Basket Brawlers Fantasy Basketball Four-Cast

Your personal Fantasy Basketball cheat sheet

Welcome to the Fantasy Four-Cast! For the week of January 19th to 25th (Saturday-Friday), we have Steve G., Steve P., and yours truly (Dray) giving you the following four fantasy picks.

1) Fantasy line of the week
2) Fantasy sleeper pickup of the week*
*less than 20% owned in 12 team leagues on ESPN
3) Top sell high candidates
4) Top drop candidates of the week

1) Fantasy line of the week

Steve G.’s Pick
James Harden 
61 Pts, 15 Reb, 4 Ast, 5 Stl, 17/38 Fg, 22/25 Ft, 5 threes
01/23/2019 vs NYK
This category should be called “The James Harden Fantasy Line of the Week” as he shows on a nightly basis why he is arguably the most dominant offensive player in the NBA. Harden has single-handedly carried the Rockets to a 12 – 5 record since Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury, posting historic averages of: 44.5 Pts, 8.3 Reb, 7.9 Ast, 2.1 Stl, 1.1 Blk, 43% Fg, 88% FT over the last month. Did someone just say “MVP”?5

Steve P.’s Pick
Kyrie Irving
26 Pts, 10 Ast, 2 3PM, 8 stls, 58% FG
01/21/2019 vs MIA
Someone call the fuzz, this man is getting away with thievery…
Kyrie continues to play out of his mind for a Celtics squad in need of leadership. I’ve seen many 10 man lineups not get 8 steals in total. He continues to put up first round numbers and this will not be the last time his name is in the Line of the Week column.

Dray’s Pick
Russel Westbrook
23 Pts, 17 Reb, 16 Ast, 2 Stl, 9/19 Fg, 1 threes
01/18/2019 vs MEM

Another ho-hum night for Russ. As a basketball fan, it should amaze us that Russ is averaging a triple-double for the third season in a row, but instead we take it for granted. We’re accustomed to this amazing show of passion and athleticism, and although you can throw out the 4/8 FT (yuck), Russ is, and always will be, a fantasy stud with lines like this.

2) Fantasy sleeper pickup of the week

Steve G.’s Pick
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
16% owned
11.8 pts/5.0 reb/2.8 3pm/0.8stls/0.5blks in the last 7 days

Williams has been a solid contributor for the Hornets across the board, providing good averages over the last 30 days. If you can handle William’s somewhat volatile FG% he provides sneaky 3-and-D stats from the PF position.

Steve P.’s Pick
Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics
22% owned
12.7 pts/6.7 reb/ 4.0 ast/2.0 3pm/1.0 stl/1.00 FT% in the last 7 days

Trade season is upon as. As we inch closer to the deadline there is good strategy in picking up guys who have very clear value if traded to the right opportunity. Rozier is numero uno in this regard. We all know what he can do with starters minutes and though there are no rumours about him yet, it is often the un-reported deals that actually get done…

Dray’s Pick
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
20% owned
13.4 pts/3.8 reb/2.5 ast/2.4 3pm/82.9% FT% in the last 7 days

The Nets are decimated right now in the wing spot. Spencer Dinwiddie is now out with ligament issues in his thumb, meaning Joe Harris will get all the shots he could possibly want until guys like Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson get back. Pick him up if you need threes and points with good FT%.

3) Top Sell High Candidates

Steve G.’s pick
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

Nearing the halfway mark of the season, Orlando finds themselves on the outside looking in at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As they will for the rest of the season… With Mo Bamba being praised as a future cornerstone of the franchise, look for the Magic to seek out a trade at the deadline sending Vucevic to a contending team for future assets. Even if no trade occurs, expect Orlando to periodically rest and reduce Vucevic’s minutes down the stretch as they fall further out of playoff contention. Either way, the more the magic lose, the more likely that Vucevic ends up in a less favourable position. Get what you can for the big man while his value is at its peak.

Steve P.’s pick 
Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder

I may be completely wrong here.. But as of the last two weeks Grant is absolutely BALLING. Before last night’s game he was on an 8 game tear of 2+ block games, with some 3’s, pts, and overall good production. Last two weeks he is top 50 in 8-cat, while over the year he is just cresting the Top 100. Smells like a sell-high opportunity to me.

Dray’s pick
Brandon Ingram, LA Lakers

The rumour mill is churning out some hot takes this week with Memphis looking to deal the last bit of the grit&grind era, but what has stuck out to me is the Lakers apparently shopping Ball and Ingram. At the onset of the season, people were wondering how well Ingram and LeBron would be able to play together. Ingram has done good (I would say), but I could see why the Lakers want to make a swap for an All-Star to play next to the King. If they can work with the Wizards to get Beal, I would do that deal all day. If Ingram is moved he could perform just as well if not better, but personally I’m not willing to risk it. Trade him while he’s hot if you don’t want to wait for him to get up to speed somewhere else.

Photo credit to ClutchPoints https://clutchpoints.com/lakers-video-as-batman-lonzo-ball-tells-brandon-ingram-stay-out-of-foul-trouble/

4) Top Drop Candidates

Steve G.’s pick
Dario Saric, Minnesota Timberwolves

I was with almost everyone in thinking that the move from the 76ers to the Timberwolves would lead to Saric taking over the starting PF spot from Taj Gibson resulting in solid fantasy numbers for the remainder of the season. Well, that just hasn’t happened. Saric is rostered in 60% of leagues and appears to have officially taken an even further step back from when he was playing for the 76ers. At this point of the season consider it time to cut ties and search for a better option off the waiver wire.

Steve P.’s pick
Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers

He was exciting for a while, but the writing seems to be on the wall for him. Nance is back, Tristan will return soon, and Love may decide to make an appearance. An interesting player for dynasty leagues perhaps, but this year is not the year he breaks out.

Dray’s pick
Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks

This one hurts. I drafted Baze and was pretty excited to have him, but unless he’s moved I don’t see the Hawks bringing back as soon as his ankle is good to go. The Hawks aren’t making the playoffs and they’re getting a good look at some great young talent (if he wasn’t injured, my pickup of the week may have been Kevin Huerter). If you don’t have an IR spot this is easy. If you do, there’s probably better out there.

Yes – I am dropping him as soon as I submit this post.

Tune in next week for more!

NBA Power Rankings – Week 14

Week 14 has proven to be a bit boring. The richer get richer, the medium get medium-ier, and the poor are still outside the top 5. The top 5 have stayed the same, but they’ve all decided to play musical chairs this week.

The one thing I’ll preface week 14 with before I start is that I think the best team in the league is actually first, finally.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Week 13 Record: 3-0 
Offensive Rating: 113.5 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: 103.8 (1st)
Net Rating: + 9.7 (1st)

Milwaukee is back in the top slot, but somehow I’m somewhat unimpressed with Giannis’ line (21.3ppg, 11.3 rpg, 6.0apg, 2.0spg). You’re right, it’s still a monster line but, it just doesn’t seem like he went full freak this week.

The Bucks are back in first place in the East this week, after beating some mediocre teams in Miami, Memphis, and Orlando. They won all games with a margin greater then 10 points. Overall, they’re the best team in the entire league this week defensively, which is a huge feat in my opinion (notably beating defensive titans OKC, Indiana and Boston), and now own a monstrous +9.7 NET rating. They’re not beating teams, they’re demoralizing teams by shutting them down, and outscoring the crap out of them.

If Mike Budenholzer doesn’t win Coach of the Year this year, I’ll personally be in awe. He’s turned this team around quicker than any casual fan would dare to admit. The even more scary part to this week 14 realization is that the Bucks are actually set up for a while with depth. I won’t officially hand them the keys to the East this week, but other teams have seriously need to think about how they approach the Bucks in the future (including the playoffs).

nba power ranking- weeks 12

2. Toronto Raptors

Week 13 Record: 2-1
Offensive Rating: 112.0 (6th)
Defensive Rating: 107.0 (9th)
Net Rating: +5.1 (6th)

This has been a pretty ho-hum week for the Raptors. The Celtics made them look like a beatable team on Wednesday , allowing Kyrie Irving to go off with 27 points, 18 assists, 5 rebounds and a casual 1 steal and block.

Kawhi looks like he’s taking an early spring break right now, having only played 1 of week 14’s games, and that game being the loss to the Celtics. In the remaining two games the Raptors had to rely on bench depth to come up beat Phoenix by 2 points. Perhaps without the massive 21 point third quarter from Danny Green against the Grizzlies, that game might’ve been a bit closer as well.

If there was any team in the top 5 that didn’t deserve the first spot, it’s definitely Toronto. I really hope the rumours of the Raptors front office looking to trade for an ELITE level shooting guard are actually true, because it might be the kick they need to keep Milwaukee down for the rest of the season.

3. Golden State Warriors

Week 13 Record: 3-0
Offensive Rating: 115.4 (1st)
Defensive Rating:  109.0 (15th)
Net Rating: +6.3 (2nd)

Last week, I cried a little on the inside when I realized that Demarcus Cousins was making his return. Then he did this in his first game back:

Now we’ve got fanbois running around making infinity guantlet jokes about the Warriors. I’m really having a hard time with seeing how the Warriors don’t cruise through the Western conference playoffs this year without breaking a sweat. They might be third right now, but they don’t care. They’re playing the long con for ring 4 in 5 years.

4. Denver Nuggets

Week 13 Record: 2-1
Offensive Rating: 113.1 (5th)
Defensive Rating: 107.9 (T10th)
Net Rating: +5.2 (5th)

Lets give Denver a get out of jail free card this week. I’m still in awe that they played 5 games in 7 days in week 13. This might be evident from the 31 point drudging they received from Golden State this week.

They got to finish up the week against Chicago and Cleveland, so hopefully they got some time to recharge with 2 seemingly easy games. Lets see what they come back with in week 15.

Oh yea. Nikola Jokic averaged more assists than rebounds this week, notching another triple double against Cleveland. Jamal Murray is looking more and more like a complete scorer this season (averaging a cool 24 ppg this week), given his cool start to the season. I also forgot to mention that they’re looking to get Isaiah Thomas back in the first week of February too.

Just pretend like you didn’t see anything that I just typed in what is supposed to be an “off-week” for the Nuggets.

5. Indiana Pacers

Week 13 Record: 3-1
Offensive Rating: 109.7 (5th)
Defensive Rating: 104.0 (2nd)
Net Rating: +5.7 (4th)

How are they winning games?

No seriously. A few weeks ago I mentioned that most reporters are casually forgetting this team, and most of the players on it this season. But now I’m starting to really wonder how they’re doing it.

The Pacers are quietly the third best team in the East after week 14. In a 4 game week, they went a cool 3-1, abusing the Suns by 35 points, shutting down the Mavericks by 12 and closing out Sunday with a 25 point win over the Hornets. The one game they lost, the script was flipped by losing to Philadelphia by 24.

THE TREND: All 3 of their wins came by locking their opponents down to under 100 points {“Phoenix”: 97, “Dallas”: 91, “Charlotte”: 95} (yes I just realised that the list I gave you is a JSON object, leave me alone, this is my second job). Opponents FG% during those games respectively were 42.1%, 42.0%, and 40.2%. Per basketball-reference.com, the league average for FG% is 46.0%.

And without a “lockdown” defender DPOY candidate on this team, one can only assume that they’re defending as a team. If Indiana is in the top 5 next week, I’ll try and deep dive a bit more into their defensive stats as a team.

JUST MISSED OUT:

Oklahoma City Thunder (28-18)

This team smash’s steaks, all the bloody time mate.

Week 14 record: 1-2
Paul George: 27.3ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, and a monster 3.7 STEALS PER GAME
Russell Westbrook: 26.0 ppg, 10.0 apg, 8.3 rpg, 2.3 spg
Steven Adams: 16.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 2.3 spg

Three players, three unreal defenders. OKC deserves more credit than what they’re getting right, despite a 1-2 week 14. Plus this monster game against Philadelphia.

LOSING GROUND:

Los Angeles Clippers

Once a western conference titan this season, the Clippers have slipped from 1st to 8th in the west. They caught lightning in a bottle for the first half of the season, but it looks like teams are catching on to the koolaid that Doc Rivers was selling his players.

With that being said, a 25-21 record is nothing to sneeze at, but with the Lakers, King sand Timberwolves breathing down their necks, it might be time for the Clippers to sip the sizzurp and start winning again…quickly.

MAKING GAINS:

Brooklyn Nets

In week 3, I wrote that the Nets were the 15th best team in the league. At the time I was definitely stretching it, but now I’m not looking so crazy.



The Nets are the 6th best team in the east right now with a 25-23 record, being lead by everyone’s favourite snitch:

D’Angelo is finally making the Lakers look a little dumb for trading him. This week alone, he lead the Nets to beat the Celtics (kay), Rockets (wait..), and Magic (that’s more like it).

The last seven days (including Monday January 21st), Russell is carrying this under-achieving team with 28.0 ppg, 7.0 apg, 3.3 rpg, and a Harden-esque 5.7 3PM. Lets keep an eye on these guys as the season grind to a close. I doubt they’ll crack the top 5, but I’ve been wrong before.

Basket Brawlers Fantasy Basketball Four-Cast

Your personal Fantasy Basketball cheat sheet

Welcome to the first weekly segment of the Basket Brawlers Fantasy Basketball Four-Cast. This will be a weekly post that we will provide every Saturday to help you dominate your fantasy league as we approach the trade deadline and fantasy play-offs.

By this point, you probably have your core players locked in, so we are here to help you make the under-the-radar moves that will push you to the top of your own fantasy basketball leagues! With our rotating panel of expert fantasy Basket Brawlers, we’ll outline recommended moves that we think will make the difference.

From here until the end of the season we will break down the following categories in 140 characters or less:

1) Fantasy line of the week
2) Fantasy sleeper pickup of the week (less than 20% owned in 12 team leagues)
3) Top sell high candidates
4) Top drop candidates of the week

Joining me on the expert panel of fantasy basketball analysts this week is none other than Adam Johal and Jordan Taylor who have both won fantasy leagues in the past and know what it takes to win! So…lets get to it!

1) Fantasy line of the week

Adam Johal’s pick 
James Harden 
56 Pts, 10 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 16/34 Fg, 21/23 ft, 5 threes
01/16/2019 vs MEM

Harden is lighting the league on fire and Wednesday night showcased him at the height of his powers. 

Jordan Taylor’s pick
Steph Curry
41 Pts, 5 Ast, 3 Reb, 11/22 Fg, 10/10 Ft, 9 threes
01/16/2019 vs NOP

This game didn’t need any other mentions as it was already the highest offensively paced game this week, but Steph Curry still managed to shine above the rest. He hit 9 threes on the way to GSW’s win and kept his ridiculous streak of 8+ 3pm for the past three games. He cooled down Friday night and returned to mortal numbers, but we are in the presence of the greatest shooter of all time – so enjoy it.

Rajan Sharma’s pick
Kyrie Irving 
38 Pts, 7 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Blk, 14/21 Fg, 6/9 ft, 4 threes
01/18/2019 vs MEM

Uncle Drew now has 29 assists over his last 2 games, including a career high 18 assists vs the East leading Raptors (and #1 on our weekly power rankings: http://basketbrawlers.ca/nba-power-rankings/ ) on Wednesday night…maybe he should call out his teammates more often?

2) Fantasy sleeper pickup of the week

Adam Johal’s pick
Richaun Holmes, Phoenix Suns
15% owned
13.5 pts/6.0 reb/0.5blks in the last 7 days

Holmes has had some great 9-cat stats, including great assist and steal potential for a center.

Jordan Taylor’s pick
Kenneth Faried, Free Agent
0.8% owned

The manimal has been waived by the Brooklyn Nets and intends to sign with the Houston Rockets where he will soak up all the missed shots from Harden with Clint Capella out recovering from surgery on his hand. Take the flier and benefit from a boost in rebounds.

Rajan Sharma’s pick
DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets
16.5% owned
14.0 pts/7.7 reb/1.7 threes per game in the last 7 days

With injuries to many of their key wings, the Nets have called upon Carroll to play all the minutes he can handle. He can be relied on in the short term to provide a boost in scoring, rebounding, and triples.

3) Top Sell High Candidates

Adam Johal’s pick
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Beal has been on a torrid pace lately, but now is the time to maximize his trade value.

Jordan Taylor’s pick 
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

With Boogie back in the fold you can expect Green’s already dismal shot attempts and numbers to continue on a downward trend. Draymond has the intangibles for the Warriors that just won’t transfer over to the fantasy stat sheet. Having Boogie last night confirmed you will get the same Draymond with Cousins in the lineup, but how long will it last? See if you can get a high round point guard for your troubles

Rajan Sharma’s pick
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

With the Grizzlies having cooled off since their blistering start and free agency looming ahead for their star big man, look for Memphis to be sellers this trade deadline and shift in to more of a youth movement going forward.

4) Top Drop Candidates

Adam Johal’s pick
Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns

Jackson seemed to be heating up start the new year but has fallen off a cliff his last two outings with Booker back in the lineup. Feel free to give him the snip if you’re eying someone on the wire.

Jordan Taylor’s pick
All Houston Rockets Not Named James Harden

With the beard going on his offensive tear this month, touches for the rest of the team are few and far between. Search the waiver wire somewhere else because the likes of PJ Tucker, Austin Rivers, and Gerald Green won’t get it done for you consistently to warrant keeping them.

Rajan Sharma’s pick
JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers

Well, the JaVale McGee feel good story is now over. He has been bumped down to 3rd string after Ivica Zubac has rushed the scene and stolen the hearts of the Laker Faithful. Time to cut ties here unless you are desperate for shot blocking.

Thats all for this week! Hope you can take away some knowledge from the expert analysis above. Check back in next Saturday for more Fantasy Basketball Four-Cast from your favourite Basketball Know-It-Alls!

The Impact of a King

Obviously, LeBron is a major piece of whatever team he belongs to. Even still, it’s astonishing how much of an impact he has when he gets sidelined.

LeBron has been out since December 25th and since then, the Lakers are 4-7. Believe it or not, that’s actually one of the better records by a LeBron team when he is removed from action.

TeamRecord
2018-2019 LA Lakers4-7
2017-2018 Cleveland CavaliersDid not miss a game
2016-2017 Cleveland Cavaliers0-8
2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers1-5

It’s surprising that those Cavalier teams with Kyrie and Kevin Love couldn’t secure a few more wins with the King off the court. To be fair, those two were rested with LeBron for some of those games, but it almost seems like teams become complacent when you lean on the King. You know on any given night that LeBron could easily get a triple-double, so I believe that players start to let off the throttle. When LeBron is sitting, the floor falls out beneath them and they can’t find a way to fill the gap.

Photo credit to NBA.com

Whether you agree with my theory or not, it holds true that a young team who are trying to make a name for themselves may be more likely to break through this barrier and scrap out a few wins without him. As a Lakers fan, you should be happy with their record sans-LeBron. He’s cleared for practice starting next week, and you hope that the young guns carry some of this swagger through when he’s back.

LeGM

LeBron does much more than just impact the team in the W column, he has also been a tampering GM if you’d believe a small portion of the leagues managers. People love to joke that LeBron controls a team top down. When he returned to Cleveland, it was somewhat plausible. Now Magic is the boss but people still think that LeBron himself is driving the acquisition of the Brow, stating that he wants to play with MVP candidate Anthony Davis after the upcoming off-season.

That’s because he is, and it’s completely allowed.

If any other player was recruiting top tier talent in this fashion, GMs wouldn’t even flinch. But because LeBron is believed to have a significant amount of pull in the front office, people are clambering for a tampering crack-down on the King. Rightfully so, LeBron responded as follows:

Asked by reporters after the Lakers’ 112-104 win over Davis and the Pelicans if in hindsight his comments were “wrong,” James shot back, “No, of course not.”
“Ask me would I like to play with Kevin Durant? Ask me right now,” he told the press scrum around his locker.
“Would you like to play with Kevin Durant?” a reporter asked.
“Absolutely,” James said. “Ask me if I would like to play with Jimmy Butler.”
“Would you like to play with Jimmy Butler?” the reporter asked.
“Ask me about Kyrie Irving,” James said. “Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid. Ben Simmons. Go ahead. All of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now. Come on guys, it is not rocket science. It is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely, I would want to play with a lot of great players, that is just who I am. So? People get caught up in bunches. Sometimes they wish they could control what you say and they can’t control me. At all. And I play by the rules.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/12/22/lebron-james-shrugs-off-anthony-davis-tampering-talk-i-play-by-rules/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.366170648c0b

Anthony Davis’ upcoming off-season has been a hot topic this season; even Kevin Garnett has stated that AD needs to go play with LeBron.

Regardless of whether Kawhi, AD, KD, or anyone else decides to take their talents to Hollywood, LeBron is playing some of the best basketball we’ve ever seen. He’s performed better through the first 30 games with the Lakers than any other team in his past. Every year people think he’ll drop off, and every year he outperforms himself. All I can say is, Lakers fans must be happy campers right now. The Lakers are locked in for four more years of LeBron and starting next year they’ll have more cap space than Anthony Davis has eyebrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a title with LeBron on the roster.

Christmas 2018

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when Bucks land in New York,
Giannis is coming, to own their home court.

The Thunder and Rockets will meet down in Houston,
With no CP3, the Rockets are losin’.

Phili at Boston will sure be a treat,
I bet Embiid will get fined, from a following tweet.

LeBron and the Lakers will take on the champs,
When the good King is rolling, they at least stand a chance.

Finishing off with Mitchell, CJ, and Dame,
The Blazers will win on the last Christmas game.

Every year, the stockings are hung and the tree is decorated. People traverse ice-ridden roads and packed airports with canceled flights, all so they can reach their families and spend some time together for the holidays. As an NBA fan, it also means one of the biggest events the season has to offer. The honour of playing basketball on Christmas day is full of history. The NBA and media has always had some fun with it, creating some highlight videos all findable on YouTube. Here’s my favourite:

Only the best teams and biggest markets get to face off on December 25th, each earning their own custom jersey for the day. This year is no different, with 10 teams facing off in five back-to-back games. I’ll give a short break down of each matchup below and include my pick to win.


9 a.m. PT

Milwaukee Bucks
@
New York Knicks

Now here is a great example of an excellent team vs. a big market. The Bucks are second best in the league as of December 23rd and carry one of the best up-and-coming talent’s this league can offer in Giannis Antetokounmpo. They will open their gifts all over the lowly 9-25 New York Knicks who are hoping for a Christmas miracle.

DRAY’S PICK: Bucks run away with this one in the first half.


12 p.m. PT

Oklahoma City Thunder
@
Houston Rockets

If you told me at the beginning of the season that one of these teams is currently 7th in the West and the other is 2nd, I would of completely believed that. If you told me that it was the Rockets and the Thunder, respectively, I would not have. It’s no secret the Rockets have been struggling, and now CP3 has gone down again, this time with a strained left hamstring. It feels like the Rockets haven’t gotten any better than last year, but the rest of the league has caught up in many ways. Maybe a big win on Christmas day is enough to jump start the Rockets, but the Thunder are not to be trifled with these days. Because of that…

DRAY’S PICK: I’ll take the Thunder here.


2:30 p.m. PT

Philadelphia 76ers
@
Boston Celtics

A potential prelude for the first round matchup in the Eastern playoffs, the Sixers and Celtics game could be my pick to watch on the big day. Boston hasn’t been what people were expecting so far this year, but I have full confidence that they will make some noise when the bright lights are on them. The Sixers are right about where most people would of pegged them: continuing to develop a talented young core but now have the added benefit of All-Star Jimmy Butler. After the season opener, Joel Embiid said that the Celtics rivalry wasn’t really a rivalry since “…They always kick our ass”. Well, now that Jimmy Buckets is around that may not be the case.

DRAY’S PICK: Sixers in a tight one.


5 p.m. PT

Los AngJameslos Lakers
@
Golden State Warriors

LeBron has been putting in work for the Lakers, surpassing even what most people thought he was still capable of when arriving on the sunny coast at the beginning of this season. If you thought he was past his prime, you too have continued to be amazed. The Warriors are still the titans to beat here, but LeBron loves to show up for the big games, and Christmas day in California definitely fits that bill.

DRAY’S PICK: Warriors win, LeBron gets 27-7-7.


7:30 p.m. PT

Portland Trailblazers
@
Utah Jazz

I love that the NBA included this game for Christmas. Personally, I would of preferred to have seen Denver on the slate in the place of Utah, but watching Donovan Mitchell in big moments never seems to disappoint. Of course, it’s always a pleasure to watch Dame D.O.L.L.A. and CJ McCollum trade shots on the floor like dueling banjos as well, so all-in-all I think it will be a good finish to a packed day of ball. As far as who’s the favourite? Come on…

DRAY’S PICK: Portland by a fair margin.


Am I wrong or am I right? Sound off in the comments below.

NBA Power Rankings – Week 7

There’s a lot of movement in the top 5 and top 10 this week. Come check it out! See how the Raptors, Warriors, Bucks and dare I say, CLIPPERS did in week 7. The landscape of the NBA is changing before our very eyes this season! Let us know what you think of our rankings if you don’t agree.

By Any Other Name

Any basketball fan can remember it. 2012 Playoffs, Chicago vs. Philapelphia. The youngest MVP to ever win the award collapses to the floor and needs to be helped off the court. Chicago fans and NBA enthusiasts around the world held their breath waiting for the result of the MRI. When it was reported that Rose tore his ACL in his left knee, the NBA world’s collective hearts sank. The explosive nature of his game did not lend itself well to this kind of injury, and everyone knew the road back would be difficult, if not impossible.

After missing the entire 2012-2013 season, Adidas and Rose teamed up for a momentous comeback. #TheReturn was coined and marketed to bring Rose back into relevance, and I was fully on board.

The league was electrified for the return of the MVP. Was he back to his old explosive self? Could he be even better? After his first pre-season game back in Chicago against the Detroit Pistons on October 16, 2013, Rose was quoted saying:

“I think I’m way more explosive now. Like getting to the rim. I think I can take contact a little bit better. And as far as jumping-wise, I think I can jump even higher. They tested my vertical — I increased it by 5 inches”

 Friedell, Nick (October 17, 2013). “Derrick Rose: I’m more explosive now”ESPN.com. Retrieved November 23, 2013.

People started to believe he was back despite a slow start to the season. That is, until November 22nd, 2013 where Rose injured his right knee playing against the Portland Trail Blazers. Fans were devastated when they found out that Rose had torn his meniscus in his right knee and after a successful surgery, would be out for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season. 

Fast forward to the 2016 off-season. Rose is back again and showing flashes of his former self. After stringing together an injury free 2015-2016 campaign, Rose is traded to the New York Knicks. He begins 2016-2017 well until the turn of the new year. On January 9th, 2017, it wasn’t an injury that plagued Rose but a personal choice. He flew to Chicago and no-showed for a game against the Pelicans without notifying any team officials.

Now fans begin to question his dedication not only to his teammates and franchise, but to the game of basketball itself. To make matters worse, Rose then tore the meniscus in his left knee on April 2nd, 2017 forcing him to undergo his fourth knee surgery in nine years.

His contract was up during his rehab, and he decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2017-2018 season, hoping to contribute to a perennial Finals contender and help LeBron James take down the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, Rose didn’t make it that far, leaving the team on November 24th, 2017 to “re-evaluate his future in the NBA”. At this point, murmurs began agreeing that Rose should just hang up the sneakers. Between his ailing knees, mental wariness caused by continual injuries, and the inability to play his style of ball, Rose was not even a shadow of his former self. Despite the media backlash and self-doubt, he decided to try another comeback, rehabilitating an ankle injury with the Cavs until he returned on January 18th, 2018. Less than a month later, Rose was traded to the Utah Jazz who immediately waived him.

Rose never claimed to care about the money, but he would be leaving more than $80 million on the table in a contract with Adidas should he never step foot on a court again. Even if he wanted to comeback, what team would take a player with four knee surgeries, a history of letting his teammates down, and has publicly questioned whether he wants to be playing this sport?

Enter the Timberbulls.

Thibs is crazy. Although it’s not mentioned above, coach Tom Thibodeau was step-for-step on this journey with Rose up until he was traded to the Knicks. In the midst of everything else going on, Thibs is let go from the Bulls (another post perhaps) and subsequently given the GM/coaching gig in Minnesota. Thibs is met with young talent that is not yet accustomed to his style of play. So what would anyone do with the power of a GM and the system of a coach?  Go get your boys back.

Thibs went on a tear, acquiring Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng to bring in the veteran presence with experience in the defensive system Thibs was hoping to bestow on the Twin Cities. 

So what do we have now for our hero? A last chance. An opportunity with his old coach and teammates to try to turn back the clock one more time before being forced out of the league forever. Rose knew this of course, and to the amazement of everyone pulling for him he has once again begun to take the NBA back by storm. His season thus far has been great, but if you had to pinpoint the game that set the world on fire, look no further than Halloween of 2018 against the very team that waived him less than a year ago. The former MVP showed what he was still capable of, scoring 50 points on 4/7 three-point shooting, a known weak-spot in his dramatic career. After sealing the game with a block, Rose succumbed to emotion.

It’s clear this was built up over the past eight years. Rose went from the youngest MVP with the brightest future, to likely being kicked out of the league as the only MVP to never see the Hall-of-Fame. This performance was his answer to the question of whether he was going to give up or not. This game could very well be a defining moment not only in his career, but his entire life. The weight of this event is what caused the emotional reaction in the interview, and watching it live evoked the same thing in me.

What impresses me most is that it didn’t stop here. Rose has kept his foot on the gas this month shotting a blistering 63% from deep and arguably being the best player on a T-Wolves team packed with talent. And now, with the Butler debacle finally over, Rose has a clear path to continue this amazing run that we’ve been waiting for since 2013.

So if you’re a basketball fan, if you were a part of the hype in the early 2010’s, or if you just like a good story, sit back and enjoy witnessing the long awaited comeback five years later than expected.

A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet

The New Regime

The NBA officially crossed over into the third week of this young 2018-2019 NBA season, when Klay Thompson accomplished another remarkable feat. On October 29, 2018, Klay Thompson, Splash Bros. #2, drowned the young Chicago Bulls and the rest of the United Center, in Chicago, with 14 three-pointers. Like the fabled gladiator of legend, Sparticus, Klay Thompson was certainly the Bringer of Rain on Monday night. Although this type of individual performance from beyond three doesn’t happen every night, there is no doubt that the NBA is now a three-point shooting league. How has the NBA and its teams evolved into emphasizing a style of play that is so incredibly three-point shooting dominant? What do the historic three-point shooting statistics indicate about past, current, and future changes in the way basketball is played in the NBA? Allow me to apply a “scientific” theory of explaining what the three-point shot has done to NBA basketball.

If my booze hampered memory from university serves me correctly (and perhaps a quick Google search), the Regime Shift Theory (or Ball-and-Cup) goes something like this… According to regimeshifts.org:

Regime shifts result from a change in the dominant feedbacks. All complex systems contain many feedback loops, but these can typically evolve and combine in only a limited number of ways. Over time, a particular combination of feedbacks will tend to become dominant, leading the system to self-organize into a particular structure and function – or “regime”. However, if the system experiences a large shock (the Phoenix Suns going for 62-20 during the 2004-2005 NBA regular season) or persistent directional change (e.g. the Golden State Warriors dominated the NBA night in, night out on the way to the 2014-2015 NBA Larry O’Brien trophy) the dominant feedbacks may be overwhelmed or eroded. At some point a critical threshold may be passed where a different set of feedbacks become dominant, and the system experiences a large, often abrupt change in structure and function – or a “regime shift”.

http://regimeshifts.org
Image retrieved from: regimeshifts.org

Let’s review the 2005-2006 NBA Regular Season and apply what we have now learned about the things necessary to create a regime shift in a complex system, like the way the game of basketball is played in the NBA. According to NBA.com’s “Advanced Stats”, during this season, the Phoenix Suns were the first team to have a seasonal average of 10 3PM/Game or more, gunning in 10.2 3PM/Game. How was this achieved? The answer is: Coach Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense, consisting of a high tempo, run-and-gun style of play with a strong emphasis on pick-and-rolls and of course, three-point shooting. However, the turning point in the three-point shooting revolution came a season earlier, during the 2004-2005 NBA Regular Season, when the Phoenix Suns finished with a record of 62-20. In my opinion, this season serves as the tipping point towards the NBA of the future, even if the Phoenix Suns only hit a measly 9.7 3PM/Game. However, it’s clear that in those initial two regular seasons, with Mike D’Antoni at the helm, the Suns had tapped into something great. The blistering pace of the games mixed in with buzzer beating 3’s made for games that were fun as hell to watch! NBA teams during D’Antoni and Nash’s first two years together, and the way basketball had been played and coached in the NBA up to this point, both received “a large shock”.

Image retrieved from: http://lakerholicz.com

The first time two NBA teams would both have a seasonal average of 10 or more 3PM/game would be in 2008-2009, with both the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic averaging 10.0 3PM/game. To me, this is the first sign of the three-point shooting feedback loop coming full circle in the NBA. Since the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season, at least one team has put forth a seasonal average of 10 or more 3PM/game. Roughly three weeks into the 2018-2019 Regular Season, and as of October 30, 2018, there are 24 teams with a season average of 10 or more 3PM/game! Currently, the Milwaukee Bucks lead the league with 15.6 3PM/game! Regime shift.

One of the most defining characteristics of the NBA, and arguably basketball in general, is the sport’s ability to evolve. The American Basketball League (ABL), was the first professional basketball league to officially institute the three-point line into its rules, in 1961. The three-point line would later be instituted into other professional basketball leagues like, the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), in 1967-1968 and 1979 respectively. Basketball legend, George Mikan, who served as commissioner of the ABA, is quoted as describing the three-point shot as something that “would give the smaller player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the fans.” By golly, was Georgie ever right.

The game of basketball as it is played in the NBA, is as fast and wide open as it has ever been. A newly instituted rule for the 2018-2019 NBA Season has helped ensure that games will be played at a faster pace going forward. The Association changed the amount of time that the shot clock resets to after the offensive team retains possession after a missed shot. The time on the shot clock has now been reduced from 24 seconds down to 14 seconds.

“The system experiences a large, often abrupt change in structure and function.”

In addition to the potential for more three-point shooting, what does this rule change mean for pace? Let’s go back to the 2004-2005 NBA Regular Season, one last time. It should be no surprise that the Phoenix Suns led the league in points that season, with 110.4 PTS/game. A total of 6 teams that season averaged over 100 PTS/game during the regular season. What’s the story this current 2018-2019 NBA Regular Season? All 30 NBA teams are averaging over 100 PTS/game, with the Golden State Warriors currently averaging 124.3 (as of October 30, 2018). If this year’s shot clock rule change and the changes to the NBA regular season schedule (where teams play the least amount of back-to-back games in NBA history) indicate anything, it’s that the NBA recognizes the desires of the players, teams, fans, and the league itself.

What is the first desire? Greater career longevity for NBA players. This has been accomplished with more rest time throughout the season and a less physically grinding style of game play for NBA players. And the second desire? Creating an exciting, fast-paced, high-scoring games, which may aid in attracting greater viewership and make NBA games more fun for the casual (and in a lot of cases non-causal) fan to watch. Lastly, and ultimately long-term, both desires equal more money for players, teams, and the Association.

It should be recognized that it is impossible to recognize or predict all the changes and trends that may be linked to the three-point shooting mania currently taking place in the NBA, but if the findings in this article suggest anything, the current regime is here to stay.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson celebrates after scoring a three pointer against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)