• So as I was saying, masks.

    We may be different people online as opposed to real life but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better at both. If we’re going to keep up facades then we need to continuously update them or we risk being uncovered.

    To that effect we all partake in the annual ritual of the Fresh Start Effect. The calendar we adhere to has provided us with an endpoint at which we can take stock of what has transpired in our lives and what we can do to improve ourselves. This tends to work better with many people taking actions toward goals with clear landmarks rather than letting endpoints remain arbitrary.

    I am one of those people. I need to set those dates or else I can completely lose control of the things that I was trying to accomplish in the first place. I move from date to date, goal to goal, station to station. It keeps me sane and gives me clear goalposts to reach as opposed to a lofty endgame that I may never see.

    To that end, New Year’s is the perfect endpoint for me in a number of ways. I can get the holiday blues out of my system. I can eat like a massive pig and know I can reset and get my tubby rear end back into a gym shortly thereafter. I can set new work goals and follow them for as long as I can, whether by week, month, quarter or year. New Year’s Resolutions go as far back as the Babylonians and Romans. If it was good enough for these empires, then they’re good enough for me.

    It’s a bit harder for fantasy. We’re in the middle of the season, not a natural endpoint. But still, it presents a valuable time to reflect and think about how we’re going to close out this season and think of some lessons we can take into 2020. Resolutions to improve don’t always need to have a timestamp on them.

    Since you know me as wearing both my fantasy basketball and real-life masks, I’m going to share my New Year’s Resolutions for both. I don’t want to try to improve in one area and not the other. Perhaps this is just me trying to achieve my own catharsis but perhaps there are some lessons that could apply for your mask wearing as well.

    I resolve to be more patient

    With my wife and my children especially. With the people I care about most. I need to let the little things roll off of me and understand that their needs should always come before mine.

    With players I know to be proven commodities. The ones who’ve done it before and maybe just need some time to do it again. I need to let the little things roll off of me and understand that their whims don’t make championships within the first weeks of the season.

    I resolve to be less patient

    With those who don’t care about me or my family. With anyone who is intolerant. I will not be tolerant of intolerance. My patience will be reserved for the ones I love and my restraint will be short for those who bring chaos into my life. Life continues to get shorter and shorter and my acceptance for negativity should be less and less.

    With players who haven’t done it before and who flash once and don’t do it again. With players happen to play on bad teams and show up for a paycheck. I don’t have time to allow non-essential projects interfere with my goals. Knowing who won’t help me reach them is going to change.

    I resolve to be healthier

    I will be 40. I’m going to keep getting better at intermittent fasting. I will eliminate non-essential sugars. Even if I can’t get to a gym all the time, I don’t need to remain in place. I’ll keep focused on my gut-brain connection. I’ll pay more attention to my wants and needs and how they affect my life.

    I won’t take chances on players with nagging injuries. Or anyone who doesn’t have clear timetables. I’ll remember that healthy players play. I’ll play more attention to load management and how it affects my teams.

    I resolve to be happier

    I will be 40. I need to step back more and enjoy the little things. I shouldn’t mind spending a bit more on nice meals or clothing. I’ll take an extra day or two off from work. I’ll spend more time with my kids. I’ll go to the beach and do nothing. I’ll read more and rant less. I’ll detach without detaching. After my family’s needs are met, I’ll meet my own more often than I have been.

    I will be 40. I need to step back more and enjoy the little things. I need to enjoy a breakout and not freak out a bust. I need to accept the gifts of late picks and not pine for James Harden. I need to revel in weekly wins. I need to fight for every trade negotiation. I need to find enjoyment from being around my friends who share the common goals that I do.

    And I will know that some things I can not control and that this is meant to be fun and an escape from the resolutions that have already passed us by.

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

    Well let’s see. I’ve yelled at both Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic already for being aggravating and underachieving earlier in the season and by god, they turned things around! See, all they needed was a little pep talk. Call me Hoop Rockne.

    Now, I’m sure I could find any number of players who I could identify as a bunch of misbehaving children on my rosters but that would be too easy. Instead, I’d rather find a player who isn’t on any of my teams and has been absolutely killing me. Since Gobert and Jokic have snapped out of their funks since pinning them to the wall, perhaps there’s a bit of a reverse jinx I can put on in this space as well.

    Mind you I don’t even dislike this player. He’s great. I just wound up with exactly zero shares of him because he was rocketing in price during draft season and I never got the opportunity to pick him. I was snipped twice in two different drafts with him and guess what, he’s been punishing me ever since. So it’s high time I punish him back.

    SO DAMN YOU BAM ADEBAYO! This hype train of yours needs to derail already. I’m so sick and tired of late picks and NBA retreads making Pat Riley’s used car salesman shtick last another several seasons. You’re not helping Jimmy Butler fulfill his destiny of leading the league in usage and spontaneous combustion on another pointless lottery team. So stop being this monster breakout and making every fantasy analyst on Earth gush over you endlessly and simultaneously killing my teams every time you cross my path. Go Adeba-nish Yo-self Bam.

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT ONE OF US HAD TO DIE. WITH ME, IT TENDS TO BE THE OTHER GUY IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – James Harden

    Round 2 – Nikola Vucevic

    Round 3 – Chris Paul

    Round 4 – Jaren Jackson Jr.

    Round 5 – LaMarcus Aldridge

    Round 6 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

    Round 7 – Brandon Ingram

    Round 8 – Hassan Whiteside

    Round 9 – Delon Wright

    Round 10 – Joe Ingles

    Round 11 – Jaylen Brown

    Round 12 – Dennis Schroder

    Round 13 – Richaun Holmes

    There are a few Hoop-Ball favorites that started the season slowly and have hit the gas pedal. Wright, Ingles, and Schroder are all very different but each has gotten better acclimated to their new roles and situations. I’ve written about the Thunder’s new Big (Little) Three before and they are one of the most dynamic three-guard lineups in the league. SGA was due to turn his shooting around. As far as what to do with Chris Paul, as a good friend on this site has repeatedly told me, ‘Guys are injury prone..until they aren’t.’

    YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT YOU’RE THE GUY THAT DOES HIS JOB. YOU MUST BE THE OTHER GUY IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Karl-Anthony Towns

    Round 2 – Kemba Walker

    Round 3 – Deandre Ayton

    Round 4 – Buddy Hield

    Round 5 – Malcolm Brogdon

    Round 6 – Blake Griffin

    Round 7 – Aaron Gordon

    Round 8 – Wendell Carter Jr.

    Round 9 – Marcus Smart

    Round 10 – Larry Nance Jr.

    Round 11 – J.J Redick

    Round 12 – Taurean Prince

    Round 13 – Markelle Fultz

    I can’t think of a more infuriating experience this season then owning Deandre Ayton. You wait all this time for him to come back from the suspension then is immediately shelved with an ankle injury. Anyone who drafted him can do nothing but stick it out and it’s probably killing them. If there was any hand wringing about Buddy Hield replicating his success under Dave Joerger with Luke Walton then now is the time to get some new fingernails. I promise this will be the last time Blake Griffin and Aaron Gordon show up on these lists. It’s 2020, it’s time to move on.

    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 

    Lou Williams – We knew going into the season that we could be in for rough stretches with Lou-Will. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were going to eat into his usage one way or another. He’s in a cold stretch now, but we also know there might be fewer more exciting players in the league than Heat Check Lou. He also tends to do more of his damage later in the season after some December slumps. Hang tight because the shooting struggles now could lead to some typical Lou-Will outbursts weeks down the road.

    Gary Harris – Now that’s more like it. Funny how the moment Nikola Jokic got rolling, so did Harris. Harris ultimately just needed to find his shot and at a career clip of 36% from deep, he was bound to have some positive regression. Speaking of positive regression, he’s also been thieving like crazy. The 3 and D wing that we’ve come to know and love appears to be back to his old ways and is rewarding Mike Malone’s faith in keeping his minutes high.

    Delon Wright – As maddening as Wright can be on a game to game basis, he’s put up a really strong stretch of late. The efficiency has been excellent, the counting stats strong, and the steals have gone through the roof. Wright will certainly not keep shooting at a 60% clip with 3 steals a game, but since he can keep dishing and stealing with some degree of above average percentages, we need not fret about the low minutes.

    PAPER

    Taurean Prince – I have been so close to throwing in the towel on Prince but then I remember that the Nets have NOTHING else besides Prince at the 4. Prince is going to play heavy minutes by default and even if his prolonged shooting slump continues, he’ll still find his way into enough, threes, rebounds and steals to keep you afloat. If Kyrie Irving gets back soon and that can help Prince heat up with some more free space then you’ll be thankful you held on.

    Enes Kanter – It’s frustrating to see Kanter’s minutes stay below the 20s. Especially when we all know what he can do on the offensive side of the ball. Even more so when the Celtics frontcourt is a who’s who of nobodies that are just taking up space so Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward can shoot the ball at will. But the Celtics keep on winning and so there’s no reason for Brad Stevens to mess with what has been working. That means Kanter is going to keep teasing enough with his per-minute production to have him stay on your rosters, just in case.

    Kendrick Nunn – The shine has come off of Nunn and now all we’re seeing is a lot of minutes and a bunch of empty scoring. The field goal percentage has come down along with his value. The thing keeping him afloat are the minutes and the threes but if Justise Winslow comes back anytime soon, both of those things could come down as well. He’s a hold for now but it could be just a matter of time before he’s not.

    SCISSORS

    Aaron Gordon – I really don’t know what we’re even doing here anymore. Every single year he tries to turn himself into Dell Curry, instead of, I don’t know, a pre-injury Larry Johnson. Gordon remains a terrible 3-point shooter and it’s only gotten worse. Of 147 players listed on the NBA’s stat page for 3-point percentage, Gordon is ranked 144th of those qualifiers.

    The Magic’s primary scorer, interior or otherwise, is Nikola Vucevic. Their defense belongs to Jonathan Isaac. Their main ball-handling now goes to Markelle Fultz. So what else is Gordon bringing to this team besides needless chucking? Now an Achilles injury is going to sideline him for a bit and I would imagine that injury will keep him below 100% for the rest of the season. Gordon is now firmly in the Blake Griffin camp of just being a name. Except Griffin has had an outstanding career prior to age and injury catching up to him this season. Gordon has no such excuses.

    Miles Bridges – Since Bam fulfilled his hype train destiny, then we should have seen Miles fulfilling his as the one everyone got wrong. In retrospect, we need to remember that it’s more than just opportunity on a bad team that can make someone a potential breakout. Having some discernible skill set that lends itself well to fantasy one way or another would be a huge help. We’d rather Bridges be great at a couple of things rather than being mediocre at best across the board.

    Kevin Porter – It’s weird putting someone in the scissors category when he hasn’t been a full-on pickup except that once Jordan Clarkson was shipped to Utah the inclination seemed to be that Porter would be the main beneficiary of his minutes. The minutes and usage have indeed been up but there isn’t anything in his stat set that screams for a pickup. This is still a rookie after all on a bad team and as we learned with Miles Bridges, that doesn’t mean it’s a recipe for fantasy success. I have no problem letting someone else roll the dice here.

    ADVENTURES IN DFS

    I scored 390 points in a contest not that long ago. It’s a number I haven’t seen in any DFS contest since I’ve started playing. I actually wasn’t paying attention to the games at the time and only checked my scores because my friend texted completely deflated that I demolished him that night. Sure enough, I saw my score and thought I had just hit the damn lottery.

    Except, and you probably guessed this already, I didn’t. That delightful beauty of a score came on a night when the NBA lit up like a pinball machine and every player and their mother hit value. Most nights 390 comes close to taking down a tournament. That night 390 was enough to win me a whopping $4.

    The lesson is always even when I put together what looks like the most promising lineup to help me win that sweet sweet moolah, the DFS gods have other plans. DFS remains a frustrating venture that no matter how much research I put in, sites I read, or pods I listen to, it’s the players that end up making the plays and for reasons I have yet to explain, just don’t like to play when I have them in my lineups.

    BLOODY SUNDAY

    Shoutout to fellow Hoop-Baller Brandon Marcus who got absolutely Sunday’d by yours truly in the HB Staff league. In a week where I had no Giannis and lost a game of Luka Doncic when we came off the IL because of Yahoo’s idiotic add/drop rules where I can’t take a player off the IL the same day I make a drop, I was down either 1-8, or 2-7 for just about the entire week.

    But a couple of pickups in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Delon Wright helped me claw my way back into it and ultimately take down the week 5-4.

    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.

    Happy and healthy 2020 to all you Hoop-Ballers out there.

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