Overview

Welcome to the JBL and congratulations on being hired! You are now the general manager for a storied basketball franchise in one of the internet’s longest running fantasy basketball leagues.

JBL was established in 1991 and is currently in its 34th season. The JBL uses fantasy players generated by the customised simulator created for the league, called simply ‘JBL Simulator’ (currently on version 12).

This guide is an introduction to the league for new GMs in the league and is only intended to be an overview. It should be read in conjunction with the About page and the Rules.

I’m lost — what do I do first?

Reading this guide is a great start!

The most confronting aspect of JBL is getting used to unfamiliar players. We recommend browsing the most recent season’s statistics, using the scouting reports on each of the player profiles, and reviewing some recent articles. Once you have been allocated a team, you should log into the website and getting an idea of how your team is currently constructed in your My Team area.

Analysing box scores and statistics, especially advanced statistics, is encouraged. This will allow you to identify who your star players are, how your team plays and its strength and weaknesses. Each JBL player has an in-depth scouting report generated by the simulator, and can help you identify what skills a particular player has.

Depending on when you join the league, there may be certain tasks you have to perform immediately (if you join in the offseason, you may be required to make immediate decisions relating to your players or team, such as Free Agency or Coach Signing). When you join, make sure you join the Slack channel and get an idea of whether any action is required immediately.

Please don’t be afraid of asking questions. Other GMs and the Commissioner are always available on Slack to answer your questions. The Commissioner manages the league and does not own a team and therefore can give you impartial advice.

The season and simulating games

There are 30 JBL teams in six divisions and two conferences (East and West). Teams play 82 games in the regular season over 168 ‘Days’ (24 weeks). Eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. Each playoff series is a 7 game series.

Games are simulated every day by the Commissioner during the season, generally around 10.30am Australian Eastern Standard Time (5.30pm Los Angeles, 8.30pm New York, 1.30am London). The 10.30am event time also applies to other offseason events such as free agency. The JBL schedule is broken into 'Days'; depending on the schedule, there can be anywhere from 2 to 12 games per JBL ‘Day’, and your team will typically play 3 or 4 times per JBL week. Boxscores, standings and statistics are instantly available on the website.

Your team: how to make changes

Once you have received your GM login to the website, you will be able to login and view your team roster, your depth chart and coaching strategies. Any changes you make to the depth chart or coaching strategies are updated immediately and will be used up by the simulator for your next games.

Trying lineups, rotations and styles is recommended, although keep in mind player feelings about starting and getting benched often — it can hurt their morale and playing rhythm. It is important to build cohesion by allowing players to become familiar with one another, and this can include the starting lineup.

Coaching strategies include game pace (which will be recommended from your coach’s favoured pace), offensive and defensive sets (again, recommended from your coach’s preferred personal strategies), and key player and playmaker options. Going against coaching recommendations will not necessarily hurt the team - your coach generally prefers strategies based on their tendencies - but your coach will be less effective if you are attempting to play a playstyle far outside of their skillset (for example, playing a fast paced '10' pace whereas your coach is suggesting '1').

Teams must always have a minimum of 12 players and a maximum of 15. You can have less than 12 or more than 15 during the offseason, but must either sign players to get to 12 or cut the roster down to 15 before exhibition games begin.

Players and staff

One of the unique aspects of JBL is that all players — aside from their many basketball skills and attributes that are detailed in ratings over hundreds of different areas — have feelings and are affected by the decisions you and others make. Players are generated with ‘DNA’ which dictates how they react to certain events, players and coaches. Players also have personality profiles which can dictate how they interact with others on and off the court; some players can be expressive, whereas others introverted.

You may have to manage the clash of these personalities during your time as a GM. Players can have conflicts with each other which can affect (and sometimes poison) the chemistry of your team. When a conflict arises, you will usually be notified either by rumours spilling over into the media, or by a member of staff sending you an email letting you know there is an issue.

Cohesion and chemistry are very important for a JBL squad. In general, the longer a team is together, the more cohesive they will be. However, players with negative influence can disrupt a harmonious team. On court chemistry is obviously important to putting together a winning squad and one of the most challenging parts of being a GM in the JBL. Just as in real life, there have been great players who have marred their careers by having poor attitudes and affecting their team negatively.

Discovering players with positive or negative intangibles is possible through the scouting module. Go to a player profile and hit the Scouting button.

Trading

Trading is one of the quickest ways to improve your squad. You can discuss trade options with other GMs on Slack, which is used for general league communication. Trading is often more art than science and may require multiple discussions with other GMs, so don't get frustrated if you are unable to make a change immediately. Announcing you have a player available is usually the easiest way to get trade talks moving.

You have two types of assets that you can trade: players and future draft picks.

You can trade both as long as you comply with the trading rules. Salaries involved in a trade must be within 50% of the salary or salaries being traded (50% Rule). For example, if you want to trade a player who earns $10,000,000, you can receive no more than $20,000,000 in salaries in return.

You can trade up to four future seasons worth of draft picks. A team must hold at least one of the its next four 1st Round Draft picks. This is to protect teams from trading away their future.

There are also limits to how much you can trade and receive back, and whether that trade puts you over the salary cap hard limit ($95,000,000).

Generally, new GMs are not encouraged to make moves too quickly and are restricted in trading assets before they are settled in the league (all trades have to be approved by the Commissioner initially). However, if you feel like you have an idea for a move that could improve your team, feel free to discuss potential trades with the Commissioner.

Full trading rules are available here.

Salary Cap

The salary cap is set at $80,000,000. Like the NBA, this is a soft cap which can be exceeded in certain circumstances. The principal ways to exceed the cap is by re-signing your own free agents where you hold their Tenure Rights (tenure with a team without leaving for free agency), using the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) to sign another team’s free agent, and signing minimum contract players.

Exceeding the cap after a certain point ($95,000,000) will begin to attract penalties, such as losing the MLE, a second round draft pick, and at the extreme limit, a first round draft pick as well.

You can check your salary cap position here. (During the offseason, this will not include your free agents until they are signed).

If you release a player, their salary will count towards on your cap until their contract expires.

Full free agency and salary cap rules are available here.

The Draft

A two round entry draft takes place every year. As in the NBA, the JBL operates on a lottery system whereby the bottom 14 teams who do not make the playoffs are allocated odds in the lottery for their draft position.

Players from college (all 351 Division 1 NCAA teams) can be scouted. College games are simulated along with JBL games and GMs can follow and watch prospective JBL entrants by analysing their statistics and scouting them more deeply. To scout players outside of the national renown players, you can spend your scouting budget sending scouts to watch games and return their feedback (see below).

There is a separate college league and website, available at CollegeJBL.com.

Full draft rules are available here.

Free Agency

Free agency occurs every offseason. Players who are out of contract enter the market where anyone can offer a contract to them. For your own free agents, if you hold their Tenure Rights you are at an advantage to sign them.

The free agency period last for 30 Days. The first 4 Days you can make offers and negotiate, but no players can sign (the Moratorium). Player signings start on day 5. The first 4 days are simulated one Day per real day; afterwards, two free agency days are simulated per each real day.

Once you have reviewed the free agency list, select which players you want to re-sign. If you don't want to re-sign someone, you must renounce their rights to get the salary cap space back. If you make an offer to a free agent that is not on your team, you can no longer make an offer that exceeds the cap to your other free agents (ie you must re-sign your own players first).

Players generally have a figure in mind (their ‘Expected’ salary), as well as contract length. To make an offer to any player, including your own, let the Commissioner know and he will process the offer for you. A player (and his agent) will mull over the contract offer, usually for a day or so, and get back to you as to whether or not they will accept, reject or want to negotiate.

If a player wishes to negotiate, they may come back with a counter-offer. Lowballing players considerably and delaying re-signing can affect player morale and their free agency decision. Generally speaking, a player will continue negotiation for three contract offers.

In general, when considering whether to sign a contract, a player take into account all factors including value of the contract, contract length (some may want a shorter contract, some may want longer term for security), how much they want to play for a winning team vs their loyalty/greed, who else is on the team, team success, the players' age (ringchasing at the end of career) and so forth.

If you exceed the cap ($80,000,000) with your currently contracted salaries, you can only re-sign your own free agents, or offer the MLE or minimum contracts. 

The free agency and salary cap rules are extensive and are located here.

Coaching and Scouting

In addition to the players, the JBL universe contains many different types of staff, including coaches. Coaches are often ex-JBL players or ex-college coaches. You can view a coach’s history by clicking on their profile.

A team's Coaching Budget is $10,000,000 per year. A team's head coach salary, as well as its two assistant coach salaries, make up the total Coaching Salary. A team must have a head coach and two assistant coaches at all times.

Each offseason a Coach Signing period will be run. During this period you can hire head coaches or assistant coaches. Similar to player free agency, you can negotiate contracts with coaches during this period. Any head coaches who are out of contract are able to sign with your team if they accept your offer.

You can fire a coach without financial penalty; firing a coach may have a non-financial impact on the team (such as affecting team cohesion, chemistry, player relationships and so forth). Changing coaches often is not recommended and will likely destablise your team. If you constantly fire coaches, other coaches may not want to sign with you, or if they do, may require more money.

You can poach another team’s assistant coach during the offseason, even if they are under contract, as long as you are offering that coach a head coaching position at your team. A team may only poach employed assistant coaches, and not employed head coaches.

A team's Scouting Budget is also $10,000,000 per year. While all JBL players are automatically scouted, of the incoming rookies (international or college) you will need to scout the players you are interested in individually. As above, a team is allocated scouting trips at the start of the season. Most players will require 2 scouting trips ($500,000) to obtain their scouting information. Some players at lower prestige colleges may require 3, and some international teams may require 4. This means, in general, $10,000,000 will get you 40 scouting trips, plus any extra trips you get from your Coaching Budget.

College players can also be interviewed and "worked out" for an additional trip, which allows a team to uncover information such as intangibles and their personality.

Coaching rules are available here.
Scouting rules are available here.

Participation

JBL relies and thrives on participation. GMs should try where possible to spend time on Slack, discussing the league and posting articles when required. The more you put into the league, the more you will get out of it. The expectation is that a GM would check in at least 3-4 times during the week in the Slack channel and maintain their team by updating their depth chart in case of any injuries. The Slack channel is incredibly active and there are always topics of conversation that you can engage in (and it's a great way to learn all the players).

You should let the Commissioner know if you are going to be unavailable. If you are inactive for a long period of time without letting the league know (or without responding to messages), the Commissioner reserves the right to suspend your position or replace you as a GM.

There are requirements to post articles via a Press Release when making a trade or signing a player, and to report to your team ownership every season about your expectations for the year. These are not onerous requirements and are instead meant to emulate both the requirement of GMs to announce to the press any team moves, and to ensure that all parties to a trade have confirmed it.