The Hawks won 29 games last year, but were a much tougher opponent in the second half. 29-53 is 12 games under .500, but the Hawks were only three games under .500 over the last 41. That was due to the young’uns getting better as the season progressed. The Hawks brain trust is optimistic the growth spurt continues, as they have added even more youth to the mix.

De’Andre Hunter’s Final Four heroics moved him up the draft board, and the Hawks paid a ransom to acquire him, but leadership has earned the benefit of the doubt. Their picks, combined with the teaching style of coach Lloyd Pierce and his staff, have drawn visible dividends, but will the expected leaps turn into hops? Not paying Dewayne Dedmon, when they could afford to, may hurt more than they realize.

Most projections have the Hawks winning 30-ish games. That may be conservative, but I expect a minor flirtation with .500 and another round of ping pong balls, as youth continues to mature.

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Last week, I unveiled my Top 10. Picking near the end of the round kind of sucks, but if you are blessed with that honor, at least you’ll have first dibs on finding a soulmate. If you select one of guards, then you’ll likely be pairing them with a big. And there are plenty of options in round two. I’m curious to see how many double down on bigs this year. You’ll be chasing assists and likely punt free throw percentage, but you could really get a stranglehold on those big man cats. The only player I don’t feel great about my ranking is Jrue Holiday, but I explain my thinking below. Anyways, the Top 25 truly needs to be put into context because so much will depend on who you drafted in round one. Remember, my rankings are based on overall value from projections. 

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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.

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Well, here we are. Hopefully, you guys are all wrapping up successful fantasy seasons, heading into the weekend leading your championship matchups. Beyond the silly season effect, winning in fantasy basketball can be a game of timing and patience. If you were patient with the rough start of future rookie of the year runner up, Trae Young, you’ve been rewarded with a near top 50 player over the last month and shockingly, a top 10 player over the last week. If you held Trae and started him here, you’re probably doing well this postseason.

Trae Young

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
10/25 5/5 1/8 26 9 7 1 0 3

While not very efficient, Trae continued to keep the haters at bay and was in the ballpark of messing around. The Hawks have one more game this Sunday, which should be a nice cherry on top for the surging Young.

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You’re excited to draft Zion Williamson next fall, aren’t you? Well, here are his per-36 stats that I posted last week:

If you loved The Matrix: Reloaded and P.O.D. as unabashedly as I did 15 years ago–and you definitely didn’t–then this song immediately jumps into your head when gazing upon those numbers, as the chorus goes: “Dreaming of Zion…”

Okay, we know those numbers aren’t happening… at least not for a few seasons (winky face). But even the slight possibility of two-thirds of that production and all the hype around him is enough to get people reaching for him in… I’m guessing the second round? Is that smart? How about Luka Doncic? Seems like he’s bound for a second-round ADP, too. Will that be wise?

Today we’re looking at rookie production once again, as well as that of this season’s sophomores in hopes of remembering how risky it is to gamble on young and/or unproven players regardless of how exciting they may be. My general advice is to stay away. I know, I know. They’re so shiny and full of upside. And if you’re in a keeper/dynasty league, you can sit back and enjoy watching the young players as they improve. But in a redraft league, here’s why you’re better off letting someone else overpay/overdraft rookies.

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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s crunch time fantasy ballers! These are the games that make or break your season. A lot of guys who have been reliable stat-stuffers all season disappear or are rested down the stretch and waiver pickups come up with career performances. Bam Adebayo has been fairly reliable for a while, but came up huge last night going 16-11-8-0-4-5 on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-for-4 from the line. Hassan Whiteside is in Eric Spoelstra’s doghouse for one reason or another, which has opened the door for Bam to flourish. It’s all about the adds and drops at this point, so I’m not gonna get into all the big-name superstars. So let’s dive on into the daily notes, and the game-changing performances in the fantasy basketball playoffs. BAM!

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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:

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J. J. Redick has never been the lede for this world famous site. In fact, I don’t recall ever writing a blurb for him. I’m sure I have, but now that I think about it, I’m not so sure anymore. Whether I have or not is irrelevant, though, because he’s been Mehdick for most of the season. That’s not to say he hasn’t been good. He’s been useful for what you drafted him for; treys with a handful of boards and dimes, good for around top 90 value. Last night, all the parallel universes must have intersected because Redick was ridic and produced a stat line that was, frankly, out of this world.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 8 0 0 1 7/14 8/19 4/5

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalmost messed around. The 10 boards were a career high! The 8 dimes were a season high. He’s never posted a trip-dub and last night was the first dub-dub of his career! See, some funky stuff was going on in the universe last night. Anyways, it was a ceiling game for Redick, one that we will likely never see again. Enjoy the Redickulousness for a day, then go prepare for the return of Mehdick.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve always enjoyed the Godzilla franchise. When I was young, it was all about the monsters fighting, special effects, and destruction levied upon the landscape. As I got older and delved into the origins, I appreciated the franchise that much more. As with most things in life, though, the journey is cyclical and it’s back to the good old awe-inspiring, destructive force. Which brings me to Giannis Antetokoummpo. All season, I’ve been calling him G, as he’s a straight gangster, and when he balls the F out, it’s been Nuthin’ but a G Thang. There have been moments of O. M. G. But yesterday, everything became crystal clear.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 16 7 2 1 1 3/8 15/26 19/21

A 50-burger and this…..

He called Ben Simmons a “f’ing baby” but then Simmons came back and dunked on his head. In addition, Joel Embiid produced a 40-burger and the Sixers defeated the Bucks, 130-125. I felt like I was watching a Godzilla movie in which he had to fight Gigan, Destoroyah, Mothra, and Ghidorah at the same time. Anyways, Gzilla is a freaking beast. Top 5 player over the past seven games. He’s been averaging 30.3 points, 1.1 treys, 13.1 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block while shooting 58% from the field and 82% from the free throw line on a whopping 11.4 attempts! The turnovers are high, but whatever. Now, with Malcolm Brogdon out for a while, Gzilla may be making more appearances down the stretch, as Brogdon had a usage rate in the low-20s. Other teams better hope they have a couple of monsters to negate Gzilla, because he’s coming to wreak havoc.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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