Good morrow to thee, neighbours! It was a fun night for hoops, especially if you’re a fan of mediocre basketball teams! The Atlanta Hawks scraped by the previously decent Orlando Magic and what a matchup it was! A special shoutout goes to Ersan Ilyasova who went for 26/3/4 on a perfect 9-for-9 FG with five threes, 3-for-5 FT. and no turnovers. It was a pretty spectacular game for Ersan. With Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins (and Mike Muscala) all missing from the Hawks’ frontcourt, there’s minutes to go around and Ilyasova is definitely the man in line to take them. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

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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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I always enjoyed Outkast when I was younger. Their music would always get me to bob my head from side to side and up and down. The thing I most admired about them, though, was their ability to change. Early on, they were a more “traditional” rap group. As time progressed, they started experimenting and adding elements to their music which made them more funky. End result? My head continued to bob from side to side and up and down. The lead singer was Andre Benjamin, who performed under the stage name “Dre.” As the group changed their style, Benjamin changed his name to “Andre 3000.” The new and improved version, perhaps? Well, the same evolution has been taking place in Detroit, as Andre Drummond has been a beast. On the season, he’s averaging:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 13.7 15.2 3.4 1.4 1.2 3.5 0 99/188 49/81

The boards, assists, and free throw percentage are all at career-highs! The turnovers are at a career-high as well, but that’s a residual effect of being a playmaker. I should’ve known big things were coming when I saw highlights of him playing at the Drew League over the summer. Splashing step back 20-footers? What? The most impressive improvement has obviously been the free throw shooting. The Pistons broadcasters analyzed the differences here. Now, it all culminated last night for Drummond against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 26 22 6 4 0 3 0 10/12 6/8

Season-high in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage. Let’s cut to Andre performing and get a glimpse of how all his fantasy owners are feeling right now:

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I used to live right down the street from MSG. At the old YMCA on W 34th & 9th Ave. So, even though I’m from LA, I can appreciate what’s going on with the Knicks right now and feel the energy. Entering last night’s game, they were sporting a 7-5 record. 2012 was the last season they started out with at least seven wins in the first 12 games. They’ve been so hot that the Sixth Burough of Porzingis is being constructed. How come Lin didn’t get a burough? Shit, he couldn’t even get a contract extension. Anyways, the big bad King of Akron was scheduled to come to town. And come he did. Or was it cum? The King trumpeted that the Knicks should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr. instead of Frank Ntilikina. Then, the King took his merry band of hoopsters and wreaked “havoc” on the subway. Causing the citizens of New York to respond with profanity-laced tirades on Twitter. The Knicks had their backs, though. They pushed the King. Shoved the King. Went face to face with the King. Were even beating the King and his merry band of hoopsters by 23 points at one point. Then….the King showed why he is the King. LeBron James scored 23 points, grabbed nine boards, dished out 12 dimes, and blocked three to lead the Cavs to a 104-101 comeback win. He would’ve messed around, but the stat crew changed one of his rebounds to a team rebound. Ha! I love it. And the Knicks responded with quotes like this. After the game, LeBron most definitely took his merry band of hoopsters and hit all the clubs in NYC. Because, for at least one night, he was the King of New York.

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There was no Batman in Boston last night, as Aron Baynes ran roughshod over the team from Tinseltown. 21 points, eight boards, and three dimes in 23 minutes. The 21 points were a team and career-high. Baynes was drilling jumpers from the elbow, dunking over hapless defenders on the baseline, setting screens then pinning smaller defenders onto his buttocks, jump hooking with the right, jump hooking with the left, and skying through the air for putback dunks. It was quite the performance. Thanks Batman. Signed, Lakers fans. Now, Baynes played a prominent role because Al Horford missed the game due to a concussion. Horford missed nine games last season due to a concussion, so there’s a chance that Baynes continues to wreak havoc on the league. Interestingly enough, Charlotte, a team that supposedly has a Superman, is next on the docket. In two games, they travel to New Jersey, which is a hop and a skip from Gotham City. DFSers heeded the signal and played him last night. He’s worth an add for the quickie, as the Celtics are super-thin in the front court.

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Dennis Schroder scored 28 points, grabbed three boards, and dished out nine dimes to lead the Hawks to a 117-115 victory over the Cavaliers. He did turn the ball over six times and did not accumulate any defensive stats, but we still love him. The Mitchell family still loved their little Dennis, even though he caused mischief whenever and wherever he went. Now, things are looking promising going forward. His usage rate is at 31%, he’s hoisting up almost 19 shots per game, averaging over 21 points, and dishing out six dimes a game. Granted, it was against the Cavs, a team with Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon starting at point that gives up fantasy manna to the position. HINT: play all point guards against the Cavs. With that said, The Menace is a top-50 player and should finish there when all is said and done.

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Image result for tj warrenImage result for bradley beal

Please click THIS. Now listen and let the beat percolate. Do what you do when you get down. Now read this:

It was a twelve-game slate, in the NBA
TJ Warren in DC, had himself a game
He hoisted 22 shots, and made 16
Just droppin’ a 40 burger, like it was no thing

But Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards
Was not going to let number 12 steal his thunder
So he launched 25 shots with no regard for life
And you know what happened next? The 40 burger was matched

Ok, I won’t ruin the song anymore than I need to. Warren also grabbed 10 boards, dished out one dime, pilfered one, and blocked two. This is what I wrote two days ago: The range of outcomes is so huge with Warren. He can play 39 minutes, score 20 points, and stuff the stat sheet OR get 24 minutes of run and shoot 1-for-6 from the field. Enjoy the ride. Man, it’s kind of cool quoting myself. Anyways, Beal grabbed six boards and dished out two dimes as a side dish for his burger. The Stocktonator liked him last night. Speaking of the Stocktonator….

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Image result for kristaps porzingis in city

The five boroughs of New York City are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. But the title says 6 boroughs!!! That was typed by the hundreds of people streaming a live feed to watch me type this post on Twitch. Yes, it’s gotten to that point. Once poker was able to show the cards of the players on television, the game took off to a different level because viewers were able to get into the minds of the players. Same gist. People are now able to see the thoughts and processes that writers go through to arrange the letters of the alphabet into words and sentences so that we can hallucinate lucidly while looking at the screen. Not only that, they get to experience the emotional highs and lows. Ha! Wouldn’t that be some shit? Anyways, the Sixth Borough is located at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York NY 10001. That’s Madison Square Garden for you non-New York folk. But that’s in the borough of Manhattan. Not anymore. Madison Square Garden is now a city-state like Vatican City in Rome. The Pope is considered the closest living person to God and is the head of state of Vatican City. Who is the pope or mayor of this new borough and what is it called? They call him/it Kristaps Porzingis. Is it a coincidence that he is often referred to as PorzinGOD? I think not. Porzingis went absolutely bonkers last night against the Denver Nuggets: 38 points, seven rebounds, two dimes, and three blocks. 14-for-26 from the field, 4-for-7 from downtown, and 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. He’s scored 30 or more points in five of six games to start the season. He’s crossing over defenders like Kevin Durant, draining baseline fadeaways like Kobe Bryant, and splashing 26 feet three pointers like Steph Curry. He does it all and has an insane 34% usage rate this season. He is the King of New York and will reign over all six boroughs in due time. If you didn’t know, the title to this post was an homage to the Beastie Boys – To The 5 Boroughs album.

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The new season began and god, I couldn’t be happier. All the watching and analyzing of meaningless preseason games, all the theory-crafting of the rotations and playing time belong in the past. The real deal is here. Let the fantasy season officially begin. This weekly column will be divided into two separate parts. The Buy column will contain players that are either sitting on the wire in most standard leagues (and they shouldn’t) or you have a good buy low opportunity, as they will outperform their current value for the rest of the season. On the other hand, the Sell column is dedicated to players that are either hurting your team and you need to flat out release them or players that are playing at a higher level than they will for the rest of the season (so it would be smart to sell high on them). I will point out that since it’s the first week of the season there are clearer buy than sell opportunities. Patience is a virtue and you might want to give some of the players at least another week before making any decision which you will regret later (Jokic last year anyone?).

Without further ado lets dive into the Buy/Sell for the first week.

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