LOL News and Notes

Here is my first update on what I intend to be an ongoing FUNHL style set of notes regarding the NBA pool;

Brian and Doug both expressed some desire to have a better sense of how everybody's roster 'really' looks for fantasy purposes. I put together the review (the post below), but there is (as expected) more detail that could be conveyed. While I may be our league's 'expert', I am not actually an expert - I just play one on Tv - so take any and all comments with a large grain of salt.

As of right now, I'd suggest the following players are the 'FP's for each team (and remember, we each get 3 keepers for next year), and I list them in order of strongest to weakest;

Calgary Chumfeeders: Westbrook-PG Okc, Irving-PG Clev, Curry-SG/PG GS

Edmonton Flatlanders: Paul-PG Lac, Bynum-C Pha, Davis-PF/C Nor

Calgary Crapshooters: Wade-SG Mia, Harden-SG Hou, Smith-PF Atl

Thunderbay Murderball: James-SF Mia, Anthony-SF NY, Ellis-PG/SG Mil

Calgary Goodfellas: Durant-SF Okc, Gasol-PF/C Lak, Ibaka-C/PF Okc

Calgary Ball-Bearings: Williams-PG Bkn, Howard-C Lak, Milsap-PF Uta

Lethbridge Skywalkers: Love-PF/C Min, Rondo-PG Bos, Rose-PG Chi

Remember too that the way franchise players work in the LOL is different than in the FUNHL. At the end of every year you simply get to pick three guys to keep for next season from your roster, so you aren't necessarily taking a guy you will 'build' your team around in the future, you can simply protect the three best guys you have. That said, some players (Durant, James, etc.), are simply so awesome you can be fairly certain they will never appear in the draft again unless badly hurt (ala Derrick Rose). Age and long term plannning therefore play less of a role than it would in the FUNHL.

Another question I recieved was about 'strategies' for setting up your roster.

Let's consider for a moment Dan's team which is constructed in an unusual way, in that he has 7 players who can play point guard (Westbrook, Curry, Irving, Nash, Jennings, Parker and Teague). Of those 7, only Stephen Curry has eligibility at another position (SG), so you'd think at first glance that Dan should be in some trouble fielding an active roster. However, because of how the league works, you MUST dress at least one player eligible at PG, but you also have three other slots (G, and 3 UTIL slots) where Dan can dress PGs - so at any given time he could be playing 5 players as PG, and Stephen Curry (who has dual status) at SG. Where Dan is going to run into problems (IMO) is that he only has 4 Big men (Garnett-PF/C, Ilyasova-SF/PF, Nene-C/PF, and Brand-PF) to cover the PF and C slots, and of those four guys, he is currently using Ilyasova at SF (though he could put Luol Deng-SF there instead of at 'F'). As I mentioned in the draft review, my gut instinct is that the lopsided nature of his roster will present problems for him - mostly because the big men he drafted are also high injury risk players, but also because as big men go none of them are really elite, and he MUST play at least one C and one PF at all times (he can play a SF at in his 'F' slot).

One other note on the Chumfeeders is that one key to fielding a competitive roster is that he has a couple of players that qualify at multiple positions; Ilyasova can be a SF or PF, and Curry gets duo status as PG and SG. This gives him enough flexibility to move guys around so he can consistently play his best guys. A player like Tyreke Evans (on Bob's team) who has status at PG/SG/SF creates even more flexibility.

Perhaps a better example of a team with roster strategy issues is my own Skywalker team. I noticed that a number of injured players were lower in the autodraft rankings than I would have had them because they were expected to miss time. Knowing I had three bench slots, I moved several of these players up in my rankings thinking I might land some value from them by simply waiting for them to get healthy while playing other players who would move to the bench once my injured guys got back. Unfortunately I ended up drafting ALL of these guys (Love, Nowitzki, Ginobli, Wall, Rubio) and as a result I had more injured guys than my bench could hold, and I was forced to dress two injured guys (Ginobli and Nowitzki), effectively giving Dan a two player advantage in week 1 vs my team. Since nobody is going to trade me a healthy productive player for a long term injury guy like Wall, or even a shorter term injured player like Nowitzki, and because I couldn't part with Love outside of a gun being put to my head, my only solution was to use the waiver wire to refill my roster. Despite the fact that Wall is likely going to be an average or well above average PG when he returns, and even though I have mad love for Ricky Rubio, I had to let both go. In their place I selected Toronto's back up PG Calderon, and the massively injured (6 months at least) Derrick Rose. Calderon will dress next week so at least I will get some points from him, and Rose will take a seat on the bench next to my other injured guys with the hope he heals faster than expected. I still have a massive problem with injuries, but Ginobli is only DTD, so I should be able to dress a full roster for week 2. My 'strategy' (such as it is) is to ride out the early part of the season praying to the NBA gods I don't lose anymore players, while simultaneously praying that my injured guys heal fast.

The fact is that there is no 'best' way to handle one's roster. Dan's team is stocked with PG's and that may or may not create issues for him. I'm gambling on the return of injured players giving me a boost as the season wears on, teams like the Ball-Bearings and Goodfellas are loaded with quality big men, and Bob's team is top heavy with elite talent (James, Anthony), but patchwork everywhere else.

Here are some ESPN features you should probably explore how to use;

- The waiver wire; all undrafted/waived players go onto the waiver wire. To make an adjustment to your roster, go to: 'My Team', and then 'Add Player'. You will be given the list of available players likely sorted by current fantasy stats (though not by our specific criteria). I believe injured players have an asterisk, so make sure you check their status before adding them to your team. Once you have selected a player to Add, you will be taken to your roster page where it will ask you which player you are going to drop to make room for the new player, and after selecting the player to be dropped you will be asked to confirm the exchange. However, this exchange is still not necessarily happening! The waiver wire does not run on 'first come first serve' but gives preference (I believe) to teams lower in the standings. So two or more teams may be making a claim for a particular player, and you should be aware that your bid for their services may not necessarily be accepted. Further, it makes you wait a few days before resolving the claim - I made my claim on Calderon prior to week one starting, but I didn't get confirmation he would be on my roster till after the week started.

- My favourite feature is the 'Scoreboard'. Just click the 'Scoreboard' tab and you will get a list of who is playing who in a given week (our 'Games' last a week just like in the FUNHL when calculating the Challenge Cup), if the NBA games have already started for the evening click on 'Full Box Score', you will get a roster list for both your team and the team you are playing against, as well as notations for which of your players are actively in games. The cool part is this; it updates your fantasy score LIVE. This is pure pool crack. The other night I watched the Raptors game on TV and after every bucket, steal, rebound, or score by Bargnani and Lowry I watched my fantasy score for them update only a second or two later.

Here are some of the top performers/stories of the week:

- James Harden was traded days before our autodraft from Oklahoma City (a powerhouse of a team) to the Houston Rockets (an average team). In OKC he was the 6th man, the first guy off the bench who got to play against the oppositions 2nd stringers, and presumably outscore them. At this job he was fantastic, and he was the league's 6th man of the year. The trade however makes him the Rockets undisputed best player - and in his first game as a Rocket he delivered for them in spades by putting up the following stat line: 37pts, 12 assists, 6 rebs, 4 steals and 1 blk, for a total of 66 fantasy points. Before we go handing Harden the MVP trophy we should keep in mind that it was against a relatively inferior team that he put up this monster stat line - but still. I'd say its safe to say Harden likes being the #1 option in Houston just fine thank you.

- Anderson Varejao. I had mentioned this briefly in the review post, but the big Brazillian had an absolutely monster evening against the Washington Wizards. His fantasy line; 9pts, 23 rebs, 9 assists (and some fouls) for a total of 47 points. This is not the kind of stat line one should expect him from every night (or ever again), and it shows how small sample sizes can skew league scoring.

- Steve Nash. The Lakers were supposed to be a finely tuned offensive machine under the direction of Nash, but it has been anything but the case. Nash has been frankly terrible so far. Why? The coach of the Lakers has instituted the 'Princeton Offense'. Which is mind blowing frankly. The Princeton offense was designed by a coach in....you guessed it, Princeton, to account for the fact that his Ivy League team had few big men, and wasn't able to recruit the best athletes. It relies heavily on perimeter ball movement and three point shots. I can't think of a worse offensive system for the talent laden Lakers to use. The Lakers have two AMAZING big men in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, a great defensive forward in Meta World Peace and two Hall of Fame caliber guards (albeit aging) in Nash and Bryant. The very last thing they should be doing is the Princeton offense. Nash's strength is a fast paced, high octane offense that runs on a speedy transition game after turnovers, and in a half court offense (the offense you use when the defense is 'set') built around pick and rolls. In a pick and roll the big man, for the Lakers this would be either Gasol or Howard, sets a pick for Nash so Nash can get a lane into the paint. The big man then 'rolls' off the pick he just set towards the basket himself giving Nash the options of; taking it right to the rim himself for a layup, dishing off to the rolling big man on the way to the rim, stopping suddenly mid drive to rise up for a shot (making it a pick and 'pop'), or dishing to one of the other players on the floor who are now open because coverage has to collapse on Nash. Howard and Gasol are phenomenally skilled big men. Howard in particular is built like a tank and with his absurd leaping ability can bull his way to the rim for easy dunks, while Gasol has the length and skill to finish himself, or pass it out to make another play. The pick and roll should be the Laker's bread and butter play almost every time down the floor. However, the Princeton offense does not use the Pick and Roll or Pick and Pop. Hence, Nash's numbers are ridiculously low, and Laker fans everywhere are screaming for the coach to be fired immediately - which he should be.

- Pity the poor Ball-Bearings. Their team is currently the highest scoring in our league - but they have a 'bye' week this week and as such all that offense is being wasted.

My goal is to make this league as exciting as possible, and to turn everyone into Basketball junkies (a tall order, I know), so as always, feel free to send me your questions and comments.


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