The pandemic has had a strange warping effect on my sense of time. No basketball last winter, followed by an NBA Finals in October, and then more basketball on Christmas has only compounded my confusion. Wedged in amongst all that has been a hollowed-out baseball season and NFL and college football campaigns that have passed without really registering with me. In the meantime, I find that I keep waiting for things to stabilize. Or normalize. Or cease being as they currently are. At the beginning of this NBA season, I went wall-to-wall watching games. Last week, as reality closed in, I was dragged away a bit. This week was something in between. Of course, regardless of my wants or habits, time marches on.

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We’re still pretty early on in the season, but it’s always a good time for some hot takes. What follows will be the totally legitimately definitive ranking of each NBA team when it comes to their fantasy production.

I took the top 100 players in total value and by per-game value, figured out how many were on each team, and ranked them. Very scientific stuff, I know. But no worries, there is a point. We’ll discuss what that means for each team, and for fantasy owners that may have the players mentioned, or have their eye on a player mentioned.

If a team has fantasy gold, does that mean they have great pace? Is it because they have a great record? Without further ado, here are your answers.

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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.

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We’re just a shade under 1/10th of the way through the season, which is not at all a marker but something to think about, I guess. Overreactions abound during this time as owners of players who start hot begin designing their customized championship t-shirts and owners of under-performing players make poor choices by cutting the line far too early. It’s only week two, everyone just CALM DOWN!

One thing is for certain: We’re starting to get an idea about which teams are for real and which ones aren’t all that good. And there have been some surprises. In fantasy, it’s key to start looking right now at the struggling teams. Why? They’re far more likely to shake things up than a team that is groovin along. That means player values will shift and there’s space in there for a savvy fantasy manager to gain some value.

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I try not to write up the same player in the top blurb two days in a row for a variety of reasons. It’s good to change it up. My wife and I are on page 360 of the Kamasutra book that we “read” every night before bed. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’ve been married for 12 years and have two kids. Page 360. Ha! It’s nice to show love to everyone, as there is so much skill in the league, and every night greatness is produced by many. But sometimes, a string of performances is so great that there is nothing to do but bow down and pay homage. In my many years at Razzball, I think I’ve only written a player in back-to-back nights maybe four or five times. Now, this is not a back-to-back, but it’s damn close. On Sunday, Julius Randle went 29/14/7 against the Bucks. After meditating and correcting his issues, Randle came back the next game and went HAM….

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It’s a story as old as time. Hot girl from a different continent arrives at the new local high school. All the dudes go goo-goo gah gah over said hot girl. Popular girls at high school, who were the hot girls before are now relegated to has-been status. But they ain’t going out like that. They get their hair done, splash some intoxicating perfume on, hike up their skirts, and flash some boob, then voila! All the dudes in the house go, what? WHAT?! LaMelo Ball was the hot girl and got all the love and attention in the preseason with his fancy passes and what not, but Terry Rozier wasn’t impressed.

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Comparing the Denver roster from last season with their current roster leaves a lot to be desired from a team that competed in the Western Conference Finals a season ago. On paper, the Nuggets lost their best defensive player in Jerami Grant and their backup center in Mason Plumlee. The hope is that what we saw from Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. in the Bubble were for real.

Before the Bubble, Murray averaged 18 points a game and exploded for 26.5 over 19 playoff games in the Bubble. During the playoffs, Murray shot 45% from deep, but that hot shooting won’t hold up for the career 35% three-point shooter. What could hold up is the shot selection. Murray shot more pull up three-point shots in the playoffs and was hunting for those looks inn the pick and roll. Denver also believes the guard is going to step up his defense this year. Michael Porter Jr. showed flashes of brilliance in the Bubble over the summer with his increased role.

Overall I think we see more of the same from the Nuggets this season, one of the better regular-season teams in the West, but I am not sure they got enough better to make it to the finals.

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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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With the new season approaching sooner rather than later, I think it’s time for some “right on time” or “way too early,” however you want to see it, predictions for the season. More specifically, the top 8 seeds in both conferences, including the 9th and 10th seeds that can be involved in the newly implemented play-in tournament.

What is this new play-in mini tournament thing you ask? Well, we first saw it in the Bubble and it allowed the teams that finished outside the top eight, specifically the ninth seed to play for a shot at entering the playoffs. This season, the rules will be that the 7th and 8th seed will play in order to win the spot of the 7th seed, while the 9th and 10th seed will battle it out for a chance at the loser of the previously mentioned matchup, where the winner takes that last 8th seed. 

There are also the questions of who will find themselves with the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and the Most Improved Player awards. I’ll give my predictions for those later on. This season will be one like no other. 72 instead of 82 games. No All-Star game, but an All-Star break. The usual frustrations of injuries, both in the fan bases and of the fantasy players will only be heightened since now we will also have inevitable positive COVID cases flying around. But who will come out on top and consider their teams “successful”? 

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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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