On a night riddled with postponed NBA games due to COVID-19 protocols and safety precautions, the avid basketball fan was probably a little underwhelmed. I mean no Bradley Beal going off for 40+ against the Pistons. No matchup between Stephen Curry and Devin Booker. Shoot, we could not even see Anthony Edwards show out against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, the games we did get were nothing less than entertaining. There were a few blowouts but there were also plenty of nail biters to go around. But what made these games so great was the emergence of even more young talent across the NBA landscape. The New York Knicks with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickly. Zach Lavine and Coby White over in Chicago. Even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came out and had a career night. There is a saying that goes “Out with old and in with the new.” Well, I am here to say that there are a handful of “new” guys that are starting to make a name for themselves, and what better way to announce yourself to the league than great performance under the Friday night lights! Here are some of the top performers from yesterday’s games.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Finally, some sort of normality has been restored. At least I think so. The Bucks are back up on their Buck against sitting in the second seed at the time of writing having an 8-4 record. The Celtics have barely played thanks to the Washington Wizards. Yes, the Wizards and not Tatum. Now, the Wizards are also getting a couple of their games postponed as they have three players that tested positive for the virus, meaning pretty much their whole team is in the NBA’s “Health & Safety Protocol”. The Philadelphia 76ers are still holding their own at 8-4 after most of their team being held out because of the virus surprise, surprise, stemming from Seth Curry’s positive test. Speaking of the Wizards they are still towards the bottom at 3-8 and are now going to be without Russell Westbrook for another 3-4 weeks. Beal seems ready to feast, not that he hasn’t already, but now without Russ, he’s going to have to keep scoring those 30s and 40s if the Wizards are going to have any chance to win some games. The Indiana Pacers have seemed steady as Domantas Sabonis is running riot and Myles Turner is turning into a block machine! In his past three games he has averaged an amazing 4 blocks a game! Congrats to whoever took him as I’m sure he slid in many drafts. Oh, and yeah. THE BROOKLYN NETS MIGHT HAVE BROKEN THE NBA. Or did they? Maybe this just blows up in their face. Nevertheless, James Harden is now a Net after an absolute blockbuster trade. 

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It was a bit of a light week for watching games here in the Hooper house. I know this is a fantasy corner of the internet, but reality always manages to find a way in. The ratio of news to NBA games got flipped in the middle of the week, so instead of longer, deeper looks into one or two specific teams, this edition of Hangin’ will feature check-ins on past (incorrect) statements and some quick hitters on what I was able to catch this week. I’m aiming to get back on track this week — aren’t we all? — so hopefully next time will be less doom and gloom and more dimes and dunks.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Coming out of the RazzJam I was heavily leveraged with Hawks. It wasn’t exactly intentional–how far can one deviate from an idea that never was?–but it wasn’t a mistake either. The headline in Atlanta coming into 2020-21 read: We want to score so much that it’s crowded now! And after six games, yes, the buckets are indeed plentiful. Atlanta is currently home to the second-most efficient offense in basketball, scoring 114.9 points per 100 possessions. For reference, 113.7 was last year’s league-leading mark set by the Mavs. This year’s Bucks, Madone, are scoring 117.9 per 100 possessions!

So the Hawks score and I drafted a lot of them. Picking up Trae Young and John Collins in the first three rounds set off the trap of me having to watch a ton of Hawks games this season. Committing to the bit, I also added shares of Danilo Gallinari, Onyeka Okongwu, and Kris Dunn over the course of the 25-round marathon. I had been eying box scores over the first three games of the season before lowering myself into a vat of Hawks games this last week, consuming every second of the double-dip with the Nets and single shot of the Cavaliers. I woke up on Sunday with lightly ruffled feathers.

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Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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Surprise, I’ve taken over the Wednesday recap this week, let’s get jiggy with it!

Nets vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks undefeated 2020-2021 season came to an end at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, December, 30th, but not without some positive signs of progress for this new look roster. At the moment, the Hawks have the second best Offensive Rating in the league at 119.9 and their opponent, the Nets, have the best Defensive Rating at 98.3. I’m not sure if these numbers include the data from Wednesday’s competition, but either way, the Hawks were the team that lived up to their statical billing in this one. The teams went shot for shot through most of the game until Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Hawks suffered enough empty possessions on offense to walkaway with their first L. Both teams broke a hundred by the third quarter and the final score of 141-145 tells you everything you need to know. Neither team played much defense in this game and that end of the floor will remain the biggest question for both teams going forward.

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When I play franchise modes in any video game, I try and make it as realistic as possible. I’ll play games out, accept the draft order, not cheese, eat losses when they come, make trades that make sense, and all in all be a good citizen. Injuries? They have to on for sure. But, but, but….I have a confession to make. I have restarted more than one franchise when stupid injuries occurred early on that didn’t make sense. That was my rationale. I feel dirty now. That said, injuries are a part of the game and they make me sad.

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I’ve been running the same fantasy basketball league with roughly the same players for nearly a decade now and a while back we converted it into a keeper league. This past Tuesday we had our fantasy draft. We are like most leagues in that there are a few players nearly always on the top and the rest of the league is a mixture of people who don’t care nearly as much or are just novices trying to learn. If you’re in a casual league, it probably looks a lot like this.

One important thing to keep in mind is that this is a KEEPER league, and as such 41 of Yahoo!’s top 50 players were kept and unavailable to be drafted. You’ll see them pop up in rounds much later, in most scenarios, as they were kept on the cheap. It’s a 9-cat H2H league as well with nothing to play for but a trophy we have engraved every season. We added two more teams this season that did not play at all last season and held an expansion draft before the actual draft, and we replaced one manager who decided to focus on his life instead (which is totally okay and encouraged, btw.)

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There are a lot of differences between Jimmy Butler and myself. I, for example, am not a five time NBA All-Star. I’ve also never been named the Most Improved Player, won a gold medal, or screamed at Karl-Anthony Towns with such vigor that I had to be sent to Philadelphia. But perhaps the biggest wedge between Jimmy and myself is our feelings toward rear-view mirrors. 

See, I’m a look back kind of guy. There’s wisdom (and cars!) back there if you care to investigate. This willingness to wallow, to ruminate, to linger and consider all the roads not traveled means that I signed myself up to do the tedious work of taking long, wistful gazes at how this first ever RazzJam went down and try to glean something useful from it. Son, our fearless leader and fellow RazzJam League 14 draftee, is here to keep an eye on my blind spots. You strike me as a reasonable guy, Son, you’re pro-mirror, right?

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No team had a more interesting offseason than the Atlanta Hawks (check out the November 30 edition of The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz for a detailed, non-fantasy breakdown). What had been a carefully constructed youth-movement-style rebuild for the past several years suddenly accelerated into “win-now” mode, beefing up the rotation with veteran contributors and casting the roles of the majority of last season’s core pieces into considerable doubt. Let’s take a look at where the roster’s fantasy values stand as we head into the 2020-21 season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?