“Champions keep playing until they get it right” (Billie Jean King)

The trade deadline offers weird results, with teams in both fantasy and reality changing rosters. The biggest moves over the past week in the RCLs involved those players that moved in real life; Larry Nance Jr., Jae Crowder, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Emmanuel Mudiay and D.J. Augustin.

I’m happy to announce the creation of a Champions League for next year, which will pit all of this year’s league winners and some Razzball writers against each other. I will keep you all informed as things progress.

 

Here is how the action went down in Week 17 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was a big subscriber of superstitions and curses in my younger days. Sports team I root for wasn’t playing well? Had to move to another seat, like I was some antenna made out of aluminum foil. Never drafted a player in fantasy football if he graced the cover of Madden. I mean, come on. Without fail, either a player got injured or production fell off hard the following year. We have grown as a society, though. I have grown as well. We now utilize our brains to explain things that were previously unexplainable. For the Madden Curse, a logical explanation was that players are celebrated by being on the cover of the videogame because they have reached the pinnacle of their careers.

pin·na·cle
ˈpinək(ə)l/
noun
              “he had reached the pinnacle of his career”
There’s literally no place to go but down. Add in the age factor and number of games played, and the “curse” doesn’t seem so mysterious after all. How things have gone down the past couple of weeks in the NBA, I’m beginning to reevaluate my stance on the issue. In late January, LeBron James and Steph Curry particiated in the All-Star Draft.

First, DeMarcus Cousins went down with injury. Then, Kevin Love. John Wall. The latest victim? Kristaps Porzingis. Last night, he tore the ACL in his left knee after this. I will think of you everytime my 2-year-old daughter puts on My Little Pony. Michael Beasley is the obvious get, but he’s probably been rostered already. Kyle O’Quinn is also an interesting pickup, as he would be the big off the bench to give either a break. Yo, LeBron. Whatever you’re doing? STOP!!!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I grew up before cable television, when a remote control was, “Son, get your ass off the couch and change the channel.” The number of channels could be counted on two hands. So, many of my fond memories were from watching infomericals. Tom Vu was one and will always have a special place in my heart, while the other one was Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo. That was the OG. Seriously, everything now should pay homage and pay royalties to Blanks. Anyways, after more than 20 years, Tae Bo is still going strong. There are fitness centers and classes all across the county and Billy Blanks still has, not only an operational website, but one that looks legit. Which brings me to Zach Randolph, aka Z-Bo. He’s so OG that his friends…in middle school….named him Z-Bo after Deebo. This is his 18th season in the NBA, yet, like Tae Bo, is still going strong. Last night, Z-Bo went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 26 12 2 1 0 4 3/6 11/23 1/2

He played 32 minutes. So, that thing about the Kings going young. Yeah…..Z-Bo has actually played 32, 32, and 28 minutes the past three games. But he did not see the court the two games before that. He’s only a streaming option or a DFS play in the right matchup. He must’ve been licking his lips when he saw that Dante Cunningham would be guarding him last night. He went so OG that he knocked him out of the game with injury. I’m getting all nostalgic and will try one of the Tae Bo workouts. Shit, I shouldn’t have done that. Still effective, like Z-Bo.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out” (Warren Buffett)

This week researchers in China cloned two monkeys using the nuclear-transfer technique employed to make Dolly the sheep. Sadly, we can not clone a healthy version of DeMarcus Cousins. Before his injury, he averaged 25.6 points, 13 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. Only three players (Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in NBA history had ever averaged at least 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. The impact in our leagues will be instantaneous and twelve of our teams never will be the same.

 

Here is how the action went down in Week 12 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve always been infatuated with the “zone,” that state of consciousness when one has Neo’d the Matrix. Mental steroids and practice can induce it, but often it’s a state that transcends reality. Life progresses frame by frame, as if someone pressed the slow motion button on the VCR. My fault, I mean DVR. In the real world, a shooter believes that every shot will go in, while understanding that it’s a mathematical impossibility. In the “zone,” screw math. Everyone morphs into a video game Dion Waiters on rookie mode. Well, last night, Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic gobbled the mushroom, morphed into Super Mario, and entered the “zone.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 28 6 2 3 0 2 8/12 10/18  0

Now, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier did not play yesterday, so Mario was afforded an opportunity to showcase. When those two return, Super Mario will shrink back to the bench. Just file it away for the future that Mario has the ability to enter the “zone” when called upon.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 11 1 1 5 3 5/8 14/26 4/5

Enjoy your night Mr. Kristaps “I am warm-blooded human” Porzingis. I think YAY is in the cards or maybe YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I am back from a short hiatus with an up-to-date (or as close as I can get it) injury report to help you plan for the upcoming fantasy basketball week and to provide potential waiver wire replacements.

Here are the major injuries lingering around the NBA, some suggestions for which replacements to target, and whether you should Stash, Drop, Add, or use an I.R. spot (if your league allows it):

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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. 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.

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Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.

It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).

Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.

First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:

Please, blog, may I have some more?