The only thing I don't love about All-Star Weekend? No fantasy. Imaginary hoops grinds to a temporary halt.
I do love the glitz. The skills. The dunks. The lack of perimeter defense. But we're stopping just when things are starting to get really good.
Trade deadline action is heating up. Player movement percolates. Hoopshype is a glut of deep-dish rumors. Eastern Conference contenders are loading up to go after the now Love-less Cavaliers. Meanwhile, promising young players like Nikola Jokic and Brandon Ingram are threading some consistency and statistically thrilling on a nightly basis.
Now it's time to take a break?
C'mon. There's got to be basketball on somewhere. From what I se e... there is one NBA game on Friday.
The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
Don't scoff. This can work for fantasy. Does this game produce quantifiable basketball statistics? Yes.
Does it have players with hardcourt statistical histories that make the game possible to handicap for fantasy purposes? Yes.
Are all of these players actual celebrities? Let's not sweat the fine print.
If the celebrity game were a DFS situation, how would I hypothetically set it up? With me crunching actual historical celebrity game stats?
It could go something like this.
Avoid Michael Smith's Western Conference team for DFS on Friday
Friday's evening slate of NBA action offers up one game. This game features a cross-section of basketball enthusiasts whose playing experience ranges from Hall Of Fame worthy to "Chris Ford Is My Cousin." Coaches occasionally use Chihuahuas as emotional support animals.
On the plus side? Both teams get matching uniforms. And Paris Hilton hasn't been involved for over a decade.
From an analytics standpoint ... this game isn't known for offensive efficiency. Over the past five years, teams average 59.5 points per game. The 2015 game was played at a pace of 68.9. Both teams shot a combined 39 percent from the floor, 22 percent from 3-point range, and 37 percent from the free throw line.
And this year ... Arne Duncan isn't coming through that door.
But if you like old school, throwback, Dolph Schayes-esque, put the ball in Dr. Naismith's peach basket-brand of hoops? Played to a lurching, soprano saxophone-driven lilt of a John Tesh reverie? This is the DFS opportunity you've been waiting for.
Today's panel well, it's just me.
Michael Smith's West team
Projected Pace: 66.9 possessions (per 40 minutes)
Projected Point Total Per Team: 54.5 points
Jemele Hill's East team
Projected Pace: 70.9 possessions (per 40 minutes)
Projected Point Total Per Team: 63.5 points
Players to build around
Win Butler, East Team ($11,100)
Last year's MVP made up for his replacement level shooting performance (6-for-17 from the field, 3-for-7 from the line) with diversified across-the-board production. He posted a double-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 3 steals. I docked $500 for me hearing "Wake Up" in an Anthropologie last weekend.
Candace Parker, West Team ($10,500)
Follow the minutes. Elena Delle Donne played the third highest amount of minutes in the 2016 game. Veteran players that can help meld the game into a consistent viewing experience are at a premium. Parker's defensive stats are in decline (just 1.3 STL, 0.9 BLK in 2016). But if she's feasting in the block, she's a threat to lead the game in blocked shots. Given the circumstances, she will look to dunk on (Bucks owner) Marc Lasry every chance she gets.
Baron Davis, West Team ($9,800)
Concentrated assists production is hard to come by in celebrity games. But these games tend to be driven by NBA veterans looking to facilitate for their less handle-blessed teammates. Despite being out of the NBA for five seasons, Davis should be a lock for 7-10 assists, which would put him historically in game-high range.
He'll generate steals. He's only a 32 percent 3-point shooter for his career: bad by NBA standards, but Klay Thompson-esque by Celebrity League standards.
Bonus motivation factor: Davis is openly campaigning for a return to the NBA. He's put in recent stints in the D-League and Drew League. Who's to say he won't use a little of the celebrity game spotlight to show he's in game shape? Given the circumstances, Davis will dunk on Lasry every chance he gets.
Jason Williams, East Team ($8,600)
Another NBA veteran point guard in prime position to steady his celebrity teammates. In a game where open-court, crowd-pleasing moments are emphasized, Williams' style should deliver a high usage rate. Like Davis, Williams was an inconsistent NBA shooter whose touch will seem elevated given the surroundings.
Oscar Schmidt, East Team ($7,700)
I'm only putting Schmidt in the "sleeper" category due to his age (58) and the fact that millennials may not know about the legend of Mão Santa. We're still talking about Oscar freaking Schmidt here. For the uninitiated, here's a crash course: during the 1984 Olympics, Schmidt averaged 41.9 points per game.
Brandon Armstrong, East Team ($7,200)
I'm starting to worry I underestimated making the East only four-point favorites.
This really comes down to whom Armstrong attempts to impersonate. No, I'm not kidding. Given his actual skill set, if Armstrong goes high usage like Kobe Bryant or Russell Westbrook, Armstrong could score 20-30 points. And remember, social media stars are, by professional necessity, very needy personages.
Kris Wu, East Team ($5,400)
Wu acquitted himself quite nicely in last year's Celebrity Game with 6 points and 7 rebounds. But I have no idea who Kris Wu is, so that makes him a sleeper.
Mark Cuban, West Team ($3,500)
Recently, some people in social media have been putting down Cuban's supposed lack of smarts. Look for Cuban to display his elevated court vision at every opportunity. Given the circumstances, Cuban could dunk on Lasry every chance he gets.
Hasan Minhaj, West Team ($2,900)
Minhaj's last recorded basketball experience was getting cut from his high school team. By West team standards, that makes Minhaj a sleeper.
Anthony Mackie, West Team ($2,800)
Mackie once played a street basketball player in a movie that is currently at 2 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. By West team standards, that makes Mackie a sleeper.
Miles Brown, West Team ($2,800)
Brown is 11 years old. By West team standards, that makes Brown a sleeper.
Kevin Hart, TBD (N/A)
It's a coin flip he shows up and ends up playing in street clothes for an undisclosed third team.
Players to avoid
Lindsay Whalen, East Team ($8,600)
Could be hurt by a timeshare with Jason Williams. No, I'm not kidding.
Andy Grammer, West Team ($4,100)
Grammer's father, Red Grammer, replaced Glenn Yarborough in the Limeliters. I still haven't forgiven the Grammers or the Limeliters. #babytherainmustfall
Master P/Romeo Miller, West Team ($6,200/$6,200)
They'll be overpriced based on past performance. I don't think we're looking at a Mychal/Klay Thompson situation here. Based on past track record, it's probably more of a Bob/Danny Ferry front office situation. There's also a chance they try to do too much in front of a hometown crowd.