Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The new schedule's here! The new schedule's here!

I love new NBA schedule day in early August. It's the first time you can do some ruminating and rumbling over fantasy strategery. And of course I love doing brute force counting of who plays how much each week. I haven't done too much analysis yet, but a few things stand out.

1. Three teams have a 5 game week, and they all come in the first half of the season - Atlanta in week 5 (Happy Thanksgiving!), Dallas in week 10 (Merry New Year!), and Portland in week 2 (Happy, uh, Guy Fawkes Day, for all you "Daria" fans).

2. Toronto has a 1 game week during Christmas (week 9), just like Phoenix 2 years ago. Hmm, this may be a week you think about benching Bosh and Turkoglu. What who in the hey now? Oh.

3. Miami has the only 4 game week in week 1. Go ahead, draft LeBron in round 1, then Bosh in round 2, I'll let it pass.

4. No team has 3 games during the short pre-All-Star week, like Orlando did last year. So you don't have to start Jameer Nelson and let his 10-29 shooting kill you.

Anyway, here is a quick and dirty schedule grid which I did, so you won't have to.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2nd Opinion - another doctor's visit

I’m setting about on trying to interact with in the fantasy hoops game. Next up (because Kamla won’t reply to my emails) is Jason Hahn, proprietor of the fantasy hoops blog “fBasketballBlog” and the Fantasy Doctor over at Dime magazine. Geez, does everyone have to be a doctor when they spit out fantasy advice? Why not any other profession? From now on, I going to be the Fantasy Guy from Accounts Receivable. Straight up numba crunchin’ like my G, Herbert Kornfeld. (Mourn ya til I join ya, H-Dog.)

Anyway, here is some Q&A with Jason, who is already doing some quality offseason work and will be just as good in-season, what with the red/yellow/green notes n’ stuff (just like a traffic light!).

To9C: How did you get into this fantasy basketball stuff? Does your mom know about this?

JH: First off, I just want to quickly say that I'm humbled to be in the interviewed company of such fantasy basketball greats as Steve "Dr. A" Alexander and Ken Slight. You've become something of a Charlie Rose or Larry King in the fantasy basketball world, and I'm honored to be interviewed here. To your question, my love for fantasy basketball was sparked by my love for basketball in general. I participated in my first fantasy league in the late '90s on NBA.com with some friends and haven't looked back since. I just love the game of fantasy basketball -- the attention it demands, the chance to manage your very own team, the opportunities to get the best of your friends and the knowledge of lesser-known players it brings. My love for fantasy basketball fuels my love for the NBA. It's an obsession of mine that I'm not ashamed of. Some are addicted to alcohol, others to porn -- I'm addicted to fantasy basketball. I only started blogging about fantasy ball last summer, when I had the opportunity to take a class in my graduate journalism program about how to launch and maintain a professional blog. When we were given our choice of topics, fantasy basketball was the obvious way to go. Needless to say, writing about fantasy basketball, no matter how crudely, is a dream that merges two intense loves of mine. And yes, my mom knows about this, though she doesn't quite understand it.

To9C: How did the gig with Dime Magazine come about? Are you really a doctor?

JH: I have to give thanks to my younger brother and one of our friends, who both suggested last summer that I try to write for Dime Magazine. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was a pipe dream, but a couple weeks later those brief conversations popped up in my head again and I figured that it couldn't hurt to try. So I e-mailed the crew at Dime Magazine, telling them that I'm a huge fan of basketball -- especially fantasy basketball -- and sent a link to my young fantasy basketball blog, along with my resume. After nearly a month of silence, an editor at Dime finally replied and said they were actually looking for someone to take over the duties of the Fantasy Doctor at DimeMag.com, and that they dug my blog. I wrote my first post as the Fantasy Doctor the very next day. In the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that. It was really incredible timing, and I'm hugely grateful for that. Though I wish I could claim the title and the salary, no, I am not a doctor.

To9C: What is going to be different/better in 10-11 than 09-10?

JH: I hate to be obvious but the values of some big fantasy names are going to be impacted by off-season moves. LeBron James isn't a consensus No. 1 pick, which is what he was last fall. Dwyane Wade's fantasy appeal is a bit of a mystery. Chris Bosh is no longer a late first-round or early second-round pick. Amar'e Stoudemire's value is no longer unpredictable just because of his knee -- the absence of Steve Nash (who is also set to take a step down out of first-round value thanks to age, STAT's departure and Hedo Turkoglu's arrival) in his life could also be a downer for his value. There are many that are bumping down an older Kobe Bryant to the latter half of the first round this year. Stephen Curry as a first-rounder is still a ridiculous idea to some, though it's happening. Yao Ming and Blake Griffin are set to return to the court, which could be painfully interesting. And let's not forget about the great Gilbert Arenas making a comeback to a drastically different Wizards squad. I think it's going to take a lot of fantasy owners some time to digest all that's happened on the NBA landscape this summer. Overall, I think this makes 2010-11 more unpredictable and, therefore, more fun than last season. So much has changed for so many teams that surprising shifts in fantasy values are bound to happen, and it will be tons of fun to try to keep up.

To9C: What was your biggest whiff last year? Mine was Marvin Williams - you'd think I'd know better being in Atlanta.

JH: This one's easy: being ecstatic about having Al Jefferson fall to me at No. 14 overall in a 16-man league. I genuinely thought that Jefferson would beast it last season. Yes, I expected him to take some time to work himself back into peak form, but I was convinced that he was going to finish the season as a top-15 fantasy asset. I was way off on that one, though I think his playing time was at least partly to blame. Looking back, it was incredibly hasty of me to think Jefferson could return and put up that kind of value immediately -- kind of like expecting Bristol and Levi to actually work the second time around. Surprisingly enough, I still managed to win that league, though I definitely deserved to be shamefully destroyed.

To9C: Following your mock w/WS Help - what do you have to say to the doubters of taking S. Curry in rd 1? (note: I fully support Curry in top 12)

JH: First off, I understand the doubting. He's a relatively unknown name who only really found his groove after the first two months of the 2009-10 season. Nevertheless, he finished the season with sick overall stats -- especially for a rookie. The stats that set him apart from the likes of Tyreke Evans were his threes (2.1 per game) and steals (1.9 per game). He also shot the ball well from the field (46.2 percent) and the free-throw line (88.5 percent). Yes, he turned the ball over 3.1 times per contest, but that does little to weigh down his overall value, let alone his sky-high potential. The only slight risk to his value this season is the coaching situation in Oakland -- if Nellie goes, the offense might not be as open as it was last year, and if Nellie stays, madness might ensue. But both the prospect of Nellie leaving and Curry getting relegated to the bench more often this season are unlikely. By averages in a nine-category league, Curry finished last season with top-12 value, which means even if he remains stagnant, the sophomore would still be worth a first-round pick. That's very comforting. The kid is young, plays beautiful basketball in a system that lends itself to fantasy-friendly play and is on a team that has fewer offensive weapons than it did last season. I really don't think you need much more convincing, though if you do, head on over to Dr. A's most recent post at RotoWorld, and look at Curry's No. 11 overall player ranking last year (by averages with nine categories) at Basketball Monster.

To9C: Do you have someone in mind that probably won't be drafted but will be a factor or at least discussed this season?

JH: Great question. Deep sleepers are always tough to predict, but I'll go out on a very thin limb and say David Andersen, the second-year, 30-year-old big man who showed some flashes of goodness last year in Houston. Now that he's on a depleted Raptors team that doesn't have many viable bigs, Andersen, who can hit the three, could be a hot waiver-wire throughout this season. I'll also throw in Patrick Patterson, Tiago Splitter, Jannero Pargo, Dorrell Wright and Lance Stephenson into the mix. Oh, and let's hope no one forgot about Reggie Williams already.

To9C: What's the craziest question you got for the fantasy doctor?

JH: Thankfully our readers are pretty savvy, and it's rare that I get a question that is way off base. But one comment on my recent outlook for James, Wade and Bosh in Miami stands out: "you left out the fact that all will suffer major cases of Vaginitis and will probably go thru about 3-6 tubes of Vagisil each a night…oh..they don’t keep those stats???well..they probably will now." My response? "That’s beyond the realm of my expertise."

Thanks Jason. Continue reading his work on fBasketballBlog and at Dime Magazine. Now I’m off crunch more numbers. These TPS reports won’t update themselves, you know.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick visit to my doctor (no copay!)

You've done it. You know you have. You're following along a game by the box score on Yahoo/ESPN/nba.com or watching your team on stat tracker. You have Greg Oden and you wonder why he has just 2 points in the 3rd quarter and has only played 5 minutes. What the hey?!? Did he injure a knee/ankle/penis? You gotta get up to the minute news so you know whether or not to pick up Joel Pryzbilla. The one place a serious fantasy guy goes, that's Rotoworld. The main man, the head honcho, the big cheese for NBA (and PGA) is Steven "Dr. A" Alexander. He writes plenty of articles, too, and he is kind enough to put a way to contact him at the bottom (I'm assuming he has that hotmail account spam filter set on "high"). So anyone, even a shmoe like me, can ask him fantasy-type questions. I figured I'd ask some things that were creepin' and crawlin' in my head, not in order of importance, but just things I wanted to know. And here we go...

To9C: Everyone by now knows of Miami Thrice, the Superfriends, whatever. Who else on the Heat provides fantasy value? (Keep in mind, I'm a guy who has drafted Mike Miller in 2 of the last 3 years and dropped him by Pearl Harbor Day each time, and I have been picking up Udonis Haslem off and on for each of the last 5 years to get boards and FG%.)

A: I am not sure why, but I really think Miller is going to hit a ton of threes this year. What made him so intriguing in the past was the fact that he was also a good rebounder and dimes guy...I suspect those days are over, and he's as injury prone as I am, and I'm 42 with bad knees. But I get the sense he's going to stand outside the arc and bomb away all year...could hit three per game, but not sure he'll enough other things to give him strong value.

To9C: Who breaks through into the first round this year?

A: Who do we draft later that finishes with first-round value? or who is taken in the first round for the first time this year?

Stephen Curry is now a first-round pick, for the first time. Josh Smith probably won't go in the first round, but could easily finish with first-round value. And I say it every year, but man, the Anthony Randolph hype-machine is in full gear and he's going to be a beast if he A. stays healthy and B. gets along with D'Antoni.

To9C: Who slips into second round territory?

A: Chris Bosh is no longer a first-round candidate in Miami, and I'm not even sure Dwyane Wade still is with LeBron around. If he's there when I pick 11th tomorrow night I'm probably taking Wade, but it's a bit of a crapshoot these days. And while he won't have second-round value, Ray Felton is going to have a nice year for the Knicks. Just look at what a less talented Chris Duhon did when handed the reins a couple years ago. He was a mini-Nash. J.J. Hickson looks like possibly the breakout candidate of the year in Cleveland, and Andrea Bargnani is going to go off without Bosh around.

To9C: Who has a Shawn Marion-esque drop off this year? I say Baron Davis and Troy Murphy (which pains me to say, because I love bigs who shoot threes).

A: Mehmet Okur is dead to me. Off the bench with Al Jefferson in town, Millsap breakout coming...Ugh. Then again, Okur wasn't all that great last year, but still, he's done. Others would include: Any player on the Bucks, except for Andrew Bogut. That team is way too deep for fantasy use, and even Bogut could take a bit of a fall this year. Wouldn't be surprised if Blake Griffin ruins Chris Kaman, Devin Harris is going to be injured again this season and won't need to score as much, Caron Butler could see a smaller role with Roddy Beaubois coming on, you have to think Vince Carter's run is coming to an end, while Rashard Lewis wasn't exactly killing it last year, either. Elton Brand - I just don't see him working at center. Tough to play hoops when you're running in quicksand. That said, I really don't see anyone primed to take a complete fall like Marion did, but it will probably happen.

To9C: Can you win your league if you draft Danny Granger in the first round? I contend if you take Granger, you're going to need a lot of help, because two of his strengths (3's and FT%) are things you can get later. Personally, I won't take him higher than 7th - any higher and you're waiting too long before your #2 pick to get great help. If he should drop to 10 or 11, you have to take him, and you are in great shape with your #2, especially if he still has SG/SF/PF eligibility like he did in Yahoo last year.

A: I really hated the way Granger played last year. He stood out there and chucked threes with no conscience and it wasn't pretty to watch. I also am not a fan, at all, of his coach, and his knees, as well as the fact he plays for an awful team, scares the heck outta me. Add in the fact they drafted Granger Jr. in Paul George, and I'm not sure I would take him at No. 7. I have to come up with a draft list in the next 12 hours and I have a feeling Granger's going to be down there between 9-12. And given the fact I'm drafting 11th in two drafts tomorrow night, maybe I have the pleasure of having him on two teams. We'll see. Ideally, I'd like to see Amare there, but I don't think that's gonna happen. Can you win taking Granger in the first round? Of course. But you need to make sure your picks in Round 2-6 are flawless.

To9C: I noticed that July 20th wais the 2 year anniversary of your feature in the AJC "Why I Love My Job". I assume you still love your job, but what has changed in those 2 years?

A: Ha, had no idea. Good to know. I love that piece actually, b/c the writer did a good job of describing what I do on a daily basis. What has changed since then? EVERYTHING. With the rise of Twitter, my job has become much more complex. Eight years ago, in the summer, we'd probably post 10-15 blurbs a day. The only news that came out was from the AP and we had to wait until the following morning to dig through the local papers on line to find news. And then it was probably a little hit-or-miss. Now? A deal goes down or a guy signs, and it's on Twitter immediately, some times even tweeted by the owner (Jazz) or GM (Rockets) of the team as it happens. But that's also one of the cool things about Rotoworld. Sure, you could follow 300 hoops people on Twitter like we do, but good luck trying to keep up with it and sort it out. We don't miss a tweet, and therefore condense essentially everything that happens on Twitter, newspapers, blogs and TV into individual news blurbs on Rotoworld.

I've also been thinking lately about how similar our news blurbs are to the Twitter idea. We don't have a character limit, but we essentially provide some quick facts and analysis for fantasy owners, and they can get in and out without spending five minutes reading a whole column or digging for news, and then move on. So while I miss being able to golf and totally "chill" in the summer, the quality and speed of news we're bringing to our readers has never been better, which is really all that matters to me.

I may pop in a few questions in as the year goes by, and definitely follow along on Rotoworld. Thanks again, good doctor! I'll show myself out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A few quick questions for the Monster

So I'm following my Twitter the other night, as kids are wont to do these when they aren't texting on their eye-phones and listening to the rap and roll music. And what do I see but an update from Basketball Monster saying that summer league rankings were up. It's like manna from heaven or Darko being traded for Brian Cardinal for a fantasy hoops fan! Now I know that Eric Bledsoe was ranked 296th out of everyone who played in summer leagues, with a meaty 6.2 TO/G. Luke Harangody - ranked 11th. Step aside, Brian Scalabrine. Jeremy Lin, 137th - there's my 10th round insurance for if my 1st round pick of Steph Curry goes down.*

* May not draft Jeremy Lin in round 10.

Okay, so you can't really use summer league numbers. But now we have numbers! That means it's time! So I figured I'd get in touch with the creator and runner of Basketball Monster and Bucks aficionad, Ken Slight (Slightly Older Money) and ask him a few questions before things cool down and the nitty gritty starts.

Tales of 9 Cats: First of all, to get it out of the way, what do you see Heat players doing fantasy-wise this season?

Basketball Monster:It's likely that each player will get less field goal attempts (meaning less fta, 3a, & pts too) so that'll hurt all of them. Also, since Wade and James are used to running their teams, I imagine both assist totals will be lower too (one of the two at least). The only area where they may improve is fg%. It seems James wasn't considering fantasy owners when making his decision.

To9c:Are you excited for Milwaukee this year? I see a playoff team with a chance at round 2 if they get everyone healthy and working together. In fantasy, they have a lot of players who are going to put up quality numbers - Jennings, Bogut, Maggette, Salmons, Ilyasova, Gooden, Delfino. I say they could be one of the most useful team in fantasy for standard to deep leagues - thoughts?

BM:I feel pretty good about the team this year. As you mention, it's all a matter of health. Regardless, they'll be a good source of cheap tickets for me at least :)

To9C:Anything new this year that you'd like to tease right now?

BM:I hope to have many improvements to the site so I'll get back on this one.

I'll have some more questions later in the year, and hopefully more questions for other fantasy hoop-like peoples.