October 7, 2019, 12:11 am
Indulge me here for a second, or just head on down to the ranks, but there’s something about a decade fighting at the top of the fantasy hoops world, or I guess any endeavor, that makes one both nostalgic and reflective as they get prepared to release their most important work product of the year.
What do I say about this thing? Do I just ring the triangle and yell Come and gitch yerrrr ranks!
(seriously if you just want the ranks scroll to the bottom)
They’re way more important than just that, to me as a competitor and to you as a purveyor of fine fantasy nuggets, and of course to the site itself.
That and every year adds its own gravity, both functionally as we gain experience but also as its own story of how we’re doing with these ranks and what we’re doing over here in general.
Did I mention that I’m about to officially become a father like any moment now?
Yeah – record scratch – everything these days seems to be about tapping into the good, getting rid of the bad, noting the past and getting ready for the future.
Also, the tough questions — if competing at this level is something you want to do, then how are you going to do it and why are you going to do it and be intentional because life has already started to get very different.
So as I conclude months of work I’ve sort of hopped in my mind from one scene to the next. Audacious and arrogant 20-something thinks he can do better at this — whatever this is — than everybody else, gets a chance, finds out quickly that he cannot … is thrilled to stubbornly prove he can, figures out how to do it, gets challenged by the best of the best to prove it and then here we are.
Add to that the forays interviewing folks like David Stern, Sacramento city politicians and becoming a pro-bono reporter covering the local team (who’s stupid enough to do that?), and then putting my heart and soul into this platform in lieu of giving my soul away to the first corporate behemoth that would exploit me and then here we are.
So why are we here?
First of all, you gotta be at least a little bit crazy to do this.
That’s not because it’s not amazing — or that it’s not worth it — it is all of that and then some.
It just takes a lot of guts.
If you’re going to talk a big game, let alone compete, you’ve gotta have a passion that overrides the pain, whether that be fatigue, failure or opportunity cost. You have to love it more than it loves you.
Staying on top as the industry continues to improve and grow, as the game itself gets smarter, you have to keep working every angle, iterate and then iterate some more.
And that’s what we’ve done here at Hoop Ball, which was probably an underdog bet to succeed when I walked away from 80-hour weeks for the 500-pound gorilla and opted instead to bet on myself and a better quality of life.
The NBA and sports landscape is littered with companies that stopped before they ever started. Half the industry quit their brick and mortar jobs and bet on a premium reporting model that still has industry insiders wondering if it can stay afloat.
What an audacious experience indeed.
And here we are starting our fourth full season.
You can know what you’re capable of and at the same time be in awe that it is actually happening.
We’re growing like crazy and we’ve attracted by far the most talented team of contributors in the fantasy space, with all due respect to some of the great fantasy sites that are out there who do great work, including my old employer. But we’re running something like 15-20 deep in the fantasy division with guys that not only have the talent, but who are also quality people that just want to be a part of something ‘more’ it seems.
We’re not stopping at just fantasy, either, as we’re sitting on a cache of over 50 contributors who are leaders in their respective fields, ranging from fantasy sports and NBA writing to scouting, audio and tech, and that’s expanding to marketing and social and away we go.
The brainchild has grown and exponentialized and whereas four years ago it was just me, myself and I — now I just hope that I shepherd it in the ways that these guys deserve.
Now I just hope that I have created the conditions to raise my son in a balanced and healthy way.
The journey from where I was, often at odds with the calculus of climbing a mountain that everybody wants to climb, rather than climbing for the view, is a story I’d like to tell one day.
In many ways, Hoop Ball has been the vehicle for an unwinding of all that is unhealthy for me, replacing those things with a pursuit of gratitude and selflessness and balance that I continue to explore daily.
The 80 hour weeks still haven’t gone away, however, and I can assure you that was never a part of the plan.
I’ll quickly peel back to 60 though and soon enough, a respectable 40-hour slate, including plenty of time for the normal routine of game-watching, film and analysis.
The biggest swap will be the mindless Twitter time and admin work that I’m now able to delegate — for more time with my family and friends, which admittedly hasn’t been where I have wanted it to be.
That’s the trademark of this seductive dance, and again the impetus for creating something that could be more than a stampede on or over people’s heads.
Ultimately, 2019 has been about answering the hard questions of the how and the why.
As for the how — we did it. You, me, the contributors and everybody in between — we made the platform hum.
As for the why … that’s tougher. Competing for the right reasons can be a razor-thin line. As the bets get bigger and more consequential, it’s important that you lean into all of the things that make you tick and make sure you’re calibrated in ways that serve your higher good, and more importantly the good of those around you.
What do you seek to achieve? What does it cost? What are you going to gain out of it?
Diving deep into these questions what I’ve come up with is that I love playing basketball, and because I’m too old and beat up to really play basketball, this is the next best thing for me. And one of my favorite things about playing ball was winning and anything worth doing is worth doing well.
But it doesn’t stop there. I love building things and I love the idea of what Hoop Ball can be, and what it has been for me already. I love the people I work with. I love the people that frequent this site.
That’s why we’re here.
I’m still going to write sweet wonderful blurbs. I’m still going to compete at the top of this industry. Essentially, it’s full speed ahead but there are priorities that require me to work smarter. And I know what my balance can absorb and I know where my heart lies with all of this.
So we’ll continue to iterate. And through that we’re going to continue to dominate.
And to that next great fantasy analyst, or the current handful of guys that actually get my attention in a draft, good luck taking me off the top of this mountain where we found ourselves once again last year.
Check out last season’s post-mortem if you care to as we beat the big dogs yet again (woof) — remaining undefeated in that regard here at Hoop Ball.
On the high stakes side I grabbed a solid 2nd place finish in the world’s toughest big money league, the FBA. It was still a public year though and it’s been that way for a few seasons now, so while we’ve been dominant and victorious and I have no complaints in any regard, we just haven’t had that 10-year tidal wave that allows us to historically mop up.
This is that year, my friends.
I can’t recall when this many values were on the board. All of the player movement and high-leverage projections have rolled out a fancy red carpet directing all wolves to the hen house.
Easy? Not quite.
If you’re not putting in the 400 hours of analysis that this typically requires you’re not going to keep up. Corners will be cut. One can’t automate what must be conceptualized inside of a basketball brain.
If you don’t have some significant intel and experience doing this — not to mention actually being good at it — you’re dead money against the handful of players that I know who are capable of reading this board at a high level.
Fortunately for us, half of that handful is not in the fantasy analyst game and of the remaining group there simply aren’t enough of them in the right places to move the markets.
Even though this list will do exactly that, it never happens fast enough to impact most of you guys. And with so many variables this season, you’re going to have options upon options upon options.
So that’s what we’re doing this year. We’re boatracing everybody.
Sorry not sorry.
You’re here and they’re not. I’m sure you’re shedding all sorts of tears.
Anyway, it’s about time to try and land this airplane and I want to spend some time thanking you guys profusely.
We’re all here because we love the game, what it means to us and in many cases, how it has created bonds in our life that are more precious than we generally even know — a sweet slice of escape in a world often gone mad.
That’s inherent within every forum post you make and every comment you pass along to us on Twitter or on one of our interactive shows. You inspire us to keep pushing harder when the alarm clock is ringing hours too early. You interact with each other and you build off each others’ insights and knowledge, handing the same fun energy that drew you to the game back and forth.
Laugh at the hoke in this post all you want but if you didn’t have that and we didn’t have that, Hoop Ball wouldn’t exist. But here we are and here you are.
How bout that.
For our part we just want to stay true to what an idealized version of the basketball internet can be. And in return we get a journey that gives us the same grappling with upside that we experience when looking at the bottom of this list, hunting top-36 players when drafting in the 100-150 range.
Knowing that I was having a child during this time of year, all of our contributors have stepped up in ways that move me daily. Not only have they given me the bandwidth to produce what I firmly believe is my best B150 ever, but they have done so in a way that has also allowed us to expand and enhance the experience that each of us is having.
For some of you that might just mean a cooler and easier to use website, and for some of us it changes the way we go about our lives.
And now I get to see a life into this world and grow along with him, all while we grow alongside this beast we call the Hoob and I couldn’t be more grateful and blessed.
None of that happens without each and every single one of you reading this.
And now I’m going to honor all of you and everybody in my life by landing a bunch of haymakers. Buckle up.
The ground rules….
♦ This is a fearless list. I’m not trying to play it safe. I’m not trying to stay in the friendly confines of industry consensus. I’ll probably have a high profile miss. But as regular readers know, we’re going to hit far more than we miss. And we’re going to hit real big on a bunch of them. This list will guide how much you should pay, who you should reach for and who you should run the other direction from.
♦ This is a Roto list. It’s not a head-to-head list or a points league list (though I don’t punt so this would be my H2H list). It’s not a list to account for playoff formats. Frankly I’d prefer it to not even include 9-cat rankings because it’s terrible to penalize better players for handling the ball a lot. But because we all play 9-cat I include my ranks for 9-cat and the associated Average Draft Positions (ADP), as well. While I’m banging on 9-cat leagues I’ll bang on playoff leagues, too. Why go through the nightly grind of the NBA season to have the ever-growing problem of shutdowns determine your league’s championship.
♦ You can now sort the list. The ADP losses and gains don’t relate well for players toward the beginning and end of the draft as they do for players in the top 30-100, nor does it correlate well to actual fantasy value being returned. But it does give you a quick way to know how early or late a player is going. We’ll always be looking at new features like this as we grow but we will also want to maintain the simplicity of this list.
♦ Though this is a top-150 list (including 50 or more honorable mentions at the end), each player in the top 400 or so has been hand-projected for each category. Those projections have been scrutinized in every context that might affect the final outcome. A proprietary blend of methodologies – both quantitative and qualitative – is used to weave the resulting numbers into these rankings.
♦ This is a season-long list. By ranking a player (for example) No. 33, I am predicting they will finish as the 33rd ranked player at the end of the year, cumulatively. In that respect, it is vital owners know that I am not intending for them to draft players in this order. You may also consider a player’s early or late season trajectory. A young player that profiles better at the end of the year will probably play under that rank to start and over that rank to finish. As a result, it might not be easy to roster certain players early on in the year.
♦ Again, owners need to consider their specific marketplace and determine where they would like to draft players based on ADP, strength of their league and the like. Just because I rank a guy way ahead of his ADP, or if the ADP doesn’t exist because the guy isn’t getting drafted enough – it doesn’t mean you grab him where I rank him.
♦ ADPs are pulled from ESPN for 8-cat and Yahoo for 9-cat and are updated along with most of the other updates. Late September ADP data can be pretty rough, just keep that in mind. For undrafted players they are given ADPs of 200 when the systems aren’t providing that data, but you’ll notice for ESPN they give players an ADP of 140 when they’re selected and nothing when they’re not. Yahoo stops somewhere in the 150s. Do with that what you will.
♦ These are pure values that don’t account for any punting or specialized team builds you might want to look at. If you want to adjust for punting or a specific type of team build you’ll need to do that on your own. For what it’s worth I seek balance when building a team whether it’s Roto or H2H.
♦ The only place on this list where I might eschew predicting end-of-season value is toward the bottom of the ranks. I do build in some logic for flier picks and upside guys over the plodders who are going to get three yards and a cloud of dust for 76 games.
So without further ado, I give you the Bruski 150:
UPDATED THROUGH ITEMS POSTED: October 19, 4:10 p.m. ET