• Welcome to the Fantasy Facepalm. Like many of you, I discovered hoop-ball.com for the insightful analysis and top-notch basketball content that provides me with all the tools I need to help me win my league en route to all the spoils, riches, groupies and accolades that come with a fantasy championship.

    And like many of you, I consume this information like Johnny 5 does input and do my best to execute based on that material to the best of my abilities. And like many of you, despite my best efforts, things just go sideways.

    That’s what I’m here for, to share that you’re not alone. That even with the best fantasy minds providing you with their tips to win, things don’t work out the way you expect them to. The best-laid plans can go awry. Happens to me all the time. Sometimes plunking down some cash, there are times you wish it came with an actual injury policy for when basketball makes you want to bang your head into steel beam.

    But don’t despair. Let me be your fantasy hoops drinking buddy. Lets shoot the bull on what to do when we need to break out of a fantasy rut. Lets share our wisdom only to have it blow up in our faces. We all have our own misadventures on our pursuit to championship glory.

    Lets revel in this fantasy mayhem together.

    A Stretch Four Approach to the Deadline

    The NBA’s trade deadline may have passed, but many fantasy league deadlines are approaching.  So I say it’s time to capitalize on the work you’ve done up until this point. Or hold a fire sale of the guys who haven’t panned out and make you wish awful things on them while they remain on you team. Either way, it’s dealmaking time.

    When I become President, trade deadlines will be a national holiday and will have a beer and chicken wings sponsor. That’s how much I love trading days. But not everyone approaches your league’s deadline with such zeal. It will take effort on your part to maximize your trade potential and get more people in your league involved in a good swap.

    Well good people of Hoop-Ball land, here is my guide for executing good fantasy basketball trades that I will dub ‘The Stretch Four’. By reading through this I hope that you will be ready to throw yourself head first into the trading pool and no longer be afraid of making the first move. Now, who’s ready for more forced dating references.

    1 – STUDY

    Fantasy trades are no different than starting a new relationship, especially if you’re like me and are in leagues where you might not know all the owners. It’s an awkward dance for sure and if you’re in a fantasy basketball league you probably have two left feet to begin with and think a Foxtrot is De’Aaron trying to dribble his way through a double team.

    So what to do when you want to start trading? First, you should really take the time to understand yourself and to know your own team. It’s your team. You built it, grew up with it, you pet it. You love your naughty fantasy team, you’re naughty! So instead of squashing it with bad deals, take the time to really understand your team’s identity, how you’ve reached this point in season and secured spot in the standings. Once you do, you can then realize that even though you’re in a playoff hunt, you have a Shaq-sized hole at point guard and a need for a scoring boost.

    Once you feel better about your own team, ask yourself, how well do you know the partner you’re about to enter this budding relationship with? I suggest that you do your homework on your potential trade partner. Are they weak in a particular category? Do they show favoritism to certain positions? Perhaps they have a swooning affection for a certain team. Maybe it’s the Warriors. Of course it’s the Warriors. I bet they’re not even from the Bay Area. Check the league’s message board for clues. You never know what you may spot. Hell, they could also share Dwyane Wade’s preference in Merlots and walks on the beach. That info could be a deal sweetener!

    Once you’re confident in your own team’s needs and equally confident in another team’s needs as well, you’re then ready to actively engage with your new trade mate. Don’t be shy. Make the first move. Kobe Bryant missed 100% of the shots he passed to teammates. So take responsibility, step up and shoot your shot this trade deadline.

    2 – STALK

    I know what you’re thinking.

    ‘Whoa whoa whoa. All this relationship talk and you want me to stalk? We only just met. What kind of creepy nonsense is this? And aren’t you supposed to wait a couple days before you check in on a 2nd date? Why would you ignore the advice that every Hollywood RomCom has taught me?’

    Well here’s the thing. This is fantasy basketball and actively pursuing trades requires active follow up. If you’re not vigorously trying to get the attention of the other teams in the league, then they’ll just wind up trading with someone else. If you put an offer out there and don’t hear back, then by God, keep at the team until you get a response. If they’re not responding to league email, try getting a phone number to text them from another owner who knows them. Tweet at them. Send smoke signals. Whatever it takes. What’s the worst that happens? They say no? A potential fantasy trade partner isn’t going to file for a restraining order so do what you can to engage in trades no matter what it takes.

    The rules are different in fantasy hoops. Stalking is frowned upon, but you can and should be vigilant in what you know will help your team and the team you’re trading with.  In a league of 10-12 likeminded people, they’ll get it. But again, only do this in your fantasy league. Don’t behave in real life the way you would in your fantasy league. But you guys know that. I think you know that. No seriously, stop doing that in real life. For real, stalking is not cool you guys.

    3 – SELL

    So you figured out a good trade partner and you’ve connected with them about deals. There are some offers starting to brew. On top of that there’s been jokes shared and you realized that you and your new trade partner have a mutual distaste of the Lakers and olives. Seriously, olives are the worst. And the Lakers. You’re getting along on league email swimmingly. You’re dancing now baby!

    But a deal still isn’t done. You’re thinking ‘What’s going on? I brought a solid offer built around a player of need along with candles, champagne and mood music, why can’t we take this relationship to the next level! Kemba Walker is the player I need to round out my team and they want to trade him since they already have Steph Curry and a lot of depth at the point. What’s the hold up?’

    Well it turns out that your trade partner, who needs a center and big man stats, isn’t a fan of Hassan Whiteside, your big piece to get Kemba.

    Fantasy players will always have their preconceived notions and biases about certain players. It happens. We’re all emotional creatures after all. But then the onus is on you, dear reader, to convince them that their biases are misguided and that they should really open up their eager eyes and reconsider Mr. Whiteside.

    First of all, understand their concerns. Don’t dismiss them, but address their concerns head on and try to spin it differently. ‘Yes, he’s an injury risk and his minutes are down, but he’s already missed time this year. That’s in the past. He’s played in 77 and 73 games the past couple of seasons. That’s no more significant an injury history than anyone else.’

    Next, focus on the positive. ‘Well I also know his minutes are down, but Miami is trying to keep him fresh. And it’s been helping! His per 36 numbers are as good as ever! And now Kelly Olynyk is banged up and do you really think that Miami is going to start giving an unpolished rookie major minutes in the thick of a playoff chase? Whiteside has been one of the most consistent contributors in the league the past couple seasons and is still going strong.’

    Then present your option as the best option. ‘Look, I have solid centers on my team, but not every team does. The guys in 1st lost Boogie and are also in the hunt for a C. It would cost you way more to try to pry Towns or The Joker away from the 2nd place team and the 3rd place team has been happy to wait for Nik Vucevic to come back. And sure you could talk to the guy that has both DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard who have both been hot lately, but do you really want to risk dealing with those free throw anchors? Whiteside is clearly your best bet.’

    4 – SMILE

    Because you’ve just executed a solid fantasy basketball trade! All kidding aside, trading is meant to be fun and the best part of making trades is the build up to the deal. Even if you don’t strike the deal, don’t be that guy who rants and tells the other guy to shove it. If you have fun with it, then you never know what deals may come in the future. Don’t take yourself and the process to seriously. This isn’t the NBA where jobs and millions are at stake. If you have fun, you’ll come off confidently. And that confidence is key to managing a successful trading relationship.

    Now that you’ve been properly educated, go off and consummate your new trade relationships and get your teams ready for the home stretch.

    Player of the Week Who Has a Personal Vendetta Against Me

    I’m in a big 24-person dynasty league (Thanks Besbris!) and I took T.J. McConnell with a late pick. The draft had gone on for what felt like weeks and at that point I saw McConnell and thought, well he gets assists, that’s good enough for me. It turned out to be one of my better picks with Markelle Fultz missing nearly the entire season with a busted shoulder and shooting motion.

    But with the playoffs looming, I saw an opportunity to acquire a molten hot Tomas Satoransky. John Wall will be on the shelf for the next several weeks and into playoff time and I could be getting a difference maker for the rest of the season. I saw the writing on the wall for McConnell. Minutes heading down, Redick and Bayless back from injury, Fultz possibly coming back, Philly a possible trade buyer, offense going through Simmons regardless. I thought, you’ve served me nicely TJ, let me move on.

    So I strike a deal for Satoransky and Dwyane Wade for McConnell and a future 1st rounder. Then what happens? I play McConnell this week in a different league as well as a head to head DFS and he goes four friggin steals shy of a quadruple-double against the Knicks. DAMN YOU T.J. MCCONNELL. This is how you treat me after I was so good to you! Revenge narratives are real people. Especially when they involve my team.

    Adventures in DFS

    Last week the Smoothie King Center has a leak in the roof due to non-strawberry banana flavored rain. It meant that the Pacers would not be playing the Pelicans that night.

    When the game was officially postponed, DFS players went nuts on Twitter and couldn’t recoup what they committed to entry. I too lost money as I was waiting for Jrue Holiday to take the court only for the league to postpone the game. The result was a big fat zero for a fairly pricey shooting guard.

    My first reaction was to throw a shoe across my bedroom. My second more rational reaction was that well, these kinds of things happen. Guys get hurt or are late scratches. We’re all on the same playing field and these kinds of breaks can happen to anyone. Demanding a refund for events that occur beyond anyone’s control seems excessive. The entire concept of any fantasy sport is that it’s all beyond our control and FD and DK aren’t in the business of handing back money when that non-basketball related bad luck strikes your team. My final thought on the matter is rage and scream away at your misfortune, then take the L and move onto the next night.

    Guys I Like After the Break

    Here are some top-100 or so players I like after the All-Star break. This is me giving these players a kiss of death.

    Elfrid Payton – Fits perfectly for Suns and has chip on his shoulder

    John Collins – Hawks are tanktastic and want to get the most out of him

    Bogdan Bogdanovic – Hope that Joerger stops messing around and gives his yunguns all the minutes they can handle

    Kyle Kuzma, – Steadier role with Nance gone

    Dwight Powell – Dirk can’t do it all and there’s no size on the Mavs

    Jarrett Allen – Rebuilding Nets love him and starting center gig is all his

    JaMychal Green – Should have a lot of opportunity for Grizz, sneaky good FT shooter

    BONUS: Delon Wright & Fred VanVleetKyle Lowry makes it a habit of being banged up late in the season and these guys are already top-150 playing with only reserve minutes.

    Guys I Will Avoid After the Break

    Here are some top-100 or so players I don’t like after the All-Star break. This is me ensuring that they will stick it to me for the rest of the year.

    Spencer Dinwiddie – Shooting has been terrible and D’Angelo will likely cut into his usage

    Justin Holiday – Even more LaVine as the season goes on

    Lonzo Ball – As much as I think he and Isaiah Thomas will coexist just fine, it could also blow right up in everyone’s faces

    Rodney Hood – Logjam in Cleveland at the two between JR, Clarkson, and Korver. May alternate big nights and the initial trade euphoria will wear off

    Austin Rivers – Clippers are healthy again and have options. Plus he’s Austin Rivers

    Trey Lyles – Matter of time before Millsap returns

    Bloody Sunday

    If you play in head to head leagues, whether categories or points, you know how this goes. Saturday night, you’re up on your opponent, but there’s still another day of games yet to be played. You want to hang onto where you have a lead and not blow anything to either a big game from your opponent or a dud from your players.

    Then it happens. The games go on, your opponent’s players go bananas and your players look like they’re still recovering from a bender in Vegas. You entered Sunday with a 6-3 lead and now you finish the week 2-6-1.

    That friends, is Bloody Sunday and we’ve all experienced it.

    If you have a Bloody Sunday hoops story you want to share, the floor is open. Reach out to me on twitter @JoshMillman and I’ll post the best ones during the week.

Fantasy News

  • Frank Ntilikina
    PG, New York Knicks

    Frank Ntilikina (sore groin) is doubtful to play on Thursday.

    Ntilikina was the starter in New York at the beginning of the season but has faded with the return of Elfrid Payton, and now it's possible that he's lost the backup gig to Dennis Smith Jr. Frankie Smokes is only an option in the deepest of leagues when healthy.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Trae Young
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    Trae Young (illness) stayed away from practice on Thursday.

    No big deal here as Young dropped 37 & 11 last night despite the ailment. Hopefully he's feeling better soon.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • Kevin Huerter
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    Kevin Hurter is dealing with a groin injury, per Lloyd Pierce.

    No word on the severity of the injury but it's definitely not a great sign for Huerter, especially as Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter appear to be figuring things out. Huerter played just 28 minutes last night after topping 30 in each of the previous 15 contests, so his playing time will be something to watch going forward.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • Jarrod Uthoff
    SF, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Grizzlies will sign Jarrod Uthoff to a 10-day contract.

    Uthoff last appeared in the NBA in 2017, making nine appearances with Dallas back then. He's since played in Russia and the G League and will give Memphis a little emergency depth in the next week and a half.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol (left hamstring tightness) is making progress in his rehab but has no timetable for a return.

    Last week Nick Nurse speculated that Gasol would need 8-12 games before the playoffs to get back into shape, and it looks like the Raptors might take it as slow as possible with the veteran big man as long as his playoff preparedness isn't in jeopardy. Serge Ibaka and Chris Boucher will continue to hold it down.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Luke Kornet
    PF-C, Chicago Bulls

    Further testing has revealed a severely sprained left ankle and a fifth metatarsal fracture for Luke Kornet, who will miss 6-8 weeks.

    This looks like the end of Kornet's season, and he can be safely dropped in all redraft formats. Daniel Gafford should assume Kornet's rotation role, while Wendell Carter Jr. will have less competition for minutes when he gets back on the court. Gafford's worth a look in deeper leagues for his upside as a rebounder and shot-blocker.

    Source: Cody Westerlund on Twitter

  • Edmond Sumner
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Edmond Sumner (sore left hip) will not play on Thursday against the Blazers.

    Sumner's been out for a week now and there's no sign of when he'll return. He was in the rotation to begin the year and could find a few minutes available now that Jeremy Lamb is out, but Sumner is unlikely to reemerge as a fantasy option.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Victor Oladipo (sore back) will be available to play on Thursday.

    Oladipo has missed the last two games but is ready to go tonight, and he may return to a fuller workload with Jeremy Lamb now lost for the season with a torn ACL. That said, Oladipo has been far from a fantasy factor so far, shooting a putrid .333 and picking up just 0.5 steals through his first eight games back. Keep him on your benches for now.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Norman Powell
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell (left finger fracture) was able to go through practice on Thursday and is questionable to play on Friday.

    Earlier this week it was announced that Powell would miss another week, but he looks to be ahead of that timetable. Norm has been a solid middle-round option this season and is worth scooping up if available. The Raptors figure to plug him right back into his 6th/7th man role.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Dewayne Dedmon
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    On Thursday, the Hawks announced that Dewayne Dedmon has undergone a non-surgical procedure to relieve right elbow pain and that he'll miss the next three games.

    Dedmon is set to be re-evaluated on Monday, which means he's a drop if you're fighting for the playoffs and this is the last week of your regular season. He had started returning standard league value since being traded to Atlanta but at this point in the season, a lot of fantasy GMs simply need healthy bodies. Bruno Fernando and Damian Jones will step up at the center spot but the Hawks will likely turn to more small-ball lineups, making their various wings and forwards more appealing in most fantasy formats.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter