April 4, 2022, 8:52 pm
Ahoy, freaks! It is I, dread captain of the SS Fantasy Foretelling and Statistical Anomalies, back from a relaxing tour of the seven seas and eager to return to the comfort of my crystal ball. Seeing as how I was too busy working on a sunburn to write my standard piece last week, it’s fitting that my predictions from two weeks back have left me feeling burnt as well. Let’s get right to it!
The Crystal Ball Report
*all rankings are 9-cat per game over the last two weeks unless otherwise specified
I had Kyrie Irving remaining awesome in games he’d play but being tough to roster outside of games cap formats because of those he he’d miss. Well, he’s able to play in all his games now but he hasn’t been all that great (No. 70 last week, No. 40 for the last two). While the result is about what I thought, the path to getting there was not. Push.
Jayson Tatum blistered the league to the tune of a No. 7 ranking on the back of continued hot shooting and increased defensive stats. Win.
Jordan Poole’s shooting finally cooled down some and his ranking slipped along with it, although his No. 31 ranking is still inside the top-50 as I thought it would be. Win.
Goga Bitadze drew some harsh words of disbelief from yours truly and has remained steadfast in his desire to make me look bad as his No. 73 ranking is much higher the top-125 ceiling that I’d given him. Loss.
Evan Mobley’s ranking might likely be higher had he not injured his ankle but in the three and one third games he did play in he was only able to net a No. 266 valuation, which is comically far away from where I had him. Loss.
Lauri Markkanen had my seal of approval as a top-50 type but even with the injury to Mobley he wasn’t able to crack the top-100. Loss.
Christian Wood was playing some of the most efficient ball of his career before getting shut down for the season. I’m confident that he’d have returned to earth but we will never know. Push.
Jalen Smith hasn’t quite been the same since returning from his head contusion (No. 187) and while no single area can be pointed to, it’s a good reminder that even a slight regression in multiple areas can cause players to tumble down the board in a hurry. Loss.
Saddiq Bey shot poorly from the field over the last two weeks before having a great game on Sunday but still fell short of the top-60 pace I thought he’d maintain (finishing at No. 94). Perhaps I’d gotten into the Rum a little early on that one? Loss.
Kevin Porter Jr. did everything I hoped he would but said he wouldn’t and was the No. 42 player (and No. 9 over the last week!). If he keeps it up he might even be able to climb inside the top-200 on the year. I’m happy to take this Loss but I remain skeptical for now.
*Somebody get me the aloe vera because my 2-5-3 mark for this week just flat out stings (although my 22-12-8 record on the year remains respectable enough). It also means that now that we’ve cleared old business it’s time once again for:
Is This Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?
*all stats are 9-cat over the last two weeks unless otherwise specified
Trae Young jumped up to No. 4 which is only marginally better than his No. 10 ranking.
Verdict: Real Life. Ice Trae has proven his clutch-ness and the Hawks need him to be great down the stretch as they look to improve their playoff position. I’m not saying he’ll be top-5 ROS, but he’s a good bet to be inside the top-10.
Big Al Horford rising to No. 11 put a big ol’ smile on my face.
Verdict: Fantasy. He’s been getting massive burn in the wake of the Time Lord injury but a first-round valuation is too rich for me to bank on. I see him slipping back into the 30-40 range.
Jaylen Brown’s torrid shooting netted him the No. 12 spot and also means that he joined Big Al, Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams (small sample size) as the fourth Celtic to grade out in the first round.
Verdict: Fantasy. Brown was better in seven-out-of-nine categories than what he’s been all season long, making him an easy fade. Yes, he very well might beat his season-long rank of 62nd but he’ll be much closer to the fourth round than the first.
Robert Covington had a game for the ages (see the listicle below) which lifted his stock all the way up to No. 19.
Verdict: Fantasy. Perhaps some will accuse me of padding my stats here but after the drubbing I took last week, can you blame me? RoCo has been a sneaky top-50 type yet again this season but top-20? Not a chance.
Karl-Anthony Towns saw his free throw drop and turnover rise contribute to a No. 28 ranking.
Verdict: Fantasy. KAT is the No. 7 player on the year and is about as consistent as they come. I expect him to return to his first-round ways in short order.
Alec Burks rode a red-hot (for him) shooting streak to get one slot inside the top-30 at No. 29.
Verdict: Fantasy. Burks is shooting 39.1% on the season versus the 47.3% he clocked in with for this segment. I expect that to correct and send his ranking back towards the 113th slot where he’s been all year.
Killian Hayes is another player whose rocket up the standings to No. 48 can be attributed, in part, to dramatically increased shooting.
Verdict: Fantasy. While it does look like Hayes has started to figure some things out, sub-40% shooters just don’t become near-50% shooters overnight. Add in that he nearly doubled his steal rate in the same span and you’ve got a player primed for regression. I think he can keep it inside the top-150, just not the top-50, which is still pretty bold given his year-long ranking of 215th.
Drew Eubanks has been a tank-time/silly season revelation and has had the fantasy angels singing to the tune of No. 58.
Verdict: Real Life. The poor man’s Dave Cowens has no doubt been a part of making many of his fantasy GMs just a little bit richer with his play down the stretch this season and while I don’t expect him to be top-60 over the last week, I do expect him to keep rolling out the stats on a Blazers team that desperately needs anybody that’s even slightly able to do anything at an NBA level.
Théo Maledon is shooting a career-best 37.5% from the floor this year but has had it up to 48.4% lately which helped to take his No. 366 ranking all the way up to No. 76 along with increased minutes and production across the board.
Verdict: Fantasy. You knew it was coming, right? Plus, he’s a Thunder and they just don’t cotton to hot streaks these days, now do they?
Obi Toppin’s opportunity arrived in the form of Julius Randle’s injured right quad (and maybe pride) and so far, he’s taken advantage of it by posting top-85 numbers.
Verdict: Real life. If not now, when? The Knicks have nothing to play for, are most likely going to part ways with Randle at some point, and should be dead set on seeing what Toppin can do in the interim. I like him to easily return top-100-ish value over the silliest remaining portion of the schedule.
1 – In the month of March, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant became the ninth pair of teammates to average 30 PPG for a calendar month.
2 – DeMar DeRozan became the 14th different player to score 50 or more this season, setting the NBA record for most 50-point scorers in one season. He also became the seventh different player to score 50 in the month of March, also an NBA record.
3 – DeRozan’s 50-spot also meant that there were four players 32 or older to get 50 in March whereas as no other month in NBA history has had more than one.
4 – In total, there were nine 50-point games in March (the same amount as October to February combined), the most in a calendar month since December of 1962.
5 – As of the time of publishing this story, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid were all averaging 30 PPG or more. If that holds up, it would be the first time it’s happened since Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Allen Iverson did it in 2005-06.
6 – As of April 1st, Joel Embiid held the NBA record for career points per minute at 0.83. Michael Jordan ranks second with 0.79.
7 – On April 1st, Robert Covington became the first player in NBA history to have at least 40 points, 10 threes, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals in a single game.
8 – RoCo joined Evan Fournier and Saddiq Bey in the 40-point, 10-threes club, a group that might be the most anomalous thing this season so far.
9 – On April 2nd, RJ Barrett scored 12 points on 18 shots, the 21st time this season that he’s had more shots than points.
10 – Forward Julius Randle has fewer games shooting 50% (eight) this season than he has digits in his contract (nine).
11 – As of April 2nd, Jalen Green had hit 29 3-pointers in his last 5 games, setting an NBA rookie record for any five-game span.
12 – April 3rd, Tyrese Haliburton joined Chris Paul, John Stockton and Muggsy Bogues as the only players ever to record multiple games with 10+ points, 5+ rebounds, 15+ assists and zero turnovers.