• 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

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).

    This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.

    Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.

    Source: NBA

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.

    Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.

    Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.

    Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • TJ Warren
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, Pacers forward T.J. Warren has no injury worries heading into the season.

    Warren has missed 56 games during the last two seasons, but he hopes to stay healthy for all of 2019-20. Warren is likely to start for the Pacers and could hold top-100 value if he can stay on the court.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard expects to play for Team USA during next year's Summer Olympics.

    Lillard skipped this year's World Cup but is planning to play in Tokyo. He should be a late first-round or early second-round fantasy pick this year.

    Source: news.com.au

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Warriors guard Stephen Curry expects to play at next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

    Curry will have a busy year ahead of him. Still, it's no surprise that many potential members of Team USA skipped this year's FIBA World Cup in favor of an Olympics appearance. Curry will be a popular early first-round pick in fantasy drafts.

    Source: ESPN

  • Isaiah Thomas
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb.

    This is rough news for the Wizards, who already have John Wall on the shelf. Thomas was a candidate to start at point guard, but instead he'll have to recover from yet another injury. Thomas averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 assists in limited action for the Nuggets last campaign.

    Source: Washington Wizards on Twitter