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?

You listen to Kyrie Irving and get hypnotized, as the voice is smooth and the delivery is graceful. Then he hits you with the “Earth is flat” or “Ask me July 1.” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It’s the same story on the court, as the bevy of moves get you transfixed. Dribble, dribble, then jab step with the right foot, behind-the-back dribble, change directions with the left foot, then explode to the basket for 2. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

I have a hard time replicating his moves in NBA 2K! Anyways, yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 11 0 1 4 1/5 14/19 1/1

For the season, he’s a top 10 player, and has been the #4 player over the past four games, averaging 36.6 minutes, 27.8 points, 2.3 threeecolas, 5.8 boards, 9.3 dimes, 3 steals, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 54% from the field and 90% from the line. The usage rate has been over 30. So sick. For shits and giggles, I wanted to see how this season has compared to those in the past. The 49% shooting from the field, 41% from downtown, 1.2 offensive rebounds, 4.9 rebounds, 6.9 dimes, 1.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks are all career-highs. I knew he was having a good season. I didn’t know he was having a great one. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

 

Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

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The Dallas Mavericks have one of the greatest European basketball players ever – and they also have Dirk Nowitzki. The baton is being passed from Dirk to Luka Doncic, as the Mavericks jumped at the chance to draft the Euroleague Player of the Year, even forfeiting a first round draft pick in 2019 for the opportunity. When you add in the fact that DeAndre Jordan will now jump center for his home state Mavs (a few years later than originally envisioned and devoid of Clippers intervention) with an expected second year leap from point guard Dennis Smith Jr., you can see why Mark Cuban is feeling giddy. Anyone who has ever watched Shark Tank knows Cuban does not like to lose, so he could not have been pleased about a 24-win season. In a stacked Western Conference, the Mavs are not ready to start printing playoff tickets, but after upgrading 40% of the starting lineup, they definitely don’t intend to be looking up at the Sacramento Kings again.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After a tough loss in Detroit, it’s safe to say things have yet to take flight for this year’s Houston Rockets. While many came into the season thinking Houston’s out-of-this-world lineup had the potential to challenge the incumbent Golden State Warriors for the title as best team in the West, those dreams came crashing back to earth weeks ago (and Kevin McHale is still searching through the wreckage for the cause of the incident). Last night’s struggles are just another indication of this season’s overall trend: the Houston Rockets are looking more like Team Rocket when they step on the court.

Even a near triple double from James Harden (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn’t enough for Houston to surmount a surprising Pistons squad. With Harden passing 40 minutes for the fourth straight game, it’s looking like the Rockets are going to be riding their thoroughbred until the saddle cracks. In fairness, a monster game from Harden is probably the best chance Houston has to win every night, but for fantasy owners, the team’s struggle bodes well for the Beard’s outlook. Harden is going to score in abundance while racking up rebounds, assists, 3s, and steals as Houston fights to stay in the playoff hunt early. I think these past five games are particularly telling for the current state of the team as well as Harden’s prospects for the next few weeks as they try to right the ship (or the rocket).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  This week’s article will be short because I’m traveling back home.  As far as last week goes, it was just ok and I need to start taking some of my own advice.  Anyway let’s get on with this 7 game slate:

Point Guards

Damian Lillard (9,100) has a usage rate of 31.5% and that is good for 6th overall in the league.  Also, the Lakers give up the 2nd most fantasy points to PG’s.  Lillard put a 65 spot on them last Sunday.

Ish Smith (6,600) has been over 40 fantasy points 3 out of his last 4 games with Jrue Holliday on the court.  The matchup vs Utah isn’t the greatest, but Holiday is sitting out.

Fire up Patty Mills (3,600) if Tony Parker takes the night off.

Please, blog, may I have some more?