Tag Archives: DeMarcus Cousins

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls win by a hair thanks to a late whistle

After a rough night getting trounced by the Atlanta Hawks for three quarters Friday night, the Bulls looked to rebound against a perennially struggling Sacramento Kings team at home on Saturday. The second night of a back-to-back is always rough, and the Bulls have been known to demonstrate an inability to get motivated for sub-0.500 teams. But thanks to a questionable foul call on DeMarcus Cousins against Dwyane Wade with just seconds remaining in the game, the Bulls were able to hold on to victory, 102-99, improving to 22-23.

  • Neither team held any substantial lead, as it was neck and neck the whole way. The largest lead of the night was the Bulls by nine, but it was very short-lived, and only in the second quarter. There were 17 ties in the game and 15 lead changes. It seemed whoever had the ball last was going to win, and with Wade’s breakaway missed dunk coupled with a phantom shooting foul call on Boogie in favor of Wade, the Bulls got just that, as Wade’s free throw would be all they would need.
  • In a game that was so tight, with neither team holding a lead for very long, and neither boasting a double-digit lead, the difference may have been at the free throw line. The Bulls had a decided advantage of 28-16 from the stripe; Jimmy Butler made all 10 of the free throws he was awarded, while the bulk of the others (12) came from Dwayne Wade.
  • Wade had a solid showing, putting up 30 points on 9/20 from the field, six rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. He got to the charity stripe 15 times, the most out of any player on the court. Still, his +/- was the worst of any Bull, at -11. However, two of his three steals were on key possessions late in the game to help seal the deal. Up one, with under 15 seconds remaining, he picked Boogie Cousin’s pocket, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk on the other end.
  • Jimmy Butler had a noteworthy game, per usual. Butler scored 23 points on 6/14 shooting, with five rebounds and seven assists. He struggled with his shot a bit down the stretch, which is rare for his superman status, and looked uncomfortable with the double team, but was able to be bailed out by his teammates. Butler is still proving to be by far and away the most valuable Bull on the court – in 39 minutes, he led the team with a +14, which is impressive, considering how tight the game was. In those 9 minutes he didn’t play, the Kings gained an 11 point advantage.
  • There aren’t too many sequences that we get to point to this year, so when one sticks out it’s a nice little bonus. One such sequence occurred tonight in the second quarter, after the Bulls began the quarter with a 24-21 lead: Rajon Rondo helped the Bulls get off to a fast start off the bench with a beautiful lob to Cristiano Felicio. The following possession, Rondo whipped the ball on a cross court bounce pass baseline to Paul Zipser for the corner three ball for a quick 5-0 run and an eight point lead.
  • We thought Doug McDermott may have broken out of his slump last week, with a 31 point showing against Memphis but has been just 5/18 for 12 points in the three games since. He had just three points on 1/5 shooting Saturday night.
  • A word about Boogie Cousins. He had a monster game: 42 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks, and a couple huge threes and some clutch and impressive moves to the basket, but the Kings couldn’t get it done, as there was no other Kings player in double figures (yikes). He’s posted seven 40-point games in his career, but the Kings are now just 3-4 in those contests.
  • Up Next: The Bulls travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Tuesday, while the Kings are back at it Monday night in Detroit.
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BULLet Points: Balanced Bulls attack too much for the Kings

Pau Gasol returned to action Monday night after being sidelined recently by a knee injury. With Gasol in the starting lineup, the Bulls were able to trot out their theoretically best five man group (sans Joakim Noah) for just the second time all season. Pau, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy give the Bulls effective offensive options across the board. If this group stays healthy, the Bulls will be tough to deal with down the stretch.

  • This game was decided in the latter half of the fourth quarter. With 6:34 left to play, the Kings led the Bulls 95-90. Over the next four minutes, the Bulls went on a 10-0 run and never looked back. The surge was fueled completely by the Bulls big three of Rose, Butler, and Gasol.
  • Rose was a team-high +18 in 33 minutes with 18 points on 9/15 shooting. He missed his only two free throw attempts and was 0/1 from three, but he flashed a series of slick moves off the dribble to free himself for quality shot attempts. Rose rounded out the stat sheet with five rebounds, four assists and just a single turnover.
  • Jimmy Butler let the game come to him Monday. Shooting just 3/10 from the field, Butler did not hijack many possessions with over dribbling and slow developing pick and rolls. Instead, he generally operated as a cog in a beautiful machine. Jimmy dished out a team-high eight assists in the win. Butler also came up huge on the other side of the ball, racking up five steals and consistently finding himself in the right place at the right time.
  • Taj Gibson co-lead the team with 18 points on 7/13 shooting. On a night where the Bulls struggled from the line, Taj was the only player to make all of his attempts at the stripe. Gibson only managed to grab three rebounds, but all three were offensive. Taj had his hands full all night defending All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, but he managed to hold the cantankerous center to 19 points, far below his average 27.2.
  • The return of Pau Gasol was a huge boost for Chicago. I will resist critiquing Gasol’s effort on defense as it was a pleasure to have the Spaniard soak up offensive possessions and take a huge burden off the starting guards. Gasol’s size and shooting touch make nearly all of his shots good in theory, an incredibly rare trait for a guy in his mid-30’s. Pau played just 24 minutes in his return to action, but he still managed to score 14 points, grab 14 rebounds and block three shots.
  • It’s pretty uncommon for a team to score 109 points in a game and not have a single player score more than 20, but that is precisely what the Bulls did tonight. The entire team did not hesitate to make the extra pass, assisting on 28/41 field goals, an assist ratio that would tie the league-leading Warriors over the course of the season. There’s truly nothing more beautiful than unselfish play leading to easy offense:

  • The Bulls were lights out from beyond the arc in this game, shooting 50% as a team. They attempted five fewer three point shots than the Kings, but connected on twelve compared to Sacramento’s nine. Doug McDermott started the game 4/4 from three and scored 16 points. Mike Dunleavy was 3/6 from three and Justin Holiday hit 3/4 of his attempts. Who said the Bulls need depth on the wing?!
  • Sacramento has a way of making mediocre offenses look elite. The Kings defensive effort was miserable all game, especially that of Rajon Rondo. On one critical play in the fourth quarter, Rondo seemed to pick up Justin Holiday at the top of the key, only to pass him off to a nonexistent teammate. The sequence reminded me of football miscommunication where a corner incorrectly  believes he has safety help over the top. In this case, Holiday drifted unguarded to the corner and knocked home a wide open three.
  • Coming up: the Bulls host the Knicks on Wednesday night.

Steve’s FanDuel Winner 12/29/14

Guys, we freaking killed yesterday.. Take a look at our GPP portfolio.

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But, it doesn’t matter what we did yesterday..On to the next one! At DRosesandThorns.com, we pick up on the tiniest of nuances every SINGLE day.  Over time, the collection of these nuances add and pay BIG dividends!!

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GPPs (as of 12:30 CST):

gpps1229fre

There is almost 100% certainty that these lineups will change.  I will do my best to update them as frequently as possible.  But, there are no guarantees!!  Remember, YOU are responsible for your money.

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Is My Fantasy Basketball Season Over in November?

The world might be ending.

As each day of the early 2014-2015 NBA season passes, I’m beginning to believe that my chances for repeating as league champion are dwindling.

Yes, I’m that asshole who abandoned his own strategy and outfoxed himself.  Like any giddy champion, I’ll admit that I thought my competitive advantage would last a little longer. Needless to say, this tactician might have miscalculated.

So what exactly went wrong?

Simply put, I didn’t get my guy.  Year in and year out, I go for the one guy to build my team around.  While most of my friends believed it to be Anthony Davis, the one who knows me the best (a certain other writer on the site) kept on pushing the price up.  That guy is James Harden, and that shrewd asshole is Jacob Bikshorn.  Bicky spent a “ludicrous” $110 out of his $230 budget on Harden and in hindsight was probably worth every penny.  Meanwhile, I like any savvy trader, knew my risk tolerance and decided to go with Plan B (insert your own joke).  Unfortunately for me, drafting Carmelo Anthony for $80 may have aborted my lofty expectations for the season.

Fully considering the risks of drafting Anthony (ie. new triangle offense, new coach, pressures to live up to expectations), I thought Melo would have more swag than what he’s showed early on.  So far in the early season, Anthony is averaging 19.5 Points/4.0 Rebounds/4.3 Assists on 38% shooting.  Hardly world-beating figures and only good enough for 2.64 on the League Player Rater (around 5 or 6 is pretty good, over 10 is phenomenal).

What most concerns me, however, is the drastic drop in free throw attempts.  “Everyone” knows that FTAs (in Free Throws Made as opposed to FT% leagues) is the key ingredient to having a great team.  In my opinion, it’s one of the most sustainable and game-able statistics. So far, in six games this season, Melo has attempted 4.8 FTAs compared to 7.7 FTAs for his career. That’s nearly a 40% drop.  While I’m sure his numbers are likely to rise over the course of the season, that shit is pretty significant and will unlikely regress fully to the mean. I’m banking on the return of Jose Calderon to the starting lineup to get the ball rolling in a positive direction.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bikshorn is sitting pretty with Harden and his career-high 11.7 FTAs and you see why I’m kinda freaking out.  To make matters worse, my NBA-parallel in life DeMarcus Cousins is no longer on my own squad and currently kicking my ass in this week’s H2H matchup. (Editor’s note: Jake is perfectly content with Steph Curry ($101) and Blake Griffin ($80)).

Nevertheless, I’m still optimistic about prospects for grinding out the season. The likes of Goran Dragic and Paul Millsap have to come around eventually and I’m gonna ride the Donald Sloan and Tony Wroten train as long as possible.  I have a couple advantages going for me: 1) the ability to manage the volatility of the waiver wire more effectively than the competition (I trade stocks as my full-time work so I’m constantly in the loop of information) and 2) roster flexibility that allows me to add and drop nearly at will. These advantages have held up in the past, so I’m banking on them big time down the stretch.

The world may not be ending, but I’d lying if I told you that I don’t think the roots of this year’s fantasy squad might be fundamentally flawed from the get-go.

Thanks for the read and have a good one,

-Steve

Why Fantasy Basketball and Stock Trading Are One in the Same

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Hey Guys,

Every once in a while, I get these crazy ideas and I have to write about them.  This is one of those times.  In a world where our potential audience is drawn to the likes of ESPN, Twitter and Deadspin for their sports information, we strive to differentiate ourselves here at DRaT.

With this dramatic prelude, I am going to break down the striking similarities between active portfolio management and managing one’s fantasy basketball team.  Over the next three segments, I will lay out the skinny on successfully managing both an investment portfolio and a fantasy basketball team. While this might not be the most pressing issue in sports today, I can guarantee you that this type of content won’t be found on ESPN (or Grantland, for that matter).

Let’s begin with the basics.

Starting a Portfolio/Drafting Your Squad

A portfolio, in its simplest form, is essentially just a collection of assets.  When one is said to be diversified, the assets are appropriately uncorrelated and move to the beat of their own drum.  In other words, a well-diversified investor wouldn’t be overly susceptible to one of its assets tanking.   Whether we are talking about cash, bonds, real estate or equity, all assets have both risks and rewards attached to them.  Therefore, it is imperative to optimally proportion your capital in various asset classes to ensure steady performance.  Over the long run, a responsible and savvy strategy should lead to success.  For simplicity’s sake, let’s shift our attention to the equity (stock) portion of one’s portfolio.

So you’re probably asking yourself how does this relate to fantasy basketball?

Think about it like this.  Assume that you spend hours sifting through ESPN, Rotowire and other media outlets to get the latest buzz on sleeper picks and player projections.  You are essentially engaging in what we like to call investment research.  Whether you desire to beat the other 11 schlubs in your fantasy league or beat the millions of investors in the stock market, you do this homework because you believe it will give you a leg up on the competition. Whether successful or not, you do this instead of picking players’ names out of a hat.

When it comes to the actual draft, most perennial league winners have a rough outline of their overall strategy.  Whether it’s spending all your money on the marquee guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant or diversifying among good, but not great, players like Zach Randolph and David West, there are infinite amounts of trade-offs that one has to consider.  Then, there are those who spend all their money in the first five minutes and their counterparts who save their chips for the end,  Although there are many strategies that can lead to favorable results, only one wins out in the end.   Nevertheless, the most adequately-run portfolio does not always win when the sample size is as small as a championship week head-to-head match up.  But this is just the risk of playing the game and owning a fantasy basketball team.

Once the draft begins, unexpected market reaction (or volatility) can sometimes derail these aforementioned plans.  Therefore, it is absolutely critical that draftees don’t overreact and succumb to the short-term fear instilled by the market.  If the plan was truly rational and well thought out, it should work.  It’s important that investors (fantasy sports owners) don’t believe everything they read and really trust their intuition when making any type of investment decision. Sounds simple enough, right?

Remember, volatility can be a good thing for both stock owners and fantasy owners alike.  This is where an investor can pick up extremely cheap shares of formally beat-up stocks like Blackberry, Nokia and Rite Aid (Full Disclosure: I’m loaded with shares, of course) or draft the likes of DeMarcus Cousins for $21 and Goran Dragic for $7. The uncertainty provides opportunity for those who seek to exploit market inefficiencies.   And the storm also provides heartbreak for those who panic and sell off shares of Tesla Motors in the midst of a short-lived bear raid or inversely spend $13 on O.J. Mayo.

Although the proper set-up of one’s portfolio and the rationale behind the drafting a basketball team are obviously critical to long-term success, these facets merely provide a starting point for it.

Stay tuned for my next segment regarding the symmetry existing between altering one’s investment strategy and revamping the dynamic of a struggling hoops ensemble.