• 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

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving dropped 30 points with five rebounds, four assists, two threes, four steals and a block in 36 minutes in Monday's loss to the Nuggets.

    Irving was also 8-of-8 from the line. Even when the Celtics are a little flat, Kyrie is a top-10 stud. Expect it to continue as the Celtics jockey for playoff position.

  • DeMar DeRozan - G - San Antonio Spurs

    DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs in their 111-105 win over the Warriors with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting while adding nine rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

    DeRozan didn't attempt any 3-pointers and went 8-for-9 at the line. When the game was on the line, the Spurs turned to DeRozan and he delivered, scoring six of the Spurs' last nine points.

  • Rudy Gay - F - San Antonio Spurs

    Rudy Gay came off the bench on Monday and scored 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting to go with six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer.

    Even though Gay isn't starting, he's finishing games which is what matters. The 27 minutes are still in line with his season averages and as long as he's healthy he shouldn't be on any waiver wires.

  • LaMarcus Aldridge - F - San Antonio Spurs

    LaMarcus Aldridge double-doubled on Monday with 23 points and 13 rebounds while adding three assists, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer.

    Aldridge attempted as many 3-pointers tonight as his last four games combined in an effort to keep the Warriors' defense honest. The Spurs are riding a nine-game winning streak and Aldridge has been a top-10 player during that span, averaging 23.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.4 blocks on .554 shooting.

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Al Horford had an efficient 20 points on 8-of-15 field goals including four threes on Monday vs. the Nuggets.

    Horford added six rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block for a well-rounded line that just lacked free throws. He's provided top-40 value on the season, though it's been a bit outside that over the last month.

  • Derrick White - G - San Antonio Spurs

    Derrick White scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting while adding two rebounds, four assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers against the Warriors on Monday.

    White continues to bring the goods in all peripheral stats and is going to be a key reason for a lot of fantasy championships. If there's one thing that coach Popovich loves, it's players who play defense and White has proven to be an elite asset on that end.

  • Jakob Poeltl - C - San Antonio Spurs

    Jakob Poeltl scored six points on 3-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds on Monday.

    Poeltl cooled off on the defensive stats, but we expected that, given he tallied 10 blocks in his last two games. Coach Popovich has taken a liking to Poeltl and it looks like he's finally getting consistent rotational minutes which means he's a must-own player going forward.

  • Stephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors

    Stephen Curry led the Warriors in scoring with 25 points on 9-of-25 shooting while adding seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals, a block and six 3-pointers.

    Curry started the game 0-for-7 and his first 3-pointer was a 61-foot attempt to end the first quarter. Even though it looked like his night was going to be awful, he recovered and delivered a full line. Coach Kerr may rest Curry given that the Warriors play a back-to-back set tomorrow and have another back-to-back set to end the week, but we're still looking at a big week for Chef Curry.

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant returned to action on Monday and scored 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting while adding five rebounds and three assists.

    The good news is that he's back in action, but tonight's line was a letdown considering he tallied zero peripheral stats. He's potentially looking at four more games for this week so there's a lot of time for him to make up ground in that department.

  • Jake Layman - F - Trail Blazers

    Jake Layman will start in place of C.J. McCollum on Monday vs. the Pacers.

    McCollum is out for at least a week, so Layman may be in line for quite a few starts here. When he's started this season, he's provided solid late-round value.

    Source: Jason Quick