October 10, 2018, 1:25 pm
What’s up Hoop-Ball dynasty die-hards! The regular season is almost upon us, so it seems like a great time to check back in on my rebuilding dynasty team to see what action has transpired. For those of you who may be new to the site, this series of articles specifically focuses on the trials and tribulations of rebuilding a dynasty team that I took over at the end of last season.
So that is the rough primer on what “Starting from the Bottom” is. My goal in these articles will be to not simply recap waiver moves made, trades executed, trades turned down, and matchup results – that is fairly boring and uninstructive. Instead, the series will focus more on why I made a particular move, and why I did it at that specific time. That way, we can all collectively learn something (and share a few laughs at my expense for my inevitable missteps) as I work to right this ship
As a quick reminder, here are the league settings that we are working with.
Overview: 12-team head to head 9-cat league. Daily changes. Free agent auction waiver wire with $100 acquisition budget per team. No trade deadline.
Rosters: 21 player rosters with 10 bench spots, 4 IR spaces and 6 G-League development spots for players have logged less than 100 NBA games.
Keepers: Keep 18 of the 21 player roster each year
I won’t rehash all of the moves late last season that led me to this point (check out the first article in this series if you’d like to see those), but will instead start with my team composition prior to the rookie draft that took place.
I ended the season with an abysmal 60-118-2 record. Certainly bad enough and then some to land the first overall pick in the league’s three-round free agent draft (mostly rookies). One of the first exercises that I went through after acquiring the team was categorizing players on my roster to help orient my thinking when making calls on waiver acquisitions or trade offers. Prior to the draft, I wanted to update my categorizations, as I needed to make a call on who to drop to clear up space for the incoming rookies. The categories (color-coded above) are:
- Building blocks – this is not the same as untouchable, but are long-term assets that will require a steep return to move. (green)
- Holding for now – solid players that may not quite be building block material. Or top-100 players that do not fit your timeline, but you would be sellin -low if you traded now. (yellow)
- Players that you are actively shopping – this one is fairly self-explanatory. These guys are on the block and you are aggressively pursuing trade offers for (orange)
- Drop candidates – it is important to always know who your most droppable players are in the event you need to clear a roster spot for a trade, or a must-own guy hits the waiver. In this case, these were the guys that I needed to clear out to make room for incoming rookies (red)
Keeper Selection and Free Agent Draft
My roster prior to the draft consisted of the following players.
I needed to jettison three players to make room for the incoming rookies, and actually struggled with keeper selections more than I had anticipated. MarShon Brooks, Greg Monroe, Frank Kaminsky and Dragan Bender were the four players that I was most willing to part with, albeit for fairly different reasons.
MarShon Brooks had a ridiculous top-25 run after joining Memphis for the final seven games of last season. Looking at his performance objectively, I had little to no hope that he would: 1) see the same playing time this season on a Grizzlies team that is likely looking to get back to the playoffs; 2) continue to shoot 50 percent from the field. Still, it was a strong enough stretch of play that I had to at least entertain the idea of holding Brooks and seeing what the trade market looked like for the 29-year-old guard. Ultimately, I determined that holding Brooks and parting ways with a younger asset with more upside was not worth the risk.
Greg Monroe was a top-150 player last season in only 20 minutes per game, and has a reliable track record as top-100 player when the minutes are there. The key word there is minutes – and there may not be many of those to go around on the Raptors even before the addition of Kawhi Leonard. Add that to the fact that new Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse’s resume is built on emphasizing pace and space, and the plodding Monroe seems likely to be on the outside of the rotation looking in.
After the Hornets moved on from Dwight Howard, it seemed like Frank Kaminsky may be in a position to show some signs of life following a largely uninspiring start to his NBA career. However, the offseason additions of Miles Bridges and Bismack Biyombo dashed any hopes of a Kaminsky breakout. He is still young, but Kaminsky’s per-minute production has been lackluster to this point, so without the promise of a big increase in minutes, continue holding out hope on Kaminsky seems to be a losing proposition.
Dragan Bender just narrowly made the cut as a pre-draft keeper. He looked terrible in Summer League and has shown very little promise of delivering on his top-5 draft pedigree. The Suns also added Deandre Ayton, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Richaun Holmes this offseason, which may indicate that the Suns are losing hope in Bender as well. With all of that said, Bender is still only 20 years old entering what could be a make or break third year to prove that he belongs in the NBA. I’m not going to be contending for a title any time soon, giving Bender and the faint glimmer of upside remaining for him the edge over Kaminsky.
Free Agent Draft
I need help just about everywhere, so I determined that a “best player available” approach would be my guiding draft strategy regardless of a player’s position or stat set strengths. In fact, that is usually my guiding philosophy in rookie drafts whether I am contending or not. There is so much that we cannot predict when it comes to situational changes and stat set development. Owners are generally better served by drafting the most promising talent available versus tailoring a pick to specific categorical or positional needs.
This draft class is absolutely loaded with talent up top, so my plan was to do whatever it took (short of trading Harden) to secure another pick inside of the top-5. Unfortunately, other owners at the top of the were also in the buyer’s market, making the cost of a top-5 pick prohibitively expensive. Here is a look at how the draft went down. I’ll pause after each round to quickly describe my pick in a bit more detail.
- Luka Doncic (me)
- Deandre Ayton
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Trae Young
- Wendell Carter Jr.
- Marvin Bagley
- Mohamed Bamba
- Kevin Knox
- Collin Sexton
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Mikal Bridges
- Lonnie Walker
Despite my lack of elite big-man talent, Luka Doncic simply holds too much promise to pass up on at the number one spot. I have modest expectations about his first year in the league, but have a high degree of confidence that I have selected a future top-25 player in Doncic.
- Mitchell Robinson (me)
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Elie Okobo
- Spencer Dinwiddie
- Moe Harkless
- Miles Bridges
- Aaron Holiday
- Grayson Allen
- Josh Okogie
- Cedi Osman
- Kevin Huerter
- Dzanan Musa
After going with what I felt was a fairly safe pick in the first round on Luka Doncic, I felt comfortable taking on a bit more risk in the second round with a high-ceiling boom or bust type player. Mitchell Robinson was at the top of my board after many of the likely top-10 guys were selected, and he fills a position of need for me, so I really could not have asked for much more at pick 13.
- Zhaire Smith (me)
- De’Anthony Melton
- Trey Burke
- Chandler Hutchison
- Kevon Looney
- Robert Williams
- Jerian Grant
- Troy Brown
- Kieta Bates-Diop
- Omari Spellman
- Anfernee Simons
I was torn between Zhaire Smith and De’Anthony Melton at this point. Melton fell further than I expected, so I had not even really entertained the idea of selecting him at pick 25. At the same time, Zhaire Smith might have gone inside of the top-15 had he not suffered an offseason foot injury requiring surgery. Smith’s raw offensive game makes him hard to project, but the upside that he brings on the defensive end alone combined with his pure athleticism lead me to believe that – at his ceiling – he will be the more valuable fantasy producer than Melton. Only time will tell I made the right choice, as there are legitimate questions as to whether he can ever reach that ceiling, but at this draft price, I’m convinced that I made the best choice given my need for early-to-mid round production. Also, selecting Zhaire Smith comes with the added bonus of an extra roster spot for the foreseeable future. I can just stick him in one of my IR spots and effectively gain another late draft pick.
G-League Team Selections
This year, the league voted to add six G-League spots to each roster as well. To qualify for a G-League spot, a player has to have logged less than 100 NBA games in their career. Selecting unproven players this deep can feel like a bit of crap-shoot, but I stuck to my big board and continued my approach of grabbing the best player available and swinging for the fences on upside. A few quick notes on each of my selections.
Jarred Vanderbilt was in the conversation as a lottery player last year with Kentucky before he went down with an ankle injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season. When he was on the floor, Vanderbilt demonstrated a limited offensive skillset, but absolutely dominated the boards with 18.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. If he sees regular rotation minutes in the next few years, his potential to develop into an elite rebounder should give him some fantasy relevance even if he never develops a reliable shot.
I was hoping to land Anfernee Simons in this spot, but he went a few picks before I was back on the clock. With Simons off the board, I grabbed Isaac Bonga – a wiry wing player who clearly needs some time to develop following a sub-par performance at Summer League. If he ever puts it all together, Bonga has immense stat set potential to provide a combination of threes, assists, steals and blocks given his smooth stroke, long frame and aptitude as a distributor. I would wager that he spends a vast majority of the season in the G-League, so I won’t have to worry about him hitting the 100 game mark anytime soon.
Jonah Bolden has a long way to go before he sees reliable rotation minutes in the NBA, but the blueprint for fantasy success is there. When Bolden is on the floor, it will almost invariably be due to his defensive impact. He is a freak athlete with a huge wingspan and a reliable 3-point shot. He’s not there yet, but could serve as a steady backup big man in a Philly with the potential to play some minutes at the five alongside Dario Saric, or potentially at the four next to Embiid. This pick was all about upside.
Furkan Korkmaz’s 40-point outburst in Summer League showed one thing for sure – he is not shy about letting it fly from deep. The Sixers’ bench unit needs spacing, so Korkmaz could see rotation minutes this season when Redick and Covington are off the floor. There isn’t a ton to see here from a stat set perspective outside of threes, but I’m optimistic that I may have landed a solid trade chip in Korkmaz at the very least.
Putting my Nuggets fandom aside, there is a lot to like in Morris as a dynasty asset. He may not have the absolute ceiling of Vanderbilt, Bonga or Bolden, but when you watch Morris it becomes apparent that he belongs in the league. My immediate hopes for him were dashed a bit after the Nuggets signed Isaiah Thomas to presumably serve as the first point guard off the bench, but I’m betting on him to develop in time into a reliable 25-ish minute per game contributor who will get you a few assists and triples on solid percentages. Not exactly the high ceiling type of player that I have been consistently targeting this draft, but it was too safe of a pick to pass on this deep.
I opted to leave my final G-League spot vacant, as we had to spend $1 of our free agent acquisition budget per G-League slot. It is not too expensive, especially considering how few quality players are on the wire, but I like the flexibility that a free spot provides to grab a hot two-way player or stash someone who comes out of nowhere to dominate the G-League.
Following the draft, my focus immediately turned to working the trade market to try and secure some younger second or third-year players that may be flying under the radar in exchange for my veteran assets. I let it be known that James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Smart (I can’t take the percentages) were all on the block.
Putting Harden on the block was a tough decision as he still has plenty of elite production left in the tank, but ultimately I decided that he didn’t fit my timeline. My hope was to get deeper and land a few younger pieces that are already at, or close to, second round value. After much effort in vain to pry away the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell as the centerpiece of a package for Harden, I ended up securing a somewhat lateral deal that I was happy to make.
I Send – James Harden
I Receive – Anthony Davis
I wasn’t sure that I would be able to land Davis, but him or Jokic were my top two targets if I were to make a 1-for-1 trade with Harden. It worked out well for both teams. I get a younger and equally elite option in return for Harden, and they diversify their stat set a bit, as they were already top-heavy in boards and blocks.
No one is biting yet on any of my offers to ship out Ariza and Evans, so I’m content to sit tight on them as wait for a sell-high window to emerge. The same goes for George Hill and Brook Lopez. I’m expecting a bounce-back year from both of them, so if I sold now I’d likely be doing so closer to last season’s value. I’m not actively shopping either of them at the moment. Instead, I will patiently bide my time and hold both of them in the hope that they re-emerge as consistent top-100 fantasy options, then sell them off at a corresponding price.
Waiver Wire Action
Following the conclusion of the draft, Zhaire Smith went straight on my IR, opening up another roster spot to add some depth to my team. The wire is barren given how deep the rosters go, but there were still some diamonds in the rough to be found.
Derrick White had been rostered during the draft, but was dropped to clear out a roster spot in a 2-for-1 trade that went down. White looked fantastic in Summer League, averaging 18.4 points on 43-percent shooting with 2.2 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 25 minutes per game. Before the injury to Dejounte Murray, there was a chance that White was looking at extra minutes. Now he might start. As a long-term option, I like his chances to develop into a comfortable top-150 player on the back of a diverse stat.
Trade Targets and Strategy Notes
As a general rule, I rarely trade for rookies until a buy-low window opens as they under-perform (Malik Monk) or are battling injuries (Jonathan Isaac). People are simply too attached to their rookies in that first year, and you often end up significantly overpaying for the shiny new toy. With that said, here are few guys that I will be trying to acquire.
Zach Collins – We may see a step forward from Collins this year, which wouldn’t be hard to do following a finish outside of the top-350 last season in 66 games played. His per-36 numbers leave a lot to be desired, and the name value and draft pedigree may make Collins an impossible get, but I’m happy to test the waters.
Malik Monk – After a less than stellar rookie campaign, I’m still in on Malik Monk as a potential breakout candidate this year. Even if he comes off the bench behind Jeremy Lamb, he has flashed enough to warrant consideration as a future top-75 player with some growth as a distributor. Similar to Collins, his owner may still be attached, but it is worth floating an offer before the season kicks off.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – In a number of startup dynasty drafts and mocks, Hollis-Jefferson was picked well outside of the top-100. As a 23-year-old player that has a real chance of finishing inside the top-100 in redraft formats, that seems to indicate an opportunity to buy-low. The injury concerns are real, but I’m willing to roll the dice on a guy who took a quiet step forward last year.
Josh Richardson – Following a rough start to last season, Richardson was sitting on the wire in many redraft leagues. He ended up getting back on track on the way to a breakout top-60 finish, but I can’t help but wonder if that initial disappointment is lingering in his owners’ mind. The next step in his evolution as a player is adding some consistency to his offensive output. We know the defensive stats will be there, so if the scoring comes along he is in the discussion as a top-25 player. He was so hyped last year that some owners may be dealing with a bit of a hangover in that regard.
October 14, 2018, 10:54 pmAnthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans haven't practiced or used their "big lineup" yet which would feature Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle.
It's likely that two of the three players will be on the court at any given time but it might not makes sense to play all three guys together given it puts the bench rotation out of whack. We don't have any definitive word on if Mirotic or Randle will be in the starting lineup when the season tips off. Both guys should maintain standard league value with Mirotic offering the most upside.
Source: Scott Kushner on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 10:05 pmRondae Hollis-Jefferson - F - Brooklyn Nets
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who has participated in two consecutive scrimmages is expected to be active to start the season but he may be a reserve early in the year.
This shouldn't really affect RHJ too much as we expect him to be going full speed by the end of the second week of the season. The main risk is RHJ has been getting banged up by bigger PF's. View him as a solid contributor that you can draft right around round 10.
October 14, 2018, 8:40 pmIsh Smith - G - Detroit Pistons
Coach Dwane Casey spoke about the Pistons playing a small ball lineup at times that features Ish Smith at the point with Reggie Jackson playing off the ball.
Smith is much more of a pass-first guard than Jackson so this makes lots of sense. Casey spoke about Jackson being of the better shooters on the Pistons but the news mostly bolsters Smith's stock as Jackson's main issue is his health, not his opportunity.
Source: Detroit News
October 14, 2018, 7:24 pmDevin Booker - G - Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has been cleared for contact and has been participating in 5-on-5 at recent practices.
Booker's right hand procedure was supposed to sideline him until mid-late October but it sounds like he'll be able to suit up on opening night given the positive reviews he's gotten so far. Booker will still need to get his conditioning back but there's no reason to shy away from taking him the early rounds of any last-minute drafts.
Source: Arizona Republic
October 14, 2018, 7:21 pmMikal Bridges - F - Phoenix Suns
Mikal Bridges, who missed the final three preseason games with an elbow injury, says he's feeling 100 percent.
Bridges may be feeling good but will probably have some rust to shake off. Between that and the fact that the Suns are loaded with forwards, there's no need to look his way for fantasy purposes. You might want to check in around mid-season when the tank takes over but until then you should be able to do better.
Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 5:23 pmTyler Ulis - G - Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have claimed Tyler Ulis off waivers and will sign him to a two-way contract.
The Warriors just let Ulis go, and it's not surprising to see him get scooped up quickly given his NBA track record. He had some solid stretches with the Suns in a nightmare of a developmental environment and is a fine third point guard.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 5:19 pmDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green will likely have a minutes limit to begin the season.
Green missed most of the preseason because of a sore left knee, so it's not surprising to see him ease into things despite 21 minutes in Friday's finale. Look for more minutes heading to Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney in the meantime.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 5:07 pmStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry sat out Sunday's practice with a "minor tweak" but will still play in Tuesday's season opener.
No word on what exactly Curry tweaked but it's not an ankle. The Warriors can afford to be proactive with their stars' rest this season but if it keeps Steph healthy throughout the year then fantasy players won't complain.
Source: Monte Poole on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 3:05 pmJonas Valanciunas - C - Toronto Raptors
Nick Nurse reiterated that he will change his lineups and rotations game-to-game, and occasionally even half-to-half.
With Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry the only two locks, the Raptors have enough versatility that Nurse wants to line them up properly every night rather than have everyone stay in set roles. It'll help keep a number of Raptors fantasy relevant and it should put everyone in spots to succeed. Don't worry if Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka, Danny Green and the like rotate in and out. They'll be back in the starting five before you know it.
Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter
October 14, 2018, 2:53 pmRobert Williams - C - Boston Celtics
Robert Williams was able to practice on Sunday after missing the previous two days with an illness.
Williams was a nice find for the Celtics in the draft but would need an injury or two to find fantasy value this season.
Source: Abby Chin on Twitter