The NBA season has finally arrived! As we begin our first year with no cash prize, I thought I would write up a little analysis of each team. So, without further ado, here is the breakdown of Pashaz League for the 2019-2020 season!
Sam: Plumdog Millionaires
Character Comp: Vladimir Lenin
This league has prospered for many years, but still the tides of revolution are always at the shore. Why? Because we have a mad revolutionary in out midst. Be careful of any DMs you receive from him as he tried to tear apart the rules and traditions of the league that have existed for so long. If you’ve never met him, just imagine him as a guy who wear a wool jacket 95% of the time and wears round glasses from the 1910s. But you have to hand it to him, he has been successful more times than not, having won two of the last four championships
Sam knows what he’s doing when drafting and it is evident in how his roster turned out. He went for an even distribution of positions, as well as an even spread of strength in categories. The most exciting part of his team this season will be the PG combo of Kyrie Irving and Trae Young, who should be the leading scorers of both of their teams. It is also evident that Sam believes in player development and is willing to stake his team’s success this season on it. He drafted four 2nd year players (Marvin Bagley, Trae Young, Mitchell Robinson and Wendell Carter Jr.), two 3rd year players (Lauri Markkanen and Zach Collins) and two 4th year players (Caris LeVert and Jaylen Brown). Only time will tell if going for a youth movement was the right call.
Best Pick: Zach Collins (Round 12)
Worst Pick: Mitchell Robinson (Round 4). I would have gone with a safer bet this early in the draft.
Tony: Team Bazinga
Character Comp: Rocky Balboa (Rocky I)
Tony, aka my dad, has been in this league with me since its very inception in 2006. After all these years of ending up in the top 5, he has still never won a championship. Injuries to top players usually derail his season, but he is also known to make some rash decisions by dropping talented players who have a rough patch. I had to go with Rocky from Rocky I mainly because he always seems to go the distance, but has never won it all. Also, I’d call taking a razor to a puffed up eye pretty rash on Rocky’s end. And I know this isn’t from Rocky I, but here is a speech my dad tells me about once a month:
One thing that immediately stuck out to me was his first four picks in the draft. The foursome of Nikola Jokic, Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler and Mike Conley is such a solid foundation, that every other pick following was just to add to categories the team was already strong in. I am a sucker for an even spread of categories and positions, so the first four picks were a home run in my book. I think his championship chances will end up relying on Donovan Mitchell and Hassan Whiteside though. Mitchell had a very poor summer as one of the leaders of the seventh place Team USA FIBA World Cup team and will need to bounce back in a big way. But hey, there is a history of players having great seasons after playing for Team USA, so let’s see what happens here. Whiteside can be a monster fantasy basketball producer, but his attitude often times makes him lose out on minutes. On a new team with his friend Damian Lillard, there is a chance he can return to his previous, elite form. Or he could hate it there and destroy Tony’s chances of winning it all. Only time will tell.
Best Pick: Mike Conley (Round 4). I am expecting big things from Conley this season and picking him up in the fourth round is basically expecting him to reach the floor of his expectations, while I am expecting him to reach full potential.
Worst Pick: Enes Kanter (Round 7). Feels like Kanter is just points and rebounds at this point, so I would have gone for someone with a more diverse skillset here.
Zak: Free Boban
Character Comp: Lorenzo (A Bronx Tale)
When I contacted everyone about us being a no cash prize league this season, everyone agreed. Some begrudgingly, like Samamir Lenin (Plumdog Millionares), and others with no issue at all. But Zak was the only one to prefer it over the old way. For him, honor is more important than money, much like Lorenzo from A Bronx Tale. And his daughter, Baby Sammy, has the charm and wit that any 60s era mafia boss would want to recruit. But if that day ever comes, I imagine Zak would follow this tactic shown below (minus the slap at 3:49 of course). Side note, Zak’s dad has some pretty boss stories about going after the mob, so I’m sure he’d approve of Zak’s character comp.
More than anyone else in the draft, Zak sniped the most players that I was targeting. His team is very strong and if health permits, I expect him to be a finals contender. Players like Zach LaVine, Mikal Bridges, Paskal Siakam, Derrick Favors and Tomas Satoransky are all in better positions this year to shock the fantasy basketball world. On top of that, having Luke Doncic coming off of a great season and a much better supporting cast may lead Free Boban to a top 3 finish.
Best Pick: Zach LaVine (Round 5). This guy could have Devin Booker numbers, but was taken 3 rounds after him.
Worst Pick: Bradley Beal (Round 1). This prediction could end up biting me in the butt, but I would have gone with LBJ or Embiid here.
Hal: Jserra Lions
Character Comp: Jack Nicholson
Jack is one of the biggest Lakers fans in the world, having gone to more Lakers games than a majority of people alive today. Hal drafted three Lakers players, so you have to give props to someone who with that level of commitment. But seeing as the Lakers are one of only four teams playing day 1 and I am matched up with Hal, I am not too excited about this development.
Getting LeBron at pick 9 was huge for Hal. I am expecting a huge bounce-back year for The King and even though Hal hates him in real life, I am sure that stance will soften once LBJ nets him a ton of wins this season. The one player I am most intrigued in on his roster in Terry Rozier. He will have all the shots he wants on a very thin Hornets team, but some nights that will not be a good thing. I could see him shooting 15-24 one night and then 1-17 the next. I hope Hal’s blood pressure is okay, because Rozier will definitely be messing with it. Hal also has one of my favorite combos of Draymond Green and Lonzo Ball. I think they are both in for a huge season, even if they mess with his FG and FT percentages.
Best Pick: Lonzo Ball (Round 6)
Worst Pick: I was going to say Fred VanVleet, but he killed it opening night. I won’t say anyone else in order to not jynx my way into losing to Hal this week.
Ryan: Pistons in 5 (2004)
Character Comp: Constantine I
This one took me the longest to research. With his team riding on a Greek (Giannis), Montenegrin (Vucevic) and Latvian (Porzingis), I tried to find any ancient empire that held all three countries. The closest I could get was the Byzantine Empire, even though Latvia wasn’t really a part of it. And then I picked Constantine I because he’s called Constantine the Great and Ryan is a pretty great guy.
I have to admit, when I say Giannis and Porzingis on the same team, I literally said “oof’ out loud. It is such a great combo! At their peaks, they are very similar players with Gianny getting more assists and KP hitting more threes. Ryan definitely went the international route, with six of his players coming from abroad. As I look at his team, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be a top contender in both percentages throughout the season, which is not an easy foundation to build. There is some risk with this team though. Dejounte Murray and Kristaps Porzingis both missed most of last season and will have to prove they can still play at the same level as before. But for Porzingis, I don’t see why he can’t end this year as a top 15 player.
Best Pick: Kristaps Porzingis (Round 3)
Worst Pick: RJ Barrett (Round 8)
Character Comp: Captain America
Before Steve Rogers was given the Super Soldier Serum, he was a brave guy who really didn’t do much damage. Taking LeBron James with the second overall pick last season was brave, but it led Nat to a pretty poor season. If you look at the way he drafted this year though, you can’t help but wonder what kind of fantasy basketball PEDs Nat has been taking since. His top two picks (AD and Zion) are massive men, much like Captain America himself. And it doesn’t hurt that Nat lives in DC and looks like he could take over the role tomorrow now that Chris Evens is gone from the MCU.
You have to love the 1-2 punch of AD and Zion to start off the draft for Nat, but the loss of Zion for 6-8 weeks to open the season is a brutal one. Nat really can’t afford his number two pick to miss any more time for the rest of the season if he wants to make the playoffs, so for both Nat and the NBA’s sake, I truly hope this is the end of Zion’s injury woes. Nat has one of the more interesting draft strategies this year. He picked up the top two rookies (Zion and Ja) and a ton of high-risk/high-reward type of players. I talked about the risks of drafting Zion, but his teammate, Brandon Ingram, comes with risks as well. Lakers fans have always touted the skills of BI, but the media has never been too high on him. In a new scenario like New Orleans and a coach that actually cares about player development could mean big things for Magnum BI. Gordon Hayward and Andrew Wiggins are two other players who struggled last year, but have a real chance of improvement ahead.
Best Pick: Taurean Prince (Round 10)
Worst Pick: Unfortunately looking like Zion (Round 2) if health is a problem all year
Character Comp: Hannibal Lecter
Let me state that these comps are for the fantasy basketball realm only. In real life, Sheena is a saint and in no way do I think she could ever be a serial killer that eats people. That being said, in the fantasy realm, Sheena has the cunning and merciless nature that is only rivaled by evil geniuses in TV and film. Every year she proves that she has researched intensely behind the scenes, without ever revealing her strategies. Why did I pick Hannibal Lecter you ask? Mainly because she drafter Jeremy Lamb and I love the line from Hannibal, “Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?”
Sheena’s plan for this draft is what you would call “an oldie, but goodie.” With five point guards and four power forwards, Sheena went with the classic PG/PF draft strategy that has been around for over a decade. You don’t hear about it as much anymore, but the fact that PGs and PFs offer a plethora of different categories still holds true. We will have to wait and see how the old school method turns out for her. I also loved her pickup of Andre Drummond after her first pick of James Harden. Drummond is an absolute fantasy beast, but the fact that he can cripple a team’s free throw percentage makes him drop in a lot of drafts. But with Harden being one of the best, if not THE best, players in the league at the line, she may still be able to win FT% some weeks while adding Drummonds elite rebounding numbers to her totals. Sheena also picked up three very interesting second year players during the draft. Deandre Ayton produced great fantasy stats last year and looks to build on those numbers this season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking to become a cornerstone of the OCK Thunder franchise, and Kevin Huerter is a podcast host favorite with higher expectations this season.
Best Pick: Al Horford (Round 6)
Worst Pick: Patrick Beverley (Round 10)
Character Comp: Grandfather (The Princess Bride)
Shah currently holds the title of first and only grandpa in the league after his grandson, Logan (but I will always call him Zaza), was born on Oct. 18. I can imagine him babysitting Zaza a few months from now and reading off his stats like the Grandpa in The Princess Bride reads a story for his grandson. I just hope that after a bad week, Shah reassures Zaza that it will all be okay just like the scene below. And the fact that he picked up Chris Paul, who will basically be the grandpa of a very young OKC team, adds to the motif even more.
I am a big fan of Shah’s team. I love his point guard, wing and big rotation and each guy serves a specific purpose for the team’s total category stats. CP3 paired with Fox is going to be a fun one to follow. CP3 is trying to raise his value in order to be traded and show everyone that he still has what it takes to be a great NBA player. Fox isn’t a household name yet, but I assume he will be very soon. I was talking to my uncle from Sacramento the other week and when he complained that the Kings don’t have a superstar, I told him that Fox was very likely to take on that mantle. And with wings like Josh Richardson and Bojan Bogdanovic on different teams this season where their values are set to rise. I am very excited to see Shah’s team progress through the season.
Best Pick: DeMar DeRozan (Round 4)
Worst Pick: Montrez Harrell (Round 7)
Nima: Trashbag Jerseys
Character Comp: Thanos
In Nima’s first season in our league, he took the championship crown with no mercy or regard to anyone else. He came, he saw, he conquered. Although didn’t keep his throne last season, he was still a dominant team that required the forces of good to unite in order to defeat him. Unfortunately, it looks like that may not be enough this season and we may be in line for another Earth-shattering takeover.
Nima has a kickass team and is my current favorite to win it all this year. I pointed out many teams with a great 1-2 punch of PGs on their roster, but Nima outdid everyone in getting three elite fantasy PGs in Damian Lillard, D’Angelo Russell and Russell Westbrook. And then if you look at his big men, the combo of LaMarcus Aldridge, Thomas Bryant and Myles Turner is so perfect, that I did the Italian thumb and index finger kiss right after seeing it. LeMarcus is a great percentage, points and rebounds big man, while Bryant/Turner shore up 3s and blocks from the position. Then you see his high ceiling/high floor picks with Tobias Harris, Oubre and Isaac at the forward position and the potential upside for this team is through the roof. Nima definitely did his research in learning that 3s can always be shored up late in a draft. He solidified that category with the late round picks of Evan Fournier and Eric Gordon. We will all have to fight hard to avoid another reign of Nima as the champion.
Best Pick: Tobias Harris (Round 6)
Worst Pick: None
Atousa: Mrs. Gallinari
Character Comp: Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)
After years of trying to get into the our league, a league some would call the Harvard of fantasy basketball, Atousa finally made her way in. After playing in a separate league with her years ago, Atousa has come a long way from a season when she only drafted players she found handsome. I must admit, I did not believe in her to succeed in the draft, but her team turned out quite well. Like Elle, Atousa is proving to jabronis like me that she is here to win.
In my opinion, Atousa picked up the biggest steals of the first two rounds. I was shocked that Joel Embiid fell to 10 (I had picked him up at 6 in some mock drafts) and Kawhi Leonard to 15 (I fully expected him to be a first rounder). With a foundation of two potential top 8 players this season, only injuries can hurt Atousa’s chances of making the playoffs. She was also able to pick up three crutial players for their respective teams’ offenses in Buddy Hield, Danillo Gallinari and Lou Williams. Her C rotation of Embiid, Randle, Griffin and Adams is probably the best in the league and comes with a points/rebounds combo that her dad (Tony) will be very jealous of. Like father, like daughter I guess. And with a trio of Hield, Reddick and Herro, Atousa will also be in contention for the most three pointers of any team this season.
Best Pick: Kawhi Leonard (round 2)
Worst Pick: Buddy Hield (round 3). I love Buddy, but round 3 may have been a bit early. I feel like I may regret writing this sometime soon though.
Eric: A Bonus Sabonis
Character Comp: Michael Scott (The Office Season 1)
During the draft, Eric picked back to back due to him being 12th in a snake draft setting. With each duo of picks, I thought to myself either, “wow, that was an insanely good pickup” or “damn, I definitely would not have done that.” Like Michael Scott in season one, at some moments he was my favorite and at others I really disliked him (watch the basketball episode to fully get where I’m coming from).
The main picks I did not like were the ones of injured players. I am never a fan of picking injured players during a draft. In my opinion, you have to keep your IR slot open for injuries that happen during the season. Paul George, Kyle Kuzma and Victor Oladipo are all out for the start of the season, which means Eric will have an uphill battle to fight for playoff contention in a few months. But with this strategy, the rewards can be phenomenal if every player comes back healthy and ready to play at an elite level. However, pickups of John Collins, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love were ones I absolutely loved at their value. If health is on his side, Eric will be an extremely dangerous team, but for now, I always anticipate the worst about injuries until I’m proven wrong. Side note, I hope the rumors about a K-Love/Trailblazers deal are true so Eric can have one of the stars of his favorite team on his roster.
Best Pick: Kyle Lowry (Round 5)
Worst Pick: Paul George (Round 1)
Pre-Season Playoffs Predictions (In Order)
- Nima: Trashbag Jerseys
- Zak: Free Boban
- Shah: Shahryar/Grandpa
- Tony: Team Bazinga
- Atousa: Mrs. Gallinari
- Ryan: Pistons in 5 (2004)