I said earlier this week that I was diving into the deep end by taking an interest in fantasy basketball — that was probably the right analogy. It’s turned from getting some initial support to getting a true groundswell — and I appreciate that.
I’ve been duly warned that dealing with daily fantasy folks can be like the “Gremlins” movie: one or two is good, but after they multiply and get fed with information, they turn from Gizmo to Stripe.
It’s not nearly to that point yet. I’ve had a warm reception— including an interview on DraftKings TV — and plenty of folks in the DFS community have welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to bring more beat writers into the realm with me. That’s going to take some time, but I’ll keep on chugging.
I made a few more friends when I suggested that Ish Smith might be a player to watch in Tuesday’s game. He came out with 22 points and eight assists. That’s not going to happen every day.
There are still 82 games of regular-season hit-and-miss to go, but I’m willing to take the ride with you all, provided you keep my ground rules in mind:
■ My information is just that — information. I’m not going to tell you who should be in your lineups or for you to take as gospel. Lineups and injury reports change all the time, as do playing rotations and expected minutes.
■ Fantasy isn’t my job. I’m a beat writer and have other responsibilities in writing stories and other content. I’m all about trying to interact, but please respect my time and understand that I won’t be doing fantasy stuff every day (yet), but whenever I can fit it in.
■ If you lose, I don’t want to know about it. If you win, share your stories and success — and not winnings, unless it’s over the predetermined ceiling of $1 million.
■ Help me help you. I’m still learning the ropes, so if you have some good sites or info that can help me get up to speed, send that to me via Twitter (@detnewsRodBeard) or email (Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com).
FRIDAY’S FANTASY FOCUS: Pistons at Bucks, 8:30 Eastern, BMO Bradley Center
Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Andre Drummond.
Bucks: Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson.
■ Stanley Johnson (back tightness): Van Gundy said Friday morning that Johnson will sit out as a precaution and they’ll start Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer at the forward spots. Johnson has played well in the first four preseason games and looks to have the starting job locked up when the regular season starts Wednesday.
Fantasy slant: Harris’ athleticism likely gets him some time to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is a tall order (pun intended). Harris averaged 17 points and 6.8 rebounds in four games against the Bucks last season.
■ Avery Bradley (right ankle sprain): Bradley missed the previous two preseason games, mostly as a precaution, but he’s been listed as questionable. He’s the best defender and though Van Gundy wants to see more of his starters, he could opt to be cautious and give Bradley another day to rest.
Fantasy slant: If Bradley sits, the next in line could be Luke Kennard or Langston Galloway, who played well and had 16 points in Tuesday’s game against the Raptors. Be sure to check on Bradley’s status closer to game time (8:30 Eastern)
PISTONS FOCAL POINTS
■ Andre Drummond: With Greg Monroe out, Drummond could be able to have his way in the middle. He’s a double-double machine (14 points, 11 rebounds on Tuesday) — and after his sinus surgery in the offseason, he’s been breathing a little easier, including 38 minutes Tuesday against the Raptors.
Fantasy slant: Drummond looks to be a good play. With Leuer playing some power forward, Drummond is likely to get plenty of minutes. His improved free-throw shooting (12-of-14 in the preseason) will get him plenty more looks in most fantasy formats.
■ Ish Smith: He’s been the Pistons’ most consistent player in the preseason. Van Gundy said he’s still trying to figure out what role Smith and Jackson will have (minutes and rotation) when the regular season begins.
Fantasy slant: In the last game, Jackson played the first five minutes of each quarter, so there are plenty of minutes for Smith. He’s a stat-stocking-stuffer, so if he continues on his current pace, he’ll be another good consideration.
■ Reggie Bullock: Van Gundy notes Bullock’s defense has been much improved in the past week — and there’s no better way to endear yourself to a coach than playing good D. Bullock also is making shots and looking very steady.
Fantasy slant: Bullock’s minutes could be more consistent if he continues to play well in longer stretches. He had 16 points against the Pacers on Monday and looks to be on course to be the backup small forward after he serves his five-game suspension to start the season.
Greg Monroe (left calf soreness) and Jabari Parker (knee surgery) are out; Brandon Rush (right hamstring strain) is questionable. Thon Maker (right ankle sprain) missed the first three games but could see his first action of the preseason.
BUCKS FOCAL POINTS
■ Giannis Antetokounmpo: He missed the first two games of the preseason after his father’s death. In the third game, had 24 points, four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. Coach Jason Kidd may want to get a little longer look at him, but we all know what Giannis can do already.
Fantasy slant: The Pistons have a hard time defending him: he had 28 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in their final meeting last season. Depending on fantasy salary, is there ever a bad time to pick Giannis?
■ Khris Middleton: In the three preseason games, he went from 14 minutes to 20 to 25 minutes against the Bulls, with 14 points, four assists and five rebounds. He could get about the same playing time tonight.
Fantasy slant: His career usage rate of 22.1 against the Pistons is among his highest against any opponent and he’s posted 16.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13 games against his former team.
■ Maker: If he plays, he could be a sleeper. He had a career-high 23 points, going 4-of-7 on 3-pointers and collecting three rebounds in the last meeting with the Pistons.
Fantasy slant: He could be a little limited in minutes, because he just started non-contact drills this week, so it’s also a risky play. Be sure to check on his availability closer to game time.