• Welcome back to the Hoop Ball Huddle.

    It’s been quite a while since I put one out there and it has made me feel a bit Jusuf Nurkic and excited to be back. I’ve been busy with real-life stuff, while juggling the work here at HB. That said, the All-Star break has been a nice breather for me. Similar to our beloved NBA players, I’m back refreshed, rested and ready to get back into the thick of things.

    A couple of things, though. First, I’m changing the format of the Hoop Ball Huddle. It started off as a mailbox kind of weekly article where I answer some pressing questions. It was rocking at the start but struggled to keep the momentum going – zigzagging down the path of OG Anunoby’s highly volatile 2019-20. Most of you wanted answers quickly and posting them on social media or in the forums got you those quick fixes. So moving forward, I will be converting the Huddle to what it should be, me providing strategy and sharing tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years. While it won’t be as league-sweeping as Bruski’s newsletter (which is FREE and you should subscribe to, btw), the Huddle will be my own little corner where I can talk shop and hopefully, share some insightful thoughts. It’s about getting back to my fantasy-writing roots, why I started this journey and a chance to work on a craft I’ve really come to enjoy improving, like Andre Drummond’s free-throw shooting. Secondly, the article won’t be coming out on a fixed schedule as it did before.

    Anyway, without further ado, let’s get it on!

    We’re going to get into some H2H strategy for this one.

    For many leagues out there, the fantasy playoffs are a few weeks away. This means that for some teams, the ones on top, it’s time to slowly adjust your team’s build to veer towards a 5-4 (for 9-cat leagues) dominant set-up. You might also want to load up on players from teams with good playoff schedules. While a lot of you, especially those who have followed HB for a while now, have drafted their teams in preparation for such a build, not all the players on your roster are optimized for this. Over the course of the season, you’ve had to drop, trade, add and stash guys just to keep up with the myriad of injuries that have swept through the upper tiers of fantasy studs.

    If you’ve locked up a good seed, now is the time to make that winning trade. Most fantasy league trade deadlines are nearing, so it’s make or break for a lot of teams. Take advantage of other teams’ adversity and send out offers for stashable players. Like Luke Kennard, who many teams may not have the luxury of holding onto over the next couple of weeks, for example. He’s going to have a large role for the Pistons in the tail-end of the season, but his knees have not been too quick to cooperate thus far. That said, he’s been making progress but is still “a ways away.”

    On the flip side, desperate teams, those of you who are chasing for a slot in the playoffs. There’s one piece of advice I’d give, and I’ve been giving it for years. You need “warm bodies.” This is not the time to hold onto those Lauri Markkanens, Clint Capelas or even Kyrie Irvings. Trade ’em quick. Even if it means you’re getting far less than their healthy-value, go for it. Focus on players who have strong a lot of games leading up to the playoffs. If you do have an IR slot, fine, keep ’em. However, if you don’t, push may come to shove that a drop may be the only good move to make. Those earl-to-mid-round guys won’t do you any good during the playoff weeks if you don’t get there.

    Note: You don’t need to trade just your injured guys. Go for an optimal number of games. Trade for players within the same value tier but have more games.

    Here are some examples of trades/offers I’ve seen in my leagues:

    Christian Wood traded for Danilo Gallinari.  – Wood has nice upside, but Detroit’s upcoming schedule is piss-poor. The Thunder, on the other hand, have more games.

    I was offered Kelly Oubre Jr. for my Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by a team that’s in 12th place (top-8 make advance to playoffs). While Oubre might be the better play in the actual fantasy playoffs with the Suns having a 3-4-4 spread over weeks 22-24. They only play three and two games in weeks 20 and 21, respectively. SGA and the Thunder play four and three games, for weeks 20 and 21, respectively. The thing is, I’m in 9th and am also scampering for a berth. Those two extra games SGA will give me might make or break my playoff aspirations. So, I politely but painfully declined the fair offer.

    One long-time HoopBaller is being offered Nikola Jokic and DeMar DeRozan for his Luka Doncic and Caris LeVert. Considering he’s working on a shooting efficiency build, you can imagine how tempting it must be. He has not pulled the trigger because Luka and LeVert have the better scheds heading into the playoffs and he’s fighting for one of those available berths.

    Target players from the following teams: BKN, BOS, CHI, UTA as top options (8 games in weeks 20 and 21).

    Secondary, targets should come from CHA, DAL, DEN, HOU, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, POR, SAS, WAS as they all have seven games combined in weeks 20 and 21.

    Those abovementioned teams apply to streaming as well. When you’re talking about value at the end of or outside the top-150, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Maximize the punch your team gets out of its moves and optimize the number of games you get.

    It’s truly crunch time folks! Values are values, but on certain levels, they’re getting blurred vs. number of games, now more than ever. Quality vs. quantity debate is a long and arduous one to undertake but in the end, to keep it simple, do the rough math. A top-75 player’s four games is probably worth more than a top-50 player’s three and definitely two games.

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