• Hey I’m back people! Right in time for fantasy playoffSZN. Would I ever let you fine folks down? Hell no. There’s money to be made here and that’s what this is all about. Sweet fantasy moolah to throw in your friends’ faces since you are a devoted Hoop-Ball reader and therefore better than your pathetic league counterparts. You can lord that over them until they want to murder you in cold blood, but they’ll never take the feeling of sweet sweet victory away from you my friends.

    So as we prep for crunch time and start stressing over every injury, every rest day, and every little thing that makes us want to tear our remaining strands of hair out, I wanted to bring back an old favorite of mine and hopefully, it will help you get a little bit of an edge on your competition. That, my fellow HBers, is the Hoop-Ball Playoff Jobber Hall of Fame.

    The HBPJHOF was an idea born out of whimsy meant to shine a light on some of the out-of-nowhere performances that tend to come around fantasy playoff time. The great thing about the HBPJHOF is that these players a very much lightning in a bottle. They come from literally out of nowhere and deliver some epic performances that give you a major advantage on your opponent if you’re able to capitalize. These are the types of last-minute, crazy waiver adds you make trying a see if you can capture some magic from a hot hand that you never heard of before.

    As a refresher, here is the definition of an HBPJHOFer that I wrote up last year:

    “For those unfamiliar with wrestling parlance, a Jobber is a wrestler who exists to make the other superstar wrestlers look great. So to fans and viewers, Jobbers are not good wrestlers and lose regularly to the more popular wrestlers. They’re mostly interchangeable parts, very few ever get to see the limelight. Think of them as a team 10-day contracts taking on the Golden State Warriors.

    Now every so often a Jobber gets one over on a superstar and these basketball misfits and outcasts can also surprise everyone and slay a giant and it’s a huge shock when they do. Often enough, it happens in March, when the fantasy games matter most. These guys were never on anyone’s radar to begin with and likely got thrust into a bigger role because of an injury or being on a crappy team or a combination of both. These players have their moment in the sun, and then retreat back into the darkness once the fantasy playoffs are all wrapped up. So this list is a group of ragtag players who would otherwise have minimal impact on the game, but saved their greatest NBA moments for a stretch in the fantasy playoffs that was likely a factor in someone winning or losing a championship. Everyone has a ‘where did this guy come from and where the hell are they now’ story this time of the fantasy year and these are the cream of this induction season’s crop.”

    And the important part – after that glorious stretch where they came out of nowhere to absolutely wreck for a two-week period, they were never heard from again. There was no more wrecking to be had. They may be out of the league completely or just back to their role of being a fantasy-irrelevant benchwarmer. But you’ll always have those memories.

    The first inductees into the HBPJHOF were Ish Smith, Alexey Shved (who really deserves his own goddamn wing in the building), Terrence Williams, Anthony Randolph, and Nikola Pekovic.

    There will be another crop of inductees this year, but first, I wanted to provide you with a few candidates of my own who I think could be the guys to make this hallowed Hall in the future. Some of these guys have been covered by Zach Bodhane’s excellent Deep League Digging, but I’m shining a brighter light and going to plant my flag on five guys who could be the ones to erupt at exactly the right time. Here we go folks:

    Ryan Arcidiacono

    I can barely pronounce this guy’s name and I’m betting neither can you. That’s makes for a perfect HBPJHOF candidate! Arcidiacono has very quietly been a top-200 player all year and may already be owned in deep leagues. But what’s great about him is that he has the ideal scenario for an out-of-nowhere breakout. He plays on a lousy and tanking Bulls team. He’s had steady minutes with room for improvement under the right circumstances. There’s also enough turmoil that makes you think his ascension isn’t all that implausible. He’s also had some weeks of top-100 value on the year, already including last week.

    The Bulls don’t have any love for Kris Dunn and it seems that there’s always a report floating around that the Bulls brass doesn’t care for him that much. He’s also pretty injury-prone and does get migraines from time to time. So what if the tanking Bulls decide that he’s no longer their point guard of the future and relegate him to the bench? Then guess what – our man Ryan A has a clear path to starters minutes. Arcidiacono does enough well and is a great free throw shooter so his boost would probably wouldn’t come at a great cost, save more perhaps turnovers. So what do you have to lose Jim Boylen? Make sure Kris gets the message that Dunn is done so we can have a future HBPJHOFer ready to go for fantasy players.

    Allonzo Trier

    There has to be someone on the Knicks here because obviously. Trier is my candidate. He may be backing up Damyean Dotson, who could very well be a candidate on his own, but to me Trier is the better player. And for all of David Fizdale’s lack of coaching ability and rotational hijinks during the season, he may be starting to recognizing it as well.

    Trier has been outperforming Dotson at slightly less mpg. He’s been a top-100 player in his last two weeks and really, who are we kidding at this point. The Knicks are an absolutely used-diaper garbage-fire basketball team and someone needs to show up and play. Trier is one of the few who can and deliver value across the board. Plus he’s a shooting guard where Mitchell Robinson and DeAndre Jordan may cannibalize either at the five. The Knicks are a broken roller coaster, but at this point in the season, I’m calling that it’s Trier who is on his way up to be fitted for a future HBPJHOF jacket.

    Bruno Caboclo

    I don’t even know who plays for the Grizzlies anymore. Mike Conley is still there, right? Is Chandler Parson’s still getting paid? Holy crap Joakim Noah is on this team! Remember when Kyle Anderson was a thing?

    I think you get the point. The Grizzlies are a husk of their former grit and grind selves and just playing out the string of another lost season. But while injuries and trades can decimate teams, they can open up windows for other players.

    Enter Bruno Caboclo, a well-journeyed 23-year-old who may already be at the end of his NBA. So why not go out with a flourish? The Grizzlies are thin as wet toilet paper and the Brazilian has inched his way up to 30 mpg. His value has been slowly creeping up as well. All he needs is just a little bit of heat and luck because the opportunity is certainly there for him. His per-36 numbers indicate some nice cash counter potential and potential induction into a future HBPJHOF class.

    Cheick Diallo

    I don’t need to remind you about the poop vacuum the Anthony Davis situation created. While the league stepped in and said that Davis needs to play, my guess is that the minutes continue to dwindle down and the DNP-CDs quietly pick up. We could say #FreeJah again, but that ship may have already sailed.

    But Cheick Diallo has all the trimmings of a HBPJHOF candidate. He’s young, but feels like he’s been around a while despite not really making a significant impact for the Pels. He can put up great big-guy stats with some added defensive metrics in limited minutes. Well guess what, those minutes are going to increase organically. He’s been a top-100 player in the past couple of weeks and all it will take is a very small explosion to have him make his enshrinement official.

    Salah Mejri

    Now this is a real longshot. I was witness to the Mavs getting absolutely smacked by a Nets team that had just dropped three in a row by double digits. Their one lone bright spot has been a Hoop-Ball darling named Dwight Powell, who has always been a solid basketball player but without the opportunity. He’s not at all a Jobber, just someone who has never had a real opportunity to consistently showcase his talents.

    But Rick Carlisle being Rick Carlisle, he may decide that Powell still doesn’t need that opportunity because of reasons. Carlisle has started Mejri plenty of times before and after a 40-point whuppin’, that time could come again soon. The Mavs frontcourt is practically non-existent so any injury or minutes reduction will come as a potentially substantial boon for Mejri. I’m not saying that Mejri is a good player, but if you squint hard enough, he’s among the league leaders in per-36 blocks. Blocks are a unicorn this time of year so if by chance Salah decides he’s going become the Tunisian Mitchell Robinson, now would be the time to do so to elevate his HBPJHOF candidacy.

    There you have it Hoop-Ballers. My thoughts on who will be the crazy last-minute, surprise, out-of-nowhere fantasy pickups that will make or break the playoffs this season. If you have a candidate, let me know on this new-fangled social media thingy. There will be some new inductees in a Future Facepalm as well.

    THE KAWHI LEONARD MEMORIAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK WHO HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST ME

    Kawhi is getting an honorary section in the Facepalm for the most aggravating part of the fantasy experience. This is basically his lifetime achievement award because God knows that MVP isn’t happening anytime soon. So I’m not going to constantly bitch about him even though he’s far and away given me the greatest amount of painful ulcers this season because of Load Management.

    No, I need to keep things fresh so I need to remember there are plenty of other basketball players who can send me into a toddler meltdown. In this case I need to call out a relentless underachiever and player who simply won’t give me the return on investment that I demand.  Someone who I know is way too good to drop even in the thinnest of leagues, but is probably the one player that is keeping my team from reaching its potential.

    SO DAMN YOU JAMAL MURRAY! What happened to the 3rd year breakout that we all should have gotten? You’ve had nothing but opportunity with practically every one of your teammates missing significant time with injuries, but nooooooooo, you had to regress and let your humungous center do all the heavy lifting. If you had bothered to be the top-50 player you could be the Nuggets would be cropdusting the Warriors in the standings. You have a few final weeks before you become completely undraftable for me next season and you get relegated to the bums that forget to set their lineups.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT YOUR FRIEND HERE IS ONLY MOSTLY DEAD IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – James Harden

    Round 2 – Andre Drummond

    Round 3 – Jrue Holiday

    Round 4 – Tobias Harris

    Round 5 – Nikola Vucevic

    Round 6 – Lauri Markkanen

    Round 7 – Jusuf Nurkic

    Round 8 – Trae Young

    Round 9 – Thaddeus Young

    Round 10 – Malcolm Brogdon

    Round 11 – Brook Lopez

    Round 12 – Nic Batum

    Round 13 –  Jeremy Lamb

    I could put Mitchell Robinson on here too, but chances are he wasn’t held in redraft leagues so that would be cheating and that, my friends, is a no-no. Tobias Harris has been reaping the benefits with Joel Embiid sidelined, but fantasy owners are breathing a sigh of relief that his value hasn’t taken too big of a hit in Philly. God bless the 29 cash counters you delivered this past week Brook Lopez, you beautiful goofy bastard.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT LIFE IS PAIN, HIGHNESS AND ANYONE WHO SAYS DIFFERENTLY IS SELLING SOMETHING IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Russell Westbrook

    Round 2 – Jimmy Butler

    Round 3 – Rudy Gobert

    Round 4 – Jayson Tatum

    Round 5 – Gary Harris

    Round 6 – Jarrett Allen

    Round 7 – Jeff Teague

    Round 8 – Andrew Wiggins

    Round 9 – Serge Ibaka

    Round 10 – J.J. Redick

    Round 11 – Kent Bazemore

    Round 12 – Marcus Morris

    Round 13 – Kevin Knox

    Just when Russ starts to turn the percentages corner, PG-13 gets injured then it’s back to heaving everything within his orbit toward the basket. Rudy’s on here due to one of the most atrocious lines of his career, which was very bizarre considering how consistently great he’s been. Andrew Wiggins is here because I want the Hoop-Ballers reading this to think ‘ok, who’s the dope that keeps drafting Andrew Wiggins.’ A 19-year old forward with a developmental path that’s gone downward and has been shooting just over 20% must be real attractive to prospective free agents. Go Knicks!

    ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

    I’ll be looking at some mid to late-tier players who I’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the season on a week to week basis. Based on how their past few and upcoming few games go, I’ll decide whether or not I will be confidently holding and feeling strongly about (rock), or feeling a little bit flimsy or unsure of (paper) or will just be cutting altogether like I’m a New York City tourist desperate for a Wolfgang Puck steak (scissors, obviously). These are the players we either drafted or picked up who can make or break our seasons and will be dissected most when we try to make moves to the top of the standings. Here are some more players in my thought process.

    ROCKS

    Kelly Olynyk – Kelly O has done this before where he’s underwhelmed all season only to turn it on toward the end. He’s playing great, Whiteside is banged up, and the Heat desperately need all the positive juice they can get to make the playoffs. If Olynyk is still available in your leagues, you should be grabbing him.

    Nic Batum – I’ve repeatedly said that Nic Batum, for some reason, just finds a way to get better as the season progresses and well, what do you know. Batum has hit the way-back machine on his value and the Hornets are going to need every ounce of that the stay in the playoff hunt.

    Bojan Bogdanovic – He’s gone from fringy top-100 player to elite scorer without Oladipo. The Pacers tend to play their roles really well, Darren Collison isn’t all of a sudden going to become a big scorer, and neither are Myles Turner and Thad Young. Bogie has found the extra gear as the Pacers’ go-to option and I expect he’ll finish strong.

    PAPER

    Aaron Gordon – This time of the season calls for tough decisions. And sometimes that means really thinking about who would it hurt to cut if push comes to shove, but knowing that you’re doing it for the improvement of your team. Gordon can run into some really awful shooting spells despite his talents and given how much his FG% can hurt at times, there needs to be an understanding that the tough choices sometimes have to be made.

    Avery Bradley – Oh I’ve seen this act before. I’m not falling for it.

    Jakob Poeltl – The Spurs are hanging on, Gasol is gone and blocks are damn near impossible to come by this late in the season. I was all-in on him to start the year, perhaps it’s not too late.

    SCISSORS

    Larry Nance Jr. – Again, it’s tough decision time and it’s been difficult to see a path for Nance to contribute to a fantasy title. The Cavs are lost and he’s stuck behind Kevin Love and Ante Zizic is stealing some of his usage. This team is too erratic to trust Nance despite how good we all know he can be.

    Dwyane Wade – It’s been a lot of empty scoring and some really bad free throw shooting. With the Heat hanging on for dear life, it’s time to say farewell to the farewell tour.

    Dario Saric – Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice and get stuffed back into the trashcan for good.

    ADVENTURES IN DFS

    I’m declaring victory over my friend in our annual head to head DFS matchup. I’m 2-0 baby! MY buddy got dejected and stopped setting lineups so I’m taking that to mean the white flag has been raised. I have 65 wins to his 47 wins and leading overall by over 1,300 points. That’s what I call a good old-fashioned ass-kicking. Now I need to think about what possible punishment I can inflict on him for entering into bets he knows he can’t win. I’m open to suggestions my reader friends.

    BLOODY SUNDAY

    I’m on my last breath in my 10-team H2H league and the Hoop-Ball staff league. Injuries decimated both of those teams and I now have only a prayer left in the hopes of making the playoffs. Pray for me Hoop-Ballers.

    That and go shove your load management Kawhi.

    Anytime you’ve got a good Bloody Sunday story. Reach out to me on Twitter @JoshMillman and I’ll happily, and not so happily, commiserate with you.

    Good luck as the playoffs approach Hoop-Ballers. Go get that paper!

Fantasy News

  • Patrick Beverley - G - Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley acknowledged that he's heard the rumblings that the Lakers have interest in him by replying to a comment on twitter with, "That's what I heard. Shit real huh."

    In another tidbit from silly season, we have confirmation of a player showing he's listening to the rumblings out there as well. Beverley would make perfect sense for the Lakers especially if they landed a Jimmie Butler or Kyrie Irving in free agency. PBev will have quite a few suitors this summer and it will be interesting to see what he ultimately decides on doing.

    Source: Patrick Beverley on Twitter

  • Robert Covington - F - Minnesota Timberwolves

    Wolves President of operation Gerrson Rosas said that Robert Covington’s (right knee bone bruise) health is improving and he is on pace to be ready to go at the start of next season.

    Covington missed the majority of this past season with a knee injury that just could never heal. That said, when Covington was on the court he showed massive fantasy potential with averages of 2.1 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.4 threes. Those numbers alone would make him a fantasy monster, and a name to keep tabs on should he put the knee issues behind me.

    Source: Dane Moore on Twitter

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    According to sources of Yahoo! Sports, Chris Paul wants to be traded off the Rockets as his relationship with James Harden is "unsalvageable."

    Whoa. There's been rumblings that the two were at odds, as well as Paul being shopped, but this may be the final blow for a team that disappointed their opportunities the last few years. Paul's contract makes it hard for him to be traded, though the asking price may be as low as ever. This offseason continues to get crazier.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubios is expected to be a top target for the Pacers in free agency.

    The Jazz informed Rubio earlier this month that he would not be a priority for them this offseason, so Rubio will be looking to don a new uniform next season. Rubio is a solid starter in this league, and is expected to get quite a bit of interest on the market as a second-tier PG.

    Source: The Ringer

  • Rob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers are discussing signing potential role-player free agents in the $10 million plus range.

    The Lakers made the splash of the offseason by finally getting their hands on Anthony Davis, and now it is time to figure out who will be filling out the roster after they get an expected 3rd max player. They'll surely be looking at players who would take a 1-year deal. Some names mentioned in the link were Marcus Morris, J.J. Reddick, Patrick Beverley, Seth Curry and Danny Green. Depending on who the third star is, any of these names make sense. We'd expect J.J. Reddick's floor spacing and Patrick Beverley's tenacity to get the first calls from the Laker front office.

    Source: Lakers Nation

  • Goga Bitadze - Team - College

    Goga Bitadze only worked out for the Spurs, Hawks, Pistons, Hornets and Celtics prior to the NBA draft on Thursday.

    Checking in at 6’11” and 250 lbs. the 20-year old big man from Georgia is a massive individual who has been invited to the NBA Draft Green Room. The Green Room is usually reserved for lottery and mid-first round selections, so it will be interesting to find out where he lands. The Spurs have shown a willingness to draft and develop overseas prospects more than any other franchise over the years and seem like a logical landing spot, but they’d have to see the four other teams all pass on Bitadze to get that chance. We’d expect Bitadze to go to the Hornets at 12 or the Celtics at 14.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • Bob Myers - Team - Golden State Warriors

    Bob Myers said that the plan is to try and get a player who can be a “rotational guy,” and that the team will be looking for someone who can be a secondary scorer.

    We saw in the NBA Finals how much the Warriors need another player who can create on offense and be a threat to score the ball. With Kevin Durant’s (torn Achilles) future uncertain and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) out for a while, the Warriors badly need someone who can put the ball in the basket to complement Stephen Curry.

    Source: The Mercury News

  • Harrison Barnes - F - Sacramento Kings

    Kings forward Harrison Barnes is declining his $25.1 million player option and becoming an unrestricted free agent.

    Wow. File this under one of the shockers of the offseason. With Barnes off the books, the Kings suddenly just became players in free agency, and can now look at the top-tier big men. The report also states that the Kings and Barnes are open to exploring a new contract, but we have to believe that Barnes won't come close to the $25 million he would have made with the Kings. We'll have to wait and see if Barnes regrets this decision or not.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    According to Ramona Shelburne on ESPN, Anthony Davis intends to keep the $4 million he is due for the trade bonus, but things can always change.

    While it is Davis' money and it is hard for anyone to tell another person to decline what is theirs, receiving the trade bonus would make the team's life much harder in free agency. With that said, Davis can make more money in endorsements and outside his NBA salary now that he is in LaLa Land with LeBron James. We'll see what happens, but conventional wisdom would say that AD will give his team more flexibility to provide himself with a better chance at a ring.

    Source: Ramona Shelburne on ESPN

  • Aaron Brooks - Team - Minnesota Timberwolves

    After signing LaMelo Ball on Monday, the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL announced the signing of Aaron Brooks on Tuesday.

    The former Oregon standout was a 10-year NBA vet who last appeared with the Wolves in the 2017-18 NBA season. Brooks is 34 years old and once put up 19.6 ppg with the Rockets in the 2009-10 season. While he doesn't offer NBA teams much at this stage in his career, he can probably still get buckets in Australia.

    Source: Olgun Uluc on Twitter