Remember Carlos Boozer? He of the lead feet on defense, yelling “HEY!” every time he missed a shot in hopes of getting a foul call? At least that’s my recollection of him during his Bulls years. He actually did play decent enough team defense to not hurt the team much while putting up 15 and 10 many nights with his no-jump fade-away rainbows. Anyway, sometime around the end of his Bulls tenure, I remember finding out that this old man on the decline was younger than me. So, I guess I couldn’t really call these NBA players that were considering retirement “old” any longer. Over the years, I’ve even embraced these guys and found that veteran players can be fantasy steals because of our ageist tendencies. And if you play in a dynasty league, they come even cheaper, of course.
Of course it’s fun to pick, trade for, and add young players right before they break out. We all want upside. But I think a lot of us don’t realize that older, boring players do have upside because of their depressed draft values. Let’s see how the NBA’s advanced age players are doing on the ESPN Player Rater compared to their Average Draft Position. I do this to hopefully show that you can win with old reliable dudes, even if they’re on the decline. You can even take this information to help you figure out who to target in trades for young, upsidey players.
One third of the season has already passed…Let that sink in. How time flies when you are doing something you enjoy. Just compare it with the offseason, when basketball fans even try to analyze meaningless exhibition games to feed thier addiction. Now is a great time to reflect on your team and decide your next steps. Are you in a dynasty league and far from competing? Start thinking about rebuilding and trade your veterans for promising younger players. Are you in a redraft league and falling behind in the standings? Make aggressive trades and pickups. It doesn’t matter if you end up last or 8th, it’s all about the championship baby. Is your team comfortably in the playoffs and looking to stay there? Maybe trade some of your immediate production for an injured player to stash for the last portion of the season. Analyzing your team’s direction and reacting accordingly separates the good from the great team owners.Â But why should you listen to any of my advice you ask? Because I self-reflect every week on the calls I made last week.
There are many reasons why players ball the F out. Straight cash homie is a popular option. To pay respects for a fallen compadre is a sentimental one. For the love of the game? Often attempted but rarely executed. The number one reason? Survey says?! To get laid, of course. Now, being a Lakers fan, I immediately have to address AC Green, the legend that ended his NBA career as a virgin. Simply put, he’s not human. If Drago thought Rocky wasn’t human, then he would’ve bended the knee and kissed the feet of AC. You think a man that played 1,192 consecutive games and did not have sexual relations during that time is human? The definition of outlier does not require words. Only this. Now, Kristaps Porzingis is a giant of a man at 7′ 3″ 240 pounds. His skill on the basketball court is at such a level that many call him a Unicorn. But. But. The dude just wants to get laid. It’s been well documented that Porzingis and Jen Selter have started following each other on Instagram and liking each other’s post. If you are not following @World_Wide_Wob on Twitter, your life has no meaning. Leading up to the matchup against the Lakers, in MSG, and on the ESPN national stage, things were getting steamy between the two. At least as steamy as things can get over the internet. But that can only go so far. At some point, real life kicks in and it’s either YAY or NAY. Well…..
Enjoy your night Mr. Kristaps “I am warm-blooded human” Porzingis. I think YAY is in the cards or maybe YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
In all walks of life, we yearn for predictability. How long will the commute take? Is it going to rain tomorrow? Will the Big One occur tomorrow (I live in Cali)? What if we could predict the stats for every player on a nightly basis? That would be a good thing, right? Ever do a fantasy draft in NBA 2K or Madden against the computer? How about a fantasy basketball mock draft against the AI? What if your significant other did the exact same routine under the sheets every single time? Life would get boring and mundane. Imagine a world with no surprises. Imagine a world with no highs and lows. Just a living flat line. Fantasy sports would become an efficient market with everyone valuing players the same. I bring all this up because Victor Oladipo‘s career has been anything but predictable. Selected by the Orlando Magic with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, greatness was expected. And why not? At 6’ 4″ 210 pounds with a 42″ vertical jump, Oladipo had the physcial tools. Judging from his production at Indiana University, he also had the skills. But then life happened. After three seasons in Orlando, the team traded him to Oklahoma City. After one season in OKC, he was shipped off to Indiana for Paul George. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe he didn’t gel with his teammates. There are so many factors to consider, but one thing is certain: He’s found a home with the Pacers. Oladipo is scoring almost eight more points than last year on four more shot attempts, the shooting percentage has increased substantially (from both the suburbs and downtown), the rebounds are up, assists are up, steals are up, and blocks are up. I guess I could’ve just said every statistical category has improved, but I like the dramatic effect of spelling everything out. He’s the 14th overall player right now!!! Anyways, yesterday against the Nuggets, Oladipo played 45 minutes in an OT game and went:
It’s been a rough stretch for Lakers fans. The team is 8-15 to start this season and had win totals of 26, 17, 21, and 27 from 2013-2016. Prior to that, though, there was a Golden Age of epic proportions. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1960, the team had missed the playoffs only four times and had fewer than 40 wins in a season just six times (one being a strike-shortened season).
For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).
Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater.Â Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.
So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.
Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.
In the Batman movies, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed as a subservient, damsel in distress character. “Oh no! There’s trouble in Gotham. Let me run up to the rooftop to signal the Batman so that he can take care of everything.” I kid. Commissioner Gordon was old and needed the youth, strength, and resources that Batman could provide. But, before he became a useless POS, Jim Gordon served in the US Marine Corps and was a Special Forces veteran who could kick some serious ass. That’s where we are at with Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic. He’s only 22 years old and 6′ 9″ 220 pounds. He can dribble, shoot, rebound, block, pass, jump like a flea, and run like a gazelle. He’s basically the new and improved version of Blake Griffin. Sad to see the Matrix slowly phasing out Blake for Aaron. Anyways, last night the NBA’s Commissioner Gordon put up the first 40-burger of his career:
He led his team to a 121-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team led by Russell Westbrook, aka Beastbrook but I prefer to call him the Hulk. Off the court, Westbrook seems like a funny, charismatic guy. On the court, SMASH….SMASH….SMASH! Dude plays with reckless abandon, which results in an abundance of turnovers, but he will dunk on your grill at every opportunity. And keep coming. And coming. And coming. He truly leaves everything on the court, which is why I’d always want the Hulk on my side, because I know he’d always have my back. As for last night:
In the animal kingdom, lions hang with lions, while gazelles chill with gazelles. Makes sense, as one group likes to eat the other. In the human world, things are a bit more complicated. Humans come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and live in different environments and locations all throughout the world. With that said, a human is still a human. It’s cool to identify with another person or group that has similarities to you, as it brings a level of comfort and security. I get it. But most of the problems of this world arise when we focus on the differences to discriminate and differentiate. When I was younger, I’d often see kids referred to as “sellouts” if they didn’t hang out with kids of their own race. Seriously, who gives a shit? I’m not hanging out with someone just because they are Korean. If said person is cool, that’s all that f***ing matters. So, it is with tremendous angst that I must voice my displeasure for the cat community, which texted me all Sunday about Karl-Anthony Towns. Yes, cats and dogs are basically humans. They think KAT is one of theirs. He’s been meowing and purring for the past couple of years, but on Sunday, a transformation occurred. KAT was howling like a wolf. KAT was playing like the dog that he is. 32/12/2/0/1/1. 12-of-26 from the field, 2-of-6 from downtown, and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. Ahh-woooooooooo! KAT is not a sellout. KAT is just a baller. A very, very, very good baller.
There was a time when Top Ramen was life. Cheap, easy to make, and quite delicious. It’s a good thing I didn’t stay poor for long because researchers concluded that eating too much ramen noodles could increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Hold on. Let me go smoke a cigarette real quick. Ok, I’m back <cough cough>. I knew I had made it in the world when I was able to eschew the Top Ramen and scrape open a box of Golden Curry. Still easy to make, but to fully experience the awesomeness of each packet, rice and some veggies were a necessity. You need a cooker to make rice. That’s a huge step up in the hierarchy. It’s akin to when man figured out how to make tools and weapons to hunt and gather. Anyways, thinking about those wonderful days of my life got me thinking to the brothers, Seth and Steph Curry. Seth is Top Ramen, while Steph is Golden Curry. Both are productive and satisfy one’s fantasy appetite, but Steph takes it to a level that only a few can appreciate. Last night, Steph scored 39 points, grabbed 11 boards, dished out seven dimes, and pilfered three on 14-of-24 shooting from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. The 39 points and 11 boards were both season highs. Now, Kevin Durant did not play in this game and the opposition was the Brooklyn Nets. With that said, this Curry has been hot and spicy to the tune of the number two overall player in fantasy.
I’m old enough to remember when a simple “ha or hee hee” sufficed when conveying happiness and/or laughter over the internet. Granted, that was at a time when laughter would literally be heard because phones were strictly for voice communication. What a time to be alive. Anyways, now we are all a bunch of digital Shakespeares. Our expressions are so vast and deep that they require acronyms. ROTFL, IMMD, GTFO, WYSIWYG……Get off my lawn!!! It’s only appropriate that the player in today’s lede is none other than LaMarcus Aldridge. LMA as many call him. Unfortunately, his play the first two years in San Antonio caused many to LMAO! The points, steals, assists, rebounds, and field goal attempts all decreased from the lofty levels ofÂ his Portland days. Prompting fans in Texas to yell things NSFW. Then, a funny thing happened over the offseason. Pop sat LMA down and told him to change the O from off to offense. Essentially, turning that frown upside down. Then, the Spurs gave LMA a three-year, $72.3 million contract extension and Kawhi Leonard went down. It’s all LMA Offense now. Every offensive category has shown an improvement from last year. Yes, it’s only been 13 games, but it’s no longer a laughing matter. He’s currently a top 20 fantasy player and last night led the Spurs to victory with 32 points, five boards, four dimes, a steal, and two blocks.