A tough Tuesday: I'm not exactly sure why. There were large sections of open space, and the theme did not exactly lend itself to quick filling in.
Speaking of which, what exactly is the theme? Take 5 state names, add one letter, anagram them into a phrase of no connection to the original state name. It's interesting, but it's not exactly entertaining. Of the resulting phrases, BANKRATES is really a letdown in its banality. The others are fine, with AFRICANLION being the best.
As to the fill, the corners are well done. All 16 down answers of 7 or 6 letter length are strong, with the possible exception of ARALSEA, which has been done to death (or drained of meaning?) in the puzzle. At least its the complete name, not just ____ sea, as we see all too frequently.
We have to put up with a bit of SSN and IDS, but I liked KIDLIT and LADYDI. 15A: Futures analyst? (ORACLE) is a nice little clue. POSTSUP is timely with the NBA in the playoffs, and the Celtics landing the number one pick in the draft. I don't think there's any chance of them making the Finals, but they're already a pretty good team.
|A different NICKS|
1A: Whole slew (RAFT) - C+. A bit above average.
Fave: POOPOUT (11D: Get dog-tired). My dog is currently pooped out right next to me.
Least fave: IDIG (31D: "Understood, dude). This phrase is seriously tired. IMSERIOUS. Time to retire it.
I would have liked this puzzle a good deal more if there had been some connection between the anagrams and the states they came from. Maybe that's too much to ask, but there it is. I'm asking it.