and 174 pounds, y’all! And only 20 years old! Wait until he fills out physically! The comps to Russell Westbrook have been made. The advanced stats for NBA.com only go back to 2013, the sixth year of Westbrook’s career, and only 38% of his shots were within 10 feet! Will Morant be better than Westbrook? Ja?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I am 25 years old. I idolized Michael Jordan, but was too young to watch him live when he built his legend. On the contrary, the player that my generation grew up with is Kobe Bryant. We got to witness him build his dynasty with the Lakers, hit tough shot after tough shot, return from gruesome injuries and give his absolute all for the game he loved so much. And after his retirement, we watched him grow as a businessman, a community leader, an ambassador for basketball, and a motivator for any young player that wants to get better through hard work and devotion.

His influence is not easy to grasp or describe and that’s why his loss has that enormous an impact to the whole basketball world. Kobe was unique in every way, a true sports titan and he will be remembered for a long time to come, whether from basketball fans appreciating his game and mentality or by anyone shooting a piece of paper to a can and yelling “Kobe”. It is always a reality check when these tragic things happen as people of his stature, so famous and successful, seem invincible. It’s an instant reminder of our own morality and how fragile and precious human life is. It’s not a great time to talk about player performances and fantasy contributions but I’ll try my best.

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15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?