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Smallworld Hoops - Daily blurbs from the Guru

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6/15 - And so the season mercifully draws to a close. Assuming there is an NBA season next fall, I'll be back! I'll put up some 1998 regular season stats early enough to help you with your drafting for the '98-'99 season.

6/13 - If you watched the game last night, you might have gotten the impression that Scottie Pippen had an off night, scoring only 6 points on 2-for-16 FG shooting. But with 11 boards and 11 assists, he was only 4 points shy of a triple-double! A Jason Kidd-like performance.

I was rooting for the Jazz, not because I particularly care who wins, but because I need more games to improve my standing. I may break into the top 20 yet. Go Jazz!

6/8 - At long last, there is finally a top 50 worldwide leaders page for the playoffs game.

Kevin Landis did a quick count of the players who appear on the top 50 rosters. Here's his tally:

Name      # Rosters
Eisley        50
Anderson      44
Kucoc         43
Longley       42
Burrell       40
Ostertag      40
Wennington    40
Morris        35
Harper        34
Russell       34
Rodman        29
Hornacek      23
Simpkins      21
Foster        19
Pippen        14
Vaughn         9
Malone         9
Carr           8
Jordan         4
Stockton       3
Kerr           3
Buechler       2
Brown          1
Booth          1
Inactive      52
Total        600

Thanks, Kevin.

6/7 - Well, that was certainly a statistical aberration! Frankly, I missed most of the second half, preferring the Mets-Red Sox game, which wasn't a whole lot closer. Then I looked at the final scoring. The Jazz boxscore looks like a halftime scoresheet. And who would have ever though Jud Buechler would outpoint Rodman!

So far, my decision to take Pippen over Rodman is working out. I'm sure it's not enough to vault me into first, but maybe the top 20 isn't out of reach.

6/6 - One more top 50 team - the SandGnats, ranked 43rd.

6/4 - Another top 50 team: "FunPolice", ranked 17th going into the finals.

As I looked over the top teams listed here, I realized that it will be difficult to make much headway from here on. It reminds me a little of the March Madness Contest - as the tournament wound down, the rankings were pretty well established. Most of the top teams have 11 or 12 roster spots still active, and the list of players is pretty consistent from team to team. I decided to put Pippen on my team, in spite of the fact that I could have gotten a higher SWP/G average by going with Rodman and a few others. However, it appeared that more teams had Rodman, and few had Pippen, so I figured that was how I would try to differentiate my team.

6/2 - More top 50 teams:

Just to save you from the effort of looking, there are apparently no teams named L3 or L4.

6/1 - Here are a few more top teams:

5/30 - Since most of you probably don't even check the feedback page anymore (with justification), I thought I'd post the following letter here:

Guru:
I was wondering if you knew why Smallworld was not posting a leader board for Playoff hoops and whether you might be able to persuade them to do so? After never quite making it in the regular season, I am now making a run and would love to see the Bethesda Panthers listed.

Assuming you are again the Talaxians, our teams are neck and neck at last posting. In case you are also curious where the leaders are, I have found a few:

I assume you are aware of the leaders in the "Guru" divisions. If, as wouldn't surprise me, you know of other leaders, particularly the top 10, I would really appreciate their names.

As to strategy, I certainly concur with your early comment that maximizing the number of plays (or perhaps the number of $ x plays is critical). After Utah beat LA in 4, I made aggressive moves putting resources into Chicago-Indiana (even trading Ostertag) which have paid royally due to the length of that series. Additionally, the evaluation system I used for prioritizing candidates for the $50 million DreamTeams selections (SWP/g-3xPrice in millions) is more useful in the fixed price environment of the playoffs than it was in the investment environment of the regular season. My biggest error has been holding Longley through the entire first round hoping his injury would heal ahead of time.

Thanks for all the fun you created with the 2nd chance league and DreamTeams challenges. - Jay S. (5/30)

response from Guru:
I wrote to Erik several weeks ago about this, but that was in the midst of the baseball pricing uproar and their preparation for the World Cup game, so I assume it didn't register on the priority ladder. I sent him another letter today. I agree that it is strange to offer a game without a leaderboard.

In general, I feel pretty comfortable with my strategy, although it would have been better to be more aggressive with the Chicago-Indiana series. At least I did pick up Harper for the final four games of this series. Most of my remaining picks are slated for Jazz players. Besides, I already have most of the cheaper Bulls, other than Longley and Kerr.

I haven't gotten any recent word on other ranked teams, but if anyone sends me a list of teams that are anywhere in the top 50, I post them here. - Guru


5/3 - I eliminated the players from the eight losing teams in the summary stat charts. That should make it easier to sift through.

5/1 - Blurb time!

This playoff game is quite interesting. With a budget fixed at $50 million, a completely different type of player becomes critical to success. After a few weeks of the regular season, guys like Tom Hammonds, Kelvin Cato, and Vitaly Potapenko just weren't worth paying attention to. But now, they are probably the keys to winning, as it's important to get some reasonable production out of low priced players. My biggest mistake in round 1 was picking Stanley Roberts over Cato. I was worried about Cato matching up against Shaq, but he did reasonably well - partly because he was often matched up against someone else - while Roberts has been collecting splinters in his butt.

The other interesting strategy relates to the transition period between rounds. This morning, I had to decide what to do with Brian Grant and Rasheed Wallace. Should I do some quick trades to get some more exposure to first round games, or just wait until I know who will be advancing to round 2? If I had found anyone worth picking up on either Houston or Charlotte, I might have done so, sine those two teams have a minimum of two games remaining in the playoffs, worst case. But I couldn't find anyone (I needed forwards only) affordable on those teams that was worth it. So, I'll wait another day, at least, and see whether Atlanta or Utah drop tonight, and then revisit the situation tomorrow. These are issues that never arose in the regular season game, and it's kind of refreshing to think about different angles.

I looks like the entries for the playoff game were relative light. Teams with zero points are only ranked 11,788, so that puts a fix on the number of active teams. Baseball is obviously taking its toll on this game.

Speaking of which, ........

4/25 - Stats pages for Friday night's game are now up. Tomorrow, I won't be home until evening, so stats for Saturday's games won't be posted until late Sunday night.

4/24 - Here's the plan. I will maintain playoff stats for the duration, with daily updates to the Stars & Stiffs, Yesterday, Summary Stats, and Top Games pages. If interesting feedback letters arrive, I'll post them as well. I'll probably dispense with daily blurbs, unless I have something really noteworthy to say. Baseball will be my first priority, so I want to run Hoops Playoffs on "autopilot" as much as possible. I still think you'll find this information useful for running your playoff team. Also, the individual player stat pages will be updated as games are played, although there may be some odd-looking fields on those pages, since they were configured with an 82 game schedule in mind. Thus, games remaining will be negative, and daily histories will be lopped off at 82 games. Totals and averages should still be fine.

4/20 - Congratulations to Doug Taylor, who captured not only first and second place in the 2nd Chance League, but also came close to snagging a trifecta with his third team. In fact, his LA Boys suffered an opportunity loss of 170 points early in the season due to an ineligible roster for one day (when the manager inexplicably forgot to complete both sides of all trades! - Sorry, Doug - had to rub it in!) Congrats also to the Bethesda Panthers II and the Long Island Losers, who took advantage of the gaffe to pass the LA Boys near the end of the season.

As impressive as the 450 point victory over the closest "unaffiliated" competitor was, it is even more remarkable that Doug's top two teams still had 7 and 9 trades (respectively) available to burn on the final weekend! And although his roster values were among the league's highest, five teams bested his frontrunner's wealth. Clearly, Doug had the gift of getting "more for his money" than anyone else in this league. There is some good news for all of you, however. Doug isn't playing SW Baseball this year! There is hope!

I'll soon be inaugurating a "Guru's Hall of Fame" where I'll immortalize the winners of my contests. Doug and Joanna Brock, winner of the March Madness Contest, will be the first two enshrinees. Induction ceremonies will be announced when I get the page set up. Special thanks to David Milet for suggesting the idea to me.

Playoffs start on Thursday, so you have several more days to get your playoff rosters in order. Playoff price tables now reflect full season stats for all players. I'll try to get the ineligible players removed from the listing shortly - no sense looking at Chris Webber anymore, is there?

And finally, thanks to all of you for your enthusiastic support of my website, and of my efforts in managing the Talaxians to the title. Hard to believe the website is only slightly more than four months old! And even harder to believe I pulled off the worldwide title. I have a deep appreciation for how much luck is needed to dodge all of the bullets which could easily have punctured the effort. My only regret is that this will be a very tough act to follow - in fact, I'll be amazed if I ever succeed to this degree again, especially now that I've helped train so many of you to be stronger competitors. I'll be happy just to be in contention - that's the fun part. Special thanks to the managers of TheOtherOne and The Last Bump, both of whom epitomized superior sportmanship in our back-and-forth emails over the last several months. You guys made the season all that it could have been both competitively and collegially.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that Marcus Camby had his second triple-double of the week (and of the year) yesterday. Go figure!

4/19 - Not much left to say. . . . . . .

4/18 - I think I hear the fat lady warming up backstage! In fact, my Talaxians pumped out 546 Smallworld Points last night, an average of 45.5 per player. Pretty decent. I noticed a few 2nd Chance teams had comparable scores on that recent day that included three triple-doubles. But this was a triple-double-free night for me.

But not for everyone. Charles Outlaw continued the triple-double assault last night, with a blistering 97.5 SWP game, tied for second best of the year.

Trading activity has picked up a little bit in the 2nd Chance League, as teams use up those leftover trades. More interestingly, two players were bought yesterday for the first time (in the 2nd Chance League, that is) - Ervin Johnson and Antonio Davis. I imagine these are two classic examples of guys who were just priced too high all season. Looking at their stats, it looks like they've both finished the season strong, and are just now viable. Two different teams even found Johnson yesterday (although I suppose it's likely they are both managed by the same guy, as their team ID numbers are just 2 digits apart).

One more tidbit on 2nd Chance teams. The average roster value has been steadily declining over the last three weeks. After peaking at just over $70 million on March 25th, it is now down to $65 million, the lowest since Groundhog Day. I'm sure Donyell, Jayson Williams, David Robinson, Strickland, and other late season casualties all contributed to the decline, as many teams ran out of trades to compensate.

4/17 - If I'd have known David Robinson would miss three games (and maybe more) following his KO at the hands (or elbow) of Malone last week, I could have run away with the Worldwide title by using my remaining trade to dump him. However, since he's continually been "day-to-day", the safest strategy has been to hang in there with him, in case he returns and one of my "impact" players (Walker or Payton) were to get injured instead. Fortunately, I had some breathing room - but if Hakeem should go nuts in his next game, I'm still potentially vulnerable. (I know, I know, you all wish you could be so vulnerable!)

I realized this morning that I neglected to update my price tables yesterday. Oops! I must have been so caught up in working out my baseball trades that I completely forgot. Not that anyone cares anymore.

After reflecting on the revelation that prices will not change during the playoff game, I realize that this will be a totally different game than the regular season game. First, because there is no profit incentive, trading will have only one purpose - to maximize points. Optimizing exposure to games played may be the key to success. Second, because everyone will have to live within a $50m budget throughout, low-priced players will play a critical role in differentiating teams. In the regular season game, low priced players were only relevant for their capital appreciation potential, since most contending teams quickly reached a value at which a roster could be fully stocked with higher priced players.

The lack of a profit motive also means my statistical tables will be less useful. But I'll still maintain them. Why not? They're mostly automated anyway.

4/16 (later) - Thanks to Matt Miller, who quickly pointed out to me that player prices will not fluctuate during the playoffs! I had to go back and read the rules twice before I could find that - so I suspect some of you missed it as well. That certainly changes my draft strategy. I had been afraid to buy players on teams that were likely to lose early, fearing that their values would plummet before I could unload them. Not a problem, though. The only issue with them is the need to burn a trade once they're gone.

(I should never say "Duhhh!" - it usually backfires.)

4/16 - Not to be outdone, Jason Kidd joined the recent triple-double parade with a relatively paltry 77 SWP effort. (See Joe R.'s feedback letter on the number of triple-doubles this month.)

I started working on my playoff draft last night. This is tricky, since you want to factor in the likelihood of continuing past the first round. It's also hard to anticipate how trading will go, although it stands to reason that the players on the best contenders will appreciate the most. (Duhhh!)

4/15 - Hooo Baby!
What a night for Smallworld Points! There were THREE triple-doubles: Mookie Blaylock in points, assists, and steals; Marcus Camby in points, rebounds, and blocks; and Michael Finley in points, rebounds, and assists. There was also a near miss, as Hakeem Olajuwon was 2 assists shy, and yet he had 76.5 SWP. Since when was 76.5 SWP good for FOURTH BEST of the evening? Maybe they all just filed their taxes, and realized they have to go work for a living to pay them!

Fortunately, Antoine Walker had a respectable 54.5 SWP night, and Stockton was his usual disappointment, so the Talaxians only lost 10 points to TheOtherOne. Boy, if Hakeem had gotten that triple-double, this would really have tightened up! And to those of you who wrote to question my choice of Blaylock last week - I told you so! In the four games since I picked him up, he's averaged more than 50 SWP.

4/14 - In case you hadn't noticed (and I hadn't until several of you pointed it out to me this morning), Smallworld is offering a Hoops Playoff game. It looks like the same format as the regular season game, but with a shorter list of players (obviously), different starting prices, a 12 trade limit for the playoffs, and no prizes. Although I was actually looking forward to the end of the Hoops season, so I could devote full focus to baseball, I guess I might as well play. And yes, I'll maintain player stats. However, no team stats (a la 2nd Chance League) this time.

So I entered the Talaxians again. I'll try to get some preliminary SWP/Price comparisons up in the next several days. In this league, however, you also need to factor in the expected number of games played. That's obviously why Michael Jordan heads the price list.

4/13 - This strained back seems to be doing wonders for Grant Hill's game, as he posted almost a carbon copy of last Sunday's triple-double again yesterday. He now has the season lead in triple-doubles with four.

So we're down to the last week. My Talaxians are looking pretty solid. Payton outpointed Olajuwon by 15 in a head-to-head game yesterday. Antoine Walker only had 12, but his was essentially my "game in hand". So here's scoop: Payton and Olajuwon each have three games left, while Walker and Stockton have four. My lead is 73 SWP. And I have one trade left. Clearly, if I blow this now, it will rank up there with some of the great stretch run collapses in history. I'll see if I can avoid that ignominy.

4/10 - Did I miss something, or did a bunch of managers potentially misfire by selling the wrong Strickland yesterday? Both Rod and Mark went down the max. Mark also went down over a $million the day before, but I figured that was in response to an upward spike in his price just before that.

I'm taking a brief trip with my family for the weekend, so I won't be updating any hoops stats until Sunday evening. I'll have my laptop with me, but I'm going to take a brief pause for a couple of days. I may do some minor baseball updating, but that's it.

4/9 - Yesterday may turn out to be a watershed event for a lot of teams in the Worldwide top 50. Two key players went down for the remainder of the season. Rod Strickland was on 26 of the 50 teams, and Donyell Marshall was on 10 of them. Further, 18 of the 26 Strickland teams have no trades remaining (including both the 3rd and 4th place teams), and 8 of the 10 Marshall teams have the same predicament. Five unfortunate teams have both players, and all five of those are tradeless. Based on their recent production, Strickland's loss will cost about 240 SWP, while Marshall's will cost roughly 190.

Then, last night, David Robinson was KO'd by Karl Malone, his second victim in 24 hours (having cracked Marshall's ribs the night before). They may have to change Malone's nickname from "mailman" to "hitman"! Although the Admiral played only a couple of minutes last night, his next game isn't until tomorrow (vs. the Sonics), and I'll bet he's ready to go again by then.

Oh yeah, after waiting to see who would blink first, I finally took Mookie Blaylock to replace Strickland, and then so did TheOtherOne. So the 2-on-2 continues. Last night, 'Twan had 54 (though once again, he clanged two free throws late in the game), while Stockton had 37.5.

The reason I picked up Blaylock (and probably his as well) is that Mookie has seven games remaining, while the other leading candidates - Hardaway, Iverson, and Brandon - each have only five. So, if Mookie maintains his 37.5 SWP/G average over the last seven, those other guards would need to average 52+ just to break even. Still, it's ironic that Blaylock is the guy we picked up. Mookie was the guy I often cited earlier in the year as an example of someone who was initially priced too high, and therefore not on anyone's roster, and therefore unable to decline in price, - which made him pretty much irrelevant for the season. Even as late as the end of January, he was averaging under 30 SWP/G, which made him too expensive at $8.4 million. But he suddenly got hot, and by mid-February, his 10-game average was over 40. Still, his price had remained pretty steady, and it wasn't until his triple-double in mid-March that his price crept as high as $9 million, where it still stands today. So he played his way into his price level, so to speak, and now turns out to be quite relevant after all!

4/8 - All sorts of news today!

The big story is Shawn Bradley, who had the first triple-digit SWP game of the season, a 108.5 triple-double, which included 22 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 blocks. That overshadowed Karl Malone's 73.5 SWP effort, which included 56 points scored, the season high.

On the flip side, Donyell Marshall broke a rib and will be out for the rest of the season. Now, before you all sell Marshall to buy Bradley (those with any trades left, that is), be aware that Dallas has only five games remaining this season, the fewest of any team in the league. In other injury news, Rod Strickland left last night's game early with a strained quadricep. He is apparently listed as day-to-day. And Shawn Kemp was carried off the court on a stretcher after taking an elbow to the head, although he apparently returned to action later in the game.

Finally, Olajuwon and Stockton scored a combined 88 SWP uncontested last night. The gap between the Talaxians and TheOtherOne is now 49. Both sides of the 2-on-2 showdown now have 13 games remaining.

4/7 - If you are in a race to the wire and you have a few trades left, it's worth checking the schedule to see how many games are left for each player. A difference of two games can be a huge percentage difference. You can even still find occasional opportunities to trade a player and pick up two additional games. To help you visualize your strategy, I've prepared a table which lines up every team's remaining schedule side-by-side.

Another factor to consider in the final week is whether teams have anything to play for. Teams whose playoff position is locked up, and who don't have home court advantage at stake, may elect to give their marquee players more rest than usual heading into the playoff grind.

4/6 - While everyone was busy watching baseball yesterday, there were TWO triple doubles in the NBA. Most surprising was Grant Hill's, since he was still supposedly suffering from back strain, and it wasn't even clear he would play until gametime. (I hope no one sold him because of that.) The other was for Rod Strickland, whose performance had been slacking off a bit lately - in fact, he had five sub-30 SWP games in his previous ten. We've now had 14 triple-doubles by 8 different players this season, with Hill, Strickland, and Jason Kidd each contributing 3 of them.

The Talaxians gave up a little ground yesterday, as Olajuwon and Stockton each outpointed their Talaxian counterparts by a combined 10 SWP. Walker had 38 SWP with time running out when he was fouled in a last ditch attempt by the Knicks to prolong their agony. He clanged both free-throws, and so instead of finishing with 40 SWP, he ended up with only 36 - an aggravating 4 point swing. If you're keeping score (Smallworld style) while watching a game, free throws are somewhat counterintuitve, because the difference between a missed and made shot is 2 SWP (i.e., +1 vs. -1). So Walker suffered a 4 point swing at the end. Argh!

Only two weeks left in the season. I'll be glad when it's over, because maintaining stats for two sports at once is very time consuming. And sometime in the next 10 days, I've still got to do my income taxes. Double argh!.

4/5 - The three "LA" teams look to be running away from the field in the 2nd Chance League. The fourth place Nanny Goats are matching their pace, but with a 250 SWP gap separating 3rd from 4th place, I think the LA's have this one all but locked. And look at their extra trades that are still available. I'm impressed. And jealous.

David Robinson had a good 68.5 SWP effort yesterday, but that's not good enough to crack the top 20 leaderboard.

No one played in the Talaxians vs. TheOtherOne 2-on-2 race to the wire yesterday. But all four players will see action today.

4/4 - I see that Grant Hill left the game early last night with a lower back strain. Chances are he'll be OK (he's officially listed as "day-to-day", according to both Detroit newspapers), but if not, it could have material ramifications on the standings.

Great night for the Talaxians, as Walker and Payton outpointed Olajuwon and Stockton by 42 SWP. The Talaxians now have a 110 point lead over second, with 8 games remaining (9 for Stockton), and a "trade in hand."

4/3 - Shaq scores 50 points yesterday, but can only muster 57.5 Smallworld points! He even shot 70% from the FT line. The problems? Only 9 rebounds, only 2 assists, only 1 block, and 5 turnovers. And, even though he shot 70% at the charity stripe, that still equated to 6 missed FTs.

And the obligatory recap of the leaderboard's 2-on-2 race to the finish line - Olajuwon: 42.5, Payton: 30.5. The good guys give up some precious ground, but retain a narrow lead.

4/2 - An old friend showed up with the best SWP total yesterday. Brevin Knight played such a pivotal role during the first several months of the Smallworld season, but has barely been heard from lately.

And in the only race that matters to me, Antoine: 38, Stockton: 37.5

4/1 - In spite of the focus on baseball yesterday, there was a pretty full slate of NBA games. I guess the biggest news was Alonzo Mourning's broken cheek, suffered in a collision with Andrew DeClerq. The prognosis is uncertain at last report. Donyell Marshall also showed no ill effects from his recent shoulder sprain, posting a 40 SWP game.

And in the Smallworld leaders' 2-on-2 clash of the titans, Hakeem outpointed Antoine, 44-19, but Payton neutralized things by overtaking Stockton 40.5-14.5.

Click here for prior Daily Blurbs.

Guru Fantasy Sports is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<davehall@home.com>.