Michael Jordan: Yeah, but I’m a baseball player now!
Bugs: Right. [gets out rabbit skull] And I’m a Shakespearean actor.
Believe it or not, it’s been 20 years since Michael Jordan met Bugs Bunny in Space Jam. The movie came at the height of his Airness’ powers (even if he had a baseball cameo) and with it, R. Kelly immortalised the thought of flight in our minds with “I Believe I Can Fly”.
When we start a fantasy season and draft our team, we all walk away from our drafts thinking we’re gonna fly straight to the top and stay there all season, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Just like the Looney Tunes, things can get a little wacky in a hurry. Players stretch the wrong way, fall into a deep hole (out of the rotation) or get shown up by someone we hadn’t factored on being good – like the Monstars.
So where does that leave us? As we approach the mid-point of the NBA season, it’s time to assess how far our talent can really take us, or if we need to re-energise with some of Michael’s “Secret Stuff”!
That’s right, it’s time for Downtown’s Mid-Season Fantasy Basketball Awards …. Space Jam style.
The Lola Bunny Award for Biggest Fantasy Surprise of the Season goes to … Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks
With an honourable mention to Denver’s Will Barton, it’s fair to say nobody expected Bazemore to be this well-rounded and this good. With averages of 12.9pts, 4.6reb, 2.4ast, 1.4stl, 0.5blk, 1.7 3ptm and solid shooting to the tune of .467 FG%, .420 3FG% and .857 FT%, he may be this year’s Draymond Green …. well Green-lite at least. Bazemore’s ADP was 131 with only 7% of leagues drafting him and as of January 11, he’s ranked inside the top-40 based on averages. He’s got skills and the Hawks – and his fantasy owners – are nuts about him …. obviously.
Baseball Player 1: That was a strike-out, Mike. But that was a good-looking strike-out. Real good.
Baseball Player 2: I mean, you look good when you strike out, man. When I strike out, it looks nasty, man. But at least you look good, man.
The Baseball Michael Jordan Looking Good but not Delivering Award goes to … Goran Dragic of the Miami HeatAfter joining the Heat at the deadline last season and seemingly adjusting well, most of us expected Dragic to return to his 2013/14 form, and average closer to 20pts, 6ast, 1.5stl and 1.5 triples with +.500 shooting. Heck, at this stage we’d just settle for last year’s 16 and 5. Unfortunately for his owners who spent a top 60 pick on him, Dragic, who’s had every opportunity to shine in South Beach, has struck out in terms of fulfilling his ADP. His TS% has dropped by over 5% since last season, down from .586 to .532, while he’s averaging just 12.3pts, 0.9 3ptm, 5ast and a disappointing .722 clip from the charity stripe. That ranks him outside the top 125 on the season. It’s not looking good at all.
The Bill Murray Honourable Defense Award goes to … Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons
He’s not a traditional DPOY candidate and it’s entirely likely that Kawhi Leonard will win that honour again this season, but Drummond’s impact in defensive stats has been huge this season. He’s blocking 1.5 shots per game, which you might think is a tad underwhelming, but he’s also giving you 1.8 steals (13th in the NBA) and a whopping 10.2 defensive rebounds per game. If you drafted Drummond for a traditional big-man stats, FT punt strategy, then you’re loving life. He hasn’t missed a single game, has had no less than seven 20+ rebound nights and ranks 4th in defensive rating and 2nd in defensive win shares. For fantasy purposes, Drummond has been as good as anyone on that end of the floor.
Charles Barkley: It was this girl, five-feet-nuthin’. Blocked my shot!
Psychiatrist: When did you first start having this dream?
Charles Barkley: It wasn’t a dream, it really happened!
The Charles Barkley Lost Talent Award for the Biggest Fantasy Disappointment goes to … Ty Lawson of the Houston RocketsYour fantasy expert is in one league with some of the Downtown crew where he and his co-manager were a little bullish on Ty Lawson on draft day. Let’s just say we took him ahead of PGs like Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Ricky Rubio. We thought with his rehab behind him, a change of scenery and a team ready to contend, he’d be good for around 16pts, 7ast, 1.4stl and .450+ FG%. He was a good fit for our team (partial keeper league) and we reached for him. If he was putting up Goran Dragic numbers, we’d probably be able to kind of, in some way, justify it – at least to ourselves, but noooooo; Ty Lawson, averaging just 6.4pts, 4.3ast, 1.9reb, 1stl, 0.6 3ptm and a horrid .371 FG clip, has well and truly lost his talent. Part of it is a huge reduction in role and usage, but even when he was starting as the season tipped off he stunk it up. We’re still holding him in the hope that the Monstars will give him his talent back, but the only real reason is to avoid the inevitable ridicule from the league if we were to drop him. I wish it was a dream!
Daffy: Just how did you get here, anyway?
Bill Murray: I’m a friend of one of the producers, he sent a Teamster to drop me off.
Daffy: Aha. Well, that’s the way it goes.
The How Did You Get Here Award for Best Fantasy Rookie goes to … Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota TimberwolvesRookies are usually tough to count on in redraft leagues, but once every few years comes along a rook who just delivers. This year it’s the #1 overall pick, Towns. Per NBA.com/Stats, through 40 games, he’s averaging 15.7pts (2nd amongst rookies), 9.4reb (1st), 1.7blk (2nd), .527 FG% (3rd), .847 FT% (3rd), with a usage % (23.7) that ranks just 8th. His PER of 21.37 ranks 1st among all rookies and just outside the top 20 in the league. For fantasy purposes, Towns, whose ADP was 59, currently ranks 17th on the season. Talk about value. He’s basically out-performed any and all expectations of him this season and while Kristaps Porzingis is getting all the headlines, Towns is the runaway Rookie of the Year both in fantasy and reality. How did he get to be a top-20 player? That’s the way it goes when you’re the best prospect since Anthony Davis.
The “It is Alive” Award for Best Fantasy Comeback goes to … Paul George of the Indiana Pacers
I’m a Pacers fan and even I’m surprised at how dominant PG-13 has been since returning to the court full-time this season. Following that horrific leg fracture, he was a risky pick on draft day going in the middle of the second round on average (ADP 18). However, he’s rewarded his owners with play that sees him ranked inside the top 15 right now and he was a top-10 player for the first month and a half of the season before a brief shooting slump saw him slide a little. George is currently averaging career-highs in points (24.1), rebounds (7.6), FGM, FTA, FTM, TS% and PER, while helping the Pacers to a somewhat surprising 22-17 record so far. He’s very much alive and doesn’t need any help from the Looney Tunes to succeed.
The Man’s Game White Guy Award goes to … Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks
Ok, ok, I admit it. I really wanted to use that clip and also to talk about the Zinger, so here goes. After being drafted in barely half of leagues with an ADP of 125, no-one expected too much from the ‘Lativian Gangbanger’. They said he was too thin, too soft, the New York crowd would eat him alive and he needed to mature before he could have an impact in this league. Well folks, after just 39 games, it’s pretty clear that this white kid man can play. The Zinger is averaging 13.9pts, 8reb, a whopping 2blk, 1 3ptm, .858 FT% a 24.2 USG% and just 1.8 TOs per game. His only weakness right now is his FG% (.424), but that has improved slightly in January even with a higher usage % and an uptick in minutes. The sky’s the limit right now and his fantasy owners are loving the surprise top-40 value he’s delivering.
Stan Podalak: Let me help! Let me help! I can help! I can help!
Michael Jordan: What can you do?
Stan Podalak: Well, I may not be very tall, but… I’m slow.
Sylvester: And large.
Daffy Duck: And a dork.
The Stan Podalak Best Role Player Award goes to … Draymond Green of the Golden State WarriorsWhen you’re not the first or second scoring option on your team and have a usage % of nearly 6 percentage points less than the second option, but you’re still ranked right around the top-10 on the season, you’re the ultimate role player. Green looked awful in preseason after celebrating the Dubs title in style and signing a hefty extension last summer, but he’s been anything but since the regular season tipped off. Averaging career highs across the board, while ranking inside the top 10 in total rebounds, assists, win shares, box score plus/minus, VORP and top 20 in blocks, offensive rating and defensive rating, Draymond has been a pure delight to own. He’s golden in both roto and h2h formats and while he’s not that tall for a PF, he’s definitely not slow and far from being a dork. Whatever he is, he helps and helps and helps and has a role on any fantasy team.
The Bugs Bunny and Mike’s Secret Stuff MVP Award goes to … Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors
Michael Jordan may have stretched for the game winner against the Monstars, but Bugs Bunny made the most valuable play when he pulled the Mike’s Secret Stuff trick on the other Looney Tunes at half time. It was a game-winning move and deserves recognition. In fantasy circles this season, there’s no argument over who the MVP has been so far. Stephen Curry is ranked #1 in just about every format and had the league on a string like his own personal puppet for the first month of the season. He’s averaging career highs in points, steals, rebounds, FG%, 3ptm, eFG%, TS%, WS/48, BPM and PER and leading the league in several of those stats. Should I go on? Curry’s clearly got his own secret stuff and right now is the favourite to back up both his MVP award and lead his Warriors to another ‘chip. Not even the Monstars could stop him.
That may be all for the Midseason Awards, but there’s still plenty more action to come this NBA Fantasy Season, so don’t forget your secret stuff and believe you can fly towards a Fantasy Title.
All statistics taken from basketball-reference.com unless otherwise indicated.
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