After witnessing the Philadelphia lose their eleventh straight contest this year, needless to say, it certainly takes balls to be a 76ers fan right now. I’m not referring to testicular fortitude or alpha masculinity, but rather literally, to the ping pong balls of hope known as the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery. With the possibility of multiple lottery picks in the 2016 Draft, it’s going to be okay Philadelphia fans. Put down your weapons, we’ll get through this together.

But it may take some time, since the franchise is focusing on future contention; the on-court product suffers as the 76ers appear to be the worst team in basketball once again.

At this point, I’m just surprised Philadelphia still has a team website, since they can’t string three “W’s” together…

I think I’m going to hide in a corner for the rest of my life after that joke.

Philly, I’m rooting for you, and I’m rooting for the process!

Jahil Okafor continued to impact the box score with a 19 points, 11 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner recorded his second straight double double against a soft Dallas front court. Luckily for fantasy owners, Okafor will see plenty of minutes to develop in the interim despite concerns about his immediate impact to the team’s chances of winning. Long term, his inabilities to defend the rim and stretch the floor may impact his fit in Philadelphia. I don’t think the coaching staff has any surprising moves in store for 2015 (such as playing more small ball around Noel or limiting Okafor’s minutes experimenting with more perimeter-based lineups), but moving forward, it is a trend to monitor as he continues to develop this year.

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After making history this weekend with arguably the best Halloween costume from an NBA player of all time, LeBron James made his way into the NBA record books becoming the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Despite the record-breaking basket coming against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, the feat nonetheless is one of the most impressive in recent memory. With all the scrutiny surrounding the potential decline of the Artist Formerly Known as King James, tonight’s performance was an instant reminder of how effectively he can impact the game not only on the hardwood, but the fantasy box score as well.

Registering 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 9-19 shooting, James had his most well-rounded performance of the season. Moving forward, James should begin to impact other areas of the box score (assists, rebounds, steals, and FG percentage) as the Cavs offense clicks.

As the Cavs begin to realize the full potential of their All-Pro floor spacer in Kevin Love, James ability to facilitate and control the pace of the game will open up his true fantasy potential. Pencil him in for at least 20 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists on .500+ shooting. All hail the King.

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Flashy player.  Ridiculous opportunity.  Buzzy preseason.  A lot of times it ends up fizzling out, sometimes it works out OK, and one time it’s C.J. McCollum.

C.J. went absolutely bonkers in his 15-16 debut, hitting 14-22 from the field including 6-9 3PTM for 37/6/1/1/0 and no TO.  Video game numbers!  So he’s a shooter, and he does what NBA shooters do – keeps draining em when they hot!  But I think we need to take a step back and consider a few things:  Other than massive Pts and treys it was fairly empty.  This was against the Pelicans, who without Brow, might look worse than the Sixers; they look horrific.  And the third thing that no one seemed to mention while anointing McCollum the next big thing in combo guards this preseason – he’s got a pretty extensive injury history.  He’s at the pinnacle of a sell high for me.  Do I think he’ll be hot garbage all the sudden?  Of course not.  But do I think he scores 37 again this year?  I don’t.  Well, unless they faced the Pelicans every night…  I’d shop around in the 40-50 range of ADP and see if you can get lucky.  As with all fantasy takeaways off one game, it’s always good to keep from overreacting.  Compared to fantasy football, we’re at the same point as about 9 minutes into the first quarter of week 1.  Still a long way to go.  Here’s what else went down during the first full slate of fantasy basketball action:

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Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.

(Yep, I just dropped a Chinese proverb, so y’all know this article is about to go next level…)

I’ve always found it fun to read – and write – some of the more unconventional or against-the-grain prognostications for the upcoming fantasy basketball season, and it can be a gas to revisit them at various points throughout the year to see if they’re gaining any traction or skidding wildly off the road. It probably goes without saying, but the bolder (see: nuttier) the prediction, the less likely it is to bear fruit. So the intent here is to provide an unpopular – but not unrealistic – take on a player that may actually help you during your fantasy draft. You’re likely to disagree with most (they’d be the consensus if you didn’t) but if I can hit on one akin to last year’s “take a late-round swing at Rudy Gobert and hold him until starter minutes come available,” it can be a season defining gamble. So pick your favorite(s) and let’s go diving for pearls together! (Man, that is without a doubt the least cool analogy I’ve ever come up with. But it’s a call-back to the opening line which I thought was kinda clever, so I’m gonna own it.)

Prepare the hot takes cannon as we fire off 30 bold fantasy basketball predictions (one for each NBA team) for the 2015/2016 season:

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rcl-basketball-logoThe regular season approaches — fewer than three weeks before our lives finally have meaning again! My RCL had a draft last weekend, and I wanted to share the results with all of you wonderful readers as a fascinating case study and (perhaps) cautionary tale! This was an excellent draft– I think all managers were drafting live, making some ballsy and brilliant picks. I’ve included a grade and a few words on each of their teams after my pick-by-pick blow-by-blow. Off we go!

[editor’s note – we still have leagues open to join the RCL fun, plus we need more leagues!  Hop over to the RCL sign-ups and start a league today!]

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Wooo, preseason is here!  We finally get to see players on the court, thennnn, pretty much immediately we have season-ending injuries…  Just let athletes take steroids again, eesh!  Tired of this nonsense!

In literally the second game of the preseason, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist slipped on just a routine perimeter dribble and dislocated his shoulder.  It looked like he might’ve slipped on some sweat, those are some slacking Magic ball boys!  Then after an MRI yesterday, it revealed a torn labrum (true story, it had a red underline underneath “labrum” which had me being sure I spelled it right, and the suggested fix was labium) and he’ll likely need season-ending surgery.  Yikes.  Tough shakes for the Hornets who just invested $52 mil over 4 years in the guy (THAT’S MORE THAN MONTA ELLIS!), and have nothing great to fill-in SF minutes.  Well, I guess technically SG minutes, as Nicolas Batum should slot back to SF as the Hornets hodgepodge their SG.  Jeremy Lin had a nice 17/2/7 debut in that first game on Saturday, but followed it up with 10/3/1 and 4 TO on Sunday.  Jeremy Lamb scored 16 in the debut and got the start Sunday, only to shoot 2-11 in 25 yawnstipating minutes.  P.J. Hairston also got a start Sunday as Batum got that game off, and shot 1-7 missing all 5 treys.  Then there’s also Marvin Williams, who has reportedly lost weight and was rumored to get SF minutes back in July, but he figures to be more of a Batum backup or a small stretch-4 like last year.  I really don’t like any of these guys, and none of them vault into the draftable range for me in 12ers.  I guess in deepers I’d grab Lin first, but meh.  The only actionable impact for me is MKG’s 15-16 death.  “This guy here is dead!”  “Well cross him off then!”  Here’s what else has happened through the first few nights of preseason as we prepare for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball season:

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Jump Ball A Matty Series PNG

Piggy-backing off of Slim’s (in?)famous “Slim vs. Slim” series of years past, I’m going to be writing a number of articles pitting two players with similar ADPs against one another. The format will be slightly different, but the goal remains the same – provide fantasy owners some food for thought to better inform their decision if faced with these two players come draft day. It’s not a groundbreaking idea across the fantasy sports spectrum, but I’ve always found it to be a good way to help avoid a coin toss scenario once the clock starts ticking. So in lieu of a long-winded introduction, let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we?

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You aren’t going to find too many elite fantasy basketball assets sitting on an NBA bench. You’re going to find them on a 50’ wide by 94’ long stretch of hardwood, running their shoes tread-bare.

Fantasy production or “numbers” – essentially the only thing you’re mining for as you prepare for your drafts – is what results from the beautiful union between talent and opportunity.

Talent with limited opportunity (think: Jonas Valanciunas) leaves you with little choice but to sit back and wonder what could have been. Conversely, all the opportunity in the world afforded to players short on talent (I’m looking at you, Courtney Lee) has you questioning why you’re tending to vines that bear no fruit.

Unfortunately, in the world of the National Basketball Association, opportunity is usually held to a finite number each night – and that number is 240. Two hundred and forty minutes is all a given team can distribute amongst its roster during a regulation game. (For our purposes here today we’ll refrain from delving into the impact of overtime/multi-overtime games adding to the pool of minutes, though it does obviously impact the calculus.)

With NBA coaches now regularly employing rotations of nine and 10 men, there are very few players (regardless of talent, youth and good health) who are asked to play more than 75% of a game. In point of fact, during the 2014/2015 NBA season a grand total of six players averaged over 36 minutes of court time. Go just one year farther back and that number jumps to 16. The 12-13 campaign? 22 such players eclipsed the 36 MPG mark and seven ran for over 38 minutes a night. And to really put things into perspective – less than a decade ago we saw nine players average 40 minutes, with the kicker being that none of them missed more than 10 games.

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Ah, the late-round fliers!  Which I think is “fliers”.  A lot of the time, I almost write it “flyers”.  Zach LaVine is a late round flyer!  Eesh, being a married man makes you start getting reallllll corny with the jokes.

So as I’ve mentioned a few times getting through the top 100 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100), there just isn’t many warm bodies out there to call “JB’s late sleepers”.  And, well, a lot of that is because I have guys that are ranked in the 100s on Yahoo and ESPN in my mid-rounds (cough, Jordan Clarkson – ESPN 99 Yahoo 144, what the hey?! aherm, cough cough – I’ve caught the plague!), while just as much is the lack of sexy rookies in good situations.  Jahlil Okafor is awful for fantasy.  D’Angelo Russell loves talking 401ks with Josh Smith by the turnovers at the breakfast buffet.  Stanley Johnson looks awesome, but Detroit has a bigger wing mix than Bdubs.  Asian zing – that one my jam!

With these final rounds of players, it’s also important to factor in league size.  These ranks are [hoping to tailor] for a 12-team league, so I’ll reach for a tad more upside the later we go than go for stability.  Tristan Thompson is going to be mad consistent for some points and boards for the very deep leagues, but lordy he’ll be unownable in a 12er.  You’re fired!  Can’t believe this Trump stuff is still going on…  Anyway, here’s the Top 150 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The NBA really is Jordan Belfort.  The Wolf of Fantasy Sports!  It’s tantric and never slows down, from the Finals ending less than two weeks before the draft, free agency hitting a week later and we’re already starting summer ball.  And the NBA will soon revel in the excess that is the 16-17 salary cap boost with a TV deal that put Seinfeld reruns to shame.  I need my ludes to get me through!

Even the Spurs couldn’t avoid the world of excess and massive free agency signings, bringing in LaMarcus Aldridge for a cool $80 million.  Loosening up the purse strings!  My first thought was, “dammit, Kawhi is never gonna be the guy!”  Then again, he got over $90 mil with his extension, so there’s that!  But Kawhi Leonard sometimes struggles with the mid-range and long-distance shooting, so L.A. should help Kawhi by opening up some lanes and keeping him in his game.  This is going to be a crazy offense, with Tim Duncan moving to center and likely being his solid old self.  Which leaves us with what to expect from Aldridge…  And, me no likey for fantasy.  After being really durable early in his career, he’s had a few bumps and bruises (I know, I know, playing through a torn thumb tendon gets mad props) and the Spurs – as we all know – love to limit the minutes.  I also don’t think he quite gets to 20 shots a game like we’ve seen the past few years.  I had him 20 in my way too early rankings, but the move drops him a few spots at the least.  L.A. in S.A. is not OK!  Here’s what else has gone on through the first few days of free agency and rookie ball:

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