2018 Championship: Finally Chunky!


It's been a tough slog in Monkey-land for the past years.  After trading for LeBron James and Kyle Lowry in 2015, the Monkeys, despite a star-laden team, have catastrophically stumbled through the past three seasons.  They finally pieced it together this year.  The team put together a historic, almost perfect 20-1 season. James Harden and LeBron James were dueling MVP candidates. Harden averaged over 30.0 ppg, Clint Capela took a huge step forward averaging a 14 PTS /11 REB /2 BLK for the season and Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Otto Porter all contributed significantly. On top of this, the Monkeys found solid performers in Kris Dunn and Caris Levert from the draft.  The roster was filled with All-Stars that performed at all-star levels and surrounded by a deep bench.  This had to be the year.

However, this was the Monkeys, the same team that flamed out in the first round in the past two years. This was also the very same Monkeys team that was staring down an incredibly dangerous Sour Snails team who had geared up specifically for this. Furthermore, the Snails had a slightly scheduling advantage for the Finals. Monkeys knew that history is often obdurate (ask Steven King).

But this season belonged to the Monkeys.  LeBron was the savior this time as he authored a signature season at the ripe old age of thirty-three and delivered his finest work for championship week. Chunky Monkeys was only able to muster twenty-three games for the week and LBJ played three of those games, including a back-to-back midweek. Those three games were enough, as James averaged a triple-double with 34.7 PTS, 10 REB, 10.3 AST and 3 3PT a game for the Finals.  James even shot 59% from the field and averaged nearly 39 minutes per game. This was punctuated by a historic game on Friday heading into the final weekend with a 44/11/11 triple-double. That gave Monkeys a 7-2 lead which turned out to be more than enough.

Before the playoffs, a hobbling Snails made a series of trades to bolster his chances for what would've been a historic four-peat. The Snails acquired Damian Lillard, Julius Randle, Isaiah Thomas, and Markieff Morris. Save for Thomas who got shelved for a hip injury shortly after being traded, Lillard, Randle and Morris all made significant contributions in the playoffs and allowed the Snails to fight their way to the championship game.

As for the Monkeys, the team was humming entering the playoffs -- it was nearly perfect in the regular season -- and the lead players were remarkably healthy. However, cracks started appearing in the playoffs with injuries hitting the bench including Kris Dunn who was shut down with a foot injury, Eric Gordon and Maurice Harkless, who were both signed for the playoffs, and JaMychal Green, all of whom made little to no contribution in the post-season due to various maladies. On top of that, Harden, Capela, and Gasol all increasingly had frequent rest days with the NBA playoffs approaching. Was the Chunky Curse coming back? There are no such thing as curses...

After an entertaining start to the week, Monkeys found themselves in the lead but needed to hang on. The seconds became minutes and the minutes became hours. Then Gasol delivered a huge 20/9/9 line on Sunday and the win was secured.

Looking back at the season, Monkeys had one of the best seasons of all time. They ranked first in the league across five categories and second on a sixth. Furthermore, Monkeys finished with the top performance in five categories all-time (going back to 2010), including breaking the all-time record for assists in the regular season with 2,973.  To give a sense of scale, the next highest number of team assists was Thien's High Riser team in 2015 with 2,625. This was the most dominant performance in a single season likely ever.

So what's next? The Monkeys are certainly aging -- have they peaked?  LeBron has stated he'll be back. So will Harden and Capela. But Monkeys management will have some big decisions coming this off-season. But this is why we play fantasy basketball! The team will leave that to the off-season.

Chunky Monkeys, at long last, champions!

2018 Toilet Bowl: Back in the Muck

Well, what do you know, the best of the worst gets to become the best again. Swamp Dragons, after going 10-9 and taking the Toilet Bowl last season, has repeated in the consolation tournament by having an even better season than last year: 12-7-2. Narrowly edged out of a playoff spot, Eddie’s team managed to avoid upsets on they way to the Toilet Bowl finals and finished with a tough win in the Toilet Bowl win behind a huge AST week from Nikola Jokic and excellent shooting and rebounding across the board.

Already boasting a keeper core featuring Jokic, Paul George, newly acquired Gordon Hayward, Dennis Schroder, Andrew Wiggins, Jusuf Nurkic, emergent Taurean Prince, and last year’s #1 overall Markelle Fultz, GM Eddie will have to make some interesting off-season decisions. And with yet another loaded NBA draft coming up, that core should be more than enough to power Swamp Dragons into the playoffs next season.

Although, the Thundercats division has traditionally boasted three of the playoff teams from Russell Conference, and even with Spade falling to the bottom of the league, Funk Coalition rose up this past season, and Chunky Monkeys finally broke through and took a title. Could Swamp find themselves back in the Toilet Bowl finals for a third consecutive season?! Let’s hope not!

As for IL Conceived, a pretty successful rookie season spent resurrecting the old Jedi Knights franchise couldn’t have worked out more wonderfully for Frank, even as his team fell five AST and one BLK short of staging a come-from-behind victory. Still, securing a top two pick is tremendous, and that pick will help them add a potential superstar to a core that’s definitely on the rise behind rookies Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr.

Finals Preview: 2018

#1 Chunky Monkeys (20-1) vs #4 Sour Snails (10-11)
We’ve seen this matchup before, with one team dominating all season long while the other one had to scrap their way to the Finals after an injury plagued playoffs. Except, this time the roles are reversed! In 2010, the first year of SlamNation’s cycle reset, Snails had LeBron James, Josh Smith, Gerald Wallace — and a young Steph Curry — leading the way against Monkey’s ragtag group led by Chris Paul, Darren Collison, and um, Andrea Bargnani. Evan’s team snuck into that final game with small ball and now Trieu’s done the same eight years later.

Of course, it was the Laker duo of Brook Lopez and newly acquired Julius Randle that gave Snails the nail biting win on Sunday, by a mere 5 PTS and one STL. The rest of the roster here is pretty injured, with Stephen Curry out and Isaiah Thomas similarly shelved. Kevin Durant made a timely return to help take down upstart Fob Stars, and Curry’s fill-in, Quinn Cook, was incredible all week long. And while Damian Lillard, the other recent Snails addition, had to sit out a game last week for a birth, he’s back to racking up huge numbers and should put some scare into Monkeys’ title chances.

In fact, if you compare H2H from last week, Trieu’s team wasn’t that far off. A four-peat would absolutely destroy the competitive world of SlamNation -- did we mention Snails are defending three-peaters? -- so it looks like all that stands between us and that catastrophe is Evan’s team, led by none other than LeBron James…

Oh yes, this time out, LBJ is playing for the other side, having made his way from Sour Snails to two other teams before finally landing on Monkeys in 2015 and starting off Evan’s contention seasons. After two years at the top of SlamNation regular season, it’s time for Monkeys to get some hardware.

I mean, despite building a powerhouse team three years ago, Monkeys haven’t sniffed the Finals yet, losing in the first round from 2015-2018, to a variety of foes. This time out, they waltzed past Team Thien in the first round, shoved past So Buckets in the conference finals, and generally had an easy time heading to their second Finals appearance. After only losing one game all year, it’ll a huge disappointment if Monkeys can’t take the title this year.

After all, the Monkeys have two MVP candidates in LeBron James and James Harden, an additional one-two punch of Kyle Lowry and pre-playoff trade acquisition Eric Gordon, alongside Marc Gasol and Clint Capela in the front court. This team is much deeper (not to mention healthier) than Snails and if the time isn’t ripe for a title, Evan might as well blow it all up next year! Good luck gentlemen, it's the two SlamNation juggernauts facing off!

A tidbit from 2010: "There was some controversy during the [2010] Finals week as the Monkeys made a clerical error and filled their lineup to the max, negating their Sunday games. Gracious as ever, Snails' owner Trieu offered to count the crucial last few games, even though going by the strict letter of the law would have ensured a victory."

Toilet Bowl Preview: 2018

#1 Swamp Dragons (12-7-2) vs #3 IL Conceived (8-12-1)
What’s it feel like to be in the Toilet Bowl with back-to-back winning records? Well, owner Eddie would know! He landed back in the consolation bracket despite twelve wins and a proclamation last year that “[this could] likely this could be the last Toilet Bowl both franchises see in awhile” from last year's Toilet Bowl preview. Despite winning last year’s top pick, and selecting Markelle Fultz, Swamp Dragons are going after a repeat Toilet Bowl win — last pulled off by Funk Coalition in 2015-6.

Even after trading off three playable assets in Eric Gordon, Jeff Teague, and Robert Covington, Swamp still had the depth to get by both Spade and Cameltoe with relative ease — although Cameltoe, with Anthony Davis and budding rookie Josh Jackson, came close in STL and BLK. Even with Dennis Schroder sidelined — and Fultz unable to be activated off IR — Dragons should have more than enough depth to secure the top pick. And even if they lose, getting a #1 or #2 in another deep draft should put this team over the top and into the playoffs. Eddie can’t three-peat in the Toilet Bowl right? Right?!

As for IL Conceived, it’s been a dream Toilet Bowl run, as Frank’s plan to tank yielded a shocking eight wins — worst tank job ever — and trading off veteran assets didn’t exactly return immediate value. (Hi Jrue Holiday’s incredible injury-free career season!) Still, here we are, at a Toilet Bowl finals for Frank after a squeaker of a win versus Buffy by a handful of REB and STL.

IL Conceived is now poised to add a top two pick to their youth movement after an outstanding 2018 draft class that included Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith. Harrison Barnes, the return from that Holiday trade put up four huge games last week, punctuated by 30 points on Sunday, and he’ll lead the way along with Mitchell to see if they can get the right to pick anyone in the upcoming 2019 draft. It would be a nice capper to a rookie season for Frank to take a Toilet Bowl title, so let's see what he can do... where's Sister Jean when you need her?!

Playoffs / Toilet Bowl RD2: 2018

Chamberlain Conference
#3 Fob Stars (10-10-1) vs #4 Sour Snails (10-11)
Do you call it an upset when the reigning champs take out the number one seed? I guess it still is one, as Sour Snails hit a last second 3PT to take the slim victory over Another Bad Creation — we were prescient in seeing another close game between these two.

As for Fob Stars, it really was an upset as the dark horse contender simply demolished division foe / recent winner Fat Jubas behind Kemba Walker and Ricky Rubio. Too bad for Eric, as he had loaded up just last week for a deep post-season run. Now Jimmy could be staring at a Finals appearance as Sour Snails has five of his top six guys injured and now it’s Damian Lillard versus the (Fob) world.

Russell Conference
#1 Chunky Monkeys (20-1) vs #2 So Buckets (14-6-1)
As expected, Chunky Monkeys won in a romp against down-and-out Team Thien. What’s unexpected is who Evan will be facing in the conference finals. Funk Coalition jumped out to a huge lead by mid-week and looked to be cruising to an easy upset. However, a lineup error froze Jon’s team at too many GP and So Buckets overcame momentary roster lock confusion — and a full slate of Sunday games — to sneak past Funk’s upset bid by one TO. Impressive stuff! Boo to Jon for his coaching snafu, I guess that’s what happens when your team is never in the post-season…

Chamberlain Conference
#3 IL Conceived (8-12-1) vs #4 LA Buffy (3-16-2)
A double upset means one of these lower seeds will get a high pick next year. Awesome! IL Conceived had an easy time of it as Sager’s Suits and Ties hit the lineup cap a day early, sealing their fate. The game might have been competitive till the last drop, but we’ll never know now.

As for Buffy, it was an incredible upset against #1 ranked Squirtles as Coach Roger piloted them to a 6-3 win over Squirtle Squad / Giannis Antetokounmpo that featured less games played (by -3), less TOs (an incredible 22 to 54), yet somehow garnered more PTS and 3PT! All this with Klay Thompson, Brandon Ingram, Danilo Gallinari, Avery Bradley, and Domantas Sabonis unable to participate due to injury. Recent trade addition Kyle Kuzma and Austin Rivers combined to lead the soon-to-come LA resurgence!

#1 Swamp Dragons (12-7-2) vs #3 Team Cameltoe (5-15-1)
Team Spade put up more of a fight than we anticipated, but Swamp Dragons still took down the worst team in SlamNation in 2018 by simply having more games played. Spade will draft #3, and whoever the newcomer is will be a welcome addition to their core.

Swampies will be the only non-upset Toilet Bowl participant as Team Cameltoe took higher seeded Snack Bears to the limit and then dispatched them by a mere STL and a handful of PTS or 3PT on Sunday. A big upset here could give Anthony Davis the running mate he needs in a loaded draft, so here’s hoping Felipe finds some more Toilet Bowl magic and gets this win! Note: We see you back-in-action Markelle Fultz!!!…on the bench, unfortunately, due to our roster lock rules.