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The NBA’s Water Buffaloes: Trying to find good fantasy players on bad teams

These teams are bad and slow, but that doesn’t mean they’re devoid of fantasy talent.

This is President Taft sitting on a water buffalo. It represents whatever you want it to.

During the NBA season, we’ll regularly take looks at teams that aren’t very good and aren’t very fast. These slow, shitty teams presumably have at least ONE good fantasy player on them, because volume alone demands that a player increase their counting stats. The best player on a diarrhea team is usually a golden nugget, due entirely to a lack of options elsewhere on the team, and thus: volume of minutes and shots.

There are myriad reasons for why a team may be bad. Perhaps, the team is young. Perhaps, the roster is poorly constructed. Perhaps, injuries have derailed a promising season. Perhaps, the teams are weighed down by an incompetent owner, or by a malevolent demonic curse, or by a dumb coach. Or, perhaps they’re just the Knicks or the Kings, and thus no explanation necessary.

These teams shall be known as water buffaloes: large populations of people depend on their production, but the bovines also sit around in the mud for long periods of time, doing nothing but cooling their bodies because the temperature, as with the rent, is just too damn high. And, since water buffaloes are also known as the Tractors of the East, we’ll start with a team in the Eastern Conference, a team which is currently not in need of a tractor because they’re too busy digging their own grave.

The New York Knickerbuffaloes

The Knicks, that most Watery Bufallo of Water Buffaloes, are 26th in pace this season (bottom five in possessions, in other words). They’re currently 2-8 (after Sunday night’s games), and they have the second worst point differential in the entire NBA (-10.1). They also have a bottom 10 defensive rating, and they have a “THE LAST/WORST” offensive rating, which is one of the worst ratings you can have. They score less than the Orlando Magic, which I didn’t think was possible.

NO ONE on the Knicks scores 20 points per game. Remember all those free agents that New York signed by trading away Kristaps Porzingis to make cap room? Well, they’re all power forwards, and none of them score as much as Bojan Bogdanovic, who was a free agent.

After last night’s utter yucky loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks front office announced that they were displeased by the team’s start. But... didn’t they make this team? Didn’t they constructed this roster? Didn’t they did this to themselves?

The Knicks have had some injuries: Starting center Mitchell Robinson is currently concussed, and Elfrid Payton is/was/will be injured, and Dennis Smith, Jr. has been away from the team, and RJ Grin-and-Barrett has looked like a rookie his past few games, after starting the season looking like a vet (on offense, at least).

RJ Barrett’s sad face is really all the Knicks have going for them:

So, what about fantasy-wise? Who’s good on this obviously trash team?

Technically, Marcus Morris is 38th on the ESPN Basic Player Rater. Which is really good! He’s currently 44.3% owned, which is under owned for a top 50 player. If he’s available in your league, you should ABSOLUTELY pick him up. He has a higher usage rate than Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Aaron Gordon so far this year. He, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett have been taking the shots on this team. I don’t know why that wouldn’t continue, unless you care about things like overall win-loss records. He’s averaging 18.1 PPG, which 50 other players are also doing. If you take his entire line (18 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 APG, 1 SPM, and 1 3PM), then he’s joined by only 16 other players, and they’re all daaaamn good.

I wouldn’t trade for Morris (unless it’s super cheap), but I would pick him up off waivers, no doubt.

No other player on the Knicks is in the top 75, or even top 100.

Mitch Rob, the concussed center, is #113 on the Player Rater, and Julius Randle is #115. Frank Ntilikina (2.9% owned, 147th on the PR) and Bobby Portis (39.1% owned, 149th PR) are the only other Knicks in the top 150. Hahaha! THIS is what happens when you’re slow and bad: hardly anyone on your team is worth a damn, even the good ones! Julius Randle should be a top 100 player. On this team? Shit, he should be top 75!

I still believe in the kids, and to a certain extent, I still think the players are pretty solid overall, it’s just that Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis is not some kind of genius roster construction. Those guys could/would be better on teams that don’t have all three of them. This water buffalo is a bit of a camel, by which I mean: POOR CONSTRUCTION.

This whole season is going to be RJ’s sad face.

The Sackofwatero Kings

Sacramento is back to being the Sad Sac Kings. Who could have foreseen this?

They’re currently 3-6 with the 26th worst point differential in the NBA (-6.2). They don’t have a single player in the top 50 in fantasy basketball. They’re currently 28th in pace. A quick refresher: the Kings were THIRD in pace last year! THIRD! What in THE ACTUAL HELL HAPPENED?

Let’s disregard the fact that Sacramento’s defense is trash (bottom 10), and they don’t pass (bottom 10), and they don’t drive (bottom 10), and they don’t shoot (bottom in FGA per game), and they don’t get to the line (bottom 5 in FTA per game), and they’re the WORST defensive rebounding team in the NBA, THE WORST (30th out of 30 teams, last at being best), and, duh, they’re also last in total rebounds, but don’t pay attention to that; or, to the fact that they’re bottom 5 in assists per game, and they don’t get steals and they don’t get blocks. Forget about ALLLL of that.

Why. Aren’t. They. Running.?

The Kings were third in pace last year, their best season in a loooong time. Now, they’re the third slowest? The Kings have one of the youngest rotations in the league, led by actual lightning strike De’Aaron Fox, and they’re the third slowest team. How Kingsy is that.

The so-called team isn’t really that different than last year. Fox, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes are starting, with Bogdan Bogdanovic providing scoring off the bench. Nemanja Bjelica is playing for the injured Bagley, and Bjelica is good and knows what he’s doing. And, Richaun Holmes and Dewayne Dedmon are both totally solid, competent centers, who ALSO know what they’re doing.

Fantasy-wise, these Sackofwatero Kings are a completely different beast from the New York Knickerbuffaloes. The entire starting five on the Kings are all good fantasy players! They’re ALL in the top 100 on ESPN’s Player Rater: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, and Richaun Holmes are all solid fantasy players right now. Now, much like the Knicks, the Kings don’t have a 20+ PPG scorer, but Fox and Buddy are both scoring 18+, and the Kings do have an above average 3-point attack.

Bjelica and Holmes are both under 25% owned, and they’re the only ones on the Kings who are shooting super well right now (both over 50% from the floor). Harrison Barnes is at 49 FG%, and continues to be his boring, somewhat useful fantasy self (he was 114th on the Player Rater last year; he’s currently 84th, with a boring/useful line of 15 PPG and 5 RPG). Nemanja Bjelica is only 23.2% owned, and is worthy of streaming. I’m still a believer in Bogdan Bogdanovic, and he’s had two 20-point games in a row, with 11 total 3PM. If his shots are falling, then he should be rostered (14.9% owned).

If the Kings had had better luck this season, or if Bagley hadn’t gone down, or if they hadn’t fired Dave Joerger, or if the guards hadn’t come in cold, then they’d probably have a few more wins, and we wouldn’t be talking so much shit about them. One thing’s for DAMN sure: the Kings should NOT be playing at this low pace. De’Aaron Fox is the speed of light. He’s a wave and a particle at the same time. He is velocity made man. To slow him down, to impede his screaming trajectory, is to defy reason, sanity, and worst of all, coolness. It’s like buying a spaceship and putting it in your garage. It’s like clipping a pegasus’s wings. You just don’t do it. This team should be warp speed, all the time.