Weekly: Dec 3

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We're here to take a look at our last three teams in the weekly series: welcome some of Russell Conference's worst teams!

Team Cameltoe (1-6)
No longer undefeated, Cameltoe got their first win versus Fob Stars this week despite only putting up 22 Games Played. In fact we’re not sure if Coach Felipe has been concentrating on football — he’s 7-5 and one above me in playoff positioning in our sixteen teamer — but it’s been three capped out early weeks for Cameltoe plus no GP of over twenty-three. But a first win is a first win!

Of course, Cameltoe could also just be waiting for their young kids to grow up. Prize rookie Marvin Bagley III, taken RD1.5, has been getting more minutes and very solid double-doubles now that the Kings finally give him steady minutes. Malik Monk, Josh Jackson, Harry Giles, and fellow rookie Michael Porter Jr. (on IR)  are all going to be key components for this team in future years but for a franchise that’s ranked near the bottom of the league in every category except blocks, that’s not much consolation.

We see holes all over the lineup, especially at point guard — although Darren Collison has been great of late — but there are some bright spots too. Buddy Hield has fully emerged as an offensive cornerstone while Anthony Davis and Hassan Whiteside still form one of the best big man combos in SlamNation. In fact, even with so few GP, this team is fourteenth in defensive rating based on a strong front line that now adds Bagley’s numbers. So congrats to Cameltoe for making it out of the cellar and let’s see if they can go back-to-back next week!

Fob Stars (1-6)
As for the team Cameltoe beat, the outlook isn’t great. After three straight years of about 0.500 ball, and playoff appearances, Jimmy’s team could be headed for the cellar. Is this all because of the Dame for Kemba and Tobias trade? Well, um, maybe? Kemba and Tobias are both having career years and while Lillard has been fantastic, he’s gotten very little help from the rest of the Fobs. This team actually has a decent efficiency rating, at eighth, but suffers from offensive and defensive ratings of thirteenth and sixteenth respectively. And we sense a common theme here, as Coach Jimmy has also hit four weeks worth of capped out games. Could better management take them to a few more wins? The answer is a solid "probably not?"

Jamal Murray has been ice cold to start the season and hasn't quite broken out as hoped. Rumors were that there was an All-Star trade offer made for Murray but that was declined. Fellow pre-season hype kid John Collins just returned to the floor and is still rounding into shape. That all-defense draft we talked about in the season preview? Well, this is the worst defensive team in the league according to ODE so you tell me. There’s potential for some growth in-season as the veterans are mostly solid, but there’s no doubting that Fob is going to have to fight for some more victories this year as they wait for Murray and Collins to grow up.

One enormous bright spot: Fob Stars are tops in FT%, and that’s even with DeAndre Jordon on the team, as Jordan has been shooting 75.6 FT% on the season. Hack-a-DeAndre no more!

Funk Coalition (2-5)
Another Russell Conference bottom feeder, our breakthrough team of last year has settled down in dumps with only two wins — one coming against Fob Stars. Armed with Karl-Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons, GM Jon thought he was on the doorstep to contention and went all-in on veterans for his draft. Bad news: Funk ain’t ready. Although Lou Williams, Rudy Gay, and Trevor Ariza have done their part, the young core has faltered greatly. It could be argued that every one of Funk’s recent trades have also left them weaker, as Khris Middleton, D’Angelo Russell, and Andrew Wiggins were diluted into Gordon Hayward, Taurean Prince, and Nicolas Batum — plus the Wiggins trade meant Josh Richardson was lost to dispersal.

Is there room for Funk to turn it around? They are league average in efficiency rating but have poor offensive and defensive ratings, and they have no built-in low Games Played skewing like Cameltoe or Fob Stars. The only thing this team of Simmons and Towns and all wings can do well is rebound, but nearly everywhere else they are below average. That’s, um, not good. At least KAT has returned to joyful basketball and top fantasy production with Jimmy Butler gone from Minnesota. However it seems like a team that was on the cusp of contention last year could be headed right back to their most comfortable space: another Toilet Bowl.

WK7 Highlights:

  • Spade take down Sour Snails despite two less GP
  • So Buckets and Squirtle Squad square off in Chamberlain and ended up with 2019’s first tie
  • IL Conceived with a come-from-behind win versus Another Bad Creation on Sunday
  • Snack Bears also with a come-from-behind win versus Swamp Dragons, behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bam Adebayo’s one block each
  • Standings two months in:

Weekly: Nov 26

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This week we're taking a look at four teams, including one of our remaining undefeated squads and two of our recent dispersal squads.

Chunky Monkeys (6-0)
With Team Thien falling in WK6, we have a lone undefeated team in Russell Conference: our defending champs! Despite efforts to move LeBron James, Monkeys still retain the services of the King and he’s been spectacular. And even though James Harden has suffered some fall off this season, he’s still fantasy gold. Plus, Kyle Lowry’s career best AST year is leading the league so that more than makes up for Harden’s dip.

While it could be argued that nobody on this team is playing at their best — excepting maybe Clint Capela — there is still just too much talent on this team for the league to handle. Even with depth sapped by the keeper drop of Marc Gasol for Kris Dunn, Monkeys still have had enough to fend off all challengers. Even RD1.16 rookie Collin Sexton has started to really step up on offense and will likely grade out as an absolute steal for Evan.

Monkeys sport a top-two rated offense to pair with a top-three defense, and while their efficiency rating is about league average, they are mainly only taking that hit due to a fourteenth ranked FT%. Monkeys are basically a punt free throws team but as long as they continue to be so highly ranked everywhere else, the wins will keep coming.

Overall, while the champs are definitely more vulnerable than last year — as the bottom of the lineup is a piecemeal effort between the likes of Joe Harris, Trey Lyles, Josh Hart, and Kelly Oubre — we’ll see if that affects them going forward though. Next week’s matchup against Silent Assassins will be one to watch as Evan and Thien jostle for the top slot in Russell Conference.

Team Spade (3-3)
Spade has already surpassed their win total from last season’s two wins, but of course, we always knew Spade had the goods as they were mostly just injured last year. This season, Kawhi Leonard is back, as is Paul Millsap, and despite the still missing Kevin Love being out — plus Will Barton’s absence — Spade has emerged as a possible playoff contender in their new conference.

Truly one of the stranger category teams around, Spade is strong in efficiency with a top-four rating there, highlighted by excellent FG/FT%. And while they score about league average, they really rely on their AST numbers to boost them up. The loss of Love has meant a big hole at rebounding but even still, their defensive rating is a respectable ninth.

The plug-ins this year has been a healthy Danilo Gallinari and Spencer Dinwiddie, who are both playing quite well and really help to keep the team afloat alongside the Leonard and Devin Booker twin stars configuration -- Booker is throwing up a delightful 7.3 assists per game by the way! Add in outside shooting bigs in Millsap, Al Horford, and Brook Lopez, and Spade truly plays a five out offense that has obviously elevated them back into the playoff picture. It looks like Randall’s set up for another veteran run to a title shot!

IL Conceived (1-5)
Torpedoed by an injury plagued week from Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr, IL Conceived couldn't quite come from
behind on Sunday to notch their second win of the season versus Buffy, a team we lauded highly last week. It’s been a tough early schedule, with matchups against two of the best teams in the league and no softie opponents yet. IL Conceived is about to hit an easier patch of their schedule though, aside from a WK8 matchup against Chunky Monkeys — a revenge game for Frank ruining Evan’s undefeated season last year.

On paper, IL Conceived has not been great, as their offensive and efficiency ratings are at twelve and fourteen respectively over the past month. A worst in SlamNation FG% is the main culprit but this team also just can’t score, which is very different than last year’s offensive powerhouse.  Even a solid league average defensive rating can’t quite mask IL Conceived rebounding woes as well. So what’s the good news here?

Well, there are plenty! With a dispersal draft that reshuffled the deck, GM Frank picked up 2019 RD1.2 and 1.3, which translated into Luca Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr. Both have already at least met preseason expectations with Doncic proving to be an offensive dynamo behind 18.8 PTS, 6.7 REB, 4.5 AST, 2.4 3PT, and 46.0 FG% while Jackson has started to solidify his defensive numbers with 3.3 combined BLK/STL, plus almost a three per game. Those two rookie finds alone make this IL Conceived season a win, but there’s also Miles Bridges, Aaron Holiday, Cedi Osman, OG Anunoby, and draft-and-stash Lonnie Walker lurking in development.

While the 4-D lineup of Donovan, Dennis, Draymond Green, and Dario Saric have been a little all over the place, the rock of the team has been Marc Gasol, who is definitely rejuvenated and looking for a winning situation. It’s possible that Gasol could be moved later to a contender, or IL Conceived could just ride the Spaniard to another deep Toilet Bowl run.

Hilt the Stilt (2-4)
As we look at our most recent addition to the league, it’s been tough to tell how David’s rookie SlamNation team has been as he’s racked up a month straight of early capped out games, plus no weeks of Games Played above 22 games. So taking that all into account, two wins is actually quite impressive — including a WK4 win versus Spade that confounded us with many less games played. It’s no surprise that with so few GP, Hilt the Stilt is ranked bottom three in just about every category, and sports a ODE rating of 15/7/14. But let’s look beyond the numbers at what’s actually on this roster.

It’s safe to say that David went six for six in his dispersal draft, with no duds taken — the jury is out on Jaylen Brown for Snack Bears and Dario Saric for IL Conceived. Franchise cornerstone Victor Oladipo has maintained his Most Improved Player numbers for the most part, and Andre Drummond has increased his defensive numbers even higher than last year. And while the league still continues to wait for a full on Aaron Gordon explosion, the high flier is still putting up a very nice all-around line.

Oh right, and I’m loathe to mention Josh Richardson here, who has been jumped an entire level and I’m so so bitter because I kept Andrew Wiggins instead of my favorite son Josh Richardson. Sigh. J-Rich is throwing up 20.7 PTS and plus numbers everywhere else. Double sigh. Add in the additional big man presence of Steven Adams and Jarrett Allen, and Hilt seemingly has it all...except a point guard. The rotating cast of Fred VanVleet, Terry Rozier, and Derrick White are unlikely to be the answer here and there are enough pieces here to go shopping for a short or long term solution. (Is this a Markelle Fultz reclamation destination?!)

Overall we’re not sure what to make of Hilt until the Games Played evens out to to something that maximizes their roster. Is this a playoff or Toilet Bowl team? We don’t know!

Weekly: Nov 18

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This week we take a look at the two best ODE rated teams, plus the best managed team in the league!

Sour Snails (4-1)
Well, at least an undefeated season is off the table as Snails has already accrued a loss — albeit off a lineup error. Trieu’s team dipped to ten wins last season — and still made the Finals lest we forget — but any hopes of a continued slide are gone as Snails has revamped in a flash and came away with the best draft they’ve ever had. Long an Achilles heel, if there was one for this franchise, the draft usually doesn’t bring much onto Snails’ roster. Not this year! A combination of savvy drafting and free agent pickups have left Snails with their deepest lineup in awhile — and they had cut keeper Brook Lopez two weeks into the season.

2019 RD1 selection Caris LeVert may be injured as of now but he was a candidate for Most Improved Player and should remain keeper worthy. Then there’s RD4 Pascal Siakam, who is undergoing a breakout campaign of his own. Add in RD5 Laker wonder JaVale McGee and his early season barrage of REB/BLK and that’s three huge role players for this team via drat. Throw in the successful free agent pickups of Montrezl Harrell and Nemanja Bjelica and that’s a heck of a bench to surround Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. With pre-draft trade addition Kemba Walker playing at MVP levels, this team is cooking with hot fire as they are ODE rated first in offense and efficiency, while also being rated third for defense! Even with Curry dinged up, there’s too much talent on this team to perhaps ever lose a game again… Can they get into a Draymond-KD style fight or something?!?

Swamp Dragons (3-2)
Can Eddie finally make the playoffs after two Toilet Bowl winning seasons? So far their three wins have come at the expense of teams that are a combined 2-13 while their two losses have been to winning teams, so that’s not exactly confidence inducing. Then again, this team is number one rated in defense and efficiency, and is fourth in offensive rating. They are top three in five different categories and no lower than average everywhere else. Basically: this team should be trucking people.

Paul George and Nikola Jokic have mostly been spectacular while pre-draft trade acquisition Khris Middleton and 2019 number one overall rookie DeAndre Ayton (16.5 PTS, 10.5 REB, 2.8 AST, 61.1 FG%) have added the perfect amounts of wing and interior stats. There was a hole at point guard with the mystery of Markelle Fultz looking even worse, but the recent D’Angelo Russell acquisition looks like mostly a win and solidified the only spot in the lineup that was missing a plus piece. With the recent free agent acquisition of Trey Burke possibly about to pay dividends as well, Swamp Dragons are poised to go on a winning streak to vault them into contender status. A lineup of Russell, George, Middleton, Jokic, Ayton, and Jusuf Nurkic is quite deadly and balanced. So let’s get Eddie out of the Toilet Bowl and into the real tournament!

LA Buffy (2-3)
Having started the season off facing one of the toughest schedules in the league, it could be said that Buffy has overachieved with two wins already -- they had three all of last season. Coach Roger has clearly been pressing all the right buttons as he's maximized his lineups beautifully and Buffy leads SlamNation in Games Played. Buffy was a team that desperately needed an infusion of talent, as they ranked last in our keeper cores analysis, and it looks like they hit it big with 2019 RD1.4 Trae Young, who is averaging 16.2 PTS, 8.1 AST, and 1.3 3PT, albeit on 38.9 FG%. Still, Young at least gives this team another semi-star to pair with Klay Thompson.

The Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma duo have been okay but not great, and any hopes of a further breakout may already have been buried under LeBron James’ suffocating brilliance. So what is driving this team to an efficiency rating of three and an offensive rating of seven? Welcome to the Nikola Mirotic and Domantas Sabonis show! The two big men are putting up double-doubles, good percentages from the field and from the line, and while they don’t offer much defense, their offensive contributions have been franchise changing.

With the recent return of Bojan Bogdanovic to Indiana, there’s another bomber added to a lineup that already shoots 3PT very well. There’s even some decent depth here as Malcolm Brogdon, Reggie Jackson, and Jeremy Lin are a merry-go-round of spare guards while Derrick Favors offers a light smattering of defense — although Buffy’s defensive rating is fourteenth so clearly the team is riding its strengths. Can all this offense drag Buffy out of the cellar, we think so!

Weekly: Nov 11

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Continuing our early season series of looking at teams, next up: New Era, So Buckets, and Another Bad Creation. [ODE Rankings]

New Era (4-0)
Thien has blasted out of the gates by outdueling all four of his opponents by 6-3 scores in our opening month. It has been a soft schedule, to be sure, as the only 0.500 team they faced was Fat Jubas in WK2, but a win is a win is a win is a win! The injured list is down to just DeMarcus Cousins and Lauri Markkanen and this offense is still doing great things, rated sixth overall behind John Wall, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley, Gary Harris, and the new life given to Andrew Wiggins.

New Era is dominant in AST, mostly due to the Wall and Conley pairing, and similarly top of the charts in STL with Wall and Butler both being above 2.3+ per game. In all that yields a top ten defense and the only weak point of this team is efficiency (rated fifteenth), as they are terrible at FG%. Without Cousins to man the middle, they are also last in REB, and this is basically a true small ball team for the time being — point guard Wall leads them in blocks.

At the moment, New Era is completely composed of second banana types, but gather enough of them and you have a team that is able to compete with anyone. Outside of Wall, nobody else on the roster is their NBA franchise’s number one guy but as we said, that’s okay! Thien’s squad will continue to roll as the regular season unfurls and we’re gonna see who can take a win off them!

So Buckets (2-2)
One of the rare teams to be top ten in all three ODE rankings, So Buckets has an outstanding second ranked defense to pair with fifth overall efficiency, plus a ninth rating in offense. They are top two in PTS, REB, and BLK, and a lot of that speaks to their twin tower combination of Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert, who are combining for 44.1 PTS, 26.3 REB, and 4.6 BLK. With that incredible big man duo, the rest of the roster can do what it does best: score.

DeMar DeRozan is having a career year, Kyrie Irving is back to full effectiveness after early season struggles, and CJ McCollum is pouring in points as he always does. Add in the bewildering return of Derrick Rose and this team also sports extra all-offense guys like Jabari Parker and Harrison Barnes. Add all that up, plus the great coaching job Josh has been doing — second-most GP in the league so far — and So Buckets are likely even underperforming a bit at just 0.500. A WK7 matchup against an undefeated Squirtle Squad is something to look forward to and there’s a chance that Dwight Howard’s return will further juice that massive defensive front line. Watch out everyone, So Buckets could soon rise in their new Chamberlain conference digs!

Another Bad Creation (0-4)
Off to a winless start, three-time division defending champ ABC has put itself in an early season hole. To be fair they’ve faced off against a very tough schedule, with no first month opponent playing less than 0.500 ball. Still, a team looking to get out of the first round of the playoffs now face an uphill battle just get out of the cellar. Continued erratic health from Russell Westbrook won’t help matters either, and it’s down to just LaMarcus Aldridge as the offensive cornerstone. Marcus Morris and TJ Warren have been shooting the lights out but without Russ, this team is only rated fourteenth in offense.

And it’s not like their defense has been much better either, as they are rated fourteenth there too, along with a so-so efficiency rating of eleventh. New Pacer Tyreke Evans has completely fallen off and Elfrid Payton has also joined the IR list. Put it all together and the only bright spot of the season so far has been Enes Kanter, who is tossing in huge double-doubles as a starter or from the bench.

ABC is having trouble spacing the floor, spreading the ball around, and can’t defend the rim despite Aldridge’s best efforts. If ABC can’t right the ship soon — and get Westbrook back full time — Oliver may find himself back in the Toilet Bowl, a place he hasn’t been since 2015, when this franchise was still nicknamed Half Man Half ImAsian.

Introducing: O/D/E Ratings

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The NBA has advanced analytics? We have Google Sheets! With the help of some handy dandy new formulas I’ve learned -- hello my friend RANK -- we’re here to introduce some new ratings! [Ratings Sheet]

  • Offense (O): PTS, AST, 3PT
  • Defense (D): REB, STL, BLK
  • Efficiency (E): FG%, FT%, TO
While they aren’t a real measure of offensive, defense, and efficiency — it could be argued that our nine categories aren’t so rigid — I think three cats per rating seems very nice. So there we are! And now I'll be taking a look at three teams off to a nice start.

Snack Bears (2-1)
According to our new rating system, Snack Bears are third in offense, twelfth in defense, and fifth in efficiency. They’ve risen to such heights on the strength of Blake Griffin, Bradley Beal, Tim Hardaway Jr., and De’Aaron Fox. All four hover around twenty points per game, with Griffin showing out with 28.6 PTS so far. Sophomore point guard Fox has been a revelation, as he’s averaging 18.6 PTS, 7.6 AST, with 1.3 STL on 49.6 FG%. While he is still working on his threes and free throws, Fox has already overcome his disappointing rookie season to emerge as Sacramento’s unquestioned leader.

And then there’s Wendell Carter Jr., who is up at 11.9 PTS, 8.3 REB, and 2.0 BLK the past two weeks. It looks like the 2019 fifth overall pick is making great use of all the Chicago injuries. Fellow rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has show flashes too, and is already playing twenty-five minutes a night. More bigs would help on the boards and protecting the rim but that’s an area that may have to wait for Kristaps Porzingis’ return. The only disappointment here? Jaylen Brown’s shaky start of the season. Other than that, the surprising Bears could challenge for a playoff spot again. Who would have thought out of the three dispersal teams, Snack would be the best?!

Fat Jubas (2-1)
In the game-of-the-week for WK3, Fat Jubas used a nice Sunday to fend off Swamp Dragons as the teams were headed into the final day with a 4-4-1 face off. All that adds up to a nice start for Jubas in their new conference.

Eric's team uses its sixth rated defense to offset their slightly below average offense and efficiency. Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday are backcourt thieves while Robert Covington, Joe Ingles, and Kent Bazemore are perfect 3-and-D swingmen. With Myles Turner and a resurgent Serge Ibaka as excellent run-fast big men, you can see why Jubas have such as strong defensive rating.

Of course that means the twelfth rated offense could use a little boost as CP3, Holiday, and Ibaka (putting up a likely unsustainable 18.1 PTS) are the leaders here. Strangely this team is also low on three pointers despite seemingly enough shooters. Perhaps that is due to Jubas’ first two weeks dialing up less than optimal GP, so that means this team could be even better than the numbers say!

Squirtle Squad (3-0)
Chamberlain’s lone undefeated team after taking out a game capped Sour Snails, Squirtles own the top spot for now and have an outstanding second rated offense paired with a top three rating in efficiency. Coming off three losing seasons, this is a nice start for them.

A free flowing offense allows Squirtles to use a team wide effort to distribute the ball -- six players averaging 4+ AST or more. Plus the spread offense surrounds Giannis Antetokounmpo with plenty of outside shooting. Pair that offensive efficiency with a good-enough league average defensive rating and no wonder Brian's team is chugging along so well!

The return of Zach LaVine has helped tremendously too, as he’s throwing in 26.6 PTS on 46.8 FG%. A weak upcoming schedule could take Squirtles to six straight wins, right into an intriguing WK7 matchup with new conference rival So Buckets. Giannis for MVP!