Fantasy basketball: Look to these players for a playoff push

I'm not going to waste your time. Because this is your time.

Your fantasy time. Even better: your fantasy basketball time.

And right now... is a pivotal time in your season. The time to make your playoff push. The time for you to take some extra time to look, plan... then act.

(Just an extra 10, 15 minutes or so. Don't overdo it. Or the anti-fantasy forces in your life can demand temporal restitution. Weird, scary demands. Tango lessons. Game night. A third child.)

If you're dominating and coasting? Even you should be thinking about a little postseason upkeep.

Because stuff happens. Because everyone beneath you in the standings is coming for you. Up and down every league, every season, the 2007 Warriors are upsetting the 2007 Mavericks in the first round.

In a one-week fantasy playoff window? Or a two-week window? Anything can happen.

In the NBA playoffs, and the NBA fantasy playoffs, David takes down Goliath with shocking regularity.

Hey fourth-place team. Sixth place. Ninth place. I'm telling you: you all have a shot. In the fantasy playoffs, a puncher's chance is all one requires.

So. What are you going to do?

I know. Taking decisive, game-changing action in a playoff push is hard. Because everyone else is trying to do the same thing. Convincing a competitor to do something in your best interest is hard.

But improbable, wildly unbalanced trades do happen. You just have to get creative. Flex that right brain!

Imagine Coca-Cola calling up Pepsi, offering the rights to Mello Yellow for the rights to Mountain Dew... and somehow pulling it off.

Or imagine shipping out Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, Dario Saric and a second-round pick for Jimmy Butler.

That happened. (The second thing.) You can do it too!

Here's where I give you the good stuff.


The best way to make a playoff-altering trade is to make trades designed explicitly for the playoffs.

Moves where your immediate regular-season benefit is less obvious. Maybe even non-existent.

But come playoff time, sixth-place team? Moves that suddenly reveal the hidden game-changing benefit you've been keeping behind your back since the deadline.

Your rope-a-dope. Your "checkmate."

(Moves that at first, just appear to be your janitor conning you into washing his car and doing lawn work. But come the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, those moves take out all of Cobra Kai!)

That can be you!

You can make the trade offer that inspires a short-term "What? Really? Okay." Out of the first-place team. That first-place makes because they think you're the sucker.

But come late March, that "meh" hits precocious puberty and becomes a subwoofer-ratting "RAWR." A "where the heck did that come from?"

(Yes. That can be you flattening Johnny on one leg in the Finals and sending him careening into a 30-year downward existential tailspin! While you become the monster you slayed lo those many years ago!)

But I digress. I hear you. "What kind of trade are you describing, old man?"

The trade that can, given the right timing, temporarily cause a short-term boost in your team's production.

The trade for a maddeningly inconsistent impact player.

In head-to-head leagues? These are the very players savvy owners avoid. But every team ends up with one or two of them.

Because in the aggregate, over the course of 82 games these inconsistent stars post perfectly desirable, even drool-worthy statistics.

But within short stretches? Their numbers wildly vacillate from "meh" to "RAWR."

And even stars and superstars run hot and cold.

Star wings living on high-volume scoring and 3-point production go through shooting slumps.

Star point guards' assists totals go down when those go wings go cold.

Star big men who swat three shots a night into the 12th row suddenly hit the bench when a matchup demands 30 minutes of small-ball.

A entire team from a small-market city comes here to play at the Clippers and Lakers, and has Howlin' Rays for lunch and dinner two days in a row.

But then... the polarity reverses. On a dime.

That wing suddenly can't miss. That point guard goes on a streak of double-doubles. That big gets a home-at-home against the Rockets and blocks 11 shots in 48 hours.

And the cycle begins anew. But if you get a couple of these inconsistent stars peaking at the right time? Playoff time? When you're matched up against that No. 1 seed?

David can take down Goliath.

But I hear you again. "Fork over the names. My time, remember?"

Fine. I started with the problem. Now here are some solutions. The players having highly inconsistent seasons, in order of fantasy impact...

But don't you want to learn how I got these names? Great.

The game score. That score I keep mentioning every week. The easily gettable stat that best corresponds to fantasy production. You use that.

You look at a player's game scores over time. Track the ups and downs in their game score. Pinpoint the mean. Compute the average standard deviation from that mean.

Or I can... fine here are the names...

One more thing! A high rate of standard deviation means less when a player is averaging a sky-high game score. Just like a lower rate means more when a player averages less.

Sorry! Here you go...


Donovan Mitchell
Devin Booker
Kyrie Irving
Paul George
De'Aaron Fox
Dejounte Murray
Zach LaVine
Desmond Bane
Kyle Kuzma
Spencer Dinwiddie


Paolo Banchero
Alperen Sengun
Pascal Siakam
Draymond Green
Wendell Carter Jr.
Christian Wood
Evan Mobley
Clint Capela