• Hello everyone and welcome to the first official Hoop Ball Huddle fo the 2020-21 season!

    How’s everyone doing? I’m pretty sure that most of you, like me, are quite excited for the start of the NBA season and to get back to playing our favorite fantasy sport.

    This season, I plan to go back to my roots, where this wonderful career all began, blogging. Yup, this season, the Huddle will have a more blog-style delivery, something that helped me connect well with my early fans and followers. 

    The point being, at the end of the day, this all started with me sharing my experiences and knowledge about the game I’ve grown to love after over a decade of playing it. 

    My journey to where I am now, an editor here at Hoop Ball, is worth a sit-down and a beer all to itself, but let’s just say that I’ve come a long way from just being a vocally insightful fan of the game to someone who gets invited to events where some of the biggest names in the fantasy basketball writing industry do too. 

    Speaking of which, just the other night, I, Adam King, and HB’s very own Aaron Bruski participated in the site’s first-ever live (YouTube) industry mock draft. We invited some heavy hitters, like our good friends from Basketball Monster, In This League, and many more.  The mock was hosted by our very own podcast Godfather, Dan Besbris, and it was, to put it in simple terms, a total blast. 

    Yeah, I was at a time-zone disadvantage, being the only one from the Philippines joining in the hosted Google meet, with the clock officially starting at 6:30 A.M. my time. Oof! Weirdly enough, I was so excited the night before that I ended up waking up a full hour and a half earlier than our call time. But like I said, it was well worth the effort and the less-than-ideal numbers of sleep. 

    The draft was for 12 teams, I was in fourth in the draft order for the first round, and we were drafting for 10-man rosters with the assumption that we were doing this for 9-cat roto. To save you from the extra banter included in the full video, which I still recommend you should catch on YouTube, by the way, here is the team I ended up drafting for the 10 rounds of the draft.

    1. Damian Lillard, PG (4)
    2. John Collins, PF/C (21)
    3. Nikola Vuceic, PF/C (28)
    4. Domantas Sabonis, PF/C (45)
    5. De’Aaron Fox, PG (52)
    6. T.J. Warren, SF/PF (69)
    7. James Wiseman, C (76)
    8. Serge Ibaka, PF/C (93)
    9. Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF (100)
    10. Duncan Robinson, SG/SF (117)

     

    The first three picks went James Harden, Karl-Anthony Towns, and then Anthony Davis. In most of the mock and real drafts I participated in, the fourth pick is where we’d normally see Luka Doncic get taken off the board. I took into account, however, that we were drafting for a roto league and his less-than-ideal free throw shooting percentage may not be what the doctor ordered. I figured that Lillard was a relatively safe play here, as a player who is currently playing at the top of his game and who is also rabidly hungry to win an NBA championship – always a good mix in my book.

    As you can tell, there were a few spots where I simply let value land on my lap as some of the other drafters were busy reaching for their targets. In other spots, I did some reaching of my own, most notably for the Warriors’ rookie James Wiseman, whose potential I am quite infatuated with, to be honest. That said, I likely would should have drafted him in a later round. Also, of note here is that in most “normal” or common drafts, you’d likely see those Wiggins and Robinson draft spots switched. 

    That all said, I’m quite satisfied with the little 10-man team I was able to assemble here. What do you think?

    Living (and Playing) in Interesting Times

    We’re playing in very different times this season, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic still looming over the league and the rest of the world like a dark storm cloud of danger and gloom. Not only are we playing with a shortened 72-game season, but there are clear risks as teams play in home courts, increasing the chances for exposure and infection to the virus.

    Speaking of which, in the latest news that just came out as I was writing this, a statement was released saying that out of the 546 players tested between November 24 and November 30, 48 have returned with positive test results. While that’s not yet at the 10% mark, it still feels like a relatively high number considering the total number of people tested.

    Still, we push on, we move forward. After the NBA’s successful execution of its resumption of the 2019-20 season in the Orlando Bubble, there was much optimism that they had the protocols, know-how, and foresight to be able to safely map out a 2020-21 season.

    In line with the ongoing news, some of my league group chats have had discussions about adding IR slots just for this season. A good chunk of the leagues I play in don’t use IR slots (supposedly for the added challenge), but due to the current situation and the inherent risks involved with the pandemic, there have been proposals to create and/or use an IR slot for Covid-only purposes, still not allowing players to convalesce there due to bumps, bruises, and sprains.

    I think this is something that all leagues should talk about. A situational rule change/tweak might be in order. Personally, I’m in favor of the motion, so much so, that I don’t even think that the IR-slot being proposed needs the IR-only designation.

    That said, I’m sure we’re all going to have to buckle up for a wild ride in 2020-21, expecting a higher than normal amount of value volatility from our beloved players. My only advice regarding this is to roll with the punches and stay glued to sites like Hoop Ball for the latest news and fantasy basketball advice.

    Real-life-wise, there’s good news on the horizon, as vaccines are on their way for approval, production, and eventual distribution. We just need to hang tight a little bit longer and do what we can with what we’ve got.

    Mixed Feelings

    As most of you who follow me know, I play in far too many leagues for my liking each season, and every season I tell myself that I want to play in fewer leagues. This time around though, I’m in a bit of a quandary. A few of my leagues decided to hold their slow, offline drafts too early, ludicrously early – even before the NBA draft took place and free agency began. Despite my vehement pleas against it, the majority insisted and we drafted, which frustrated me because I didn’t see the point in making important draft decisions with less information than necessary. Rest assured, those leagues will have asterisks, at least for me, even if I win them. That, and I probably will not be playing with those guys again in 2021-22. I’m done with that.

    So now, I find myself itching to run a league with a few select competitive managers just to be able to have a draft at a not-stupidly-early time. Then again, that would go against my goal of cutting down on my leagues, so now I’m torn. Knowing me though, I will find a way to talk myself into either joining or running another league.

    Speaking of that FA period, whoa!  That was a doozy, wasn’t it? Sadly, a couple of pet players, pre-FA opening, wound up losing value in the process. I was high on Luke Kennard and his initial situation in Detroit, for example, which by the way, made me pick him in one of those aforementioned too-early drafts. And TLDR, we all know how that turned out, spoiling that investment worse than an unwanted tub of brussels sprout and Limburger cheese casserole. Detroit’s moves now shifted my attention to Jerami Grant, who I actually liked in Denver, but a lot more now that he signed in Motown.

    At the end of the day, one of the biggest blindsiding blows was the emergence of Aron Baynes, who is now the Raptors’ best only option at center. He’s someone that completely flew under the radar in our drafts, obviously, still being on the Suns’ roster at the time. He’s going to do pretty well. I reckon production close to the ballpark of when he filled in nicely while Deandre Ayton was suspended last season. The development of his 3-point shooting is something that’s going to come in really handy for the Raptors and he’s going to easily clear top-100 value. So, yeah, I’m ready to jump on that train, especially late in drafts.

    If you want even more insightful information, dealing with the fantasy ramifications of one of the most active FA periods (based on player movement) in recent memory, don’t forget to check out our little Draft Guide, which should be a big help as you prepare for those upcoming fantasy drafts.

    **Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, where it’s easiest to ask me your fantasy hoops-related questions.**

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