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The 2017 NBA off-season was bonkers. Bamboozling. B-a-n-a-n-a-s.

By now, you know that the 2017 NBA off-season could be remembered exclusively for its confounding big-splash trades. But if you're here, you're asking: how in the world should I evaluate players if Danny Ainge can't seem to figure it out?

The new map of the NBA is still being drawn. Here's your mini cartographer's kit for the 2017-2018 season and beyond.

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The Value of What, Now?

So, let's be honest. Determining the value of players and prospects is going to be difficult in the near future. The utter lack of consistency in evaluation between and within teams on the value of players might be the biggest problem in the NBA. It is going to cause problems for you. This is exactly the time where everybody starts to have an opinion, if you know what I mean. Below are three tips to help you through this dark and uncertain time.

Pay Attention to the New NBA Schedule

The trade deadline is a week and half earlier this season. The season itself starts almost two weeks before it did just a few years ago. That means that the trades, buyouts, and future contract decisions (such as extension options) all happen sooner. Make notes: back-to-back and four-games-in-five-nights scenarios have been reportedly reduced by the league, so you can probably rely on some increased consistency and efficiency from top to bottom. In order to stay ahead in your league, keep your finger on the pulse of how the NBA is reacting to its new schedule. In fantasy, timing is everything. Studying the league calendar (and your players' schedules once you draft) is going to create more significant edges than it did in previous years. Go out there, get familiar with the new calendar, and put some distance between you and your opponents.

Ball is Life

This season demands that you eat, breathe, and sleep basketball. Just kidding. But seriously, you should probably put your box scores down and turn on more than a few games this season. Sure, analytics are important and they have their place, but the only way to see how Paul George fits in Oklahoma City is to see how Paul George fits in Oklahoma City. With so much player movement taking place this off-season, it will be paramount to observe for yourself how teams are working together, especially early in the season. For example, you should expect the performance of stars like Jimmy Butler to be much more variable than it was in previous years, as he feels out a new role for the Wolves. No matter how far analytics go, they can't tell you how comfortable he actually looks on the basketball court. They can't tell you if he hesitated on an open shot to get young wing Andrew Wiggins a look. If you have the means, you should really turn on some basketball games and see for yourself how these new teams operate. Make sure you take time to appreciate the game while you're at it. This is one of those seasons that pretty much every team has more than one interesting story-line going in.

In Stormy Seas, Follow the North Star

At the end of the day, nobody can do the evaluating besides you. You have to do what works for you and makes sense to you at all times. Try different things. Listen to both sides before making a choice, but make your own choice. All of this is to say: use the early part of the season to solidify a method of evaluation that works for you, and stick with it. Treat your team as your ship, and your method as the North Star. Let it guide you and your crew to a championship season.


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