LeBron James has missed 12 games due to injury. Entering last night’s game, the Lakers had four wins and seven losses without their king. After an overtime ordeal in Oklahoma City, the Lakers made it five wins and seven losses, thanks in part to the play of Kyle Kuzma.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 8 4 3 0 4 7/12 11/20 3/3

The seven threeecolas tied a career-high. Without LeBron on the floor, Kuzma has been the offensive leader, sporting a usage rate above 30. He’s averaged 34.2 minutes, 21 points, 7 boards, and 2.9 dimes. He’s jacked up 18.4 shots per game, with 7.2 being from downtown. Now, the efficiency hasn’t been good (41% from the field and 24% from downtown) and he provides little in the D cats. As a result, he’s not the best fantasy asset, which sucks because this is a fantasy website. Just let me enjoy a Lakers victory on the road in OKC with Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz leading the way.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

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Everyone has their favorite fast-food burger and no one can agree on which one is best. Here on the East Coast, the “Big Three” are McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King. Everyone has their preference. None of them are the best burger you’ll ever have, but when at 1 AM there are limited options. James Borrego had limited options last night with Cody Zeller out and he decided to give Bismack Biyombo the start to try and match up with Nikola Jokic. It didn’t really work out, but he ended up getting 30 minutes and putting up a decent line going 16-12-0-2-2-2 on 7-of-10 shooting and 2-for-3 FTs. Who knows if he’ll continue to get minutes, but Zeller is slated to miss at least four weeks so he could be worth a speculative add. Side note: Borrego is Lamb in Spanish. Jeremy Lamb plays for the Hornets, but was out last night. Illuminati confirmed. Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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There was a lot of crying going on yesterday. And it started at precisely 12:00:01 am, as cries of joy echoed for the start of the new year. At the same time, there were countless cries of disappointment, as guys (too many to be honest) tried to kiss their NYE dates and got denied. There were cries of the sexual passion variety, and cries to the Porcelain God. Cries of pain for trying to get back into shape, and cries of elation from the millions of couch potato football fans. But, the biggest Kawhi came from Toronto, as Kawhi Leonard did this to the Utah Jazz:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
45 6 1 0 0 2 0/3 16/22 13/17

A career-high! Over the past six games, he’s averaged 31.3 points, 1.2 threeecolas, 7.5 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.2 steals, and been the #15 player in fantasy. He’s had a usage rate of 33.5! I was so wrong about Kawhi in the offseason, as I had my doubts about his health and mental motiviation. Well, I just want to scurry to the corner and sit on the stool with a dunce cap and Kawhi. The only blemish has been the decrease in blocks. Currently, he’s averaging 0.5 per game. The last four seasons, Kawhi has averaged 1, 0.7, 1, and 0.8 blocks per game. I think that number ends higher, but even if it doesn’t, I won’t shed a tear for his owners, as (outside of injury) he will still likely be a top 10 player for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Luke Kornet played four years at Vanderbilt University, where he averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2 blocks on 47% shooting from the field and 32% from beyond the arc his senior year. No wonder he went undrafted in the 2017 NBA draft. But he’s the left-handed pitcher of basketball, in that he’s 7′ 1″, 250 pounds, and can shoot from outside. The New York Knicks took a chance and signed him to a two-way contract in 2017. Kornet spent most of his rookie year down in the G League, but still managed to play 20 games with the big club and exhibited the ability to shoot the threeecola and block shots. To begin this season, Kornet played a total of 12 minutes in the first 29 games, but Coach Fizdale inserted him into the lineup for game 30 against the Hornets and Kornet scored 13 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, stole 2 passes, and shot 3-for-5 from downtown in 24 minutes. Although he continued to get playing time in the next five games, Kornet never received more than 14 minutes in any game. Then, last night happened.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 3 5 0 1 1 7/11 8/17 0

Kornet received the start and played 34 minutes. The start may have been matchup based, as he would have more success defending Brook Lopez on the perimeter and the Bucks defensive philosophy allows teams to beat them from downtown (MIL is dead last in number of opponent three-pointers attempted per game). With that said, Coach Fizdale said that he wanted to change up the lineup to get more shooting on the floor so that Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox would have more space to operate. In addition, Kornet does protect the rim better than Enes Kanter, which isn’t saying much, but it is what it is. I never understood why the Knicks continued rolling out Kanter, especially since he’s an UFA after this season. Play the young kids and “Try for Zion.” Having a center rotation of Kornet and Mitchell Robinson would make the most sense, as it would be a offense/defense combination, but Coach Fizdale has shown that he will change up the rotation in a heartbeat. With that said, Kornet is worth a pick up, as the reward for threeecolas and blocks far outweighs the risk of…..free.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I loved Biggie. Being born and raised on the West Coast, that may be viewed as blasphemy, but whatever. Even though I went to school in NY and worked in the City for many of years, the simple fact of the matter was that he was a smooth, lyrical genius. He was Unbelievable. “Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one…Representing BK to the fullest.” Indeed he did, which is exactly what Spencer Dinwiddie did last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 2 5 1 0 4 4/6 11/18 13/14

All in 30 minutes off the bench. He was Unbelievable. The 39 points were a career-high and, over the past four games, he’s been a top 40 player with an insane usage rate of 34.1!!! Now, he’s not going to start and will likely average a tick under 30 minutes per game, but Dinwiddie is a professional getter of buckets and will chip in 2 threeecolas, 5 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game, which will place him in the top 110 range. But, as last night showed, he will Hypnotize from time to time.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Mondays can be rough for many. Some may be recovering from too many adult beverages, while others may still have the bass bumping in their heads from the clubbing. There are those that went out of town and….are still mentally there. Whatever the case may be, for those that don’t work on the weekends, Mondays are a recuperation and recovery day. Which is apparently what happened in the NBA, as players were scratched left and right, and many others got injured during the game. I’m not saying that the nightlife was the culprit, but I just wrote it so….All jokes aside, yesterday was one of the craziest slates I’ve seen in a while. Below is a list of the inactives:

Pre-game:

John Wall (heel)
Ish Smith (groin)
Kyrie Irving (shoulder)
Gordon Hayward (illness)
Al Horford (knee)
Aron Baynes (ankle)
Blake Griffin (rest)
Reggie Bullock (ankle)
Hassan Whiteside (personal)
Evan Fournier (personal)
Stanley Johnson (knee)
E’Twaun Moore (rest)
Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (neck)
Jamal Crawford (knee)
During the game:

Jimmy Butler (groin)
Henry Ellenson (ankle)
Glenn Robinson III (ankle)
Otto Porter Jr. (knee)
Nikola Mirotic (ankle)
Tristan Thompson (foot)
Lou Williams (hamstring)
Thank goodness tomorrow is Tuesday.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I used to play a lot of fighting video games. Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and the like. I think I aged out around the time they were up to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Super Street Fighter 2 Championship of Everything Ever Edition Turbo. But I know they kept going, adding more characters, merging games. And that’s sort of what I wanted to do this week. I’ve written a decent amount about stuff like category specialists, how scarce the stats in each category are, how volume skews percentage stats, and just how detrimental the percentage and turnover performances of your players can be. Well, today, we’re going to witness a 2018 battle royale of sorts. Using Basketball Monster, I took the standard deviation value of each individual’s statistical performance in each category, and ranked them. Other sites have slightly different values due mostly to alternate assumptions and weights. There are some writers out there who have explained fantasy basketball standard deviation values in depth and in ways that are much more exciting than those in my old college statistics books. So, if you’re really curious, you can find out more with a little searching. I’ll just say that, in general, a standard deviation score of 2 means that the performance is roughly better than almost 98% of the rest of the league. A score of 3 is about where you’d expect the best performance in the league to be, as it’s usually around the 99.9th percentile. Same thing for negative values, just reversed. So, if you see a value exceeding 3, and I’ve shared some of those insane standard deviation scores from the last few decades in previous posts, it’s super-valuable (turbo edition 64?). Some categories don’t have anyone reaching 2 or -2, meaning the numbers are more bunched up together. But some have some extreme outliers. That’s what we’re looking for today.

Boban’s gotta be in there somewhere, right?

I present to you the most and least valuable individual category performances of the year (per-game through 12/4, with some small sample players removed).

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Lauri Markkanen was selected by the Bulls with the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I had seen a few of his games in college, so he seemed like a legit prospect, but I did not fully embrace him until I watched him play in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. You could see he had that….bow wow wow yippee yo yippe yay….dog in him, and it translated to his first year in the NBA, as he ended as the #66 player for fantasy: 15.2 points, 2.1 threeecolas, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 43% from the field, and 84% from the line. Naturally, big things were expected for his sophomore year, but he injured his elbow before the start of the season and missed the first 23 games.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 10 1 2 1 3 5/13 8/24 0

Well then. That didn’t take long. Played 32 minutes after logging 26 in his season debut. Markkanen is so skilled for a 7′ 0″, 240 pound player and, as mentioned above, he has that dog in him. As a result, I have a feeling that this is going to be Markkanen’s team, sooner rather than later, which puts a slight damper on Zach LaVine’s fantasy prospects.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cue the epic guitar solo! Hayward’s owners can lay their weary heads to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Last night Gordon Hayward went 4-30-9-8-2-0-2 on 8-of-16 shooting and a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe in 30 minutes off the bench. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of the return of Hayward to his old self. It has been pretty miserable owning him this year, but this could be a turning point for him. He’s still getting his confidence/sea-legs back and was  averaging only 10.3 points coming into this one. This was on the heels of a back-to-back as well which means Brad Stevens is confident enough in Hayward’s health to give him big minutes. Many owners used a 4th/5th round pick on him, so if he can return to any semblance of the player he was in Utah, his owners will be happy.

There were seven games on the slate last night in the NBA so let’s dive on in to the Daily Notes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?