• I had to live with my in-laws for six months in the fall and winter of 2012. Just typing that sentence gives me a headache. Let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to move in with the family of your significant other, don’t.

    Mind you, I love my in-laws. They are two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. My mother-in-law is a completely devoted grandmother who will do anything for my kids at the drop of a hat. My father-in-law is upbeat and easy to talk to and it’s refreshing to have a family member that I can talk about things beyond sports. They both emigrated to this country, worked hard in their respective fields, and raised a beautiful family. My admiration and appreciation for them is unmatched.

    Living with them is a different story.

    They opened their house to us but with it came everything you could possibly expect in this situation. The overbearingness, the lack of privacy, the claustrophobia, the stress, the arguments, the judgments, the underlying feeling like we were intruding on their space. All of it as we waited for the construction of our new house to be complete. To make matters worse was that I now had a longer commute to my job and faced a lot of pressure to perform well. After all, we just bought a new house and my kid just turned two. No matter how miserable I was with my living situation, I had no choice but to show up to my job and try to do my best even if my clients were difficult and my boss blamed me for it. I didn’t want to lose my source of income at a moment’s notice.

    Six months later, our house was ready, we moved in and the rest is very ancient history. We’ve now lived in our house for over seven years and loved every moment of it. I got a new job right around the same time too and have been with the same company ever since. But I can’t help but think, if moving from New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey with a six month stop in the suburbs of New York was that stressful to me and my family, what would it have been like if I needed to move to an entirely different city altogether? And what if I needed to do it at the drop of a hat?

    Trade season is a fun time for us fantasy fanatics. It’s rampant speculation and rumors, until deals finally happen in a flurry and we get to navigate the fallout and guess how these moves will affect our teams. We saw that happen last year when the fates of the owners of Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Marc Gasol, Jonas Valanciunas, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nikola Mirotic would change drastically because of sudden and drawn-out decision by NBA General Managers.

    Now is the time when we’re glued to our TV screens and Twitter machines for any nugget of information about any player moving to or fro throughout the league. In an excellent write-up in The Athletic, former front office personnel men Seth Partnow and John Hollinger had a back and forth explaining how the trade process works. The groundwork for deals is already being laid and there’s a lot of smoke that happens in the media, through agents, and sometimes through other players. But one thing that caught my attention was that Partnow admitting what we kind of already know. In a locker room of 15 men, any transaction can alter the dynamics of those individuals.

    I would argue that no player wants to be traded. You hear news about player X wanting out of city Y but I don’t doubt that player X would be just fine if his team and GM got him some players worth a crap to make the team more competitive. Starters and role players probably want to move less than stars. They don’t have legacies to worry about. But they do have homes, families, and paychecks to be concerned with and if they liked playing with the 14 other guys in that locker room, then they’re going to take the news that they’ve been traded like they’ve just had a dump truck full of bricks unloaded on them.

    So again, I bitched and moaned for six months when my living situation was unsettled and that was with family who genuinely care for me. Imagine what is going through these guys’ minds when the news that they’ve been traded is delivered to them.

    ‘Hey we traded you to a city that’s three time zones away from where you played the last few seasons. You won’t know anyone there. Your family will be thousands of miles away. The guys you’ve been around every day for years and you’ve become close friends with will say goodbye to you and move on, but no big deal, you can catch up with them in the offseason. The team that’s picking you up will handle your living situation, but you may or may not like it. I don’t know, that’s no longer our problem. It’s been nice knowing you and good luck. Sorry things didn’t work out here. Oh and no pressure or anything but don’t fuck up out there because those fans can be vicious and make your life miserable if you don’t play up to their expectations. Safe travels!’

    Imagine being in your 20s and having your life upended in a single moment. Imagine not knowing if you’d be welcome at your next place of employment, if you’ll get along with your colleagues or if you won’t get homesick when you realize that you’re alone in a new place that’s unfamiliar to you beyond a hotel room. And then imagine the world telling you to suck it up, be a professional, you’re being paid nicely, and you should just shut up and dribble.

    For us fantasy players, we should know that when any trade happens with our players, we should expect a period of adjustment for them. In fact, Partnow and Hollinger say that most trades result in players being a little worse on average when moving to a new situation. And really, when you think about it from a player’s perspective, can you blame them?

    You can certainly try to get ahead by trading a player you suspect will be traded but then you open up the risk that the player isn’t traded and you sold for less value because of the rumor mill. The best bet is to let the chips fall where they may and if you bench the traded player once they are traded, you can see if they are fitting in well or if there will be longer-term issues on their new team.

    These are the things we can’t measure. The human part of trade season. These young men we commoditize are still people with families and feelings. Some aren’t even from this country originally. But that doesn’t stop them from having their names on office boards, media rumors and spending weeks of anticipation before that #WojBomb finally detonates and a trade is completed. Whether we like it or not, that human element is part of our fantasy game and the outcomes we hope for.

    It all makes living with your in-laws for six months sound like a cakewalk.

    THE KAWHI LEONARD MEMORIAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK WHO HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST ME

    Well Bam Adebayo remains beastly so my reverse jinx had no effect on him. On the other hand, I wasn’t raised a quitter so that means I have to regroup and draw my attention to someone else from whom I would love nothing more than a little bed pooping.

    And I found just that candidate. He’s a guy that I avoided in drafts because of what I believed was an inflated draft cost and no real ceiling in his game. In fact, his team added other pieces around him that I thought would take away from his fantasy stats. The problem is, this guy has been better than ever. Really, when you look at his numbers, the guy looks like he’s been on a season-long heater with no end in sight. What’s really incredible about it is that this guy is sustaining his numbers from last season with less overall usage and a massive spike in his percentages. He’s been on an absolute tear which means that he’s been tearing my team to shreds every time we meet.

    SO DAMN YOU DEVIN BOOKER! How in God’s holy name are you averaging over 50% shooting? Oh, I’ve seen your career numbers. Like that’s sustainable the rest of the season! Pshaw! You play for the Suns which means you are completely overdue for a regression to the mean which means some ghastly shooting and a collective bemoaning of Robert Sarver’s continued existence. Why hasn’t this team completely collapsed into a neutron star and taken out all of the Arizona desert with it? Stop playing out of your mind Mr. Booker and making this franchise look the slightest bit competent. I need the Suns to get back to being the Global Warming Knicks so get back to that pronto.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT FEAR? THAT’S THE OTHER GUY’S PROBLEM. NOTHING YOU HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED WILL PREPARE YOU FOR THE CARNAGE YOU’RE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE. IN THIS BUILDING IT’S KILL OR BE KILLED IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS.

    Round 1 – Damian Lillard
    Round 2 – Kawhi Leonard
    Round 3 – Devin Booker
    Round 4 – Clint Capela
    Round 5 – DeMar DeRozan
    Round 6 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    Round 7 – Jonas Valanciunas
    Round 8 – Domantas Sabonis
    Round 9 – Terry Rozier
    Round 10 – Joe Ingles
    Round 11 – Marcus Smart
    Round 12 – Will Barton
    Round 13 – Tristan Thompson

    It’s amazing what happens when you don’t have to worry about back-to-backs with Kawhi Leonard. Even more so when he has to carry the load without Paul George. I’m not sure when exactly DeMar DeRozan turned into LeBron James but this top-5 stretch screams sell-high to me. Smokin Joe Ingles and Marcsman Smart will likely regress when their respective teams get healthier, but hey, it was fun for the both of them while it lasted.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT YOU LISTEN TO ME. YOU WANT TRADING REOPENED RIGHT NOW TURN THOSE MACHINES BACK ON IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS.

    Round 1 – Karl-Anthony Towns
    Round 2 – Bradley Beal
    Round 3 – Pascal Siakam
    Round 4 – Draymond Green
    Round 5 – Jamal Murray
    Round 6 – Malcolm Brogdon
    Round 7 – Montrezl Harrell
    Round 8 – Jeff Teague
    Round 9 – Andrew Wiggins
    Round 10 – Caris LeVert
    Round 11 – Spencer Dinwiddie
    Round 12 – Jeremy Lamb
    Round 13 – Isaiah Thomas

    It’s tough to speculate on the health of Karl-Anthony Towns when very little information about his knee was readily available but with the Wolves playing horribly and Towns not exactly lighting the world on fire since his return, I wonder if the shutdown risk doesn’t grow here. But he’s safe to take at #1 they said, he’s a lock for 80 games they said. Again, guys are healthy, until they’re not and guys are injury prone, until they’re not. If this is how Malcolm Brogdon is going to be with Victor Oladipo still out then I shudder to think what he’ll be when he’s back. The Nets have been putrid. Just awful and it’s affected everyone. They’re overdue for positive regression but it is very tough to bet on that in Brooklyn.

    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 altogether (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

    Mikal Bridges – It will be interesting to see how active the Suns will be in the coming weeks with a realistic shot at the playoffs. Bridges is going to be essential to that process as the team’s best defender. That is of course assuming that the Suns don’t go Suns and ship him off somewhere. As long as Kelly Oubre doesn’t take too much offense away from Bridges, he’s officially supplanted Dario Saric and will return value from his steals alone.

    Jarrett Culver – It’s going to be another lost season in Minnesota, but at least they have a smidge of hope in Culver versus the sunken cost of Wiggins. We’ll get to Wiggins in a bit but Culver is quietly putting together a nice multi-category fantasy game that’s averaged nearly four cash counters per game over the past month with improved efficiency. The free throws and turnovers leave a lot to be desired but that’s ok for you punters. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Wolves turned him loose for a late season fantasy boom.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. – The Dwight Powell news was devastating for the Mavericks and it’s going to trickle down through the entire roster. It certainly means more minutes for Maxi Kleber but we need to pump the brakes on Boban for obvious reasons. In the absence of anyone else with any sort of size on this team, THJ might be the only one not named Luka whose role won’t change for this team in the wake of this injury.

    PAPER

    Michael Porter Jr. – The Nuggets are in the “our pets heads are falling off” stage of injury news with no Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee. That means the once vaunted depth of the Nuggets will be severely tested as will MPJ. We’ve noted before that Porter Jr. is a liability on the defensive end, something that the defense-conscious Mike Malone is keenly aware of. But it’s not like they have much offense to work with either. It might mean that MPJ’s mid-20 minutes a night might not be so shaky after all.

    Joe Ingles – It was a nice run for Smokin Joe without Mike Conley and the concern is that he’ll fade now that Conley is back. But it’s not as if Conley was all that good when he was healthy for the Jazz and Jordan Clarkson remains Jordan Clarkson. Ingles doesn’t need to be the top-50 player he’s been over the past month but if he can keep it toward his season averages, top-100 level would suit us just fine with the Jazz at full strength. We know what the alternative is if we see early season Joe show up again.

    Svi Mykhailiuk – This isn’t just a recent speculative add. Svi has averaged over 28 minutes a game and is a top-125 player that’s been trending up for the past month. We just assume it’s Svi and move on but look again. He’s been a weapon from deep and at the line. He’s been a less extreme version of Duncan Robinson and D-Rob has been one of the top 3-point streamers on the season. Derrick Rose could be sent packing at any moment, Luke Kennard isn’t expected back for another month and Sekou Doumbouya is still a 19-year old rookie playing for Dwane Casey. This Pistons Svi-tuation couldn’t be better for Svi.

    SCISSORS

    Marcus Morris – Morris has made it clear he wants to remain with the Knicks but is the feeling mutual? There’s also the feeling that something has to give with his 3-point percentage that currently sits over nine percentage points above his career average. I’m sure there will be calls to play more Kevin Knox and R.J. Barrett once he’s back and healthy so the heavy usage for a banged up Morris might not be there the rest of the season to keep his value high on this lousy team.

    Andrew Wiggins – What an ugly miserable tumble. Here we were finally singing Wiggins’ praises that he finally turned the corner and was becoming a better and smarter basketball player. The Wolves were an early surprise and the only things that could kill all the good vibes would be Wiggins reverting to his old habits and no one to keep him in check. The fact that he might finish outside the top-100 after nearly tearing the league apart in the first month of the season is just a fantastic study of overhyped mediocrity. Consider my lesson learned.

    Jae Crowder – Lost in the Grizzlies’ torrid streak and fawning of Ja Morant is that Jae Crowder might be the most unreliable fantasy basketball player there is. I’m sure roto players can handle the ups and downs but I’m putting an end to this for anyone playing H2H. The good in Crowder can certainly be great but it’s almost always followed up by bad which can certainly be soul crushing. There’s no debating his real basketball value as a veteran presence on a young and hungry team. But his fantasy value is enough to make you want to jump off this never-ending roller coaster.

    ADVENTURES IN DFS NBA GAMBLING

    HOOP-BALLERS! You know that we have a new podcast out called Today in Sports Betting, right? You do? Then why haven’t you subscribed yet? Stop reading this and do that now!

    While you’re at it, make sure you visit and sign up with MyBookie.ag as well. They’re our presenting partner and the more we grow,they can grow too. Use the promo code TODAY when you sign up and you’ll get 50% in free money on your initial deposit. Then listen to the pod and bet with us. It’s been an amazing run already and we’re only a couple of weeks in. It’s only going to get better and the guys we have analyzing bets are incredible. Neil Rochlani, Ira Silver, and Devin Ellington are all joining me on this venture and you can follow us all through @HoopBallGaming on Twitter.

    Now that we got through that let me tell you about our opening show.

    Our debut was the night of the NCAA National Championship Game and hoo boy what a night that was. We went 7-for-7 on our opening night on NBA bets. Perfection baby! The best was a huge play where we suggested playing a live line in the Bulls/Celtics game that moved to -14 in favor of the Celtics in which the Bulls covered at 12 in the last seconds of the game. To top it off, yours truly picked the LSU Tigers to cover easily and win the National Championship.

    It was an incredible start for us and while we know we won’t always hit that level of high, it was a really big high for us nonetheless.

    BLOODY SUNDAY

    The flipside of opening night perfection is matching that with an awful showing on the NFL Championship games. The Chiefs and Titans easily covered the over and Aaron Rodgers was no match for the 49ers defense, making me 0-2 with no NBA games worth a crap to salvage my Sunday night.

    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.

    Keep pressing on Hoop-Ballers. We’ll be right there with you.

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