I’m the big, fat loser this year in our 9-cat league’s championship game. Am I happy I made it this far in a totally insane season? Yep. Am I upset I lost? It always stings, but one week can make or break you and I don’t feel bad losing to a team I lost to the only time I faced them in the regular season. It feels like the right team won.

All that said, this season was completely wackadoodle and probably the most benefit you’ll get from reading these words is this introduction where I’m going to attempt to break down my thinking on the season and how we all got here.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We have already seen a good chunk of the season and can safely see how the stats and teams are shaping up. An interesting topic every year around the NBA is the MVP race and this year it is supposedly a very ambiguous one, with Lebron being Lebron, Embiid and Jokic stepping up, and Durant returning to his pre-injury form. However, the true MVP this year in my mind up to this point is someone that is not being mentioned so often as the aforementioned players and is only ranked 7th in ESPN’s early MVP rankings.

Stephen Curry is carrying the Warriors to the playoffs by averaging 30.1 points per game on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage. Opposing defenses have been often helpless and left standing to watch in awe as Steph dribbles, razzles and dazzles through them, making tough shot after tough shot with insane accuracy. The most mind-boggling stat is that in 2016, Curry won the first unanimous MVP award by averaging……… 30.1 points per game, on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage, the exact same stats that he is currently averaging. The fact that he is only viewed as the 7th candidate for MVP is atrocious in my mind. Plus, he can casually do this at the end of games.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Russell Westbrook has always been a controversial figure in basketball. There are those who love his competitive spirit, ability to lead and mentor his teammates, and dynamic and physical play. There are also those who criticize the lack of progress in his shooting, defensive commitment, and success in the playoffs. Whatever your take is on Westbrook, in terms of fantasy, there was one moment that proved to be a major turning point. And it wasn’t a trade, an injury, or anything else related to his play.

Over the summer of 2017, the NBA changed the delay of game rules, making it so that a free throw shooter is no longer allowed to go beyond the 3-point line, or he will be assessed a delay of game violation. Westbrook’s ft% average before this rule was 82.4%. His average after it is 70.3%. And he is shooting a whopping 7.1 free throws per game for his career, so you can understand the fantasy impact this has. His shooting woes this year (41.3%) along with a major decrease in steals (0.8) and increase in turnovers (4.9) has him ranked 207th in per-game value. Let that sink in…Take an extra moment, you need it. Now see things clearly and try with all your might to trade him if you drafted him, taking advantage of his name value and the owners in your league that like him in real life, because he is actively hurting your fantasy team, even if you are punting turnovers.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, all were serviceable, with Thaddeus Young leading the bunch with three excellent fantasy lines. Beware that from the “Buy” suggestions, De’Anthony Melton hurt his shoulder and is questionable, so feel free to stream his spot, if necessary.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In Brooklyn, the veterans always preferred DeAndre Jordan over him, even though he was better. Now in Cleveland, he’s forced into a timeshare with Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. When will Allen get his due? According to leading armchair psychologists, it was all that pent-up frustration that led to this outburst. In contention for the line of the year so far.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

Should I just call it the ‘Rona Roundup? Sheesh. Like half of my fantasy rosters and half of my beloved Celtics can’t hoop at present because of this scourge. My ability to marginally function during all this madness right now largely depends on access to NBA hoops and steak. You mess with that? I get cranky and mouthy. Even though some players are ineligible right now who would otherwise be available in normal times, I’m focusing on the positive: Most players are active.

And I can say negatives things about them to soothe myself.

So you know what? I’mma try something new this week with my round-up: Two players from each team, one of whom did the Best Work, and one who is the Biggest Jerk and probably killed your fantasy team (as long as they played).

Please, blog, may I have some more?