• It’s a sunny day in mid-October and you’re lost in thought about how amped up you are for the season. You heart this ridiculous professional basketball league and all its viral glory and this will be the year it’s going to reward your endless love with a fantasy title. You study and prepare for the competition. Nothing and no one will hold you back from dominating your draft and ripping through your pathetic rivals.

    Draft Day comes, you get a late pick, but that’s ok. You’re ready for anything.

    Round One – Kawhi Leonard. Don’t freak out about the quad. It’s a quad for God’s sake. It’s not like he lost an appendage. He’ll be fine. He’s the best player available on your board.

    Round Two – DeMarcus Cousins. Legit superstar center and not worried how he’ll mesh with Unibrow. They’ve had a whole offseason to figure it out.

    Round Three – Gordon Hayward. The Celtics are all in. He and Kyrie could be special together.

    Round Four – Mike Conley. Focused on fontcourt early, but need to shift to guard and Conley is as reliable as they come at the point.

    Round Five – Nicolas Batum. The multicategory Swiss army knife. Knee injury, shmee injury, most reports say he’s going to be just fine to start the season.

    And as the draft rolls on…

    You’re convinced that in rounds six and seven that Brandon Ingram and Marquese Chriss are primed to break out. You just know in round eight that Brook Lopez would pick up right where he left off in LA and be a solid 2nd center. And you shriek when owner after owner passes on Avery Bradley, James Johnson and Taurean Prince in rounds nine, 10, and 11. And you finally sweep up Milos Teodosic and Richaun Holmes at the end of the draft believing they would have solid and possibly expanding roles on their teams.

    Good lord that looks like a script to a Saw film. I think you all know how this horror flick turns out. If it weren’t for Boogie’s monster stats before he got hurt, this team would easily be in dead last in their league’s standings. But if your draft looked something like this in your dynasty league, don’t fret. Grab a hold of all the beer, bourbon, and wine spritzers your grubby fingers can handle and commence the process of getting yourself and your fantasy team nice and tanked.

    No matter how much Adam Silver pouts and tsk tsks about it, tanking is a time honored tradition in the NBA and it should be in fantasy as well. If you’re in a keeper league, and why wouldn’t you be, then you don’t stop proactively being an aggressive GM just because this season is a lost one. If this season goes to hell, then you need to put yourself in the best position possible to do much better next year. And that means getting your Hinkie on and making your own tank fueled military parade right through your league. With that in mind, here’s a Do’s and Don’ts guide to tanking the right way and getting the most out of your quest to hit rock bottom.

    DON’T – Tank half assed.

    If you’re going to tank, be committed to it. If you prefer to play spoiler to the playoff teams, that’s fine, but where does that get you? You’re not going to get a butt pat and an ‘attaboy’ for your effort to play the 2nd place team to a 5-4 loss as opposed to a 7-2 loss.

    Once you know you’re out of the playoff race, go for broke. Try to leave no stone left unturned. Trust that Process and know that if you use the system to tank properly, you will be in position to get some sweet keepers and top picks for next season.

    DO – Accept less value on players you have no intention of keeping.

    I’m terrible with money, but last time I checked five cents on the dollar is better than zero cents on the dollar. I’m not suggesting that you raise the dander of your league’s commissioner, but if you’re in a keeper league and know that you simply can’t or won’t keep some pricey veterans, why not take what you can get with a major flier on a rookie or young guy just to be rid of them. In these types of scenarios, something is better than nothing on a tanking fantasy team.

    Say you have Carmelo Anthony. And of course you do because rule of law is that Melo needs to be on at least one terrible team and he’s no longer on the Knicks. We know that he’s not the player he once was and is currently the third or possibly fourth banana on a very good Thunder team. It’s easy for most fantasy owners to dismiss Melo as just washed up and a knee issue away from missing multiple games. He’s going to be a later pick or won’t be worth the salary to keep him on your team for next year.

    What rival owners may also be ignoring is that this season he’s still a near-top-100 player and averaging the fewest minutes per game of his entire career. I’m sure the Thunder hope that he won’t be as gassed with having to carry the burden of 40-plus minute games while trying to do everything to play his way out of James Dolan’s billion dollar dumpster fire. Also, much of his top-100 ranking is being held down by his field goal percentage. A closer look shows that his 3-point shots and shooting percentage is mostly in line with his last few seasons. It’s his 2-point shooting that’s down on less shots. It’s very possible that if he can get himself some more bunnies from Russ, that a course correction is in order.

    There’s value in that version of Melo for the remaining weeks of the season. But if an owner is still reluctant to give much up, why not offer to take a risk to make a deal happen? What if the other owner is still holding onto someone like Jonathan Isaac despite being the last man on his bench? Isaac has been injured and is not even in the top-250 in value on the season. He’s unlikely to make a big dent in the Magic rotation for the remainder of the season even though they’re rebuilding given his injury woes.  Isaac may never pan out, that’s just the way it goes with some draft picks. But why not take a shot to find out?

    So if you have a chance, take some deep risks with remaining trades. It’ll mean taking significantly lower value on certain players, but you never know when you might end up scratching off the right lottery ticket.

    DON’T – Make any more waiver claims.

    First, you’re only going to piss off other owners who could use some potential late season gems like David Nwaba or Emmanuel Mudiay for their playoff pushes. Second, a lot of the guys on waivers only have value due to other injured players ahead of them on depth charts. Andrew Harrison is going to be an ownable asset from here on out, but he’s useless in the future with a healthy Mike Conley. Third, again, you should be focused on getting the best picks and keepers possible, not trying to find a Joe Schmo rotation guy who happened to have been thrust into a bigger role.

    DON’T – Play injured players

    It takes two damn minutes to set a lineup on a mobile device. Don’t be a deadbeat owner, start a healthy lineup every week. No one wants THAT person in their league and I want commissioners across America to institute rules that are enforceable by law that will shame and hurl poop at fantasy owners in the streets like they’re Cersei Lannister when they give up and ignore lineups. You see that red tag, keep em on the bench.

    DO – Start your youngsters

    If playing the youngsters is the standard operating procedure for tanking NBA teams, it should be yours too.  Start some of your younger players and keepers in lieu of the vets on your team. Unleash your Dragan Bender. Order a John Collins at the bar. Let Jordan Bell be the one for whom it tolls. And sorry Josh Jackson, but you are for real. There’s plenty of room for you all on these tracks to Tankonia.

    DO – Subtle lineup changes to increases your tanking chances

    Not all tanking needs to be so brazen. Subtle, under the radar moves can make a difference too. Very simply, if you don’t have a ton of rookies or young guys, take a closer look at schedules for the week. Perhaps you have two perfectly good-but-not-great point guards in Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder on your team. You notice that Teague has four games this week and Schroeder only has three. Start Schroder over Teague in that case so you’re not counting as many stats. Or if they both have four games, and Schroder has home games against the Magic, Nets, Cavs, and Knicks, but Teague is on the road against the Grizzlies, Mavs, Jazz, and Blazers, then give Teague the nod. Just a little extra thought can give you that extra tanking edge.

    Bottom line is that there are ways to tank without being a useless bum of an owner that drags down the quality of your league. Don’t ignore your team to go off and play crappy blues music like you’re New York’s booger picking Cablevision heir. Call out your tanking all you want, you’re not Mark Cuban, your league can’t fine you.  But if you’re honest with yourself and the status of your team a good roster purging can feel cathartic. I love winning just as much as anyone, but I love me a good fire sale too. So if you’re down and out, do everything in your power to put yourself in a position to draft a Luka Doncic or Deandre Ayton and you’ll find that your tanking will have paid off in the long run.

    Player of the Week Who Has a Personal Vendetta Against Me

    Trey Burke had two strikes against him as of one month ago. In college, he was a standout Michigan player, and I enjoy the success of the Wolverines as much as I enjoy a kick in the groin. Fortunately he was terrible as a pro, but then he signed with the Knicks in January, a team that I enjoy as much as getting a root canal while being kicked in the groin. Still, the Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina, traded for Emmanuel Mudiay, and for some reason still employs Jarrett Jack, so how much damage could Trey Burke possibly do.

    Of course two games, two 26-point outbursts for Burke lead to two fantasy beatdowns for yours truly. Strike three! Damn you Trey Burke! Why couldn’t you have just stayed in the G-League, where the G stands for “Go away forever you one-dimensional bust!”

    Adventures in DFS

    Not having basketball DFS due to the All-Star break was maddening. What the hell else am I supposed to do during the day when I alter lineups 4,698 times? Work? GTFO! Then what about the nights I spend freaking the hell out over hoops scores? Do you really expect me to have actual conversations with my family in place of constantly checking my DFS apps? Hell no!

    So time without the NBA goes on and I see one of those free promotions for the NHL. It’s free so why not try some hockey lineups and see if I could be any good at this. (Spoiler alert: I am terrible at this)

    So for starters, Connor McDavid, ok he’s like the next great thing, right? In the lineup.

    Here are some former New York Rangers that I remember and have some value. In you go.

    And goalie hmmm, well, I see the Coyotes are last in goal scoring so Carey Price of the Canadiens, make me proud!

    Like everything else I do with NBA DFS, I see my lineup and start to talk to myself confidently about my selections so I plunk a few extra dollars down on some single entries.

    I finished 25,240 out of 27,916.

    The lesson as always is that I am a dummy and shouldn’t gamble on these toothless skating goons and this moronic ice sport that I don’t know a damn thing about. Stick to basketball Josh, you stupid dumb degenerate.

    Guys I Like This Week

    Here are some top-100 or so players I like this week. This is me ensuring these players slip and snap an ankle getting out of a bathtub.

    Danilo Gallinari – He’s looked good since his return from injury and among his four this week are a couple of revenge games at home against the Knicks and on the road at Denver.

    D’Angelo Russell – Back in with the starters and gets what should be four fairly high scoring games that the Nets will try to keep pace in

    Dwight Powell – Four games, three at home against some putrid defenses

    Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield – Five games for the Kings and these two are the only ones you can rely on to suit up and play meaningful minutes for five all of them

    Kent Bazemore and John Collins – Hawks are tanking, but with Ilyasova being bought out, their minutes should be secure for four at home against high scoring offenses

    Andrew Harrison – Outside of one tough matchup on the road in Boston, Harrison has the point guard position to himself against three other non-existent defenses

    Guys I Will Avoid This Week

    Here are some top-100 or so players I don’t like this week. This is me standing under the rim while these players gear up to dunk on my skinny ass for all of Twitter to see.

    Kyle Anderson – Only two games and he now has Rudy Gay to deal with again

    Andrew Wiggins – Already been a rough season for him and now he gets three on the West Coast against tough Ds

    Eric Gordon – Always gets less usage behind CP3 and Beard, and has two games this week against pace plodders

    Kentavious Caldwell Pope – Lonzo coming back and road games against the Heat and Spurs. Woof.

    Justin Holiday – Despite his solid ranking on the season, he’s a cut candidate if he’s going to see healthy scratches at random times

    BONUS: It’s nearly impossible to sit any of the Warriors Big Four, but this week they have three on the East Coast and two have potential blowouts written all over them against the Knicks and Hawks. There’s risk of starters getting rest days or less minutes due running tanking teams out of the gym.

    Bloody Sunday

    Paul George seemingly has a knack for doing this to me. He’s been outstanding this season, but when I need him most, he goes and does this:

    Saturday, November 25th against the Mavs he goes 1-for-12 including a goose egg from deep. That Saturday I go from 5-4 to 3-6 and can’t recover.

    Sunday, December 3rd he goes two for 17 including six, count em, six turnovers against the Spurs. I go from a 6-3 lead to a 2-6-1 loss and in back to back weeks, PG-13 has me reeling.

    So thinking that these woes are behind me, George puts up a 1-for-14 doozy against the defending champs on national TV this past Saturday night. I go from 6-3 to trailing 4-5 and I’m fortunate to eek out a 4-4-1 tie on Sunday night.

    I sincerely hope George has gotten these weekend benders out of his system because these Bloody Sunday hangovers are becoming increasingly painful.

    As always, if you have a good Bloody Sunday story, let me know on twitter @JoshMillman.

Fantasy News

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter