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:

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Like most of you fantasy nuts, I am starved for basketball this time of year and can’t wait to get started. I decided to take matters into my own hands and started a league. I wanted it to be realistic and meaningful, so I set the buy-in at $200. Thankfully, I was able to gather 11 knowledgeable players and we drafted last week. Most of these guys are sharp, so there weren’t many bargains. Here is a recap of how it went down.

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I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.

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Look ahead—Trade Deadline Edition

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.

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We’ve been through this before. Injury leads to opportunity, and with opportunity comes great fantasy value. Tristan Thompson is dealing with a foot injury, but something tells me that’s merely a cover. If you google Thompson’s name, the only thing you’ll find is that he is reportedly going hard trying to win Khloe Kardashian back. I don’t like to waste my time with that crap, but the fact that I had to type in “Tristan Thompson injury” to get an update I care about is amazing to me. A player could become so entrenched in the Kardashian hoopla that the only thing that makes you relevant is your connection to that family. His athletic abilities are nothing compared to his desire to be the next Lamar Odom. Explain that to me. Now I am sure there are people who care deeply for the ongoing saga of the Kardashian family, but I for one simply don’t. It just proves my point even more that the next man up is a real thing. Thompson is hurt and chasing his celebrity pipe-dream and no one cares that he’s not on the floor because the Cavs suck and Ante Zizic is a man among boys. At least for now…

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Once a decade or so, a rookie comes into the league and, not only is it extremely obvious that they are special, they immediately hit the floor running. Not since LeBron has a rookie demonstrated All-Star level production, keeping up with and often times dominating seasoned pros in the best basketball league in the world. Luka Doncic provides matchup issues for opposing teams and is such a dynamic offensive force for the Mavs, making every teammate better. While making serious waves in the NBA, in fantasy he still has plenty of areas he can improve. Currently, he’s been hovering around the top 80 in standard category leagues. The main culprits of keeping his fantasy value anchored are his percentages and turnovers. He also has room to grow in the steals department. For now, he’s an exciting, yet flawed player to roster on your fantasy squad, but he’s already one of the most fun players in real life and fantasy.

Luka Doncic

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
10/23 7/10 2/9 29 8 12 2 0 1

Luka was 2 boards short of messing around and was just a savage in this one. He scored at all 3 levels and was the obvious leader of the Mavs. When the percentages start to creep up, look out, because the sky’s the limit for Doncic.

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Off the top of my head, Phil and Joan are the most famous people with the last name Collins. Well deserved and they sit on the thrones in the pantheon of Collins’s. Is that right? Or would it be Colline? Whatever, English is my second language. Ebonics was my first. Perusing the list of Collins’s or Colline got me thinking that people that pursue fame are dumb because 99% of the time that you think you’re famous, no one gives a shit or remembers. I guess that’s something someone who’s not famous writes. Anyways, John Collins has been making a case to be on the list.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 14 1 1 0 3 1/2 12/21 5/6

Collins has played 25 games, yet is 22nd in the NBA with 16 dub-dubs. For persepective, Joel Embiid leads the league with 36 in 40 games. Over the last eight games, he’s been a top 50 player, averaging 31.7 minutes, 19.3 points, 1.3 threeecolas, 11.8 boards, 2.3 dimes, with 57% shooting from the field and 75% on 4 attempts from the free throw line. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are the D stats. The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league, so the environment is ripe for Collins to thrive. Unfortunately, the lack of D stats will keep him from challenging Phil or Joan for the throne, but that’s okay. At least he’s in the conversation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It still blows my mind that a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, when typed into a computer in sequences, can allow us to write blurbs, watch porn, uh, I mean stream documentaries on global warming, and berate each other on Twitter. I’m still amazed that we can fly. When I talk on a phone, it astonishes me that voices are transmitted via wires or invisible signals in the air to anywhere in the world. But, none of that compares to what Anthony Davis does on the basketball court, especially last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 26 4 1 3 1 2/6 12/25 8/10

Who does that? This is A. D.’s seventh year in the league and he is moon walking, earth slithering, asteroid stomping, and universe hopping over all the competition. He has no weaknesses and is the perfect fantasy asset. There’s a reason why he was selected #1. There’s a reason he’s been the #1 player over the last week, the last month, the last two months…..for the whole freaking season. Now, we all know about the injury risk, but there’s also his playoff schedule, as he only plays 9 games (3 games each playoff week). Do you sell him, do you buy him? It’s a perplexing situation, but not as much as trying to make sense of the fantasy lines A. D. produces on a nightly basis.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Does it sometimes seem like what AD does on the basketball court is kind of unfair? He simultaneously makes everything look way too easy, while also looking like he hasn’t reached his potential. Those eyebrows only add to his mystique as some otherworldly basketball entity. I’m not saying he’s secretly a real life Monstar, but if that was revealed to be true, I would only be like 90% shocked. He’s the clear cut #1 option in fantasy basketball this year and it’s not even close. If you drafted him #1 this year, enjoy your chip.

Anthony Davis

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
20/32 8/11 0/2 48 17 4 1 2 1

AD has been on a crazy tear this season, and especially so in December. This game is just additional icing on the cake and shows his insane ability to produce in every cat. The only nitpick is the lack of 3’s, but hitting a go-ahead basket, in addition to nearly 50 points more than makes up for that.

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