RD1 Previews: 2018

Chamberlain Conference
#1 Another Bad Creation (15-5-1) vs #4 Sour Snails (10-11)
After taking a first round upset last year, ABC is back with not only the #1 seed in Chamberlain but also a matchup with the new-look defending champs! The last time these two faced off in the playoffs was 2011, when Snails took down ABC by just one rebound, as Chuck Hayes fended off Andrew Bogut and JaVale McGee. Oh right, and Kevin Durant was playing for Another Bad Creation instead of Snails! Plus, Russell Westbrook wasn’t even on the scene yet, as Sour was still led by in scoring that week by um, Jordan Crawford (true story…)?!

With three straight Transformers titles, Oliver has established himself as the class of the division, but will have to lean on Westbrook -- now the ABC's franchise figure instead of Durant -- to power this team to a big win. LaMarcus Aldridge is better in the post than anyone Snails have, and there’s a nice collection of win-now veterans here, with Tyreke Evans, Dirk Nowitzki, and maybe Dwayne Wade. But with Snails looking like they’re going small ball, it could be quite the matchup here.

Crawling into a championship defense with a losing record is pretty interesting, especially when the team is coming off three straight titles. We had given Snails up for dead this year but with two major moves at the transaction deadline, Trieu has opened the door for a proper defense. However, since the time of those trades for Damian Lillard, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Thomas, half of Snails’ core has succumbed to injury. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are both out, and the Warriors have no incentive to rush them back. Brook Lopez is also suddenly on the injury report. A title defense led by Curry and Durant is looking like it’ll be Dame plus some baby Laker vets in IT4, Lopez, and Randle... If Snails can pull of an upset here, they could be lurking with a return by their big two, which means the champs aren't out of it yet! Don’t let it happen Oliver, finish him!

#2 Fat Jubas (12-9) vs #3 Fob Stars (10-10-1)
Having done his part to put Sour Snails in a hole — by beating Trieu in WK21 — Eric’s goals are now to stay the course and get into another Finals. Adding Jeff Teague and Robert Covington will be a nice boost, and with Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday being arguably the best 1-2 point guard punch in SlamNation, Jubas are looking like a major contender. A frontline of Myles Turner, Jonas Valanciunas, and Pau Gasol pairs with the savvy backcourt, while Joe Ingles and Nicolas Batum provide all around glue guy plays. This is definitely the most balanced team in the conference, so let’s go find out what Coach Eric can do to pilot his team to the top.

After starting off 6-8-1, Fob Stars wasn’t expecting to make any postseason noise this season but I guess when a playoff berth falls into your lap, you take it! Jimmy’s team is heading into the postseason for the third year in a row — mirroring the third year in a row Silverhawks have sent three teams — but this is the first time they won’t have to face Sour Snails in the first round. That means Kemba Walker will finally have the chance to get a playoff win, and he’ll lead a ragtag group of heroes to do it. Tobias Harris has blossomed into a bonafide fantasy star out in Clipperland -- 21.4 PTS, 6.6 REB, 3.2 AST, 2.1 STL/BLK, 2.8 3PT, 49.8 FG% -- alongside center DeAndre Jordan, and the young duo of Jamal Murray and John Collins are also flashing plenty of promise. Even Ricky Rubio has returned to slinging AST, and while there aren’t any brand name stars here, Jimmy’s collection of knock-offs could be ready to knock off a division foe that barely edged them out for the title.

Russell Conference
#1 Chunky Monkeys (20-1) vs #4 Team Thien (13-7-1)
Last we checked in, Monkeys was 14-1 and rolling toward a regular season crown — just like last year. The Monkeys are ranked top two in every category except FT% and TOs, and boast not only dual MVP threats James Harden and LeBron James, but most importantly: health. Monkeys are one of the rare contenders whose stars are looking fully healthy, and the trade deadline addition of Eric Gordon will fill in for Kris Dunn if Dunn’s sprained toe proves bothersome. We won't bother going through all of Evan's accolades from this season as there's only one thing that matters: the ring!

After getting upended by a #4 seed in the first round last year, Monkeys basically will get a bye this week as Thien's team is all injured. Post-trading away two healthy bodies in Damian Lillard and Julius Randle, Thien’s entire keeper core has a big red “O” next to their names: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Butler, Conley, Gary Harris, and Lauri Markkanen. Carmelo Anthony ain't going to lead this squad to an upset and so Thien will walk away from 2018 knowing that they developed a nice rookie in Markkanen, and will hope for better health next year.

#2 So Buckets (14-6-1) vs #3 Funk Coalition (13-7-1)
After a three year hiatus, So Buckets have regained the Voltron divisional crown, beating Team Thien in the last week of the regular season to do so. Now Josh’s attention can focus on the postseason, knowing they will be unlikely to face the team that eliminated them last season -- Thien’s Young Gunn’s -- if they get past Funk Coalition in the first round. Unfortunately, star Kyrie Irving is looking dinged up and there’s no timetable for his return, opening up the door for an upset. However, Joel Embiid is healthy and he’ll have DeMar DeRozan and CJ McCollum to help him out, along with Rudy Robert, Dario Saric, a still rounding into form Jabari Parker, and also the recently en fuego Jonathon Simmons. Will it be enough to get past the first round? Probably! Can So Buckets then take down Chunky Monkeys again? Behind The Process, anything can happen....

After years of terrible teams that were constantly injured or underperforming, Funk has finally found the formula, notching their first winning record and earning their second playoff appearance (first one was in 2011). Karl-Anthony Towns will face off with Embiid in the middle and likely ROY Ben Simmons will look to dominate with his triple double goodness. However, there doesn’t seem to be quite enough firepower here, even with Khris Middleton coming onboard to replace the just injured Klay Thompson. Funk might have to walk away from this season knowing that at least now have they have some talent to usher them into a new era behind KAT, Simmons, Jayson Tatum and Josh Richardson.

Playoff & Toilet Bowl Seedings: 2018

*= divison winner

Chamberlain Conference
#1 Another Bad Creation (15-5-1)*
#2 Fat Jubas (12-9)*
#3 Fob Stars (10-10-1)
#4 Sour Snails (10-11)

Russell Conference
#1 Chunky Monkeys (20-1)*
#2 So Buckets (14-6-1)*
#3 Funk Coalition (13-7-1)
#4 Team Thien (13-7-1)

Chamberlain Conference
#1 Squirtle Squad (9-10-1)
#2 Sager’s Suits and Ties (9-11-1)
#3 IL Conceived (8-12-1)
#4 LA Buffy (3-16-2)

Russell Conference
#1 Swamp Dragons (12-7-2)
#2 Snack Bears (6-15)
#3 Team Cameltoe (5-15-1)
#4 Team Spade (2-19)

Tie Breakers (rules)
• Sour Snails vs Squirtle Squad:
To determine Chamberlain Conference wild card. Overall record (0.475 tied), H2H (1-1 tied), conference record (7-7 for both, tied), and finally “most categories won for season” which resulted in 96 for Snails and 86 for Squirtles. Result: Sour Snails is in the post-season, Squirtles is in the Toilet Bowl. 

• Funk Coalition vs Team Thien: No H2H matchups, Funk was 8-6-1 for conference while Thien was 8-6. Third tiebreaker is "most categories won for season” and Funk had 105 while Thien had 97. Result: Funk receives #2 seed in Russell Conference playoffs, Team Thien is the #3 seed.

Final Standings 2018


Everybody Eats

We wanted to give this trade an extra little shine, even though it didn’t affect playoff seeding, but could have big implications for the playoffs and the Toilet Bowl.

Trade ID#86:
• Swamp Dragons receive Gordon Hayward, Tomas Satoransky
• Fat Jubas receive Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Swamp Dragons 2019 RD2

Technically done after Swamp Dragons pushed Eric Gordon out the door, this traded nets Eddie a recent All Star (and future NBA champion) in Gordon Hayward while diminishing their cache for the upcoming Toilet Bowl, where they will be the #1 seed — after winning last year’s version. Fielding a very deep team that juuuuust missed the playoffs, GM Eddie was actively looking to sell off pieces and found a buyer in Fat Jubas, who was slated to win Silverhawks division. The trade was simple, as Dragons receive an IR stash for the offseason while Jubas bolster their playoff roster for a title run versus a weakened Chamberlain field.

Teague has already been traded once this year, and his reunion with Jrue Holiday (both formerly on IL Conceived) should be fruitful. With Jimmy Butler gone, Teague has been averaging 17.6 PTS, 6.7 AST, and 2.0 STL. Meanwhile, the reckless bombing of Robert Covington may not always be pretty, but his incredible combo of volume 3PT and STL is a nice piece to have. While generally eschewing poor percentage shooters, Eric has decided to roll the dice with Covington as the X-factor in his playoff run.

As for Hayward, how good is he really? We know he’s an All Star, we know plays League of Legends, and we know that he’s got a torn off foot. Two years ago, he averaged 21.9 PTS, 5.4 REB, 3.5 AST, 2.0 3PT on 47. FG%. Those are solid numbers across the board but also nothing superstar spectacular. While this prognosticator is a bit biased, it’s safe to assume that next year Hayward returns healthy, puts up close to the same numbers — we predict more AST — and should solidify his role as a young NBA star in his prime.

If Swamp Dragons can somehow manage to snag a top pick in this loaded draft, turned two above average guys into one really good one, and if Markelle Fultz comes back to, well, something, then Swamp Dragons could be right back in championship contention as early as next season!

Oh yeah, Tomas Satoransky, replacement-Wall, was part of this deal too, and he’s got the ultra-weird ESPN position designation of PG/SF, and averages a plum 5.8 AST, 4.4 REB, and stellar percentages. Satoransky! He'll provide an interesting boost to Swamp's Toilet Bowl chances.

Making Money Moves

There’s always a lot of pre-postseason trades happening and this year was a deadline filled doozie! Let’s not bury the lede here, as Sour Snails, our three time defending champs and suffering from an injury plagued year, looked like they might be headed to the Toilet Bowl. Instead, Trieu got off the mat and swung two huge trades that might have given Snails new life for a proper title defense.

Trade ID#83:
• Sour Snails receive Damian Lillard, Julius Randle
• Team Thien receives Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley

Trade ID#84:
• Sour Snails receive Isaiah Thomas, Markieff Morris
• Team Thien receives Kyle Kuzma, Derrick Favors

As if we thought last year’s mega-bomb trades were impressive, Trieu went out and turned all his injured assets into healthy players and maybe even upgraded his keeper core to boot! Damian Lillard has been out of his mind, averaging 29.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 3.8 3PT in his last month of games. His return to Snail-land means he’ll slide in for the duo of Mike Conley and Jimmy Butler, who were both effectively out for the fantasy playoffs — Conley has only played twelve games total this year. And Julius Randle has been incredibly lately too, with 21.6 PTS, 10.3 REB, 60.2 FG% in his most recent month of playing. That’s two injured stars for one-and-a-half!

As if that wasn’t enough, Trieu swung for the fences again, dealing rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma (and Derrick Favors, the payback from his mid-season deal off of Jason Richardson) for maligned former All-Star Isaiah Thomas and Markieff Morris. While IT4 has had a rough season, t’s inarguable that he’s sort of back to form with his stay on the Lakers, averaging 17.3 PTS, 5.6 AST, 2.3 3PT, albeit on 38.2 FG%, during his past few weeks. While losing Kuzma was painful after stealing him in the draft, GM Trieu decided to gamble on Isaiah’s return to health. After these two deals, Sour Snails are back in title contention with an explosive roster…but first they have to make the playoffs.

As for Team Thien, why do this? A playoff spot was all but locked up, a possible division title, and at first glance this seemed like a deal that was designed to only tank — but with no reward. However, with DeMarcus Cousins tearing an ACL, John Wall sitting pretty on the WAS bench, and even Gary Harris dinged up, GM Thien decided to wisely fold up shop and wait for next year. He gets two star guards in return for Lillard — Butler is 28, Conley is 30 — and will walk away from a title run.

And then we have Buffy, who surprised us all with the IT4 deal which flipped an old Laker for a young one, and gives Roger Brandon Ingram and Kuzma to play with his team. (Is Lonzo Ball next?!?) We like this move for Buffy, as they needed to get younger and IT4’s situation was dicey at best. Kuzma has cooled off considerably but is still averaging a sweet 14.1 PTS, 7.8 REB, 2.3 3PT during his last month. Favors will just be a throw-in, but he’ll get the chance to play in Toilet Bowl action. This leads to our next deal involving Buffy...

Trade ID#85:
• Buffy receive Klay Thompson, Nikola Mirotic
• Funk Coalition receive Khris Middleton

Roger received Klay Thompson (although injured right after) and Mirotic, which bolsters his long range shooting. As one of the steadiest performers in the game, Klay gonna Klay, averaging 19.7 PTS and 3.1 3PT plus sterling percentages across the board. Mirotic had been a minor revelation on the Bulls, and he has been almost as good on New Orleans, making him a possible keeper replacement for the likes of Danilo Gallinari.

Middleton joins the newly competitive Funk Coalition, proving himself healthy with season averages of 20.0 PTS, 5.2 REB, 4.0 AST, and 1.8 3PT. Whether Middleton shines as an NBA All-Star or not, he’ll prove a more versatile part of Funk than Thompson.

Trade ID#87:
• Swamp Dragons receive Chunky Monkeys 2019 RD2 and 2020 RD4
• Chunky Monkeys receive Eric Gordon, Swamp Dragons 2019 RD4

And let’s not forget the current regular season champ’s counterpunch, as Chunky Monkeys added Eric Gordon for the price of a few picks. We’re pretty sure Evan sweated it up after Trieu’s monster moves, and he decided to bolster his roster by adding 18.0 PTS and 3.1 3PT to his playoff team, just to make sure they could keep up with Snails’ new look roster. Will it be enough to topple the champs? We’ll have to find out!