fantasy basketball playoffs

Non-studs that can carry your fantasy team

The month of March is arguably one of the most exciting times for basketball fans of all levels. For one, March Madness is underway, and the things we have seen this March are truly unbelievable. There have been plenty of upsets, buzzer-beaters and of course, Sister Jean.

However, the strictly NBA fans also have a lot to be excited and nervous about, as fantasy playoffs for most formats are underway.

We all know who the studs are in the NBA, and owners of guys like Anthony Davis and James Harden are loving life right now. But there is a plethora of players in the NBA that are not as studly as the guys previously mentioned.

Below are five NBA players who are flying under the radar as terrific fantasy options late in the season. Savvy owners should consider trading for one of these players (if your league doesn’t have a trade deadline).

Bobby Portis

fantasy basketball playoffs

Photo from www.chicagotriubune.com

Team: Chicago Bulls

Averages in the last two weeks: 13.7 points on 42.9 percent shooting, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.4 3-pointers

Since the departure of Nikola Mirotic near the trade deadline, the rebuilding Bulls have found time for young power forward Bobby Portis. As the stats show, he’s made some noise as a good fantasty option.

While some blocks would be nice, the steals and 3-pointers are fantasy gold from the power forward position. He can be inconsistent at times, but as long as the minutes are there, he should be a great option for some points, boards and 3-pointers.

Ricky Rubio

Team: Utah Jazz

Averages in the last two weeks: 15 points on 40.2 percent shooting, 6.7 boards, 7.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.1 3-pointers

Rubio is notorious for playing what seems like below capability for the first half of the season or so. Then as soon as the All-Star break hits, he becomes a beast. This was very evident last season as he was a different player after the All-Star break in Minnesota, and similar trends have continued in Utah.

While the percentages may be hard to muster, he really does bring a little of everything else to the stat sheet to help out your fantasy team. With Utah in the ultra-competitive Western Conference playoff hunt, Rubio should continue to get plenty of time on the floor and plenty of numbers to go along with it.

Just keep in mind it may not always be pretty.

Tobias Harris

fantasy basketball playoffs

Photo from www.blazersedge.com

Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Averages in the last two weeks: 24 points on 50.4 percent shooting, 7.3 boards, 3 assists, 1.1 steals, 1 block, and 3.1 3-pointers

Similar to Utah, the Clippers are fighting to stay in the playoff race in a conference where just five and a half games separates the third seed from the 10th seed.

Harris is a huge reason why the decimated and Blake-less Clippers are still competing, and are even over .500 (6-4) in their last 10 games. He demands the ball and is finally being assertive, and the move from Detroit to Los Angeles could not have been better for his real life and fantasy value.

He is contributing a little of everything, and is doing so efficiently, shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. If you have stuck with Harris since the trade, you are probably in good shape for your playoffs.

Julius Randle

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Averages in the last two weeks: 22.9 points on 61.6 percent shooting, 10.7 boards, 3.1 assists

If you are an owner in search of efficiency and double-doubles who won’t kill your free-throw percentage, Randle is your best bet right now. He has been on a tear as of late, and Larry Nance Jr. moving to Cleveland has helped him out tremendously in terms of both minutes and production.

The only downside to his play is his lack of defensive stats in the last couple weeks, but at least they aren’t nonexistent. If the boards and efficient scoring is appealing, try to snatch him up.

Taurean Prince

fantasy basketball playoffs

Photo from www.soaringdownsouth.com

Team: Atlanta Hawks

Averages in the last two weeks: 22.4 points on 49.1 percent, 6.6 boards, 3.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks, 4.1 3-pointers

Prince has been one of the hottest players in the NBA. Like most other players mentioned, he brings a little of everything, including an insane 4.1 3-pointers per game in the past two weeks.

It might sound crazy, but these numbers could be sustainable, and possibly even improve. Ironically, he has been great at contributing steals with a one-steal season average, but that is his lowest point right now. The 0.4 steals the last two weeks could increase to at least 0.8 or one from this point on, but owners won’t be complaining much.

The Hawks are playing for lottery balls, and he is their best player right now, so the minutes and production should become more and more consistent after such a shaky first two-thirds of the season. His potential was evident in Saturday’s loss to the Bucks, as he erupted for 38 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and four 3-pointers.

While he won’t be averaging close to 40 points in the last 10 or so games, Prince is the perfect player to have on your team at this point in the season, and he is definitely peaking at the perfect time.

Conclusion

There are a ton of players that could’ve been great for this piece, but these are some of the best five non-star players fantasy owners can have on their team at this time. Fantasy playoffs are some of the most exciting times of die-hard NBA fans’ years, and these players will definitely increase the chances of victory. Good luck to all, and may the best team be victorious.

 

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Blake Griffin trade winners and losers

Winners and losers of the Blake Griffin trade

Doc Rivers said in a pregame press conference before the Clippers’ matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers that the Blake Griffin trade “…came out of nowhere, and it came pretty quick.”

One moment, the Clippers were a potential playoff team with two of the premiere big men in the league. The next moment, they are almost certainly in rebuild mode with more valuable pieces that might be on the move.

Most NBA pundits are completely divided on the trade. Did Detroit give up too much? Did Los Angeles throw in the towel too early? Who does the deal benefit more?

Even though both teams are almost certainly indifferent to anyone’s opinion other than Griffin’s and the front offices’, let’s break down the winners and losers three days removed from the trade.

Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

Many might argue that the Clippers didn’t get enough for Blake Griffin. They might say that Los Angeles didn’t field enough offers for him, or didn’t wait long enough to see how desperate teams would become for Griffin’s services closer to the trade deadline.

Blake Griffin trade winners and losers

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were previously one of the best big man combinations in the league. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBA)

The fact is, Griffin is injury-prone, and the longer teams have to think about that, the higher the odds are that they will want to buy low. When you add up all the time that Griffin has missed in his seven-year career, he has missed almost two full seasons.

 

The key to the trade isn’t Tobias Harris or Avery Bradley. It’s the 2018 first-round and 2019 second-round picks they received from Detroit.

Sure, Griffin makes Detroit much more competitive, which will devalue the picks considerably. But if the Clippers commit to a rebuild, which they should, then stock-piling picks is the way to go. Find good players in the draft, and once it seems like the team can be competitive again, trade less valuable pieces away for the pieces they are missing.

This trade was a gamble, and no one should really believe that the Clippers are trying to stay competitive, or are going for a “soft rebuild.” However, hamstringing the team to pay Griffin in 2023 out of nothing more than loyalty, would be a mistake.

Loser: Doc Rivers

Blake Griffin trade winners and losers

DeAndre Jordan holds Doc Rivers back. (Photo by Kathy Willens/Associated Press)

Becoming a non-factor in the Western Conference playoff picture almost definitely means Rivers’ time is up in Los Angeles.

 

His contract is up in 2019, and if the Clippers trade Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan, then they are set up for a disastrous 2018-19 campaign. This will allow the Clippers to cut ties with the head coach without a second thought.

The news isn’t all bad for Rivers, however. He’ll find another job, maybe even on another competitive team due to his player coaching abilities. However, not even getting Lob City to a Western Conference finals is a huge black mark on his record.

Either way, Los Angeles would be silly not to bring on a younger, more new-school coach after the 2019 season that fits better with the team’s new direction.

Winner: Detroit Pistons

Getting Blake Griffin now is a huge win for the Pistons’ future.

Since he is under contract until 2022, Detroit has time to build around Griffin and convince him to stay for less money if they manage to become legitimately competitive by the time his current contract expires.

It is also a huge incentive for Andre Drummond to stay after his contract is up in 2021. If the chemistry is there between the two players, then Detroit might be able to convince him to stay. Perhaps they could even have a life-long Piston on their hands.

Teams can absolutely turn things around in 3-4 years. The Griffin-Drummond combo makes Detroit an attractive free agent destination in the coming years. That alone could turn the Pistons from an afterthought in the East to a real threat, especially if LeBron James finds his way to the West.

Loser: NBA

The NBA is better off with at least one competitive team in Los Angeles. Now that it seems as if that ship has sailed for the Clippers (no pun intended), the NBA is in a tough spot.

The trade makes the road to the finals even easier for the juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers could have caused them some problems with Griffin, but the last thing the NBA needs is to make the Warriors’ lives even easier.

The trade also does not make the Eastern Conference much more competitive. Regardless of the Cavaliers’ struggles as of late, it would be foolish to think they can’t turn it on in the playoffs and get back to the finals. The Boston Celtics will also almost definitely be in the Eastern Conference finals due to great depth and coaching. The Pistons will not be able to compete with either of those teams with only half a season’s worth of chemistry-building.

TBD: Blake Griffin

Finally, the man in the center of all of the drama’s fate is yet to be decided. Will this experiment work out in Detroit? Or will it be more of the same for Griffin?

Blake Griffin trade winners and losers

Blake Griffin will have to find success in the Eastern Conference. (Photo by Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

It looks on the surface as if it might be just more of the same. Being paired with another impressive big man, surrounded by decent role players was the exact situation Griffin was just a part of in Los Angeles. Who is to say the Pistons won’t peter out in the second round like the Clippers did?

However, another great coach and having the ability to finally draw in free agents might set the Pistons apart from some of the other conferences in the East. It will all depend on if Griffin can finally stay healthy and find a different level of success in an easier conference.

It’s not a ridiculous exaggeration to say that this move will either set up Griffin for more success than he has previously had, or whether he will just go down as the greatest Clipper ever.

All the NBA can do is wait to see how Detroit’s front office will approach the coming years as the East gets tougher.

 

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Detroit Pistons

Are the Pistons back?

To this day, Detroit fans have a fond memory of the Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman days. Those were the days in which the Pistons won back-to-back titles, first sweeping the Magic Johnson and James Worthy led Lakers, then defeating Clyde Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers in five games.

How about the early 2000s Pistons, who won a title in the 2003-04 season (we will touch on this later) while also making it to six straight Eastern Conference finals. From the 2002-03 season, all the way up to 2007-08, Detroit either won the championship, lost in the Finals, or was eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals.

Then, they dropped off. It has been nine years since the Pistons lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Of Detroit’s last nine seasons, eight of them have been years in which the team finished below .500.  In their one winning season, 2015-16, Detroit was swept in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The switch to Little Caesars Arena was actually what this team needed. It gives them a fresh start and some new life. After 13 games, the new-look Pistons sit at 10-3, tied for their fifth best start in franchise history.

DETROIT’S BEST STARTS THROUGH 13 GAMES

SEASON RECORD FINISH
1970-71 12-1 45-37
1990-91 11-2 Lost E. Conf. Finals
1996-97 11-2 54-28
2005-06 11-2 Lost E. Conf. Finals
1988-89 10-3 Won Finals
2002-03 10-3 Lost E. Conf. Finals
2017-18 10-3 ?

The other six times this franchise won at least 10 of their first 13 games, they ended up in solid spots come playoff time. On four occasions, the Pistons made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals, and of course won the title in 1988-89.

Obviously, this does not mean that the 2017-18 Detroit team is a lock to go deep into the playoffs, but do not sleep on them.

How is this happening?

A year ago, Detroit ranked 28th in 3-point percentage. On the defensive end, they were not forcing any turnovers, finishing 27th in that department. This season, Detroit is currently eighth in 3-point percentage, and forcing almost four more turnovers per game. They are continuing to dominate the offensive glass, and committing far less fouls than the league average.

Detroit Pistons

Tobias Harris is quietly averaging 20.1 points per game (Photo from ESPN.com)

At this point, Detroit’s MVP appears to be Tobias Harris. Harris, who was traded by the Magic for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings in February, 2016, is absolutely balling out in his second full season with the Pistons. After averaging 16.1 points per game during the 2016-17 season, Harris, through 13 games, is averaging 20.1 points, and 5 rebounds. He is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, and an outlandish 50.6 percent from three. Not to mention the 6-foot-9 forward is shooting 90.5 percent from the charity stripe, a place where Harris has succeeded his whole career.

Andre Drummond, who is the only Piston to have played in an All-Star game, is averaging 15.6 rebounds per game, which leads the NBA. Drummond also leads the league in offensive rebounds per game with 5.3 and has nine double-doubles in 13 games.

Their big offseason addition, Avery Bradley, appears to be exactly what Detroit needed. Bradley, a former All-Defensive First Team member, is dominating both sides of the floor. Not only has he continued to be a lockdown defender, but Bradley is averaging 17 points per game. He is a key reason for Detroit’s jump in 3-point efficiency, as he is shooting 41.4 percent from long range. Reggie Jackson is also looking like the Jackson from two years ago, averaging 16.3 a game.

Detroit’s bench has been quite special. Anthony Tolliver ranks first in defensive rating of players who have played at least 10 games. While averaging just under 10 points per game, Ish Smith is shooting 54.6 percent from the field. Of players who have played at least 8 games, Reggie Bullock ranks second in assist-to-turnover ratio.

While Detroit may be an underdog in the East, having to deal with teams like Boston and Cleveland, they look like they can play with anyone. Being considered an underdog is nothing new to Detroit, as their 2003-04 championship team was one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the NBA Finals.

Remembering the 2003-04 Pistons

After a conference finals loss, the Pistons brought in a new coach, Larry Brown. In that year’s draft, with the second overall pick (from the Grizzlies), Detroit selected Darko Milicic. Milicic would go on to play a few minutes off the bench, and is widely considered as a bust.

Detroit Pistons

One of the best starting fives of recent times. (Photo from History Locker)

Under the great Coach Brown, the Pistons, a strong defensive team, rallied off 13 straight wins between December and January. After hitting a bump in the road in February when they lost six straight games, Detroit needed a major acquisition to get them back on track. At the midway point in the season, the Pistons acquired Rasheed Wallace from the Atlanta Hawks.

The starting five of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and All-Star Ben Wallace was absolutely electric down the stretch. Detroit would go on to win 16 of their final 19 games. They ended the season at 54-28, good enough for the third seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

After defeating the Bucks and Nets in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Detroit faced off against the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. The Pacers, led by Jermaine O’Neal and Defensive Player of the Year, Ron Artest, were defeated in six games by Detroit. Into the Finals they went, squaring off against the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers.

UNDERDOGS PREVAIL

Since the 2004 playoffs, no team has been more of an underdog when the opening odds dropped for the NBA Finals since the Pistons. Even Lebron James’ 2007 Cavaliers, who were made up of a bunch of scrubs while facing the Spurs, were given a better shot to win. The Lakers opened up at -550 and had a total of 37 All-Star selections on their roster. Their coach, Phil Jackson, already had nine championships under his belt. Detroit had four All-Star selections, and Larry Brown was seeking his first title.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons in 5. (Photo from Twitter.com)

Both Karl Malone and Gary Payton, two Hall of Famers, signed with L.A. for the minimum salary in hopes of winning a ring. Not to mention the fact that the Lakers were also were coming off three championships in four years. The combo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal is considered one of the best duos of all-time.

Despite the Lakers’ greatness, Detroit was not phased. In fact, the series only went five games, as the Pistons defeated the Lakers 4-1. Billups was named Finals MVP, averaging 21 points per game in the series. The Lakers, who averaged 98.2 points per game during the regular season, were held to just 81.8 points against Detroit. Defense wins championships. Coach Larry Brown became the first coach to win both an NCAA national championship and an NBA title.

While many will not give Detroit a shot at winning it all, mainly because of the super teams, just don’t sleep on them. Nonetheless, they are off to one of their hottest starts in franchise history and look to be back to their winning ways, which is dope for the city of Detroit.

 

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NBA summary so far

NBA Preview:

Well every team has played from 10-12 games so far this season so it’s time to make some reflections on the start to the season.

Whether it’s championship caliber teams struggling, star players off to rough starts or rookies under performing here’s a look at the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season.

Eastern Conference:

I’m going to go out on limb and say no one had the Magic and Pistons in the top 3 in the east through 10+ games. The Pistons have benefited from Tobias Harris’ spectacular play on both ends.

Other teams have shocked the Eastern Conference with their struggles. Luckily for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the season doesn’t end today or they would be out of the playoffs. Not having a second scoring option to go with Lebron has hurt them.

The Milwaukee Bucks have struggled despite MVP level play from Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the addition of Eric Bledsoe, the team should turn it around moving forward.

The Celtics have rattled off 10 straight wins even without their second best player. Brad Stevens has put together great game plans and has transformed a roster full of youth into the best defensive team in the NBA.

Players Worth Noting:

NBA

Kyle Lowry, (Raptors Republic).

Ben Simmons has practically led the way for the Philadelphia 76ers. Once a front runner for the rookie of the year, Simmons has lived up to his anticipated hype. In his last 10 games, Simmons is nearly averaging a triple double. He has 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game as well as a 19.8 player efficiency rating. Simmons is leading a 76ers team through the point-forward position.

Kristaps Porzingis has been incredible for the New York Knicks. In his last 10, Porzingis is averaging 29.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He is also at an astounding 29.2 for player efficiency rating which is one of the tops in the entire NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the tops in the NBA in player efficiency as well. He sits at 32.7 and is averaging 32 points per game. Giannis is one of the only reasons that the Bucks have been competitive through 10 games.

Kyle Lowry is one of the players who has struggled out of the gates for the Raptors. Lowry is shooting 32 percent from three and 39 percent from the field. He is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists as the secondary option for the Raptors. All of those per game stats are well below his career averages.

Western Conference:

There isn’t too many surprises in the Western Conference. Some of the bigger ones have been the Thunder, Grizzlies and Clippers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to win games. They are getting over 60 points per game from Westbrook, Anthony and George. They are 4-6 and have gotten great play from their big three.

One of the shocking things is how well the Memphis Grizzlies have played. They managed to knock off the Warriors and Rockets already and those two teams are the best in the Western Conference so far. They come out at 7-4 and have gotten help from a rested and ready Chandler Parsons who has just under a 17 player efficiency rating.

Even though the Clippers are 5-5, they have had glimpses of great play. They won their first four and have hit a skid as of late. Obviously their strength of schedule hasn’t been too heavy, but the Clippers are a fringe playoff team and they are only going to get better as the season moves forward.

Players Worth Noting:

Clint Capela has provided a low post threat and has been the second option for the Houston Rockets. Capela is averaging 12.7 points and 10.6 rebounds as well as 2 blocks and 2 assists. He is manning the middle for the Rockets and has helped them to a 8-3 record.

Lamarcus Aldridge has benefited from Kawhi Leonard being out. He is averaging 22.6 point and 8.3 rebounds and has helped a team without one of their stars jump out to a 7-4 record.

A final statistic that is interesting for the league as a whole so far is that Shabazz Muhammad is averaging 10.3 minutes in the seven games the Timberwolves have won this year. He is also averaging 22.3 minutes in the four losses they have this season.

 

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