Bad teams, Boogie, rest, schedules & vetoes

Steve Alexander
Rotoworld

The Rotoworld hoops crew has been hard at work on the NBA Draft Guide, which is expected to launch on September 15. It’s available for purchase now, so don’t panic if you buy it and it’s not available. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s coming soon. Here are some of my random thoughts heading into the new season, which starts on Oct. 22!

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Bad Teams

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I had the privilege of writing up player profiles for both the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers, and they’re both a little scary to look at. While we saw a handful of good teams get better, and a big draft night that offered a lot of promise to some young and coming teams like the Hawks, the Hornets and Cavaliers simply look like disasters. 

Hornets Projected Starters: - Terry Rozier, Nicolas Batum, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Cody Zeller.

I get that there is some promising young talent here, and more on the bench, but the loss of Kemba Walker, the addition of the unproven Rozier, who the Hornets are all-in with, and a bunch of guys casual NBA fans have never even heard of is going to make for a brutal year in Charlotte. I’ll probably end up with Rozier and Bridges on a team or two, but I’m not really too excited to draft any of these guys in fantasy. 

Cavaliers Projected Starters: This is a guess, because we really don’t know what the Cavs are going to do with their guards… Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson

I mean, I love Osman’s potential as much as the next guy but in the age of resting guys, I don’t think I want any part of Love or Thompson. Sexton’s a scorer, but not much more, and we just don’t know about Garland. As Dinosaur Jr. once said in the song Freak Scene, what a mess. 

Boogie Cousins

I was talking to a good buddy of mine recently and I said something like, “Poor Boogie Cousins.” And he proceeded to ask me if I felt sorry for Cousins, and then told me that he did not. “Yeah I feel sorry for the guy,” I said. “He went through all that rehab for the ruptured achilles, fought his way back and played well last season. And then he got hurt in the playoffs and now he’s torn his ACL. I think it’s a sad story, especially since he’s trying to get one last big contract.” He replied with “How much money you think he’s got in the bank?” Sure, I get it. Boogie’s a spoiled millionaire who will always be better off financially than most of us. But I have an idea of the amount of blood, sweat and tears that it takes to come back from a major injury, even though I’ve never had one, and I feel bad for guys who go through stuff like that. Just like I never root for an opposing fantasy player to be injured, as I don’t take satisfaction in seeing someone else hurt or struggling. Karma don’t play, so please don’t root for injuries. Sorry for the soap box. 

The Lakers are talking about bringing in Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, Mo Speights or Marcin Gortat to fill in the Boogie hole at center. I’m not too excited about any of them, but I think it might be fun to see how the fans would react to ‘Dwight: The Return.’ But any way you slice up those four guys, they don’t compare to what Boogie would have brought to the table this season, and it’s possible that none of them are in good enough shape to hold things down in the middle for L.A. But at least they have JaVale McGee, who suddenly kinda looks like a beast right now, as there’s literally no one else at center, and he’s quietly played well over his last couple seasons. Long live JaVale! I’ll probably be drafting JaVale more than I’d care to, but he’s going to play and produce.

Rest Easy

Writing up a guy like Paul Millsap for the Draft Guide is interesting. He was coming off wrist surgery last season but played in 70 games and put up decent numbers. But those decent numbers were well below what we’ve come to expect from Millsap, and he’s going to be 35 years old before this season is over. Add in the success the Raptors had resting Kawhi Leonard last season, along with all the rest NBA players have been getting in year’s prior, and Millsap could be on a serious minutes watch all season long. And that’s before we even talk about the addition of Jerami Grant in Denver. Grant is coming off a big year for OKC, is about 10 years younger than Millsap, and is ready to play 32-33 minutes a night. This is just one of many ‘rest’ question marks in the NBA this season, and I’m afraid we could be heading into the most frustrating NBA season any of us has ever experienced. 

I’ve literally been getting faxes, AIM messages, emails, texts, tweets and what not for 20 years from fantasy basketball fans freaking out about all the injuries, rest and games-played issues surrounding the NBA over the last two decades. And every year, the messages I receive basically say ‘Doc, this had to be the most injury-filled year in NBA history, right?’ Well, after the great ‘Kawhi Leonard Championship run & rest experiment of 2019,’ I don’t think you’ve seen anything yet. Not to mention the NFL is talking about doing away with preseason games (or at least half of them), and the MLB has tweaked its injury designations over the last couple seasons. There’s too much money involved and the bottom line is that every real owner and manager/coach in every sport wants his studs healthy for the playoffs. The ‘Rest Godfather,’ Gregg Popovich was clearly onto something back in the day, and it may even go back as far as when Don Nelson was frustrating fantasy heads with his crazy rotations and tendencies to bench guys at the drop of a hat. Like the NFL now only has a few lead running backs you can count on, the NBA is going to have fewer and fewer workhorses you can rely on as far as playing time and not missing games, and I think we’re going to really feel the effects this year. And I don’t have any good answers, except for recommending you ‘go young’ any time you’re torn between players. 

While we’re at it, I really think it’s time that Weekly Lineup Leagues go away. I used to really enjoy them, as playing the “games-played angle” was a real and effective strategy for years. There was nothing more exciting than getting a 5-game stud in your lineup for a week when most other players only had three games that week. But the NBA has been tweaking the schedule to do away with back-to-backs and five-game weeks. In fact, there is only one five-game week in the entire league this year, and that’s the Phoenix Suns in Week 5. I remember last season, picking up Gary Harris off waivers just in time for his five-game week. I was so stoked. And then he ended up sitting out like four of those games, ruining my week. I’m going to try to change all my leagues to daily lineup leagues this season, and you should too. I know most of you were already doing that, but some of my 20-year-old leagues still use the weekly format. They should become a thing of the past, really.  The way the NBA schedule is so balanced these days really takes some of the fun out of trying to draft guys with great schedules, and it’s almost more trouble than It’s worth. 

And while we’re talking about league formats and such, let’s just get rid of trade vetoes while we’re at it. If there’s obvious collusion with two owners working together to pull one over on the league, trades should be vetoed and owners should be reprimanded, or kicked out of the league. But if an inexperienced owner makes a bad trade with an experienced owner, but was trying to help his team, the trade should generally stand. There’s nothing worse than trying to put together the deal of the century, only to have a fair trade boycotted because guys simply like wielding their veto power, regardless of how fair a trade actually is. And the reality is that we don’t know who wins a trade until the season plays out, as injuries, production, playing time and schedules all play a part into the equation. Don’t veto trades just because you can. It does nothing more than make the trade partners angry and probably breaks up more leagues than anything else. Taking advantage of rookie owners is part of the fantasy game, as it should be. 

So there are some of my 3 a.m. random thoughts on an offseason Thursday. Pardon me while I go work on the NBA Draft Guide and prepare for my five NFL drafts that are happening over the next 10 days. I can’t wait to get going on another NBA season. After about 30 years of drafting teams, I still get completely psyched for my fantasy drafts, and this year will be no different. We’ll see you on the other side!

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