Fantasy Basketball Pointers
The Answerman is the first and only Fantasy Basketball and Romance advice columnist on the web. He is here at insidehoops.com to answer all your questions (or at least the interesting ones).
...and we’re back.
About four weeks to go until the season starts, but all your fantasy drafts should be starting soon. Here, for your reading pleasure, are the five things you absolutely must do before your fantasy season starts.
Select a league
Very tough chore. Some people believe that a "good" league for people who "really" know basketball involve an overwhelming amount of stats. Three-pointers, turnovers, three-point percentage, FG%, FT%, fouls, technical fouls, etc. blah blah blah. It's nonsense.
Basketball is not a sport of percentages. It’s a sport of big scores, and big dudes on a small court making a lot of plays. This isn’t baseball where every time the ball touches the bat there is a celebration. In basketball, the teams score 200 times a game. There are roughly 100 rebounds up for grabs. Every pass can lead to an assist or a steal. Obsessing over minutia like 3-point percentage just isn’t very basketball.
The only stats that should count in a good basketball league are points, assists, rebounds, blocks, and steals. Everything else is a baseball derivative stat - and thus boring.
If you want to make a league more complex, get more teams, not more stats. The truth is that the NBA has so many teams that talent is diluted. It makes each great player greater, and every role player useful. If you want to be in a tough league, go to one with 20 teams of 20 players each – or enough depth for Bruce Bowen to look valuable.
Learn the teams
Some people spend time obsessing over the players. My first INBOX question of the season was "Who are the top 15 players in the draft?" Don't waste too much time on that. With your top pick you are going to get a great player. We all know who these guys are.
My interest is learning the teams. Look at the teams that scored a lot of points last year. Teams that gave up a lot of points. Teams that played fast (more rebounds) and teams that played slow (less everything).
Once you learn the teams, the players late in the draft – the players that win leagues – present themselves. Want steals? Look to Philly. Want rebounds? Look to Seattle. Want points? Look at Dallas, Phoenix.
In college, did you waste time looking at a face book to find the hot girls, or did you simply go to the bars where all the hot girls hung out? Or go to the bars late knowing there’d be drunk girls there? Or go to the strip bar because – well – there are strippers there? I digress...
Conversely, stay very far away from teams with great depth. Stay very far away from San Antonio. Stay very far away from Miami. Grizzlies are suddenly safer (take Eddie Jones in the 8th round) but New York Knicks are dangerous as ever (who is their starting 2? 3? 4? Nobody knows).
Look to teams with mysteries for your sleepers. There will be a break out big man in LA. Take a flier on one of their bigs late in the draft. Somebody is going to step up next to Paul Pierce in Boston. Will it be Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, one of the new point guards? Look in the 11th round, someone will go Bobby Simmons on us, this is how you find out who.
Read articles in pre-season
Read good articles from local papers by legitimate reporters. Go to the ISH NBA rumors page for links. There is a wealth of good information. Who is starting? Who has gone to camp early? late? In shape? Out of shape?
Just read draft articles like this one once or twice. I already told you to go find Al Jefferson and Gerald Green. That is good advice for the 11th round, but read it enough and all of a sudden you are drafting Jefferson in the 5th round (Darius Miles style) and cursing your team.
Like Sean Connery says in The Untouchables: "If you think the apples are rotten, don’t go to the barrel, go straight to the tree" -- i.e. everyone is reading this article. Fantasy columnists get information from local reporters and make fantasy related conclusions. Our information is already in the barrel. Want a jump on everyone else, go straight to the tree.
Reflect on last year and forget it
The story of my Sophomore Mistake: I trailed in assists throughout Freshman year. The entire year I was trying to trade rebounding for assists. Trying to get assists wherever I could find them, waiver, free agents, whatever. The next year’s draft I spent my first three picks on the passers I drooled over the prior season. My Sophomore team had a lot of assists, a fair amount of steals, but absolutely nothing else.
What you should take from last year is how the guys performed. They’ll do about the same this year. The guy from the other team that beat you, draft him this year. Your player with the good averages that you just couldn’t trust (let’s call him Artest), he’ll be as unreliable this year.
Remember the facts, avoid the emotions.
Make love to your wife, play with your kids, call your parents
It’s a long season and they will all be sorely neglected. Make these next six weeks count.
Good luck and remember if you have any questions, be sure to write the firstname.lastname@example.org