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Smallworld Hoops - Daily blurbs from the Guru

Move forward for more recent blurbs.

3/30 - Pardon me for going blurbless yesterday. I had more pressing baseball matters to focus on.

Kevin Garnett had a 71.5 SWP game yesterday. After adding him to the top 20 list, it now requires at least 70 SWP to make the list.

The Talaxians had a good day, with Antoinne Walker effective lapping Hakeem Olajuwon, 56 to 21. Antoinne had more than 50 SWP after three quarters, but unfortunately for the Celtics, they needed a comparable installment from him in the final stanza, and he seems to have tuckered out. Ergo, a loss to the Sixers.

Today is a rare off-day in the NBA. No games scheduled whatsoever. I presume that's in deference to the NCAA championship game tonight. Maybe the NBA schedulers figured no one would show up.

3/28 - Another pretty full slate of games yesterday. If you didn't catch it, Jayson Williams broke his thumb last night, and is probably out for the rest of the season. The Nets are really in trouble now.

Did you notice that all eight playoff spots in the Western Conference have already been clinched? I suppose the seeding (with the attendant home court advantage) is still up for grabs, but there is such a gap between the winners and losers that, with almost a month to go, never the twain shall meet. Meanwhile, in the East, not much is settled yet. Three teams have clinched a playoff berth, but there is a real battle going on among the bubble teams.

3/27 - This "fame" thing keeps on going. As a follow-up to yesterday's NY Times article, I'm going to be interviewed on a news radio station in Atlanta next Tuesday morning - Opening Day! I'll be on WCNN 680 AM - the Tom Hughes Show - at 9:45 AM, for about 5 minutes. If any of you live in the Atlanta area and would be able to tape the local broadcast for me, let me know.

I see that the "L.A. trifecta" are now ranked 1-2-3 in the 2nd Chance League. I happen to know they're all managed by the same guy - who has been away on a business assignment for the last several weeks, and has not been able to pay much attention to this. Maybe that's the secret. Put together a decent team and then leave it alone. Of course, it's the first part that's the biggest challenge. Although, for some, the second part isn't much easier - until trades are exhausted, that is.

3/26 - If you can track down a New York Times today, check out the "Circuits" Technology section. There's an article about online fantasy baseball, and it includes a few quotes from me, as well as a picture. You can also see the story and picture at the New York Times web site (you'll first have to register, but it's free).

3/25 - Other than David Robinson, the top ten performers yesterday aren't the names you usually expect to find. In fact, the list of daily underachievers looks more like what you'd expect for the first list.

Olajuwon and Stockton didn't have great nights, but they were good enough to push me back into second place by a scant 9 points or so.

3/24 - Big Country had the Big Game yesterday, posting 66 SWP.

And my Talaxians are in First Place today for the first time this season. However, unless Olajuwon and Stockton have off-nights, I'll be back in second tomorrow.

3/23 - Yesterday was quite an active day in the NBA, although I was too busy watching the NCAA Regional Finals to notice. Twenty-five players posted 40 or more SWP's. At the other end, ten players (who all played at least one minute) posted zeros, which is the most I can recall for any single day all season. (I notice this because I need to do some manual processing in one of my spreadsheets to make sure that a zero-point game played is properly picked up as a game played - and not as a "DNP".) The typical day has only two-to-three players achieve that "standard of excellence".

As of tonight, "The Last Bump" will get bumped down to third place - hopefully his "last bump". I know most of you don't care about this, but for obvious reasons, I do.

3/22 - A slow day in the NBA. So, why not wander over to the baseball "department", and check out a thoughtful and entertaining article contributed by Victor Davis on drafting strategies.

3/21 - Anyone who has hung in there with Brian Williams was rewarded yesterday, as he put forth a 70 SWP effort, highlighted by 24 points and 18 rebounds, and "seasoned" with 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks.

"TheOtherOne" slid past "The Last Bump" into first place by 6 SWP as of today, if my calculations are correct. I'm trailing the fray for now, but still in close proximity. While most of you are probably biding your time until baseball begins, I've got a multitude of things to pay attention to. Fortunately, "a real job" isn't one of them!

I posted a new Hoop Pointers essay today, "Valuing the Trade. It was supposed to have been posted on Smallworld's front page yesterday, but I guess they forgot. But, no reason that you should have to wait for it.

3/20 - I just realized that I've been "blurbless" so far today. It's 9:40 PM, so I guess I can still sneak one under the wire.

I lied yesterday. Turns out the top three teams were only separated yesterday by FOUR points, not eight. The NBA.com boxscore showed Gary Payton with 8 assists, but it looks like he actually had only 6 - thus the tighter margin. Today, the SWP spread has widened a bit (much to my chagrin), but it is certainly a tight race.

I see from the price changes today that Bobby Jackson profit taking has started. My teams are too trade constrained to have taken advantage of this late season opportunity. But it looks like there are still plenty of managers who were able to capitalize.

3/19 - Come back tonight (or tomorrow morning) and look at Smallworld's worldwide leaderboard. Once it is updated for last night's games, you will see that a slim 8 SWP is all that separates first place from third place. It will probably never be closer.

Speaking of the leaderboard, as a byproduct of research I've been doing for my next Hoop Pointers essay, I projected that this year's eventual winner is likely to amass roughly 39,000 points. Let me put that total in some context. If you rank all players by their total projected year-end SWP's, in order to produce a 39,000 point roster you would need to have all players ranked #3-14! You could do without Malone and Strickland, who are on pace to rank #1 and #2, but then you would need this list: Garnett, Duncan, Hill, Payton, Robinson, Jordan, Walker, Kidd, Webber, Hardaway, Mutombo, and Barkley. (Shaq missed too many games to make the list.) On draft day, that team would have cost you $104.2 million. Today, it is worth $132.3 million.

3/18 - A new name for the Top 20 listing: Mookie Blaylock posted a triple-double last night. For awhile this season, Mookie was someone who I pointed out as being so overpriced that he would never be likely to "come into play." Well, his price never did drop to meet his performance level, but his performance has caught up to his price as of late.

3/17 - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Yesterday's price changes evidenced remarkable trading activity. By this time of the season, I would have expected trading to have slowed considerably, with a corrseponding decline in price volatility. However, I just calculated the average daily absolute price changes over the course of the season, and it's been surprisingly stable. (To measure absolute change, I value an increase of $1 million the same as a decrease of $1 million.) During the November and December, the average price change was around $60,000 per day. By February, this had gradually declined to more like $50,00 per day. But for the last several weeks, the average is back up to $60,000 again. There must be a lot of managers who are "practicing" their trading skills with new late-starting teams. Yesterday's average change was a little over $75,000, which is the highest single day since January 5th, which was probably elevated because it followed a 5-day "no-pricing weekend".

3/16 - There is only one story that matters about yesterday: Jason Kidd. As if 20 point, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists weren't enough, he also made 5 steals and two blocks, while shooting better than 50%. Add it all up, and it's a 97.5 SWP game, the best of the season so far, nosing out the prior mark by 1 SWP.

The biggest significance of Kidd's game (at least for me) is that I don't have him on my Talaxian team, while all of the other contenders do. I think that game eliminated any potential margin for error that I had, and turned the worldwide derby into a three team dead heat. In fact, it knocked me back into third place again. I guess I'm going to have to sweat this one out for the final month. My biggest advantage is that I have a couple of extra trades. Now I have to figure out how to make the most of them. (I know, I should have picked up Kidd about 2 days ago! What hurts the most is that I actually thought about it, but decided to wait a little bit longer. Doh!!!)

3/15 - Special thanks to Rich for digging up responses to some recent feedback questions regarding triple and quadruple doubles. Check out the feedback section for all the pertinent poop.

I'm currently working on redesigning the general layout of this site in preparation for moving to a new server and address. In particular, I will probably abandon the frames format in favor of a similar non-frames look. If you have seen any other site on the web that you thought was particularly well organized, please send me the URL so I can check it out.

3/14 - Evidently, Penny Hardaway put the final bullet in his season yesterday, deciding it's time to pack it in for the year. Form a point scoring standpoint, he was certainly a bust this year. However, due to his repetitive "in-again/out-again" status, he was an important Smallworld factor because of his significant contributions to both profits and losses.

3/13 - Friday the 13th. I'd better make sure all my files are backed up! So should you, I suppose.

I added two first timers to the top 20 list this morning: Arvydas Sabonis produced 72.5 SWP with 28 points and 20 rebounds, while Sam Cassell managed 69.5 SWP on a 32 point/14 assist night.

I sense that trading activity has been slowing quite a bit the last few weeks, based on my observation that price changes are getting to be smaller on average. I haven't actually measured this yet, though I hope to do so sometime during the next week. If you've still got some trade capacity stockpiled, you may find it's getting harder to benefit from price volatility at this point in the season.

3/12 - The NBA takes a back seat to college hoops for a few days now. My attention is certainly diverted.

A couple of Guru disciples are having trouble accessing the Smallworld site since their recent server change. The common thread is that they're Macintosh users, which makes me pretty useless in troubleshoooting their situation. If you think you might me able to help, send me an email, and I'll put you in touch with one of them. Thanks.

3/11 - With thoughts turning to the baseball draft, I took a look back at how well the leading Hoops teams drafted this season. The article appears on Smallworld's site today, and also as my latest Hoop Pointer here.

Rod Strickland put up his second triple-double of the season, a 76 SWP effort at Milwaukee. He almost had it completed by halftime, with 13 pts, 8 reb, and 8 assists already accumulated at intermission.

3/10 - Karl Malone feasted on a Rocket's defense that was missing Olajuwon, Willis, and Elie (all due to one game suspensions), posting 68.5 SWP, good enough to sneak onto the southern end of the top 20 list. While adding his linescore to the list, I noticed that this is his only appearance on that list. As I pointed out back in my Jan. 23rd Hoop Pointers essay on game-by-game volatility, Malone is a model of consistency, usually sticking pretty close to his average. Yesterday was only his third 60+ SWP game of the season - although the 2nd in a row. On the other side, he's had only two SWP games below 30, and those were a 27 and 28. I'll bet I'd be hard pressed to find any other player whose worst game of the season was 27 SWP!

3/9 - Micheal Jordan must like the bright lights of New York and/or the attention of national TV, because he popped off his best game of the season yesterday.

Things are tightening up at the very top of the Worldwide Leaderboard. I expect the top four teams to be at least partially shuffled by the end of this day.

3/8 - No blurb today. Too many college games to watch.

3/7 - The three guys who have been en fuego of late - Duncan, Webber, and Strickland - all had very similar yet undistinguishing games yesterday, with all of them in the range of 32-35 SWP's.

I'll confess that it's tough to focus on the NBA right now, with March Madness kicking into high gear and preparations for the baseball draft starting to require some thought. So, be sure to check the daily blurbs for those sports as well.

3/6 - Oops! Rack me up with a technical foul! I misstated Shaq's season stats in yesterday's blurb. He averages 10/18 in FG's, not FT's. His FT average is about 5.5/11, still pretty hideous. Thanks to Matt Miller for diplomatically pointing out my gaffe.

To atone for my screw-up, here's my gift to you all - stay away from Jayson Williams for awhile. Yesterday, Rotonews reported that Jayson self-diagnosed his problem on Wednesday as minor and said he expected to play tonight. However, in this morning's local newspaper, I read that he woke up yesterday morning in intense pain, and is now expected to be out indefinitely. So, just in case you were thinking of picking him up cheaply.... it's way too premature. Hopefully, you didn't already do it.

I've almost got my preliminary baseball pages ready to go. I'll probably launch either tonight or tomorrow. Between the stretch NBA drive, March Madness, and Spring Training, it's a very busy time in Guru-land.

Thanks to those of you who responded to my two recruiting pleas yesterday. I have more March Madness offers than I can accept, so I'll have to make some choices. And I also received several offers to join my ESPN league. If you were thinking of responding to the March Madness (Internet Battle of the Pools) request, please do so today, because I'm going to make some decisions by tomorrow.

3/5 - Shaq was 13 for 15 from the foul line last night. Did you realize he's averaged 8 missed FT's per game this year (10 for 18)? Just think what some improvement would do for his SWP's. Converting a missed FT into a made FT is worth a marginal 2 SWP's (+1 vs. -1). So, if he could improve his FT% by 10% by going 12/18 rather than 10/18, his already league-leading SWP average would improve by 4 SWP. Scary. Also unlikely, last night notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, normally dependable Gary Payton stunk up the joint with his first single-digit SWP game of the year. Check out this linescore: 6 points on 3/9 FG shooting, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, & 3 TO in 34 minutes. He must have been sleepwalking!

And "wunderkind" Tim Duncan posted 61 SWP yesterday in spite of 10 turnovers.

I'm starting some recruiting today on two fronts:

  1. I'm looking for a few additional managers to join my ESPN fantasy baseball league. I have six already, mostly returnees from last year. For those of you familar with the format, we're using a 5x5 ranked-scoring format (5 ranked categories each for pitchers and hitters) with a multi-list draft on March 25th. The key to a successful league is to have 10 managers who are actively involved throughout the year. (There are few things more annoying than a manager who disappears from sight.) So, the main qualification I'm looking for is someone who will commit to staying interested and involved through the whole season. It's not a free league (cost is around $20-$30, depending on whether you're a sportzone subsriber or not). If you're interested, send me an email and I'll consider you.
  2. For you college hoops fanatics, I'm also recruiting a 5-man team to compete under the "Guru" banner in the First Annual Internet Battle of the Pools, sponsored and hosted by the 'GANZA. See my comments in today's March Madness daily blurbs page for more information.

3/4 - Thank goodness I didn't need a "second chance" (knock on wood!) to put together a winning Hoops team. While my original team continues to cruise, my second chance team is certainly stumbling. Yesterday, I got only a combined 17 minutes from Charles Barkley (2 quick technicals) and Jayson Williams (abdominal strain). After some morning shuffling, I'm now down to only 3 remaining trades on my 2nd Chance team, and I've still got some roster spots I'm less than satified with. I know my 17th place standing is still in the top 10%, but it's not up to my own lofty standards. Oh well. I think I have learned some things which will help me in baseball. I firmly believe that the best way to learn how to do something is to screw it up first. I never screwed up my "first chance" team enough to teach me sufficiently, I guess.

Although we're in "hurry up and wait" mode for my March Madness Contest, I have been posting daily blurbs this week with some anticipatory musings. You might want to start getting in the habit of checking there each day, just in case I actually say something useful!

3/3 - Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Smallworld updated prices. Current stats reflect those price changes. I give them credit for burning the midnight oil to get everything updated.

David Robinson had a remarkable linescore last night: 2 rebounds, 7 blocks. Now how can a guy block seven shots in a game, but get only two boards? I wonder what the NBA record for disparity (blocks minus rebounds) is? I'm sure that's one stat that's not kept anywhere, so I'll have to go on wondering. I just checked Greg Ostertag's eleven block game on January 6, and see that he had nine rebounds that day, for a difference of only two. Oh well, what's the difference? (no pun intended)

3/2 - So far, no new prices today - at least, not as of 8pm EST.

You may have noticed that Smallworld announced their baseball format today. I will be putting up some stats which show price vs. SWP based on last year's final stats. Give me about a week or so to get it all assembled. And yes, I will be continuing my daily stats and commentary throughout baseball season.

3/1 - David Robinson returned to action last night with a respectable 24 minute outing. Meanwhile, teammate Tim Duncan put another line on the top 20 list with a 71 SWP outing.

We've begun NCAA Conference Tournament week, leading up to the 64 team selection announcement next Sunday night. You might want to watch some of this week's games to bone up for your entry to the March Madness Contest. By the way, you don't need to do anything to register for the contest in advance. Just wait until next week to submit your entry. I'll post more details this week.

2/28 - We have a new team atop the 2nd Chance League today, as LA Love ascended to the frontrunner spot. Tomyum1 had been in first place non-stop since January 10th! Given that LA Love still has 11 trades remaining, they've now got to be accorded "team to beat" status.

Antoine Walker came close to a triple-double last night, falling 3 assists short while playing only 27 minutes. Had the Celtics not been routing the Warriors so badly, Antoine probably would have played more (he left the game for good with 3:23 of the 3rd quarter remaining).

And before any of you Nick Anderson managers panic, his DNP last night was attributable to a case of the flu, and not an injury. Unfortunately, the Magic play again tonight, so unless he recovers quickly, he'll probably miss another. But it's obviously not a long term problem.

2/27 - I don't see any real surprises at the top of yesterday's player performance listing. Tim Duncan and Rod Strickland continued their hot streaks, with both of them presumably aided by the absence of high performance teammates.

Any thoughts on my Team Success Ratings article published yesterday (both here and on Smallworld's site)? I wonder if the recent years' emphasis on defense (or at least the strong connection between defensive stats and winning) has persisted for a long time, or whether this is a more cyclical phenomenon. I'm interested in hearing your feedback.

I'm putting the final touches on my March Madness Contest pages, and I expect to post the contest announcement sometime this weekend. For those managers who have lost interest in the Hoops season, this should provide a nice diversion until the baseball season begins.

2/26 - It's been a bit of an ordeal, but I think I now have all stats, standings, and even prices up to date.

It appears that David Robinson will miss at least a few more games. This is starting to sound like the recent Chris Webber situation revisited.

Kenny Anderson seems to like playing in Boston, coming up last night with 49 SWP in his maiden Celtic voyage. Maybe his performance will finally catch up with his relatively lofty price. On the other hand, it was only one game. Time will tell....

2/25 - Although Rod Strickland added his name to the top 20 list again, continuing his torrid February, the big news yesterday was the solid return of teammate Chris Webber, who cranked out a 65 SWP effort against the Rocket's talented front line.

It appears that Smallworld's server is down this afternoon, so price updates will have to wait until later. I do know that prices were updated - the updated list wasn't published before we "lost contact", though. I have no idea what the problem is, nor when access will be restored.

2/24 - I inadvertantly discovered three unannounced IPO's in yesterday's price listing: Drew Barry, Mario Bennett, and Bubba Wells. My stat updates were a bit delayed this morning while I updated my files and reports to include these three players.

I'm a little surprised, but pleased nonetheless, with the continued overall vitality of Smallworld's trading activity. By this point in the season, with many teams having exhausted either their trades or attention span (or both), I would have expected evidence of reduced activity. However - possibly due to some key recent injuries - it seems that prices are still showing decent movement.

2/23 - Say, I just noticed that Tomyum1's once invincible-looking lead in the 2nd Chance League is now in serious jeopardy! LA Law has gained 400 points on them over the past 10 days, and with only 38 trades used (vs. 47 for Tomyum1), they look like the new team to catch.

A lot of the big name players had off-games yesterday, while mid-tier players put up the bigger numbers. The seven active players on my Talaxian team yesterday were collectively 77 points below the sum of their YTD averages.

Incidentally, you may notice that the individual game-by-game stat pages for players traded look a little off-kilter. I'm showing their actual game-date production in the first column, but the scheduled opponents of their new teams in the next column. So none of their pre-trade historical game performances will line up with the proper opponent. I decided that to splice together the schedules was too much bother, so just deal with it. Also, the historical "games missed" will be off by a few games for some of these players, since it is based on the potential games played by the new team, not the old. Caveat emptor.

2/22 - I'm ba-a-a-a-ck!

I didn't get any meaningful NBA news all week, so it's taken awhile to digest everything that's happened. On the worldwide leader front, it looks like David Robinson was the biggest event of the week. I see that some teams have dropped him, and some haven't - and some can't, because they're out of trades. I haven't figured out what my best response should be yet - but with 5 trades left on my Talaxians, I have some flexibility. I see Chris Webber is still out, too. Also, Gugs and Brandon, although neither of them were owned by many of the contending teams.

On the 2nd Chance League front, Bobby Jackson is probably the biggest news, since at last count, he was the most widely owned player. And, of course, all the trades have produced some interesting situations.

Speaking of trades, they really wreaked havoc with all of my spreadsheets. I think I have everyone unscrambled, but if you see any suspiscious stats, please let me know. In the process, I also discovered some other stat problems - mostly players who were missing stats because they (quietly) changed teams sometime during the season. I note, too, that my totals differ from Smallworld's by 2-5 SWP for a number of players. In those cases, we usually differ by a count of 1 or 2 in a category or two. I'm not going to chase down the differences, since they should be immaterial over the course of the season. But again, please report any significant differences if you detect them.

Thanks to Doug Taylor for saving and forwarding last week's daily prices to me. I gather that no updated price list was posted on Monday - even though prices were updated. (If anyone has a list of Monday's prices, please send them to me and I can splice them into the individual player pages.) I see that, while my 2nd Chance team was spared any troublesome injuries during the week, I did miss long awaited price upticks for my two Brians - Grant amd Williams. Hopefully, they'll make a second run upwards.

I've still got some emails to go through. Some will probably be worthy of posting on my feedback page. I should get that done by tomorrow.

So, we've got about two months to go in the season. Injuries are certainly turning out to be the story. I wonder if we'll start seeing some new teams creeping up the leaderboard - teams with more trades in reserve.

2/13 - Friday the 13th! I wonder what calamity's in store for us today?

Doug Taylor offerred some insights on why picking up Tracy Murray yesterday might have been ill advised, even in spite of his big price gain. Read his remarks in the feedback section.

As previously advertised, this will be my last day here for the next week. I'll return next Saturday (2/21), but may not be able to get the site fully updated until Sunday. So, let's designate next week as official "Do It Yourself Week". (By the way, if you want to know where I'll be, it's on the Celebrity Cruise ship Century cruising in the eastern Caribbean. Eat your hearts out! (Consider that my special Valentine wish to all of you!)

Oh, and if your Hoops teams are hopelessly out of contention and you're having trouble staying involved while waiting for baseball, then start scouting college basketball teams over the next few weeks. When I return, I'll be announcing "Guru's March Madness Contest", which will be based on the 64 team NCAA tournament, but using a format that I'm sure will be unique. (Hint - you should be looking for "underappreciated" teams, not necessarily favorites.) And, I'll be offering (modest) prize money, to boot!

2/12 - Upon seeing Tracy Murray's price go up by the max today, my first reaction was, "How can people be so stupid?" Unless you think Webber and Howard are going to be out indefinitely - which is certainly not the prevailing sense - then you can't possibly expect his big game on Tuesday to be indicative of future performance. But you know what? I guess it was smart to buy Murray.... because he went up by $1.5 million! In effect, if the herd does something stupid, it becomes smart just because the herd did it! Now, if he had only gone up $500,000 or so, then I would say it was stupid, because that's not enough of a gain to be worth blowing a trade on. But $1.5m probably passes muster on that score. So, go figure.

The average 2nd Chance team had a good several days of trading. The average franchise value for the entire 2nd Chance League rose by more than $2 million per team today. I haven't quite figured out how it happened, but that's a phenomenal average increase! In fact, that's the best single day increase so far this year. Hmmm...

2/11 - A number of yesterday's performances are worthy of remark. Rod Strickland tops the list with not only a triple-double, but the highest single SWP game of the season at 96.5. Then there's Tracy Murray, who poured in 50 "realworld" points en route to a 58.5 SWP effort. I guess all sorts of unusual things happen when two starters (Webber and Howard) don't play. Check out the yesterday link for the rest of the results for the day's rather full slate.

I thought the All Star break was supposed to provide a chance for nagging injuries to heal. Instead, today's Rotonews reads like a hospital admissions log. Fortunately, my Talaxians have been spared so far (knock on wood!), but my second chance team has been decimated. It's really tough to know what to do when the prognosis for so many guys is so uncertain. Don't ask me for advice - just do your own research, and draw your own conclusions. (Wouldn't it be useful to have a few extra trades right now?)

2/10 - I've been doing some research on how the Smallworld Hoops scoring formula correlates with team success (i.e., winning percentage), and I am close to having a "Hoop Pointer" prepared which discusses some rather interesting findings. Meanwhile, I stumbled across an article at ESPN Sportzone called Is There a Better Way to Rate NBA Players? by Jonathan Sills. Jonathan steals some of my thunder by reaching some similar conclusions. If you're into this sort of thing, I highly recommend you read it.

I also spent some time this morning dredging up last season's final baseball stats, in preparation for this year's preseason draft analysis. Sort of like the fantasy baseball equivalent of spring training, I suppose.

2/9 - Well, as promised, I did think about cleaning the basement...

I did, however, update the roster inventories both the Worldwide Top 50 as well as the Second Chance League. I also added a few new items to the feedback section. Check out the links for a fresh look at the roster make-ups.

There aren't any games scheduled until tomorrow night, so I won't have any stats to update until Wednesday - other than price changes.

I guess I should forewarn you that I'm going to be on vacation next week (Feb. 14-21). I'll be cruising in the Caribbean, and out of reach even for my laptop. So, you're going to have to go cold turkey for 7 days - or else maintain your own stats. I'll get caught up the following weekend when I return, but no updates will occur during the week. Sorry. (I'm just hoping to avoid any critical injuries while I'm incommunicado and unable to compensate with roster moves.) I'll be here this week, though. Just giving you some fair warning.

2/6 - The first version of stats I posted this morning failed to include yesterday's totals for either of the Pistons' Williams (Brian or Jerome). Last night's boxscore at NBA.COM lists them both as simply "Williams", and as a consequence, my programs didn't recognize them. I updated their stats manually, and I think everything is OK now. Thanks to one of you for pointing it out to me.

I failed to realize yesterday that Chris Webber would actually miss two games prior to the All-Star break. Still, at the time I posted yesterday's comment, it would have been too late to make any roster moves to compensate, so "no blood, no foul!"

I finally got around to writing down my ideas for improving the repricing process. You can find my suggestions in the latest Hoop Pointers essay, Price Fixing, The Sequel.

Once prices are updated today, I can shut down for a weekend of leisure. The next reportable "event" will be Monday's repricing. I think I'll skip this weekend's dream team contest (Sorry, Jay!), and think about cleaning the basement instead. (Some definition of "leisure", huh? Actually, you'll note that I only said "think about" cleaning.) Enjoy the All-Star game. Back on Monday....

2/5 - It's not often that a 30.5 SWP game lands someone on the list of yesterday's top ten stiffs, but that's the case with Shaq, as that tally was 17 SWP below his average. Actually, maybe Chris Webber should have atop that list, since his injury-induced "DNP" was the equivalent of 43.4 below his SWP average. And if you own Webber, don't panic! Rotonews reports that he should be back in action for the next game. Still, given the number of top SW teams that Webber is on, one game missed is a significant event!

I felt like an NBA scout last night, switching back and forth between no less than four televised games. The Celtics and Knicks were each on local broadcasts, while TBS had its national doubleheader. Dee Brown probably had the most notable game I saw, starting in place of Ron Mercer, who was still shaking off the flu. I suppose that's why Dee's price spiked up today, and Ron's popped down - although that seems like a pretty overblown reaction to what in all likelihood was a one-time event.

2/4 - Notable performances last night: Olajuwon had a pretty respectable 19-minute outing for first game back. Kevin Johnson also returned, although with a more subdued outing. Tim Duncan added his name to the bottom of the top 20 listing with a 68 SWP effort. Charles Oakley posted 29.5 SWP while scoring no points! (I wonder what the biggest "scoreless" game has been this year?) Actually, a lot of players had good nights - check out the links for yesterday's stats.

2/3 - I've been watching the changes in roster value for the teams 2nd Chance League. Last week, in spite of the resurgence of both Penny and Hakeem, the average roster value for all 267 teams was actually declining slightly. The only explanation I can fathom - and it's purely conjecture - is that the players who were sold in order to fund purchases of Penny and Hakeem were widely held on 2nd Chance rosters, and thus the price effects largely cancelled out. However, for the last two days, the average roster value has increased almost $1 million per day - which is a very large increase compared to most days. Brian Williams is mostly likely the driving force. And since his value had been so low, I suppose the players sold to fund this purchase were less focused.

I don't see any SWP performances from yesterday that were particularly noteworthy. I did hear that Scott Burrell scored 24 points yesterday, all in the fourth quarter! Given that the Bulls blew out the Nuggets, I'm sure Burrell was part of the "mop up shift", giving some of Chicago's big guns some rest.

2/2 - The votes are in, and both races are a virtual dead heat! Neither Hardaway nor Olajuwon made a significant price move in either direction. I'm sure it wasn't because of light trading - it was more than likely a result of active but offsetting trading. So now what? Do those who were waiting for one more upward price move now bail? Or do those who were hoping for an opportunity to buy cheaper (after a wave of profit-taking) now jump in? Who goes first? Looks like a game of "guts" to me. (By the way, I'm still not offering any advice on these.)

There were two new additions to the top 20 list last night, including Antoine Walker's triple-double, which I watched on TV. He got his 10th assist with about 2 minutes left, and could have easily had a few more, as one pass was too hot to handle, and one easy shot was missed. The Celtics beat Houston, not so much because of Antoine, but because Dana Barros and Travis Knight had big games. David Robinson had yesterday's other top 20 game.

The plumbing appears to be fixed at NBA.COM, so I was able to run stats this morning as usual.

Two 2nd Chance teams had invalid rosters yesterday. In both cases, a player was sold before noon, but the offsetting buy transaction wasn't done until afternoon. Careless! You've got to avoid those unforced errors!

2/1 - NBA.COM is still constipated today, so stats are once again courtesy of USA Today.

Penny Hardaway seems to have picked up right where he left off two months ago, posting a 32 SWP game in his second game after returning.

1/31 (10:30 PM EST) - Well, after waiting all day for NBA.COM to come through, I finally gave up. So, I bit the bullet and wrote a backup routine to convert the USA Today boxscores into my required format. Thus, I just posted updated stats through Friday night's games. Thanks for your patience.

1/31 - As of 10:30 EST today, NBA.COM hasn't posted boxscores for about half of last night's games. So my stat updates will have to wait. Meanwhile, you might want to use this opportunity to catch up on the latest feedback and Hoop Pointers postings. Or else, just goof off. After all, it's a Saturday

1/30 - After published reports that Penny Hardaway might return as early as this weekend, he jumped the gun and posted a 30.5 effort in 31 minutes against the Rockets last night. The price action he's been enjoying this week has me wondering where his price should settle in, and what it might do along the way. Check out my thinking in a new "Hoop Pointers" titled A Penny For Your Thoughts.

Alan Henderson has had an interesting series of games. Of his last seven games, he produced 5.5 SWP or less in three of them, and 30 or more in the other four. No games fell in between the two extremes. Talk about high volatility!

1/29 - It turns out that overtime didn't contribute to the big game for McDyess on Tuesday night, as he fouled out in the 4th quarter. And Brian Grant's 69-pointer in November was in a quadruple overtime game. Thanks to several of you for setting me straight. (Actually, I knew all that. I was just testing you...... NOT!)

Shaq had 73 SWP last night, the second best SWP game of the season which did not include a triple-double.

It's been an interesting week of player repricing. I'm not going to comment on any specifics (so I'm not accused of trying to sway the market), but it is obvious that many Smallworld managers are doing their homework this week.

1/28 - Overtime games can produce some statistical oddities, and last night there were two overtime games, one of which went into double OT. I suspect the extra minutes contributed to the great games posted by Antonio McDyess, Michael Finley, and Anthony Mason. I remember a double overtime game played by Portland early this season in which Brian Grant had 69 SWP. Jason Kidd had 52 SWP in that same game. So when I heard that Phoenix was in double overtime again last night, I expected that Kidd would be having another monster game - maybe even a triple-double. However, this morning's boxscore indicates that he only played for 41 minutes, which is consistent with his usual playing time in a regulation length game. And his output of only 24 SWP was surprisingly low. I'm not sure there's any great significance to any of this, but it's what I had on my mind this morning.

Actually, I should confess to having an acute case of Kidd-phobia, even though I do have him on my 2nd Chance roster (as do many others). You see, in Smallworld's worldwide competition, Kidd is on all of rosters which I consider to be my primary competition - but he's not on mine. So, I consider him to be the single most critical competitive threat to my team. If he has a big second half, I'll be in a real tight battle. If he stumbles a bit, I'll have some breathing room. So, being a firm believer in Murphy's law, I keep expecting him to go en fuego. Double overtime games only serve to feed my paranoia.

Changing the subject abruptly, I've been putting a lot of items on my feedback page the last few days. It makes for good reading if you've got a few extra minutes.

1/27 - Anyone have any ideas for a group "diversion" during the impending all-star break? If you can think of a fun activity that I could help coordinate, give me your thoughts.

It's been 2 weeks since I inventoried the 2nd Chance League Rosters, so I have updated that page. I also posted a separate tally of the rosters for just the top 50 teams in the 2nd Chance League. Follow the links under the 2nd Chance heading at the left.

Did you notice that just 2 days after beating the Lakers on national TV, the Sonics got absolutely pasted by Sacramento? Go figure.

By the way, I noticed that the team totals posted by Smallworld last night exclude the points from games of January 23rd, even though points from the next two days are included. So if you feel shortchanged, you've got plenty of company.

1/26 - Just to close the book on the Super Bowl, suffice it to say that while Michael Jordan did indeed outscore the Broncos yesterday (32-31), I'm sure the Broncos covered the spread.

By the way, quite a weekend for Denver fans, eh? Both the Broncos and Nuggets posted streak-stopping surprises.

I wanted to wait until prices were released today before putting out my daily blurb. I expected Cassell's price to rise the max - in fact, it looks like he's firmly entrenched in "oscillation mode" for now. Chris Gatling is a more interesting case. He, too, rose the max in price today, after returning Saturday from a 6 week injury. What's interesting is that Gatling's injury coincided with the early December emergence of Keith Van Horn, so those two have not yet had to mesh. We'll now get to observe their impact on each other.

1/25 - We had the first second chance teams pass the $100 million mark this weekend. (I meant to call attention to it yesterday, but forgot.) Doubling in value in about a month is a pretty decent rate of return. I don't suppose anyone recalls how long it took the first "full season" Smallworld team to hit the $100 million mark?

Five dream team entries have been submitted as of noon today. You have until the Superbowl kickoff to email them to me. I'll post the results before the end of the game.

Although it has no fantasy significance, I should probably mention the Denver Nuggets record-avoiding victory last night against the Clippers. Sometimes we fantasy hoopsters get so caught up in individual player stats that we lose focus on team performances.

Finally, I heard a comment on a national sports talk show this morning that Michael Jordan would outscore the Denver Broncos today. In any event, I'm sure he'll get more field goals - and miss more, too.

1/24 - I've been waxing eloquent the last few days. In addition to my piece on performance volatility (featured on Smallworld's site yesterday), I also knocked off a critical retrospective on my second chance performance thus far. You can find both of these articles under the Hoop Pointers link.

Three dream team entries have arrived already. All have produced teams which generate much higher SWP output than the January 9th teams. I wonder why? Although the names differed, the point totals for the first three dream team dates were quite similar.

Oh, and Jason Kidd did NOT narrowly miss a triple double last night, for a change. I guess he didn't need one to beat Denver.

1/23 - Time for another Dream Team contest this weekend. Click on the link for details. I know Jay Siegel is looking to repeat as the king of the Dream Teams. Let's see if someone can dethrone him!

We're right about at the halfway point of the NBA season. What have been the biggest surprises so far? Send me your thoughts, and I'll post them in the feedback section.

I notice that my site counter passed the 10,000 mark yesterday. Thanks for your continued interest! Hard to believe that this site is only 38 days old.

1/22 - The impending trade of Damon Stoudamire presents some interesting questions. What is likely to happen to his output if he is traded? Is the recent uptick in his stats a result of being "showcased" by the Raptors? Are they are result of his being a good player on an otherwise weak team? If he goes to a better team with more balance, will his personal production suffer? Or will he do even better on a better team, with better teammates to provide more assist opportunities? I don't have any particular insights on this, but it is an interesting issue to ponder.

A number of you questioned the stats updated by Smallworld yesterday. For some reason, team stats include Tuesday's games, but Monday's are not yet included. I notified Smallworld, just in case they weren't aware of the problem, and I'm sure the stats will be fully updated soon. Don't panic - it's not just your team that's off.

1/21 - Jason Kidd looks like the clear frontrunner for this year's "close but no cigar" award, as he barely missed another triple double yesterday, this time with 13 points, 11 assists, but only 9 rebounds. He's on a fair number of the top worldwide rosters, but not mine - so I guess I'm dodging bullets left and right this week, eh?

Speaking of the top 50 teams, avid Hoops researcher and correspondent Doug Taylor reports today that the top 50 now includes 14 teams which have at most one trade left.

Turning to the Second Chance leaderboard, I've got to admire the early performance of frontrunner Tomyum1, who has virtually "lapped" the field with a 400+ point lead over the second place team, while building to the highest roster value on 36 trades. Often, the process of generating gains involves some (temporary) sacrifice in points, since the optimal timing for gains sometimes conflicts with the optimal timing for point generation (because of the need to buy players on off days, or sell players on game days). While the season is still young, he's off to a blistering pace.

1/20 - I'll be out all afternoon, so updated price analysis won't be available until evening.

Shaq added his name to the top 20 list with a 67 point performance yesterday. And he even missed seven free throws - as usual.

1/19 - The Admiral posted 66.5 SWP yesterday, good wnough for 16th place on the top 20 games list. Jason Kidd was only one point shy of his 3rd triple-double of the season yesterday, with 10 rebounds, 13 assists, but only 9 points. Still, it was good for 55 SWP.

A word of caution to those of you who are trading shortly after noon. I've noticed that the Smallworld site's internal clock is about 5 minutes slower than my computer's clock. (I just checked, and my computer's clock is within one minute of the NIST official time (GMT). Thus, if you cut it too close, a trade you think you are doing at 12:04 pm might actually be entered as 11:59 am. In fact, I noticed one 2nd chance team this weekend had a sale entered at 12:00 noon exactly, with the subsequent buy at 12:01. I have no idea how Smallworld will handle this, but there is a risk that the roster will be invalid for the day, because the roster had only eleven players at noon. So, a word to the wise... wait a few extra minutes after noon before entering a trade. Better safe than sorry.

A quick thank you to my brother Barry who sent me a version of my logo with a transparent background. Since my browser defaults to a white background, I hadn't noticed that my logo had a white background, too. So, today's logo is transparent, and I also forced this page's background to be white. By the way, if you're interested in midieval music and/or musical instruments, you ought to check out Barry's website at Ninestones.

1/18 - Nothing basketball-related comes to mind today... and I've often thought that if you have nothing to say, you shouldn't take up much time saying it.

On the non-hoops front, though, I learned today of an investment challenge to be held during the month of February, sponsored by ZDNet. First prize is a Micron laptop. If you've learned how to pick a portfolio of NBA players, you should try moving on to real stocks,... still with play money, of course. You college guys should especially try it out. A warning, though: the real stock market is a lot more efficient than the Smallworld Hoops market.

1/17 - A new name breaks into the top 20, as Tom Gugliotta put up 69 SWP in an overtime game against the Rockets. That ties him for 11th place this year with Brian Grant, who also benefitted from overtime minutes for his 69 pointer back in mid-November.

I've added a new Hoop Pointers essay which also appears on Smallworld's Hoops page. Erik has asked me to contribute a weekly piece. I already have an idea for next week, but if you think of topics that you'd like me to cover, please email me.

By the way, Rotonews reports that Brian Grant will not come off the IR this weekend when he is first eligible His price had started to inch up the last few days, I'm sure in anticipation of a Saturday return. This certainly complicates the decision about the best time to pick him back up. I have no timing advice to offer.... other than to follow the news. While buying early maximizes the potential gain, the cost of having an unproductive player is not inconsequential.

Some of you asked whether there is another Dream Tream contest this weekend. In spite of last weekend's paltry response, I thought I'd keep trying, but at a biweekly frequency rather than weekly. So, we'll try again next weekend.

1/16 - T he neighborhood trees are heavily ice-laden and the branches are hanging low, but the power and phone lines are still intact. Today the forecast calls for 5-7 inches of snow in central Connecticut, so we're not out of the woods yet, but so far, so good.

Kerry Kittles and Sherm Douglas are doing so well while Sam Cassell recuperates that he may never be invited back.

I've peppered the site with Smallworld's new "Friends of Smallworld" icon. It should appear at the top right of each of the Summary Stats pages as well as many others, but I'm never quite sure how different browsers interpret image placement, so if you think any page format looks out of whack, let me know what's up.

1/15 - I see that I had the best day yesterday in the 2nd Chance league. Excellent!

I've heard from several of you expressing your support for "putting a bullet in" the annoying pop-up screen that greets you when you arrive at this site. Maybe I will. Meanwhile, the best way to neutralize the annoyance is to minimize the window the first time it appears. If you close it, it will keep popping up again and again, but if you just minimize it, it will stay in the background, out of sight. At least that works with my browser. (Maybe I should hold a "terminate the pop-up window" fundraiser... sounds like a winner!)

The weather service is predicting 3 inches of moisture to fall - in an unpredictable mixture of rain, ice, and snow - in central Connecticut (my home court) starting this afternoon. It's not uncommon for these types of storms to knock out phone or electricity for a day or 2 (or sometimes more!), so if I appear to be AWOL, assume that Mother Nature did it. Fingers crossed!

1/14 - Yesterday afternoon, I was reviewing the price changes when I noticed that Ed O'Bannon went up $80,000. Now as far as I can tell, Ed isn't even in the NBA this year. I fgured that some managers maight have confused him with brother Charles O'Bannon, who is one of this week's IPOs. But when I looked at Ed's price history, I still saw evidence of recent trading which predated the IPO. So I looked at the price activiy for some of the other inactive players. There seems to be a good bit of daily movement - small amounts, mind you - but evidence of activity, just the same. By this point in the season, I would have thought that the only active traders would be those who were trying to do well. Curious. And inconsequential. But still curious.

Congrats to those of you who picked up Barkley in time to have him for last nights game. 50 SWP and an ejection from the game. Classic Barkley. It's like he was never gone.

1/13 - I updated an inventory of the aggregate 2nd Chance rosters yesterday afternoon. In spite of dropping from 22 rosters (net), Bobby Jackson remained the most widely held player. Alan Henderson showed the biggest increase over the week before, and Brian Grant was dropped the most.

We've had the first 2nd Chance team use up its allotment of 50 trades already. No discipline. Tsk, Tsk. Meanwhile, my own teams moved into the top ten in both the overall Smallworld competition (the Talaxians, and also in the 2nd Chance League. Woohoo!

I posted two new notes in the feedback section today. Check them out if you have a moment.

In case you missed the earlier alert, tomorrow is draft day for the midseason fantasy basketball league at the CNN-SI web site. I decided to try it out (the price is right) just to see how I like it. It looks to me like the initial player draft probably makes or breaks the season. Do any of you have any insights to share on this game?

1/12 - Two of yesterday's performances made the Top 20 list, Grant Hill, and Rod Strickland.

There are some interesting price moves today. I correctly anticipated some of the big increases (Camby returning, Pippen starting, Smits and Alan Henderson recovering from big drops last week). Some of the larger declines surprised me. Brian Williams dropped the max, and I couldn't figure out why until I looked at his last two game. Aha. Grant, Drexler, and Kukoc are injury related, and Donyell is probably in response to his miserable 1 SWP showing on Saturday night. But what's up with Grant Hill and Antoine Walker? All I can figure is that they took the brunt of the selling that fed the buying of Pippen. Or have I missed something else?

Pippen is an interesting situation. What should he be worth? Using his stats for the 1995-96 season, he would produce 39.3 SWP/game. That ignores any possible extra points for triple-doubles (I don't have a stat base that provides info on past triple-doubles ... does anyone know if he had any?) Scottie also had 156 three pointers last year, and with the deeper 3-pt line this year, his point production (or missed shots) might be hurt. Plus, he's a year older (which is the one thing he and I have in common!) Bottom line - he might be able to sustain an $11 million price tag, but I wouldn't want to pay any more than that without seeing some performance. It may take a few weeks for his price (and stats) to settle in, so he's obviously one guy who warrants your attention. Where there is uncertainty, there is opportunity.

I made some site enhancements today. First, I've added a new page, yesterday, which lists just yesterday's SWP output for all players. Also, I've added a column to the 2nd Chance Standings which showns the change in each team's SWP rank over the past 10 days. While it's not particularly useful today (because 10 days ago, there was a 179-way tie for 84th place with zero SWP's), over time this may help identify the teams that have been making recent moves either up or down the leaderboard. In order to eliminate some blank space, I also abbreviated a few of the longer team names. Seems like 24 characters should be ample.

1/11 - I had my own technical difficulties to deal with this morning. First, the NBA.com boxscores were MIA. Then, my internet connection went down. And of course, I had to take some time out to watch my UCONN Huskies come from behind to beat an overmatched but very active BC team. Finally, as of 3pm EST, all the stars are aligned, and the site is up to date for all player stats. Second Chance standings should be updated by early evening.

Rasheed Wallace hit the 60 SWP mark yesterday, not quite good enough to make the top 20 list, but a nice addition to my 2nd Chance team's performance nonetheless. Othella Harrington also had his second consecutive good game. He's making the most of Barkley's absence.

There's still some time left to submit your dream team rosters. I have several entries, but I expect more. Check the link for details. Get your team(s) to me by 6:00 pm EST today, and I'll post the best for each price range by 9:00ish (internet connectivity permitting).

1/10 - Smallworld must have been plagued by "technical difficulties beyond their control" yesterday. Prices were never updated.

In an effort to farm out some of the work, I'm giving you an opportunity to assemble updated dream teams. Check the link for details.

1/9 - Kerry Kittles filled in for injured Sam Cassell garnering 50 SWP, twice his average. Not only that, but the Nets actually won the game. Cassell's big game the previous day resulted in an overtime loss to the Knicks.

New prices are still not available (it's 3:11 EST). I'm waiting for them before updating the individual player pages and posting the dream team agenda. Summary stats and 2nd Chance standings have already been updated (using yesterday's prices for now.) Stay tuned.

1/8 - Ahmed Rashid (manager of Abracadabrah) was the first to correctly identify the NBA single game blocks record as 17, set by Elmore Smith of the Lakers against Portland in 1973. (I was in college then, so I must have been too busy to notice.) Nice find, Ahmed. And, I guess you'll need to use longer-lasting flubber, Ostertag.

Points for the 2nd Chance league have been updated for last night's games. The frontrunners are setting a blistering pace, but I expect some of them to crash and burn. It looks likes a few - maybe even more than a few - are using trades just to maximize games played, which would be a stellar strategy if trading were unlimited, but alas, such is not the case. While increasing exposure to games played is certainly a consideration which you should factor in, there aren't many times when I think it should be the primary consideration. In particular, "bob4judge", take a snapshot of the standings now, because by the all star break, you'll be looking up at a lot of us. This contest is a marathon, not a sprint.

In case you missed it, Brian Grant went on the injured reserve list yesterday, and is ineligible to play until at least Jan. 18. His price had already taken a beating, but there's still a little bit of downside left. The silver lining is that he'll provide some nice upside potential later in the month - assuming he does recover.

Some of you have been asking me to update the dream teams. In fact, one manager sent me his suggested updates yesterday, although I was able to beat each of his suggestions slightly. I think I'll try starting a weekly dream team contest. Using stats and prices as of Friday afternoon, put together your suggested dream teams for any (or all) of three value limits: $50, $75, and $100 million. Send me your lists by Sunday noon, and by Sunday evening, I'll post the best submissions. If anyone wants to use this to help manage their rosters, they'll still have some time left to deal at those prices. I'll post details tomorrow, along with the relevant base of stats.

1/7 - Greg Ostertag had 11 blocks yesterday! He must have had flubber on the soles of his shoes. I wonder what the blocks record is for a single game. I'm sure someone will tell me. In fact, I'll post the name tomorrow of the first person who emails me the answer. Ready, set, go!

I dropped six more teams from the 2nd chance league standings. They were the only teams left which were invalid, and none of them had any signs of recent activity. That left 250 valid teams... a nice round number, I thought. Then I got an email that another 2nd chance league (XIV) had started. Then I checked and noticed a XIII league had also started, but has only one team in it. So I have to add a few more teams. I haven't yet included them, but I will by tomorrow. From now on, you've got to keep your rosters valid every day. I'll put out a list of point adjustments for the few teams for which I've granted 2nd Chance waivers/allowances of one sort or another. It's a short list, but will help you reconcile differences between my reported scores and the official Smallworld scores.

I've received a number of Price Fixing suggestions, but haven't gotten around to consolidating them into a coherent recommendation. Hopefully within the next week. So if you sent me an idea, fear not... I'll get to it.

1/6 - This site had 590 "unique hits" yesterday, walloping the previous record of 409. Cool.

I worked out a few kinks in the 2nd Chance standings last night. I think everything is working now. Most teams' SWP totals should tie out to Smallworld's tally, but there are some exceptions, due to the 2nd Chance League grace period for valid rosters, which expires today. From now on, you need to keep your roster valid to accumulate any points.

I updated a tally of the players on the top 50 Smallworld rosters last night. There are some interesting comparisons vs. the previous tally. Check it out.

Finally, in my "deep stack" of email from the last few weeks, I discovered a lengthy, but readable, and very interesting analysis of the Smallworld pricing results for the first 50 days of the season, contributed by Doug Taylor. I've posted it as a separate Hoop Pointers item. Thanks, Doug.

1/5 - Finally, we get back to a regular 5 day pricing cycle. Not being sure whether players will be repriced or not is hard to plan around.

The Sixers had a lot of the top individual SWP performances yesterday, which probably helps explain how they managed to beat the Lakers in L.A. with Shaq back. It also explains why yesterday's best 2nd Chance team performance belonged to a team called the siXers, which you can now see for yourself on the expanded 2nd Chance sortable rankings.

I've decided to restore the valid roster requirement for second chance league effective tomorrow. That gives everyone ample opportunity to complete their roster. Thereafter, regular Smallworld scoring will apply.... meaning that if you have less than 12 players, you get a goose egg for the day. Click on the link for more details.

After a brief scan of the new player prices, I don't see anything too surprising. It did call attention to Lorenzen Wright's knee injury on Saturday, which I failed to notice... but I see many of you reacted to it. Doh!

Some of you have written to me to ask for my advice about your specific rosters. Sorry, but that's not the point of this site. I'm providing ideas on strategy, and stats which are helpful for identifying good trading opportunities. But you've got to do your own work. That's the game! I've got enough on my plate without having to review other managers' rosters. Sorry. . . . .NOT!

1/4 - Kevin Garnett pulled off a triple double last night, his first of the season, and the third one this week. In fact, at 92 SWP, it was the best single game performance of the season so far.

I did make some modest rules changes for the second chance league. We're up to 266 teams now, and pretty soon I'll stop accepting new ones.

Check out the feedback link today. Josh Dunkleman offers a program which allows you to calculate SWP "on the fly" as you're reading through the boxscores. I'm sure many of you will find it to be useful.

Finally, as an aside, I have gotten a lot of email from many of you on a variety of topics over the last week. I'll try to respond to those that warrant it in the next several days. I wasn't diligent about reading email while on vacation, so it will take a few days to get caught up. If you're looking for a response, please be patient.

1/3 (7:30 pm) - Yesterday's player stats are now posted. If you didn't notice, Jason Kidd had a triple double last night, good for the 3rd best SWP performance of the season. Not only that, but Kevin Willis garnered 68 SWP for his 33 pt., 19 rebound game, good for a tie for 10th place in single game SWP's for the season. Check out the top 20 list for a current ranking.

I expect to have updated 2nd Chance League standings up later tonight. There are still quite a few teams which have not yet completed a valid roster, and I'm considering granting a blanket hardship waiver for all of them so that their Jan. 2 games can count. I suspect the holidays have played havoc with some managers' ability to get online.

1/3 - I realize there are some errors in the standings. I discovered a bug in the software which incorrectly treated some valid teams as though they were invalid. Bear with me - I'll have that corrected by tonight. However, it may take a few days before I get all the bugs worked out. Don't worry...nothing is irreversible.

By the way, today is a travel day for me. Assuming flights are running on time, I'll be home in the late afternoon, and I should have stats posted by early evening. But not sooner. (It will be nice to be reunited with my zippy cable modem!)

1/2 - I should have the first day's 2nd Chance team stats (...in fact, all stats including the Jan 1 game), posted by early evening. We're up to 244 teams, although some are not yet valid, and may already be "orphaned". We'll see. Check out the new format, complete with sortable columns. I will be enhancing this page as the season progresses. If any of you have ideas on useful information to include (along with SWP, trades, and value), let me know.

1/1 - Happy New Year! All stats, including individual player pages, are fully up to date, including last night's game as well.

Check the latest listing of 2nd Chance entries. You should now complete your rosters. In fact, if you have anyone from the Sixers or Grizzlies (today's only game), make sure your roster is complete by noon today. We gained 14 more teams late yesterday... now 234 teams at last count.

12/31 - Another triple double last night. Gary Payton put up 22 points, with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, good for 87.5 SWP, the second best SWP game of the season.

Summary stats through games of 12/30 are now posted. Individual player pages are still AWOL, but will be back by Saturday at the latest. Thanks for your patience.

Check the latest listing of 2nd Chance entries. You can now complete your rosters. 220 teams at last count.

Attention Hoops Addicts!
I just had an inspiration!
It is unfortunate that the optimal Smallworld Hoops strategy dictates that you "front end" most of your trades to the early part of the season. That means that by late December (i.e., right now), there isn't much trading left to do, and most of us can do no more than watch, root, and fret. Well, I have an antidote. Consider it my Holiday present to all of you (and to me, too, I must confess)!
Announcing Guru's 2nd Chance League(s). I've established new hoops divisions open to all followers of the Guru. Click here or on the link at the left for ground rules and other details.
Season's Greetings!

12/29 - Special update! Prices have now been adjusted after the long weekend. I wasn't sure whether all of the 2nd Chance roster buying would be reflected in the prices changes or not. I knew that the initial buying before the season began did not influence price changes, but I wasn't sure about mid-season new team buying. Well, the preponderance of evidence suggests that these initial buys do not influence price changes. Otherwise, players like Bobby Jackson and Brian Grant would not have dropped in value. It must be that only true trades (i.e., a buy coupled with a sell) influence prices. Very interesting. In light of this new information, I'm going to have to rethink my strategy.

In spite of this, I think Brian Williams, Donyell Marshall, and Travis Knight are pretty safe bets to go up in value again tomorrow, since they are still a good bit below their prior highs. But they may have difficulty surpassing those highs, especially if a lot of 2nd chance profit taking pushes their prices back down. I suspect we'll create some yo-yo effects again, similar to the earlier case with Brevin Knight.

12/29 - Today, we begin to see the pricing action caused by the influx of second chance teams. Should be fun. I'll wait until prices have been reset before posting the individual player pages. All of the other pages (including the sortable summary stats) are updated through games of last night.

Some of you have asked me to provide a more complete listing of injured players, as well as players coming back from injuries. I have one response...NOT! My purpose is to focus on strategy and stats. Do your own research on injuries. Check my NBA Links page for some of the places I check first. I know it can be a difficult process to uncover up to date info on all players... but I can't do all your work for you.

On that note, however, some of you have asked whether there is something you can do to help. If you would like to be a "local correspondent", perhaps we could assemble a network of correspondents from all the NBA cities to keep their eyes on the local color. I could put up a page for correspondent information, and you would just submit something if you've got something noteworthy. Maybe that's the best way to stay abreast of the latest injury information. Send me anything you have to contribute in that vein, and if it seems newsworthy (and is sufficiently edited - spellchecked, and respectable grammar - so I don't have to extensively rework it), I'll put up a new page.

12/28 - Second Chance league entries continue to log in. Today is the last day to start drafting before prices change. It has been five days since the last player repricing, and with all the new teams forming in the meantime, some players are going to be rising handsomely next week. While not every team has started assembling its roster yet, many already have 11 players on the launching pad. Check out the league listings, and drill down to see what some of the teams are doing. Information is power!

Michael Jordan scored 47 points last night. Still, his SWP total was only 57. Lots of scoring, but not much else. Rodman had a 57 SWP night as well. He must have done everything that Michael didn't.

12/27 - Another triple-double last night... this time very efficiently executed by Jason Kidd, with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. A 76 SWP effort, good enough for the fifth best this season. David Robinson also had a 66 SWP game, good enough for 10th place in the top 20 individual games. I guess Santa was good to them!

I'm not going to update the dream teams until after New Year's Day. No sense in me helping you too much with your 2nd Chance rosters. By the way, it looks like some of you are entering multiple rosters in the 2nd chance leagues - at least, as evidenced by the similarity in some team names. Obviously, you are free to do whatever Smallworld allows. However, the Guru's attitude is (with apologies to any female managers) "Real men only need one team!" ....which begs the question, "Are there any female managers in the 2nd Chance leagues?" If you qualify, send me an email. Just curious... I won't single you out (unless you ask to be.)

12/26 - Hope you all had a nice Christmas day. I did. I didn't even bother to watch the two NBA games yesterday afternoon.

As of this morning, there were 76 valid entrants in Guru's 2nd Chance leagues. I'd like to see if we can get it up to at least 100 by the beginning of the year. It's great to see so much enthusiasm - although I fully expected it. This should be a very competitive group... especially since you all have access to the ultimate in Smallworld Hoops statistics. We'll crash the boards on a level playing field, so to speak. Awesome!

By the way, with a number of 2nd Chance teams already starting to draft, I expect we're going to cause some ripples in pricing for some players next week. I won't draw you a road map right now... you can figure it out for yourself. It might seem that one hundred new teams on a base of over 50,000 teams wouldn't create a noticeable impact, but with many of these new teams drafting 12 new players over the next week, I think we'll see some blips. It will be fun to watch.

Finally, several of you have asked whether it is legitimate to begin trading your 2nd Chance rosters (for gains) prior to January 1st. I hadn't thought about that before, but after some reflection, I figure why not? That may smooth out some of the pricing peaks and valleys if managers are both buying and selling next week. Just remember to keep your rosters invalid until the New Year. And remember that any trades done prior to Jan. 1 still count against your limit of 50. It may be preseason for us, but we're smack dab in the middle of the regular season for the rest of Smallworld's managers, so there's no such thing as "free" preseason trading.

12/24 - Did a lot of managers sell Brian Williams again on Monday, or is there a carryover effect in the pricing formula the day after a maximum price decline is reached? Brian Williams dropped the max again yesterday, in spite of playing a pretty credible game Monday night. I'll suppose I should consider it my Christmas present from Smallworld. A chance to buy him back at a $3m discount. Woohoo!

Kudos to Doug Taylor, who found a better $75 million dream team than the one I suggested yesterday. I adjusted the dream team page to reflect his improvement.

I'll be vacationing for the next week and a half, on the road. I will have my trusty laptop with me, so I will continue to update the site. However, I won't have my speedy cable modem to rely on, so I may not be as diligent in uploading all of the individual player game-by-game stats each day. (It only takes about 5 minutes to upload them over the cable modem, but I have no idea how long it will take over a phone connection.) So, be patient with me. Hey, this is all free, you know? And thank you, David Stern, for not scheduling any games today. That means I can ignore this site for all of Christmas day, and play with all of my new toys, instead. (Or maybe to begin planning my new year's roster.)

Thanks to all of you for making the introduction of my new site such a success. Your accolades have been appreciated, and your enthusiasm is inspiring. I always felt that a well constructed, high quality fantasy sports strategy site could attract and retain a following, and so far, I feel great about the product I've been able to produce. Admittedly, I've had to give up work and sleep to do it, but it's been quite awhile since I've had this much fun. And the site had just over 300 unique "hits" yesterday. Not bad for a site that's just over a week old. Thanks alot. Enjoy the Holidays. I'll be back for a new blurb again on 12/26.

12/23 - My bold prediction yesterday may have already been undermined by Brian Williams, who played 37 minutes in last night's game, garnering 24.5 SWP in the process. Although his price dropped by the maximum daily allowance of $1.5m (as did Ewing's), Brian's return last night will probably trigger a bounce in his price. It will be interesting to see if today's price changes reflect further selling, or net buying.

I added several more letters to the feedback page. In particular, if you're looking to join a more competitive division, check it out. I also updated my 3 dream teams, using yesterday's prices and stats. Some of the names have changed from last week's version. Since I'm using stats from only the last 10 games to pick my dream team players, this exercise tends to pick up some of the "flash in the pans" as opposed to the "thoroughbreds". It's noteworthy that Sir Charles appears on the dream team rosters for all value ranges. He's been the most prolific SWP producer of late, but his price just doesn't seem to care. My suspiscion is that Barkley's price is depressed because of his high propensity toward injury, as well as the fact that a lot of fans just don't like him. I'm not fond of the guy either, but I'll confess I'm very happy to have him producing on my team.

12/22 - Today I have posted a new Hoop Pointers essay titled "Price Fixing". If you're confused about why various players' prices aren't behaving as you'd expect, then read this. I close the article by asking for your suggestions on ways to improve the Smallworld repricing process. The current process is pretty good, but there are some weaknesses which I think can be improved without "reinventing the wheel". Let see how imaginative we can be.

(By the way, based on the rationale I put forth in "Price Fixing", here's my bold prediction: As you probably know by now, Brian Williams will probably miss a game or two, while Patrick Ewing is out for the season. However, I expect Brian Williams' price will drop by more than Patrick Ewing's over the next several days.)

I wonder who picks up the slack left by the loss of Patrick Ewing. Seems like one or two Knicks should see some immediate uptick in performance... but I can't figure out who it will be. Chris Dudley? Buck Williams? Larry Johnson, perhaps? Or will their guards get more action?

I added a few more columns of information to the Summary Stats page. Some of you have asked me to calculate SWP/G per $million. Frankly, I'm less than fully convinced that this is a useful stat (and I'll probably discuss why in a future Hoop Pointer article), but since it's easy to calculate, you've now got it. I also added a column for the most recent price change. I think this is one of the best stats to identify what other managers have been doing. And, you can choose to sort on either of these fields. Have fun.

12/21 - Both Brian Williams and Patrick Ewing sustained injuries in last night's games. It's too early to know the full extent of either, but if Williams misses many games, it has HUGE implications for the Smallworld leaderboard, as he appeared on no less than 30 of the top 50 rosters when I last checked. (Surprisingly, Ewing was not on any of the top 50.) This could be the big opportunity to capitalize for those managers with trades to spare.

By the way, if it looks like Brian Williams is going to miss any games, watch his price go into freefall. He is so heavily owned, that a tidal wave of selling is likely to push his salary down the max. I'm working on a new Hoop Pointers essay which addresses this phenomenon - and hope to have it posted by tomorrow (how timely!) - but in the meantime, you may want to duck first, ask questions later.

On the more mundane note, I made some enhancements to the player stat pages. Now, the summary stats show SWP/G for both the full season and the last ten games. Also, you can now sort on any of four different columns - name, the two SWP/G averages, and price. And finally, you can now link from the Summary Stats page directly to each player's game-by-game stats (by clicking on the player's name), eliminating the need for the additional pop-up frames. Cool, huh?

12/20 - It looks likeWes Person has reverted to mere mortal status, after having been absolutely en fuego for almost a month. I pay particular attention to him, because he's on my ESPN roster as well, where he is even more valuable because 3 pointers is also one of the scoring catories. In fact, he emerged as the #1 ranked player in their format for the first quarter of the season.

I added a new feature today, "Feedback", where all of you get your chance to contribute. Based on some early suggestions, you'll see some additions to the statistical pages. If you have other ideas on how to make this site more useful, be sure to let me know. These particular changes were quite simple to add.

12/19 - Donyell Marshall left last night's game after just a few minutes when he fell on his back. Rotonews reports that X-rays were negative, and he shouldn't miss much time. As a Connecticut resident and a big UConn Husky fan, that's good news to me. Donyell is finally having a season that's consistent with his ability. And he has also gained some favorable notoriety this year, having been frequently interviewed about the Sprewell incident. Maybe it takes a former Big East player to get along with a former Big East coach.

12/18 - So what's up with John Wallace? He had a monster second-half of November, and seemed poised to keep it going. Reminded me of his performance in the 1996 NCAA tourney, when the 'Cuse overachieved so phenomenally. But he slacked off a bit in early December, and then has stunk up the joint in his last two games. There must be some "ex-'Cuse"! (pun intended) Which games are the anomalies? Do you suppose he has trouble co-existing with Marcus Camby? Most of his big games were when Camby was injured.

I did some research on the rosters of the top 50 teams this morning. Interesting stuff... Check it out.

12/17 - Thanks for all of the feedback I've received so far. Several of you noticed the data glitch on my dream teams page, which I was fortunately able to quickly correct. And some of you have made great suggestions for other features, which I'll add as I develop them.

Today's new feature is "Stars & Stiffs". On this page, I list the most noteworthy individual player performances from the previous day's games. Check it out - you'll probably discover something you weren't aware of.

Yesterday I commented on Brevin Knight (who, in the wake of recent price stability, popped off a 50.5 SWP game last night). (So much for his price stability, I suppose.) Today's Knight (pun intended) worthy of commentary is Travis, whose recent trip to the injured reserve list took his price down to the floor of $200,000. When he comes back, his price will definitely rebound. The game is now one of "guts"... how soon do you pick him up, given that he's still got some time left on the IR? To pick him up too early leaves you with a temporarily unproductive roster position, but to cut it too close may leave some significant bucks on the table. This will be fun to watch.

12/16 - Last night, I started emailing Smallworld managers to announce this site, and already, the hits are coming. Hope you find stuff that you like. Each day, I'll use this "blurb" page to offer a few short comments on recent developments.

It may be that Brevin Knight's price will finally stabilize. The Smallworld pricing process was creating an "oscillation" in his price that looked like it might persist indefinitely. It seemed like many managers had figured out that you sell him when his price goes north of $7 million, and buy him when he gets into the $5 millions or lower. With so many people evidently playing that game, it became a virtual self-fulfilling prophecy. His last two price moves are unprecented for him - in terms of how small they are. Frankly, he still looks pretty attractively priced - in fact, he looks relatively cheap in the mid-7's, although it's tough to say whether he can sustain a price move though that "resistance" point.

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>.