What is the JBL?

JBL Fantasy Basketball League is an online multi-player simulation basketball league that has been running in some form since 1991. As a JBL General Manager, you are in charge of a storied basketball franchise, and have to draft, sign, trade and manage your players, staff and their personalities to construct your team, competing against 29 other humans.

JBL is a set in a huge basketball universe which also contains the NBA, NCAA and European leagues; think of JBL as a rival splinter league where franchises compete for the same fans and TV viewers. While similar to the NBA, JBL differs slightly in its re-creation of a basketball universe, and isn't intended on being a complete replica of the NBA, nor its rules.

How does the league work?

When you are hired as a General Manager of a JBL team, you will take over a pre-existing roster of a storied basketball franchise. This is a 'dynasty' league - rosters carry over from season to season. Depending on the team's current structure, your job may be difficult or easy - your team may already be a playoff or fringe playoff team, or it could be in the middle of a rebuild. General Managers have, of course, total control over their roster: they can draft, sign and trade players, manage contract extensions and free agency, sign and fire coaches, as well make some strategic decisions about their team. It is also the GM's role to scout new players, including upcoming draft classes, to ensure your team's success.

To be a JBL General Manager requires an analytical mind, a strategic brain, a willingness to scout and an eye for talent, and most importantly, a love for basketball. While the JBL isn't for the faint-hearted due to the skill, discipline and challenge involved, hard work is rewarded with success and the league becomes extremely addictive very quickly.

JBL Simulator

JBL is run on a proprietary and highly complex simulation engine (called simply 'JBL Simulator') first created in 1991 and iterated periodically. There are other basketball simulators on the market which more accurately reflect the complexities of the NBA and its financial system, but rather than trying to 100% model the NBA, time and effort has gone into generating a unique "universe" behind the simulation engine. All manner of real life events can and will occur which no other simulator presently contains: fights, suspensions, player deaths, chemistry feuding, players walking out on teams, etc.

JBL is primarily a roster management simulation; as GM it is your job to manage all of the personalities on your roster and front office. You will receive daily emails from members of your coaching staff, your players, members of the press and more, allowing you input into decisions that can affect the success of your franchise. It's up to you to make these important decisions.

The JBL uses fantasy players, not NBA players, created and randomised by the simulator. Participants in the league find that fantasy players provide the greatest enjoyment. Developing and managing a team long term is the main purpose of your role as a GM in the JBL, and as such you grow with your players, become adjusted to their games and become attached to them. While fictional player names may seem foreign at first, but it will not take you long before you know these players better than NBA players! It should be noted that even if the league were to start with NBA players, given the speed of the seasons, we quickly would be moving into fictional player territory in any case.

The simulation is designed to be a comprehensive re-creation of a basketball universe. Players experience the same 'highs and lows' as real players, such as shooting slumps, trade and contract disputes, playing time issues, injuries, external problems, involvement in scandals, union issues, family problems and other 'random' events which gives them an authentic history and personality. We recognised that if the JBL was simply a statistic-based simulation league, it would become increasingly boring after two or three seasons (let alone 30 seasons), so it is the player personalities, player development and the requirement of cohesion and chemistry that is at the core of the experience. It is not a 'paint by numbers': it is not possible to throw five new All-Star players together without them fitting together, and expect to win a championship. A team’s success is based on many factors, with a big emphasis on chemistry and cohesion, as well as luck, skill and guile.

Feedback about player performance can be derived from scouting, the many statistics (including advanced metrics) available and feedback from your coaches and scouts. You can obtain comprehensive scouting reports similar to that provided by current NBA scouts on a player, but it is up to you to use your analytic skills to determine what fit a player will have in your system. You affect your team by trades, drafting, signings, but you also have to juggle the personalities on the team to ensure that everyone is happy with their playing time, that they like the coach and buy into your vision for the franchise.

You can also scout and draft players from the college universe which features all 351 NCAA Division I teams, with full statistics, boxscores and scouting, and from other leagues in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.

Season overview

Each season begins with the draft lottery. During this time you can scout and draft college players from real Div I colleges, Europe and high school. After the draft, free agency takes place, where teams can re-sign their restricted free agents and make offers for unrestricted free agents. Following the conclusion of free agency, training camps are held, followed by preseason games. The regular season then commences.

Games are simulated by the Commissioner daily. Rather than requiring you to buy software or the need to download an update, JBL is entirely web-based: you can see all of the league results, box scores, advanced statistics and read emails from your coaching staff right from your browser in the front office area of this website. You can make changes to your team's roster and specific team and coaching strategies by logging into the website and making changes directly.

While the season is underway you will be required to participate in a number of team activities. You can use the GM Mailbox to send trade offers to other GMs. Should you finalise trade with another GM, you will need to post a press release in the 'Media Center' area of the website, which will send the press release to all GMs. You can also respond to any news articles, post rumours, and any other press releases you may wish to send. You will also converse daily with your fellow GMs and the Commissioner via our Slack channel as to what is happening in the league.

After the All-Star break, the regular season then resumes until end of the season when the playoffs kick into action. After the JBL Championship trophy has been lifted, a champion has been crowned and champagne drunk, after a short reflective time, the next offseason begins.

This process - the entire season and offseason - usually goes for around three months. This means we usually sim 3-4 seasons per year. One of the main advantages JBL has over NBA fantasy leagues is the ability to simulate multiple seasons per year.

Apply for a team

Feel like the the JBL is for you and you can lead a franchise into hallowed territory? Apply here.

See also: Guide for New General Managers
See also: Frequently Asked Questions