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Fantasy Basketball…

FINALLYYYYY….the NBA HAS…come back to our hearts….and along with it comes my 2nd favorite of all fantasies (behind a Black Swan sequel involving myself, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, some feathers, hard alcohol, some ballet shoes…okay I’ll stop), Fantasy Basketball! I’ve got a little league going with some of my buddies and we had our draft last week and much like I did for my Fantasy Baseball league I’m going to run through the draft with a little bit of commentary. Yes, there is a reason I have not revisited that Baseball team…it was a VERY rough year.

Back to basketball, we’ve got a ten team, head-to-head format going with each team having 11 players. Yes, that adds up to 110 players being owned so we’re going to have some pretty stacked teams and a waiver wire that any 12-team 13-player league member would salivate over.

So draft time rolls around and I do little-to-no research on how this is going to go down. I usually like to freelance when it comes to NBA as I am the ULTIMATE fan: I watch, I analyze, I criticize and I just feel like I know what it takes to WIN on the court and especially on the internet! Pretty big nerd, I know, but I live for the NBA.

Given that, and the countless amounts of drafts I’ve been through let me tell you this: there are two draft positions that I absolutely hate to draft from. First, the SMACK dab in the middle of the round pick. Having to draft one player, then waiting another 9-11 picks until you draft your next player makes it extremely hard to set up any kind of consistency or plan. It’s a pain in the ass and I hate being there. BUT, it’s doable. I’ve won/contended plenty of times from the middle of the round despite my disdain for it. The other position that I LOATHE, and cannot seem to EVER put together a contender from: the #1 overall pick. I hate it. Yes, you get to pick the VERY best player in the league, but you only get to have 1 of the top 15 players in the league. Since this isn’t REAL basketball, having THE very best player does not help you as much as having TWO of the best players. I’d much rather have two top-15 players than the best player and the 25th best player. When it comes to fantasy, quality matters only so much, and in the case of the first 2 rounds, quantity is the real harbinger of victory.

Having said that, I log in and guess where this guy is drafting from? Shotgun, #1 pick. So not only am I in a hated position, but I’m also stuck with a serious quandary: Lebron or Durant? Should be a fantasy GM’s dream, but it’s not. Not only do I have to make this pick, but I can’t accurately assess what my second pick will be since it’s so far away. I can take a GUESS, using ESPN’s pre-draft rankings I saw that Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon are ranked 18-23. So the best I can do is ASSUME that a quality rebounder/shot blocker will be available with my second pick.


The First Member of the Fatboys

Lebron or Durant. It plays through my head non-stop as the 10-minute clock rolls down to start time and I weigh each. PROS- Lebron: Stat stuffer across the line, boards, points, assists, possibly peaking this year. Durant: defending scoring champion, great shooter, #1 option, 3PMs, still nowhere near his ceiling. CONS- Lebron: shaky shooter, possible TO machine, not the clear #1. Durant: low assists, high TO, durability concerns with new schedule? It was difficult, very difficult but what it came down to for me was Josh Smith, rebounding and defense. Lebron’s rebounding, steals, and blocks were much better than K.D.’s, but I decided to take the gamble that Josh Smith would be there for my second pick so he could easily make up for those gaps. So, with the first pick in the 2011 CBA Fantasy Basketball draft the NYC Fatboys (an ode to my favorite Knickerbocker pudgsters from the past-Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Rony Turiaf and the present- Baron Davis) took Kevin Durant, SF from the Oklahoma City Thunder!

I pulled the trigger, and from there this is how the rest of the first round shook out:

1 NYC Fatboys Kevin Durant, OKC SF  
2 Team 2 LeBron James, Mia SF
3 Team 3 Chris Paul, LAC PG
4 Team 4 Dwight Howard, Orl C
5 Team 5 Derrick Rose, Chi PG
6 Team 6 Dwyane Wade, Mia SG
7 Team 7 Russell Westbrook, OKC PG
8 Team 8 Deron Williams, NJ PG
9 Team 9 Kevin Love, Min PF
10 Team 10 Amare Stoudemire, NY C

Lots of PGs going in the first round as expected and some quality boards. All in all, exactly how one would expect the first-round to unfold. After my first pick, I’m banking on Josh Smith falling to me at #20. Smith is a player that has long been a member of my fantasy basketball teams. I don’t know if it’s his lack of airtime or superstar status in the league but he always seems to drop into my lap in drafts. And I love it. The dude does everything, and he REALLY excels in his consistency. A game won’t go by without 15+ points, 7+ board, 2 blocks, a steal, and a assist from the guy. Throw in the fact that he stopped gunning threes and his FG% has turned into something amazing as well. I figured he’d be a perfect compliment to KD, making my team a threat in all categories after taking him. He picks up where KD leaves off in FG%, blocks and steals and doesn’t hurt me anywhere.

But, it just wasn’t meant to be as the second and third rounds unfolded like this:

11 Team 10 Monta Ellis, GS PG
12 Team 9 Stephen Curry, GS PG
13 Team 8 Pau Gasol, LAL PF
14 Team 7 Carmelo Anthony, NY SF
15 Team 6 Blake Griffin, LAC PF
16 Team 5 Dirk Nowitzki, Dal PF
17 Team 4 LaMarcus Aldridge, Por PF
18 Team 3 Kobe Bryant, LAL SG
19 Team 2 Josh Smith, Atl PF
20 NYC Fatboys Al Jefferson, Uta C  
21 NYC Fatboys John Wall, Wsh PG  
22 Team 2 Chris Bosh, Mia PF
23 Team 3 Rudy Gay, Mem SF
24 Team 4 Zach Randolph, Mem PF
25 Team 5 Eric Gordon, Nor SG
26 Team 6 Danny Granger, Ind SF
27 Team 7 Al Horford, Atl C
28 Team 8 Kevin Martin, Hou SG
29 Team 9 Rajon Rondo, Bos PG
30 Team 10 Joe Johnson, Atl SG

Imagine my feeling as I’m sitting at #20, one pick left in front of me and the only guy on my radar is Josh Smith. You have names like John Wall, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph sitting out there and my buddy in front of me pulls the trigger on Smith and transitively, my hopes. Nobody else on the board has a statistical repertoire like Smith does, so I panic. I weigh taking Gordon and Rondo, but I realize I’d instantaneously give up TOs & FG% without solidifying a W in any category since the three players I’d have are SO varied. I thought about Gay and Granger but the very reason I though about it (athletic 3’s who do everything) ultimately undid that plan (I can’t start a draft with 3 SFs).

I ultimately settled on Al Jefferson and John Wall and I regretted it as soon as pick #22 went on the clock. I like Jefferson. I like him a lot. I picked him because his FG% is among the best in the league year after year and he’s a big man that will not crippled my team’s FT numbers. Not only that but he’s been upping his blocks as of late. Combine that with his guaranteed LOCK of 15/10 every game along with my mistrust of Al Horford and he was a no-brainer. Granted, Utah is LOADED in the front court, but I think Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are both at LEAST a year away from threatening Al’s production.

There I sat at 21 with a center and a forward and I felt a serious lack of assists on my squad. A PG was a must in my mind at this point and there were two out there that I was looking at: Wall and Rondo. I knew that on my next pick the BEST option available at the point would be a POSSIBLE Steve Nash/Kyle Lowry combination. Good, but not starting PGs on a championship fantasy team. In going with Wall I went with the flair, the possibility of awesomeness, the hype that surrounded the mythical beast. With an average draft position of #17 I thought to myself Wall was going to be a steal @ 21 and all those people taking Wall in the top 15 COULDN’T be wrong, right? Wrong.

Don’t get it twisted, Wall could turn out being the best player on my team. The kid’s wicked talented and is clearly the best player on his team in Washington. His points, steal and assist  numbers are going to be ridiculous. But, he just wasn’t the right fit on my team with Durant and Jefferson already in the mix. Hell, in hindsight, Rondo wasn’t either. What I needed right there was another big man, not a PG. My team was on the verge of dominating in boards, TOs and FG% for the year and then I grabbed a player who’s going to have 2-12 shooting nights combined with 8 TOs. What I really should have done right there was take Zach Randolph and said PEACE to any competition in those 3 categories. I knew as soon as I clicked draft that John Wall was the wrong pick there, and as rounds 4, 5 & 6 rolled out, I was under the gun to make up for that pick:

31 Team 10 Nene, Den C
32 Team 9 Joakim Noah, Chi C
33 Team 8 Paul Pierce, Bos SF
34 Team 7 Steve Nash, Pho PG
35 Team 6 Tyreke Evans, Sac PG
36 Team 5 David Lee, GS PF
37 Team 4 Gerald Wallace, Por SF
38 Team 3 Andrew Bynum*, LAL C
39 Team 2 Andre Iguodala, Phi SF
40 NYC Fatboys Jrue Holiday, Phi PG  
41 NYC Fatboys Serge Ibaka, OKC C  
42 Team 2 DeMarcus Cousins, Sac PF
43 Team 3 Paul Millsap, Uta PF
44 Team 4 Andrew Bogut, Mil C
45 Team 5 Ty Lawson, Den PG
46 Team 6 Marc Gasol, Mem C
47 Team 7 Marcin Gortat, Pho C
48 Team 8 Kyle Lowry, Hou PG
49 Team 9 JaVale McGee, Wsh C
50 Team 10 Stephen Jackson, Mil SG
51 Team 10 Mike Conley, Mem PG
52 Team 9 Manu Ginobili, SA SG
53 Team 8 Dorell Wright, GS SF
54 Team 7 Ray Allen, Bos SG
55 Team 6 Devin Harris, Uta PG
56 Team 5 Luis Scola, Hou PF
57 Team 4 Raymond Felton, Por PG
58 Team 3 David West, Ind PF
59 Team 2 Kyrie Irving, Cle PG
60 NYC Fatboys Greg Monroe, Det PF  

I had Jrue Holiday, Serge Ibaka, and Greg Monroe lined up before the draft started as my potential steals and I was very happy to get all three. I think Monroe and Holiday are going to be top-30 players come the end of this season as they fill up the stat book. I also reached a little bit for Ibaka, but I didn’t think I’d be able to get him and Monroe if I didn’t pull the trigger on him then and in a round that featured mediocre big men like Marcin Gortat, Andrew Bogut and Marc Gasol, he was a good pick within the context of the round.

The reason I wanted Monroe and Ibaka was that together they make the best fantasy big man in the league. Their FG% and defense simply add to my dominance in those categories and with their potential to put up big offensive numbers this year I had to pair them together. I like Monroe better than all the big men in these three rounds outside of Cousins and Noah (Bynum’s injury history is scary, as is David West’s relocation).

At this point I have a squad of Kevin Durant, Al Jefferson, John Wall, Jrue Holiday, Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe. That’s an auxiliary statistician’s dream and it was clear to me that it was time to re-focus on putting the ball in the basket for rounds 7-11:

61 NYC Fatboys Danilo Gallinari, Den SF  
62 Team 2 Brandon Jennings, Mil PG
63 Team 3 Tim Duncan, SA PF
64 Team 4 Brook Lopez*, NJ C
65 Team 5 Andrea Bargnani, Tor C
66 Team 6 Andray Blatche, Wsh PF
67 Team 7 Luol Deng, Chi SF
68 Team 8 Jason Kidd, Dal PG
69 Team 9 Tony Parker, SA PG
70 Team 10 Michael Beasley, Min SF
71 Team 10 DeAndre Jordan, LAC C
72 Team 9 Wesley Matthews, Por SG
73 Team 8 Roy Hibbert, Ind C
74 Team 7 Carlos Boozer, Chi PF
75 Team 6 Elton Brand, Phi PF
76 Team 5 Tyson Chandler, NY C
77 Team 4 Jason Terry, Dal SG
78 Team 3 Lamar Odom, Dal PF
79 Team 2 Jason Richardson, Orl SG
80 NYC Fatboys DeMar DeRozan, Tor SG  
81 NYC Fatboys Channing Frye, Pho PF  
82 Team 2 Trevor Ariza, Nor SF
83 Team 3 Darren Collison, Ind PG
84 Team 4 Jose Calderon, Tor PG
85 Team 5 Kevin Garnett, Bos PF
86 Team 6 Chris Kaman, Nor C
87 Team 7 Chauncey Billups, LAC PG
88 Team 8 James Harden, OKC SG
89 Team 9 Marcus Thornton, Sac SG
90 Team 10 Jameer Nelson, Orl PG
91 Team 10 Derrick Williams, Min PF
92 Team 9 Kris Humphries, NJ PF
93 Team 8 Emeka Okafor, Nor C
94 Team 7 Corey Maggette, Cha SF
95 Team 6 Caron Butler, LAC SF
96 Team 5 Nick Young, Wsh SG
97 Team 4 Kemba Walker, Cha PG
98 Team 3 Richard Hamilton, Chi SG
99 Team 2 Antawn Jamison, Cle PF
100 NYC Fatboys Toney Douglas, NY PG  
101 NYC Fatboys Ed Davis, Tor PF  
102 Team 2 Jarrett Jack, Nor PG
103 Team 3 Nicolas Batum, Por SF
104 Team 4 Anderson Varejao, Cle PF
105 Team 5 Anthony Morrow, NJ SG
106 Team 6 Rodney Stuckey, Det PG
107 Team 7 Arron Afflalo, Den SG
108 Team 8 Boris Diaw, Cha PF
109 Team 9 Baron Davis*, NY PG
110 Team 10 D.J. Augustin, Cha PG

For the final 4 rounds I focused on improving my offensive #s and I think I did so very well by adding two of the best shooters in the league in Danillo Gallinari and Channing Frye, and in Demar DeRozan I think I picked up a potential superstar who could be looking at a breakout year (pretty good for the 8th round). I took Douglas because he’s going to put up some very good offensive numbers while B-Diddy is out (which will probably be all year), and I took a non-gamble on Ed Davis upping his #s this year.

In the end, I’ve convinced myself I have the best team in the league, but I do that every year. This team is high-rish, however, as I banked a lot on players like Ibaka, Monroe, Wall and DeRozan continuing their development. Let’s say they used this lockout time to just sit and chill and forget about basketball, what I have now is a team full of underachievers and some major trade bait in Kevin Durant and Al Jefferson. Hopefully, this isn’t the case, and I don’t think it will be because I’ve got a very young team and with the schedule set-up this year I think young players will reap the benefits the most with veterans taking games off here and there.

Ultimately, the only thing I can hope for is a season that won’t be effected by injury as there is nothing worse than having a quality team stricken by the limping ghost. This is why Fantasy is so magical, it REALLY helps me understand the pain and anguish that a real GM feels- underachieving and injuries, Bill Polian (Colts) and Howie Roseman (Eagles), let’s hope I won’t be joining you this year, weeping from the booth.



One Response

  1. Your going down Fatboys!

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