• We’re going to keep this one short and simple. No insane diatribes from me in this space this week. No ranting and raving and carrying on. No forced metaphors for whatever team building principles you may employ. Instead, I’ll hit the usual Facepalm high notes, but as I promised, this is largely going to be a Career League update as a sort of holiday gift for you all.

    Editor’s Note: Our latest Beat the Expert contest on DraftKings is bigger and better than ever! Join on Wednesday (tomorrow night): 100 spots, $3 entry and top-10 pay $30 apiece! 1st place gets a bonus Hoop Ball tee and 2nd place gets a bonus gift bag from Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee! Reserve your entry by clicking right here!

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK WHO HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST ME

    It was a rough week for injuries happening in the middle of the week. Those are the worst. You think that a player is healthy enough for a return, you start them, and then one game in they reinjure themselves or have something else go wrong. Perhaps some players are just trying to get some extra time in for holiday shopping. Malls are getting crowded after all.

    But of all the random nicks and scratches that took place in the NBA only one player seemed to affect me most. He’s a pretty highly owned player of mine and someone I build the majority of my teams around.

    SO DAMN YOU NIKOLA MIROTIC. You were sick and now your ankle is bothering you? Did you fall down the stairs while you were sneezing? I mean, what the hell? And to get better, did you stop going to real doctors to visit some Bourbon Street Shaman instead? Nobody punched you in the face recently. Go see someone who has a legitimate medical degree, fix yourself pronto and get back to being that top-50 player I demand out of all of my fantasy starters.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT THE GAME LOSES ALL OF IT’S MEANING IF YOU DON’T HUMILIATE THEM FOR BEING A FUCKING MEAT GAZER IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Paul George

    Round 2 – Joel Embiid

    Round 3 – Bradley Beal

    Round 4 – Mike Conley

    Round 5 – Myles Turner

    Round 6 – Kyle Kuzma

    Round 7 – De’Aaron Fox

    Round 8 – Buddy Hield

    Round 9 – Serge Ibaka

    Round 10 – Spencer Dinwiddie

    Round 11 – Thaddeus Young

    Round 12 – Danilo Gallinari

    Round 13 – Larry Nance Jr.

    I hope you all enjoyed that wild Kyle Kuzma ride because it is only a matter of time before Brandon Ingram is waiting to grind everything to a halt. The Kings are delightful and given the frequency that De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have been showing up on this list, I want them to form a comedy duo called Fox Buddies about two guys who go on basketball themed hunting trips with their goofy European friend Bogdan who is unaccustomed to American cultural norms.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT YOU KNOW THAT WEIRD, PARANOID FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU HEAR PEOPLE LAUGHING AND YOU THINK THEY’RE LAUGHING AT YOU WHEN THEY’RE REALLY NOT? WELL, IN YOUR CASE, THEY ACTUALLY ARE IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Kawhi Leonard

    Round 2 – Jimmy Butler

    Round 3 – DeMar DeRozan

    Round 4 – Khris Middleton

    Round 5 – Ricky Rubio

    Round 6 – Hassan Whiteside

    Round 7 – Jonas Valanciunas

    Round 8 – Nikola Mirotic

    Round 9 – Dennis Smith Jr.

    Round 10 – Eric Gordon

    Round 11 – Taj Gibson

    Round 12 – Montrezl Harrell

    Round 13 – Collin Sexton

    Like I said, just a miserable week for poorly timed injuries. Kawhi Leonard is only playing in 75% of his games so far and if that holds, you’re only going to get 62 from him for the whole season. It’s difficult to justify a 1st rounder for that kind of on-court availability. I need a new Jonas sweatshirt after all. Sigh.

    ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

    I’ll be looking at some mid to late-tier players who I’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the season on a week to week basis. Based on how their past few and upcoming few games go, I’ll decide whether or not I will be confidently holding and feeling strongly about (rock), or feeling a little bit flimsy or unsure of (paper) or will just be cutting it out altogether like Dave Coullier trying to desperately hang onto his comedy career (scissors, obviously). These are the players we either drafted or picked up who can make or break our seasons and will be dissected most when we try to make moves to the top of the standings. Here are some more players in my thought process.

    ROCKS

    Trevor Ariza – The Wizards are secretly the worst run team in the league, but they could use Ariza about now. There’s probably more concern about Porter’s knee than they’re letting on and as much as Oubre was a fan favorite, he was too erratic to rely on each night. I think the usual top-75 to 100, 3-and-D Ariza will make a full return in DC.

    Thaddeus Young/Domantas Sabonis – They’re trading hot streaks and it’s a good sign for the Pacers that if one is down, the other steps up. The beauty of these two is that they complement each other quite well. Sabonis will never have the defensive chops of Thad and Thad won’t find the fountain of youth to take away Sabonis’s scoring and rebounding ability. Even with their yin and yang routine, both could be top-100 players by year’s end.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. – I hope that you all have idiot owners in your leagues who look at his lines over the past few games and panic. If you do, get him immediately.

    PAPER

    Noah Vonleh – I’m holding him for now because the minutes seem to still be there, but Kevin Knox has been heating up since his return and Vonleh has been heading in the opposite direction. All it will take is one positive report on the pending return of a Unicorn to send Vonleh back to the scrap heap.

    Bobby Portis – His return did absolutely nothing to quell the concerns about efficiency and lack of defense. I trust nothing about the Bulls ability to manage this mess of a frontcourt. It’s only a matter of time before he’ll tease you with a 15/10 game only to make you regret holding him over the next four.

    Evan Fournier – His value is tied heavily into his percentages. If he’s knocking them down, he’s a hold. If he’s not, then he’s French Wes Matthews aka Weslee Matthieu. If he doesn’t start to heat up soon then I’d be fine with you having your own Bastille Day and revolt against Fournier ownership.

    SCISSORS

    Wilson Chandler – This is one of those scenarios where just because the consistent minutes are there doesn’t mean the production will be as well. If Chandler is healthy he’ll have no choice but to play on a depth challenged Sixers team. However, his per-36 numbers are absolutely abysmal and it’s possible that he simply doesn’t have it anymore.

    All of Cleveland (yet again) – Anyone not named Larry Nance Jr. you can launch into a distant netherworld. Remember when Alec Burks was a thing? It’s a nightly competition for who can make me curse at my TV more between the Cavs, the Bulls, the Knicks, and Suns.

    Jaylen Brown – And still Danny Ainge will ship him off to some sucker for a mountain of 1st rounders.

    CAREER LEAGUE UPDATE

    At last, we have a Career League update and while I apologize for the wait, it made sense to hold off for this long so that we can get a greater accumulation of stats and some insight as to how this league will move forward. Will there be any major changes? Does anyone have big decisions to make? Let’s see how this all shakes out.

    First, here’s a quick refresher of where the standings were as the season started:

    Original Standings

    Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk TOTAL
    Erik Ong 5 12 9 4 4 4 9 8 55
    Zach Feldman 12 8 12 11 10 11 12 10 86
    Mike Passador 3 2 10 3 6 10 4 7 45
    Zach Bodhane 10 6 11 5 9 7 8 9 65
    Mike Apotria 8 10 8 9 7 6 7 11 66
    Dan Besbris 9 9 4 7 11 8 11 12 71
    Chef Ali 2 1 2 6 3 3 2 2 21
    Tell Me How My Ass Taste 4 7 6 2 2 5 5 3 34
    Nathan/Ryan 6 5 3 8 8 2 3 5 40
    Souriyo Dishak 11 3 7 10 12 12 10 4 69
    Dio Nikiforos 7 11 1 12 5 9 6 6 57
    Aaron Bruski 1 4 5 1 1 1 1 1 15

    Original Totals

    Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk
    Erik Ong 257491 0.4906552159 0.7773309989 89877 54788 9938 18462 11955
    Zach Feldman 313224 0.4793658034 0.8065537053 109951 65629 11558 20035 12144
    Mike Passador 249531 0.4684583837 0.7825974461 87396 57956 11466 16284 11219
    Zach Bodhane 269889 0.4778149824 0.7969902799 100198 59925 10815 17051 12003
    Mike Apotria 261380 0.4872609273 0.774793694 105872 57961 10782 16856 12559
    Dan Besbris 262605 0.4799311898 0.764337431 105197 65994 10850 19167 15357
    Chef Ali 239749 0.4654387993 0.7618633 100935 54451 9564 13679 9965
    Tell Me How My Ass Taste 255085 0.4784897164 0.7675107097 83014 53207 10104 16685 10086
    Nathan/Ryan 258056 0.4749765698 0.764336182 105466 59508 8678 14552 10735
    Souriyo Dishak 288231 0.4725028698 0.7739150484 109494 69144 12123 19050 10312
    Dio Nikiforos 259971 0.4898481827 0.6946923375 113942 57608 11035 16755 10821
    Aaron Bruski 169359 0.4729177181 0.7669975246 69289 36863 8137 13100 8747

    Z-Score Zach Feldman took a commanding lead post-draft, but Besbris, Souriyo, Mike Apotria, and Zach Bodhane could all make moves to catch up. Our dear overlord Bruski went into tank mode around round 8 of the draft, and Chef Ali isn’t too far behind him. Dio, Erik, and Panda are stuck in Career League No Man’s Land. I am team Tell Me How My Ass Taste, which is everything you need to know about how I feel about my current standing in the league that I invented.

    Now, after two months of basketball, I will provide you with the most up to date standings as well as some notes and analysis on just how we got here.

    Current Standings

    Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk TOTAL
    Erik Ong 5 12 9 4 4 4 9 9 56
    Zach Feldman 12 8 12 11 10 11 12 10 86
    Mike Passador 3 2 10 3 7 10 4 7 46
    Zach Bodhane 10 6 11 5 9 7 8 8 64
    Mike Apotria 8 10 8 8 6 6 7 11 64
    Dan Besbris 9 9 4 7 11 8 11 12 71
    Chef Ali 2 1 2 6 3 3 2 2 21
    Tell Me How My Ass Taste 4 7 5 2 2 5 5 3 33
    Nathan/Ryan 6 5 3 9 8 2 3 5 41
    Souriyo Dishak 11 3 7 10 12 12 10 4 69
    Dio Nikiforos 7 11 1 12 5 9 6 6 57
    Aaron Bruski 1 4 6 1 1 1 1 1 16

    Current Totals

    Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk
    Erik Ong 261158 0.4903344767 0.7772262004 91364 55661 10234 18745 12174
    Zach Feldman 316003 0.4793263661 0.8060430263 111071 66170 11823 20178 12317
    Mike Passador 252764 0.4682607317 0.7830642365 88619 58674 11801 16447 11396
    Zach Bodhane 272252 0.4779391678 0.7967827326 101358 60782 11028 17228 12134
    Mike Apotria 263655 0.4875035965 0.7750756752 106903 58323 10974 16976 12691
    Dan Besbris 265170 0.4797360191 0.7647674013 106134 66739 11122 19392 15441
    Chef Ali 243798 0.4649192509 0.7627339216 101936 55453 9967 13874 10096
    Tell Me How My Ass Taste 259059 0.4789666495 0.7674221762 85179 54040 10269 16910 10293
    Nathan/Ryan 262798 0.475046704 0.7638604515 106980 60187 9015 14841 10910
    Souriyo Dishak 290934 0.4722658657 0.7738629003 110810 69883 12385 19240 10371
    Dio Nikiforos 263059 0.4900740755 0.6957431037 115511 58237 11227 16963 10947
    Aaron Bruski 172895 0.4731461834 0.7675172039 70515 37450 8381 13314 8946

    So after all that, there was…not a lot of movement.  Deeper Sigh. Well, let’s at least see why and determine the few things at play that we can discuss.

    Zach Feldman has a commanding lead due to his outstanding draft and I don’t know how anyone catches him short of making trades. As a reminder, trades can happen in this league. Teams can own up to as many as 12 retired players in season, but that number will get dropped down to 6 the following season, but active players can be kept in greater amounts.  That will reward teams who “tank” and pick up players who are young, but have promising long term careers.

    Anyway, the closest to catching Z-Score are Besbris and Souriyo. Mike Apotria and Zach Bodhane aren’t far behind either, but they took a couple of hits in the standings.

    At the opposite end of the table, Bruski is playing for the 2030 championship. Chef Ali remained stuck in 11th and I somehow lost a point due to FT% of all things. What the hell? Is Shaq still playing or something? Of all the damn things to drop in. Team Tell Me How My Ass Taste must’ve made too many late-night trips to Taco Bell.

    Panda, Erik Ong, Nathan & Ryan, and Dio are all wandering aimlessly in the middle of the Career League desert. It’ll be easy for the guys at the top to buy and for the bottom to sell. These four have some tough decisions to make to how they’ll shape their franchises for years to come. This is serious stuff here, the success of the Career League is riding on it.

    As far as general learnings go, since this is a new league, it’s going to take a lot longer than two months to sort out the team with the best careers. After all, careers are determined after a matter of several years, not a couple of months. Hence why I’m also only updating this space every couple of months, save for important breaking news like a retirement, a career threatening injury, or a decision to abandon basketball and join the space program.

    At the same time, many of the teams have “active” players who are either injured, inactive, or are just in the one year grace period where they aren’t officially retired, but are out of the league. Players like Dirk Nowitzki, DeMarcus Cousins, Pau Gasol, Kristaps Porzingins, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas and Dwight Howard have all been dealing with injuries that have kept them sidelined for the majority if not all of this season so far. Players like Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Zach Randolph and Al Jefferson were all relevant players in this league who are either active and not playing for their respective squads, or are currently out of the league, but have not officially announced their retirements. That’s just about 1 player per team that has generated 0 points for their teams where 8 “active” players are, well, active.

    The moral of this story is that the Career League needs a couple of things right now. The first is more time. The second is more trades! So let’s go people, who’s ready to offer me the sweet, sweet upside of a guy like Luka Doncic so I can give you the decaying remains of Alvin Robertson so you can get a boost in the steals category?

    BLOODY SUNDAY

    Four for five in my leagues and my one rough league is the 10-team H2H where everything has been falling apart. Kawhi Leonard missed a bunch of games, Mirotic missed games, Jamal Murray has been a nightmare, and oh the idiot writing this picked up Nemanja Bjelica for his Sunday game against the Mavs where he had 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. Except I didn’t check that he was in my starting roster and he stayed on my bench where those stats got me a whole buptkus and a category swing of a 5-4 lead into a 3-6 loss. See, happens to all of us.

    Anytime you’ve got a good Bloody Sunday story. Reach out to me on Twitter @JoshMillman

    and I’ll happily, and not so happily, commiserate with you.

    The Facepalm will be taking a hiatus during the holidays so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Hoop-Ballers! May 2019 bring you nothing but life’s version of fantasy championships.

Fantasy News

  • Damion Lee
    SG, Golden State Warriors

    Damion Lee was one of the lone bright spots in a lost season for the Warriors after starting on a two-way contract, finishing the year ranked 155th in 9-cat and 122nd in 8-cat.

    After exhausting the 45-day NBA roster limit for his two-way deal, the Warriors brought Lee back on a three-year NBA contract after he played extremely well during his extended showcase. Obviously, he factors in to the Warriors' plans moving forward, even if it's just depth at the guard position behind bonafide stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are both coming off of long-term injuries. Lee seems poised to play an important role in 2020-21 and could very well be a viable fantasy contributor.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Golden State Warriors

    Andrew Wiggins, who was dealt from the T-Wolves to the Warriors in February, finds himself in a seemingly favorable spot moving forward, as far as his career is concerned.

    Wiggins actually fared worse, at least from a fantasy perspective, during his month with the Warriors. Overall, he finished the year ranked 76th in 8-cat and 93rd in 9-cat but was outside the top-120 over his final nine games. The Warriors, who plan on starting Wiggins at small forward next year, should be at full strength next season with the return of stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. In addition, the team will presumably land a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft due to their lackluster (and severely undermanned) performance this season. If Wiggins is able to build some rapport with Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green during the rather short offseason, he will in for another high-floor, top-100 fantasy season in 2020-21. Fantasy owners should be accustomed to the ebbs and flows that come with Wiggins' fantasy seasons, but throwing him into the mix with the rest of the Warriors is nonetheless intriguing.

  • Alex Len
    C, Sacramento Kings

    Alex Len, Buddy Hield and Jabari Parker have yet to join the rest of their Kings teammates in Orlando clear (test negative for) the coronavirus protocol for the NBA's 'bubble' at Disney World.

    This update was courtesy of head coach Luke Walton, via Kings Insider James Ham, after it was reported that the trio tested positive on June 24. Len apparently never felt symptoms. Parker, for his part, broke his quarantine when he was seen playing tennis in his native Chicago (where he is in isolation) on video. There's a chance Len and Hield will be able to report to Orlando before Parker because of this, but all three must clear protocol before they can make the trip to the bubble.

    Source: James Ham on Twitter

  • Andre Roberson
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Andre Roberson continued to show progress in recovering from his ruptured patellar tendon, as he was a full participant at practice on Friday.

    Head coach Billy Donovan felt Roberson looked strong in terms of his movements. It sounds feasible that Roberson will be appearing in games for the Thunder once play resumes in the Orlando bubble. He has not played since January 2018, as he has suffered from a number of setbacks, but if Roberson has his athleticism that will make him an impact defender right out the gate for the Thunder. He's never had a jumper to save his life on the offensive end, but he could play his way back into the rotation while seeing limited minutes.

    Source: Royce Young on Twitter

  • Paul George
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Paul George admitted he had some concerns over his shoulders until a few weeks ago, but he will be entering the bubble in "the best form he can be".

    Shoulder issues have hampered George over the last couple of seasons. When at 100 percent, PG13 performs like an MVP candidate, but his scoring role can really diminish when these sorts of injuries drag him down. Even with just 29 mpg, George has been struggling through injuries this year. His averages remain early-round assets, but the Clippers are never going to push him to force the issue during the regular season, and he's unlikely to be taxing himself during the regular season matchups inside the bubble.

    Source: Jovan Buha on Twitter

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Luke Kennard's role greatly increased in year three with the Pistons, as he grew into a top-100/101 per-game player (8-cat/9-cat) on the back of 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.6 treys and .893 shooting from the line.

    The Pistons were ready to hand the reings to Kennard, and he was able to deliver when healthy. However, he only appeared in 28 games, which is reflected in his 252/248 total value (8-cat/9-cat). Kennard should be fully healed form bilateral knee soreness when next season arrives, but even if one projects him taking on a larger offensive role for the Pistons, it's difficult to target him before the later rounds with so many injury questions surrounding him. Moreover, nonexistent steal (0.4) and block (0.2) averages limit the upside to be found in Kennard.

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    Derrick Rose was a pleasant fantasy surprise this season, posting a career-high .490 field goal percentage, alongside .871 shooting from the line, 5.6 assists and 18.1 points per game.

    If Rose could ever find a way to do anything else besides scoring, assists and percentages he would be on his way to early-round value in fantasy, but he has settled into a nice role as the starting point guard for the Pistons. Still just 31 years old, Rose was a top-81/96 per game player (8-cat/9-cat), and was often selected at the end of 12-team drafts. Rose stayed relatively healthy this season, and as long as that's the case next year, he should be all set for a repeat performance. The Pistons will likely add a young guard with promise to the roster, but Rose should have a good chance to retain the starting job.

  • Christian Wood
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    After being stashed in anticipation, Christian Wood lived up to expectations when given the opportunity, setting himself up as a popular target as he enters free agency.

    As a sub for 50 games, Wood averaged 10.9 PTS, 5.5 REBS, 0.7 ASTS, 0.7 3PTS, 0.9 BLKS and 0.5 STLS. Those numbers leapt off the boxscore over a dozen games as a starter: 21.9 PTS, 9.4 REBS, 2.3 ASTS, 1.7 3PTS, 0.8 BLKS and 0.8 STLS. The jump from 18 to 34 mpg naturally helped these advances, but Wood proved he is a worthy mid-round asset when given the chance. He could very well return to Detroit and do similar things as a starter next to Blake Griffin, just as Andre Drummond did for several seasons, but he is bound to have a number of suitors this offseason. Wood can do it all from a fantasy perspective, and a full season as a goto option with the Pistons could produce a top-40 campaign.

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Bruce Brown saw his workload jump to 28.2 mpg and the results largely followed, as Brown posted 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists over 58 games.

    Brown is capable of doing a little bit of everything and serves as a worthy fill-in whenever the usual stars are unavailable for the Pistons. Injuries hounded Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard, and the departure of Andre Drummond also opened up more chances for Brown to emerge. For a rebuilding franchise like the Pistons, Brown figures to be a regular piece of the rotation next season, and if he focuses on improving his shooting from deep (.344 on 1.7 3PTA) he could look like a 12-team asset if the Pistons fail to make offseason additions.

  • Langston Galloway
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Langston Galloway had a serviceable campaign as an off the bench scorer for the Pistons, finishing as a top-204/175 per-game player (8-cat/9-cat).

    Over 25.8 mpg, Galloway put together 10.3 points and two 3-pointers with little else for the offensively-inept Pistons. His 3-pointer sharpened to a career-best .399 percent on 5.0 attempts. He's not the most exciting fantasy option, but in deeper formats, Galloway is a reliable end of the roster guard. His role is likely to decrease as he enters free agency and could depart Detroit this offseason.