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Fantasy Basketball: Top 50 players who are likely available

Has your fantasy team been suffering from injury? Here are a couple of players to give your roster a boost.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Well, everyone’s dying, and the world is going to hell in a poorly constructed handbasket. (Are there non-hand baskets? Can’t all baskets be operated via hands? “Handbasket” makes me think that our modern, small-enough-to-be-carried-by-human-hands baskets descended from some prehistoric, monstrous, ginormo Dino-Basket, 10 stories tall, stuffed with mastodons, and organic mountains, and brioche made out of vast tracts of land, and all too predictably difficult for a pair of hands to use.) Has anyone gotten injured in the last ten seconds? No? That’s weird, I thought this was the NBA, where the A stands for Attrition. (Nailed it!)

Obviously, LeBron “Mithril” James isn’t injured. His mecha carapace doesn’t suffer degradation or operating system malfunctions. LeBron is literally invincible. You could fire a rail gun at him, and he’d merely catch it and then make an incredible pass to a wide open teammate. The kinetic energy of the high velocity object would be stored by LeBron’s onboard batteries for later use, like in Game 5 or Game 7. If the King played Superman one on one, Bron would somehow get Clark to foul out, despite a lack of refs. LeBron isn’t a basketball player, he IS basketball; It’s the rest of us that are playing LeBron when we play his sport. You could fire a thousand bullets, and drop a hundred bombs, and he’d still come for you. If LeBron blew a magic horn in the middle of a game, and it summoned a dragon or made the moon explode, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’d just nod sagely and say, I knew it.

Unfortunately, the universe is a wicked and cruel snapping turtle of a bastard, and it just loooooves its balance. So, while LeBron’s invincibility allows us to enjoy the fruits of his clearly Faustian bargain, his consistent and absolute health means that other players will absolutely and consistently get injured. (Quick question: if there was a demon of the underworld assigned to basketball, like saints and angels are assigned guardians of virtues and such, who would it be? Who’s the evilest basketballer ever? John Stockton? The X-Man, Xavier McDaniel? Who would you meet at midnight on a lonely basketball court to sell your soul for a higher free throw percentage? Who would you summon from the beyond to help you with your footwork and handle?) And, dadgum it, these NBA men are dropping like flies! Everyone on the Bucks is injured, somehow, even the fans. I don’t want to talk about New Orleans because the gaping wound where my heart used to be still hasn’t scabbed, let alone healed. Dr. Wall’s talents are destroying his body, like Flash when he couldn’t stop using the Speed Force and eventually died/merged into the velocity of the universe itself. If you live in Washington, D.C., and you see Dr. Wall on the street and he suddenly disappears in a flash of light, you’ll know exactly what happened: he was too fast for this world.

February is the cruelest month for the NBAer, not April, and we, the foolish fantasy owners, have to try and survive this gauntlet of injuries and trades as best we can. We’re all doomed to fail, but maybe you still have hope. If so, come with me on a journey of the damned and find your revelation! Hope springs eternal, but not even God himself can help the Bucks if they can’t rebound (they’re worst in the league over the past 15 games).

So, if you’re a Boogie owner, and you’re desperate to find some available players that may help you avoid your inevitable destruction, then please extinguish all cigarettes and abandon all hope, because we’re headed for the land of lost souls.

Players in the top 50 over past 30 days, but are owned in <90% of ESPN leagues

  • Jonas Valanciunas, 81.6%, top 25 player over the last month
  • Enes Kanter, 88%, top 30 player over the last month AND the entire season (the only player who’s in the top 30 on the season but is NOT owned in at least 90% of leagues)
  • Golden Gary Harris, 76.9%, top 40
  • Darren Collison, 77.7%, top 40
  • Julius Randle, 83.6%, top 40 (top 100 on the year in ESPN basic)
  • Baron Markkanen, 77.2%, top 40
  • Jamal Murray, 71.9%, top 50
  • Ancient Taj, 76.7%, top 50 over the last 30 days, top 40 on the season
  • Nicolas Batum, 64.1%, top 50 over the last 30 days (don’t bet your life on his ratios, though: his true shooting percentage of 52 isn’t that good, and he’s only shooting 35% from three over the past month, which is good for 96th in the league)
  • SlowMo Kyle Anderson, 22.1%, top 50 over the last 30 days, and 78th overall on the season, in between Eric Bledsoe and Myles Turner. Slow Kyle has played nearly 30 minutes over the past month, and shot 52% from the field. It’s time to believe in the Young Gun Spurs: Slow Kyle and Dejounte Murray are starters and they’re only going to get better from here. Slow Kyle is also 24 years old. (I know, he doesn’t score. But, YET. Always, always YET.)

Fun Facts

  • Over the past month only 22 players have averaged at least 35 minutes per game. Wesley Matthews, at 38.9%, is the lowest owned of these 22 players (Golden Gary and Josh Richardson are also in this group). Matthews has been getting you steals, 3PM, and a line of 15-4-3. If you don’t need that, then good on ya.
  • Of all the players who averaged at least 15 field goal attempts per game over the last 30 days only FOUR are not owned in AT LEAST 80% of ESPN leagues: Boogie Cousins (sigh), Kris Dunn (I know, I know: there’s something wrong with [his] face. - Jack Burton), Avery Bradley, and Dennis Smith, Jr. It’s unclear why Dennis Smith, Jr. isn’t universally owned. He should be.
  • There are 11 players who averaged at least three 3PM over the past 30 days. Wayne Ellington is the only player on that list who is not owned in at least 90% of leagues.
  • Here is the list of players who average at least three 3PM on the entire season:
  • Steph Curry, 4.3 3PM/game
  • James Harden, 4.1
  • Klay Thompson, 3.3
  • Paul George, 3.1
  • Eric Gordon, 3.1
  • Damian Lillard, 3.0
  • Wayne Ellington, 3.0
  • Wayne Ellington is owned in 16% of leagues.
  • JaMychal Green, 7.7% owned, averaged a double-double over the past month, despite missing time with injury. Only 12 players are averaging dub-dubs with points and rebounds on the season, so if Green can keep it up over the rest of the year, he’ll be in good, and valuable, company.
  • 21 players averaged at least 6 assists over the last month. Of those players, only two had 2 or fewer turnovers per game: Lonzo Ball and Spencer Dinwiddie.

The trade deadline is sure to bring more trades, and our wrathful God is sure to send more heinous injuries. In the meantime, DON’T PANIC. Just keep your head down, your eyes open, and your heart hard. And, if you’re a team that’s been decimated, and I mean, OBLITERATED, like both Boogie and KLove were on your team, you were destined for the playoffs, and now you don’t know what to think or do? All you can do is cry, and sleep, and cry, and sleep? You have to ask yourself a question: can I flip them together for some crazy mega deal wherein I receive either: one of the best players in the NBA; OR, enough solid dudes in place of the Love Boogie (I regret nothing) that I can at least compete in the playoffs.

It’s a question I can’t ask myself. I don’t have the strength of will nor character. But, I wish you better luck than mine.