Monday, October 31, 2016

2017 Power Rankings (Week 1)

Who is the spookiest fantasy monster?

Hey everyone. Happy Halloween and cheers to an exciting first week of JBL basketball. We saw superstar performances, major surprises, and narrow victories. A lot of crazy stuff went down and I am here in an attempt to make sense of all of it. Before I go into my power rankings, I would like to explain my scoring system.

Each team was ranked in six categories for the week:
-Total fantasy points scored.
-Fantasy points averaged per game by starters.
-Total amount of points produced by the bench.
-Games missed due to injuries (doubled for starters).
-Fantasy points per game gained in the wavier wire.
-Their place in the standings.

Then, each team was given points depending on where they were in the rankings. The better a team was in the rankings, the less points I gave them.

I doubled the scores in the weekly total and per game categories as a final touch because this game is ultimately about scoring fantasy points.

From there, I totaled each team's score across the six categories and used those final scores to sort my power rankings. 52 points would be average with the lower scores being above average.

Here are my results:

12. MAMA Said Knock You Out - Rich (0-1)
Week Total: 12
Per Game: 12
Bench Scoring: 11
Injuries: 3
Wavier Additions: 1
Standings: 7
Total: 70

MAMA Said Knock You Out lost while posting a league low 575 fantasy points on a 21.3 average. Meanwhile, the bench produced a paltry 66 points. Rich had a tough week as his players missed 8 games due to injuries. Fortunately for him, Rich has the saving grace of adding 31.3 fantasy points per game off of the wavier wire when he picked up Matt Barnes and Justin Hamilton to replace the unproductive Al Jefferson and Jared Sullinger

MAMA Said Knock You Out started slow last year as well and Klay Thompson seems to play his best basketball later in the year. Also, Rich's bench is full of project guys, which would explain their low production. I have a hunch MAMA Said Knock You Out will soon turn things around.

11. Balls to the Wall - Brett (0-1)
Week Total: 10
Per Game: 10
Bench Scoring: 8
Injuries: 5
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 7
Total: 67

Balls to the Wall lost a middling match, scoring 611 points on 22.6 fantasy points per game. Fortunately, the Faried-led bench showed some strength with 152 fantasy points. 6 games were missed and Brett did not make a move on the waiver wire. This strikes me as an outlier performance.

Key guys like Lowry and Aldridge gave flat weeks and this team will most certainly be better. The lack of waiver activity may have been a misstep but the patience could pan out. Either way, next week should be an improvement as Brett's guys get in rhythm.

10. RIM JOBS - Monty (0-1)
Week Total: 8
Per Game: 10
Bench Scoring: 5
Injuries: 10
Wavier Additions: 3
Standings: 7
Total: 61

RIM JOBS posted a decent score of 633 fantasy points on 22.6 fantasy points per game in their loss to the Defending Champions. The bench showed a lot of strength, scoring 173 fantasy points and should get even better with the 14 fantasy points per game addition in Ilyasova. Monty's squad missed 2 games due to injuries this week.

Promise continues to blossom for this team, specifically in Russell who put up 73 fantasy points on the bench. Among other moves, if Monty can capitalize on his monopoly of point guards, this team make a jump in these rankings. The trend up could be sooner rather than later.

9. TimAint Duncan - Nick (1-0)
Week Total: 11
Per Game: 9
Bench Scoring: 12
Injuries: 1
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 1
Total: 61

TimAint Duncan got a big time win but was only able to produce 594 fantasy points on a 22.8 per game average. The bench probably won't help anytime soon as they posted the lowest total for the week in 65. Despite all this, no moves were made on the wavier wire.

This is possibly because Nick's team experienced the most missed games this week with 13, including Chandler Parsons in the starting lineup. That would explain why the overall point total is low yet nobody has been cut from the team. Parsons, Noel and Smart were noteably missed this week. Getting a victory under those conditions makes it a quality win.

8. Make It Nashty - Danny (0-1)
Week Total: 9
Per Game: 6
Bench Scoring: 10
Injuries: 3
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 7
Total: 57

Make It Nashty had a tough loss this week when his team scored 621 points on a rather high clip of 25.9 points per game. Meanwhile, the bench put up a weaker but passable number of 122.

This was all done while missing 8 games this week. Danny's number should only get better with the return of Dirk, Reggie Jackson and Darren Collison. Missing out on this week's wavier wire may
come back to haunt this team but there is always next week. This team has a lot of potential to put up some bigger numbers.

7. Admiral Kryptonite - Gus (1-0)
Week Total: 6
Per Game: 8
Bench Scoring: 7
Injuries: 2
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 1
Total: 45

My team got a win (yay!), scoring 688 points on a 25.5 per game average. My bench was middle of the pack with 156 total points. My team missed 9 games and I didn't make a move on the wavier wire.

Overall, a very average performance from a team that I was pretty hyped about. Injuries played a major role in my week so these numbers may change. I am looking forward to the return of Middleton, Richardson and Holiday.

6. Pippin Aint Eazy - Freddy (0-1)
Week Total: 4
Per Game: 3
Bench Scoring: 9
Injuries: 7
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 7
Total: 44

Pippen Aint Eazy had a very strong score of 749 fantasy points for the week on a 26.8 per game average. Despite the above average scoring numbers, Freddy's team was hurt by a below-average 149 score off the bench and only 5 missed games to explain the mundane bench total. No waiver wire moves were made and, above all else, Pippen Aint Eazy suffered a heart-breaking loss to Blow Me.

The loss, as I'm sure Freddy knows, is the biggest issue here. This team's numbers show that they can hang with the best around. I expect Freddy to rise in these ranks as he makes moves, shapes his bench, and stacks up some wins.

5. ALl-NBA 5th Team - Matt (1-0)
Week Total: 7
Per Game: 5
Bench Scoring: 6
Injuries: 5
Wavier Additions: 2
Standings: 1
Total: 38

All-NBA 5th Team put out a strong performance this week. Matt's team scored 686 fantasy points on a 26.4 average while his bench posted 157 in a big win over Make It Nashty. Even more impressive is that all of this was done with 6 games missed. Matt also added 21.5 fantasy points per game off of the waiver wire when he exchanged Ivica Zubac for James Ennis.

With strong numbers all around, this was a very promising first week for All-NBA 5th Team. This team has made promising strides to start the season and is showing a lot of potential to go further up the ranks. Matt on the rise!

4. Por Favors - Nathaniel (0-1)
Week Total: 5
Per Game: 3
Bench Scoring: 1
Injuries: 7
Wavier Additions: 6
Standings: 7
Total: 37

Por Favors is the highest ranking team with a loss not only because they put up 724 points on a 26.8 average but also because Nathaniel's bench exploded for 269 points. All these points to go around despite the team missing 5 games due to injury, including Derrick Favors in the starting lineup.

Nathaniel also made a 1.6 fantasy point per game gain in the waiver wire this week. His biggest fault was that he had to play Team Penetration this week but at least that is out of the way now. The deepest team in the league seems to be Por Favors once again.

3. Blow Me - Tyler (1-0)
Week Total: 3
Per Game: 6
Bench Scoring: 2
Injuries: 9
Wavier Additions: 7
Standings: 1
Total: 37

Team Blow Me had the most exciting win of the week, scoring 750 fantasy points on a 25.9 per game average and escaping with a one point victory. Tyler is also armed with a strong bench that hit an extremely high mark of 256 point. This team missed 3 games and no moves were successfully made on the wavier wire.

Tyler seemed to have turned this team around even quicker than expected. The third best starters and the second best bench were on the same team this week. The high quality win and strong numbers all around has this team looking like a contender.

2. Team Penetration - Michael (1-0)
Week Total: 2
Per Game: 2
Bench Scoring: 4
Injuries: 11
Wavier Additions: 5
Standings: 1
Total: 29

Team Penetration put up absurd numbers this week with 890 fantasy points and a 33.0 per game average as they cruised to a comfortable win against a good team. The bench was good, but not elite at 196 fantasy points for the week. Michael also netted 6.3 fantasy points per game through the waiver wire for the week and did not miss any games.

It is clear that the top of this league is between Michael and Chris with contenders trying to emerge around them. Last year, Chris was in a league of his own. This week, it looks like Michael closed that gap. Team Penetration's numbers are very close to the top.

1. Team Nipple - Chris (1-0)
Week Total: 1
Per Game: 1
Bench Scoring: 3
Injuries: 11
Wavier Additions: 4
Standings: 1
Total: 23

Team Nipple sure exerted its this week. 943 points scored on a 33.7 per game average are high bars set by Chris. Even more alarming, his bench was one of the best with 251 total points for the week. Trading in Ty Lawson for TJ Warren gained Team Nipple 11.3 fantasy points per game. In fact, the only thing counting against Chris is that his team didn't miss a game.

This team is scary. Possibly less scary than last year, but scary all the same. The defending champs still look like the team to beat.

Monday, October 3, 2016

2017 Juicy Basketballs League Season Preview (Part 4)

Without further ado, the three spookiest JBL teams of 2017:

What will be the peak of Steph Curry's career?
Pippen Aint Easy (Freddy)
2016 Fantasy Total: 14,671 (3rd)
2016 Regular Season: 8-8 (7th)
2016 Playoffs: First Round
Extended Contracts: Ricky Rubio (1yr, $27), Damien Lillard (3yrs, $27), Stephen Curry (3yrs, $56), Paul George (3yrs, $48), Zach Randolph (1yr, $19), Jonas Valanciunas (2yrs, $19)
Expiring Contracts: Tyreke Evans (FA, $29), Rudy Gay (FA, $48)
Intriguing Players: Wesley Matthews (2yrs, $9), Will Barton (2yrs, $16), Zaza Pachuila (1yr, $17), Dragon Bender (2yrs, $10)
NBA Comparison: San Antonio Spurs

This year, it will be very interesting to see just how important Duncan was to San Antonio's success. Although his fantasy production took a hit during his final season, The Big Fundamental was still the starting center of a 67 win Spurs club. Upon retirement, Tim Duncan has the highest winning percentage of any player across four major sports in last 19 years. No surprise, this coincides with the Spurs being the most dominate regular season team over the same stretch. 

Despite this, Duncan and the Spurs seem to never get the credit they justly deserve. Every year they are counted out and ever year they contend. Despite the blow of Duncan's retirement, This year will be no different. 

Kawhi Leonard is the best wing player in the NBA. LeMarcus Aldridge is likely to grow into the role left behind by Duncan. Danny Green, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are great supporting cast members that know how to do the most with what they got.

Most importantly, the team has a well-established system and culture of winning that runs from the front office to the court. San Antonio is the best run NBA franchise of the last 20 years and I doubt their stretch of consistency will end any time soon.

Luckily for Freddy, Pippen Aint Easy will not be losing any core pieces this off-season. In fact, Lillard, Curry, and George may just now be hitting their collective peak. Last year, they provided a total of 115.9 fantasy points per game on only $131. It is amazing that Freddy has had these three franchise players since 2013. That is probably why Pippen Aint Easy has more regular season wins than any other JBL franchise, averaging over 11 wins a season. Like the Spurs, Freddy has the most well-established core and culture of winning out of anyone in the game.

Furthermore, similar to San Antonio, Freddy has done a great job of using his cap space to consistently put out a strong supporting cast around his Big Three. Guys like Rubio, Valanciunas, Evans, and Rudy Gay certainly give Pippen Aint Easy a lot of extra pop. 
It was unfortunate luck that this team finished third in fantasy points on the season while only winning eight regular season matches last year. That peculiarity will likely not be repeated next season. I believe this is the team that has the best shot of crashing the Michael/Chris rematch party and sending someone home earlier than they expected.

This team should definitely average over 900 fantasy points per week once again. Following that, Pippen Aint Easy should have their eyes set on the JBL finals.

Team Penetration (Michael)
Is Anthony Davis a generational player?
2016 Fantasy Total: 15,545 (2nd)
2016 Regular Season: 12-4 (2nd)
2016 Playoffs: Finals
Extended Contracts: James Harden (3yrs, $88), Anthony Davis (3yrs, $68), DeMarcus Cousins (3yrs, $85)
Expiring Contracts: Thaddeus Young (E, $12)
Intriguing Players: CJ McMollum (1yr, $0), Jordan Clarkson (1yr, $14), Justice Winslow (2yrs, $11), Dion Waiters (2yrs, $0), Nikola Jokic (2yrs, $3), Alex Len (2yrs, $7), Jae Crowder (2yrs, $12),
NBA Comparison: Cleveland Cavaliers

Last June, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off possibly the most incredible finals performance in last decade. LeBron displayed that he still has a level of play higher than anybody else on the planet and the Cavs proved themselves to be the best team in the NBA. They also proved that NBA is much more competitive than many may expect. 

Yes, there are some superfluous franchises but there is much more unpredictability than our collective memory gives credit for. Every year it seems like it is all so obvious. Every year we are surprised. LeBron James is the embodiment of that truth. His most recent championship surprised us all yet also reminded us of something we already knew: It ain't over until its over.

Down 3-1 and going against the best regular season team of all time, LeBron James cemented himself as one of the greats by doing the impossible. Somehow he was David going against Goliath and he showed the entire world that he was Goliath all along. Oddly enough, he has another opportunity to prove that point again this year. 

Armed with LBJ and his current Big Three, the Cavs are likely to dominate the Eastern Conference once again and strike fear into whoever they face in the NBA finals. In fact, as overpowered as the Warriors look, it is the Cavs who are most likely team to be in the finals next year. Not only because they are in the weaker conference but because they will be dealing with less significant turnover and the chemistry issues that usually come with it.

LeBron James' finals sreak is the only of its kind in the last 50 years. At this point, it is as predictable as spring itself to see LeBron playing through it. 

Much like LeBron, Michael has been to the finals for the last three years. Because of that, Team Penetration now stands alone as JBL leader of finals appearances. Michael has a good chance of building on that record as Team Penetration's elite core and reliable supporting cast continue to grow. Winslow, Jokic and Len are all likely to take steps forward this year while Harden, Davis and Cousins continue to be the best fantasy contributors for their respective positions and provide top five fantasy value apiece. 

With strong moves made every year, the work for this team has already been done. Though I doubt Michael is ready to take any breaks. He has been able to add value to his team every year, there is no reason to think that will stop now. Adding guys like McCollum and Jokic last year are the kinds of things we can come to expect from Team Penetration.
The backbone of any fantasy team is their core of extended players. Because you cannot drop them, they are what your team is about. For Michael, that core is his Big Three. This gives Team Penetration just about the best backbone any franchise could ask for.

With additions like McCollum and Clarkson and few tough decisions to make, Michael's squad is only getting better and has more than a punchers chance at adding to the ring collection.

I believe Michael has built a perennial contender and 950 fantasy points per week is basically inevitable. A finals appearance is more than likely with plenty of possibility for more. 

What history will be made this year?
Team Nipple (Chris)
2016 Fantasy Total: 17,216 (1st)
2016 Regular Season: 15-1 (1st)
2016 Playoffs: Champions
Extended Contracts: Jimmy Butler (2yrs, $19), Andre Drummond (2yrs, $23)
Expiring Contracts: Russell Westbrook (FA, $60), Giannis Antetokounmpo (FA, $3), Paul Millsap (FA, $36), Jeff Teague (E, $15), Tobias Harris (E, $18)
Intriguing Players: Kevin Durant (1yr, $85), Mike Conely (2yrs, $11), Marcin Gortat (1yr, $23)
NBA Comparison: Golden State Warriors

With Kevin Durant joining Golden State, the Warriors display the largest NBA talent disparity in decades. Despite losing in the finals, the Warriors are the odds on favorite to win the championship come 2017. Last year, they were the greatest regular season team ever and now have a new top three NBA talent on their roster. 60 wins and a finals appearance are almost guaranteed at this point.

However, there are more than a few pitfalls surrounding Golden State. History has shown that chemistry is more than just a buzzword in the NBA. LeBron's first year in Miami and Dwight's time with the Lakers have proven that. Growing pains should be expected.

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will have to answer the alpha male question that Dwyane Wade understood and Dwight Howard did not. In addition to this, there will be the difficult puzzles of maximizing Klay Thompson and Draymond Green as well as knowing who gets the ball when the game is close. Furthermore, with their struggles in the playoffs, Golden State was exposed as fallible. Their weaknesses are now public knowledge.

Ultimately, Steve Kerr's squad in Oakland is in the driver seat to take the crown this year but I'm not so sure I'd take them over the field. Although Durant is an obvious upgrade in Golden State, I suspect the record-breaking days of the Warriors to be behind them.

Chris dominated the JBL last year. During the regular season he averaged 1,076 fantasy points a week, breaking the previous JBL regular season record of 1,046 fantasy points per week. Dropping over a thousand points in a week of JBL basketball is very uncommon and usually marks the highest score of the week. Last year, Team Nipple topped that score 13 out of the 16 regular season weeks, leading to the best regular season record in JBL history. 

The postseason was no different, as Chris put up 2,322 fantasy points per playoff series on his way to a title.
Despite this, to assume that Team Nipple is going to have an easy road to another championship is jumping conclusions. Like with any team, there are weaknesses if you are willing to look. 

The advantages are obvious: Butler, Drummond and Giannis are all on ridiculous contracts and entering their primes, Durant and Westbrook are top five fantasy contributors and Conely is the steal of the late season wavier wire at $11.

However, with a plethora of expiring contracts this off-season, money has gotten tight. Chris will have to make some tough decisions and he is most likely going to see more than one good contract go. Already, Julius Randle has been lost in Restricted Free Agency. On top of that, Team Nipple has less cap space than most of the league, meaning the upcoming Auction Draft will not be Chris' to win.

Last year, Chris separated himself from the heard in a big way. This year, I think that separation diminishes as team around him get better. Ultimately, I think Chris has a potential dynasty on his hands but I suspect that even if he does, his most dominate year is behind him.

I expect Team Nipple to average over 1,000 fantasy points per week once again this season, though this time I think it will be closer to 1,000 than 1,100 like it was last year. Odds are that Team Nipple will win the regular season and return to the finals. The defending champions are the still the team to beat.