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.
The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.
But how does that happen?
Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.
The Chicago Bulls had a disappointing season by anyone’s measure as they had a promising group of talent on paper and couldn’t quite translate that to success on the court. The Bulls front office took the heat and a massive shake up ensued. For the first time in almost a decade, Bulls fans have some hope for a franchise that has been reeling since Derrick Rose suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the closing minutes of a first round 2012 playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!
The Chicago Bulls play in the Central Division alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and the reigning league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and yet, the Bulls are the most intriguing team in the division. This offseason they added veteran leadership, some talented young players, and the returning young guys are all a year older and more experienced. They should certainly be healthier than they were last year. Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. missed significant time last season. Zach Lavine also missed a stretch of games before being shut-down at the end of the season. Ditto for Chandler Hutchison. Denzel Valentine never even got rolling. Here are the major additions and departures from last season:
Now we are just past the halfway mark of the season and into the annual fun that masquerades as the trade deadline.
Teams are either hoping to find the one additional piece to move them into championship contention, ensure that playoff slot which has eluded the home fans for several seasons, or offload some contracts to save a few bucks and better the future.
The interesting thing is figuring out who the sellers and buyers are. More intriguing for us fantasy hoop heads is how it affects/changes/improves/negates the numbers of current players and what kind of new opportunities can now be found for players in new situations.
We will take a look at the Eastern Conference first – identify some trade targets and discuss what that might mean. Then we will do the same with the West.
KRS-One was one of the greatest to ever do it. He never won a Grammy, and didn’t win a Tony, yet he smashed rappers and made girls go “Illllll!” He made you bob your head from side to side, and up and down, but ultimately he made you think about what was said, as Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everybody. At the core, though, he brought it to those MC’s that acted like they didn’t know that KRS was willing to go toe for toe and made them hope that their defense mechanism could divert his heat-seeking lyricism. Joel Embiid is the KRS-One of the NBA. He puts victims in a body bag both on the Twitter machine and on the court. Last night…
In only 27 minutes, as the 76ers body bagged the Timberpuppies, 149-107. On the season, Embiid is the #10 player, averaging 33.5 minutes, 27 points, 1.2 threeecolas, 13.3 boards, 3.4 dimes, 0.5 steals, and 2 blocks on 48% shooting from the field and 80% from the free throw line on 9.9 attempts. The usage rate is 32.1! Such a boss. As KRS said, “If you don’t know me by now, I doubt you’ll ever know me.” Embiid gonna keep trying, though.
This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.
Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.
We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.
Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.
What did you guys dress up as this Halloween? Wendell Carter Jr. put on his FRANCHISE CENTER costume and then forgot to take it off. What a week for the big man from Duke – 25 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 3 BLK, and 2 3PM on Halloween followed by 11 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 1 apiece BLK/STL and then 14 pts, 13 REB, 2 STL, and 4 BLK. He is becoming a bigger part of the offense in Chicago and using his high basketball IQ to make things happen. Stock is way up. If he is still available in your league or you have an owner sleeping on him, get on it!
Derrick Rose early on Wednesday morning in a jovial mood. How could he not? It was Halloween, a day to have fun, dress up, scare little kids, and eat lots and lots of candy. But as he drove up to the practice lot of the Timberwolves practice facility a little after lunch, things just didn’t feel right. The cloud that’s been hovering over the building for the last month or so looked a little darker. When he stepped out of the car, the wind was brisk and sent shivers throughout his whole body. As he approached Coach Thibodeau’s office, there was an eery light emanating from the crack between the bottom of the door and floor. Then a BAM! And a BOOM! KA BOOOOOOOOOOOOYACKA SHAKALA! WTF??!! Lying on the floor, Derrick Rose and entered Coach Thib’s office. “What’s wrong coach?” Coach Thibs responded with, “We are 3-4. 25th in defensive rating! Andrew Wiggins has four years and $147 million left on his contract! Jeff Teague can’t play tonight and Jimmy Butler is playing hard ball and won’t play until we trade him!!!…..And your hair looks f**king ridiculous!!!!” Derrick was not fazed. “Coach, I got this.”
I’d say he did. Derrick Rose to the occasion with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Tyus Jones all not playing by logging 41 minutes and bringing the Five-Oh. The fifty-burger was a career-high, which bested his prior mark of 42 points back in 2010. Now, Derrick is 30 years old and we all know about the injury history. He hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season since….2010. He’s obviously not going to bring the cops every night or shoot 31 times, but prior to last night, Derrick was a viable fantasy asset: 14.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 0.7 steals. No threeecolas and the field goal percentage was/is/won’t be pretty, but he was providing some decent counting stats. More importantly, he was getting over 28 minutes of run a game with the upside of moving into the starting lineup and getting more when someone sat. Scoop him up if he’s still available. If you own him, no one is going to buy high, so just let it ride. Happy Halloween!
I’ll admit it. Going into the season I was a little bit worried that I overshot my pick of Trae Young as the top fantasy rookie this season. I very well could still be wrong, but 35 points on 23 shots with six 3’s and 11 assists are pretty fantastic and shows the type of upside the Hawks were hoping for. Quite a few rookies have started off hot in crucial roles for their admittedly bad teams, and in this space I will try to highlight some of the ups and downs of the rookie class.
Entering last season, most of the focus was on how the Bulls would adapt to the post-Jimmy Butler era. Given the current laugh-a-minute situation in Minnesota, it seems like the return of Lauri Markannen, Zach Lavine, and Kris Dunn has resulted in a big win for the Bulls. The team will be looking for big contributions from all three, as well as their marquee free agent signing of Jabari Parker and first round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., to build upon a lackluster 27 wins from the previous year and, more importantly, show flashes of progression. The East is now Lebron and DeRozan-less, so the Bulls will be looking towards that 8 seed as a realistic target.
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