Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I was 3-9-2 against the spread this week. Two teams were favored by 3 and won by exactly 3, thus the ties.

45-43-2 Overall

Lock of the Week: 3-2-1
Upset of the Week: 3-3
Lions Picks: 3-3

Next week I'll probably just flip a coin 14 times. Or pick 14 home teams. Or pick teams alphabetically. I don't know if I could possibly do worse than 3-9-2. How embarassing.

But to prove that I'm not a complete idiot, I'd like to point out that I went 2-0 in the significant fantasy leagues and 7-3 in the semi-pointless leagues for a 9-3 week.

In other news, the NBA season starts two weeks from tonight!


A couple months ago I wrote a large NBA Preview which hopefully you enjoyed or at least read. I'm currently thinking about writing something about the Pistons, but it's a little bit depressing to think about.

I'm in two fantasy basketball leagues this year; one for kicks and giggles, and the other for very serious bragging rights. The B league drafted yesterday. I took Dirk Nowitzki, Brandon Roy, Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, Andrew Bogut, and Russell Westbrook and I wasn't thrilled about any of those picks. I'll probably be competitive depending on what free agents become available and who gets hurt. The other league, a prestigous Cornerstone league full of fantasy basketball nuts, drafts tomorrow night at 9pm.

I know I'm not going to replicate the magic of last year's fantasy basketball season. I stole Kevin Durant at the end of the first round (9th pick) and he went on to lead the NBA in scoring. I had Rondo (1st in steals, 3rd in assists), Bogut (2nd in blocks), Josh Smith (top 5 in blocks), Paul Pierce (steady scoring), Gerald Wallace (top 5 in rebounds), Corey Maggette (consistent 20 ppg), and the three best fantasy rookies by a mile: Tyreke Evans (one of only three players to average a 20-5-5, the other two were Kobe and LeBron), Brandon Jennings (scored 25 ppg the first two months of the season, then fell apart) and Stephen Curry (fantasy darling with 18 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals a night).

It was a wonderous season and I easily captured the title. I might have had the best fantasy basketball team in America. Like I said, there's no way I'm recapturing the magic of that team.

But fantasy basketball is a lot different from fantasy football. There's not as much riding on the draft, and there's a lot more room for error. Injuries are equally decimating, but it's easier to find replacements. There are very few stinker games where you player puts up a goose egg. If a guy scores 24 a night, he'll rarely if ever drop below 15. Consistency is the key.

And of course, the primary difference in the two games is versatility. If fantasy football, you want a team which amasses yards and scores touchdowns. That's all that matters. In fantasy basketball, you need a balance. In fact, balance is everything.

Every league has different scoring settings, but these are the categories of importance in my 'bragging rights' league which begins tomorrow night:


So obviously scoring is important, but without rebounding and high percentages, you're not going anywhere. You need the defensive stats too.

Typically, your big guys get rebounds and blocks, while your guards rack up assists and steals. Scoring can come from anywhere. Bigs shoot poorer free throw percentages; 2 guards shoot the most 3s. Those are generalizations, but usually true. The key is to find players who break the positional rules.

For example, Troy Murphy is a power forward/center who gets 10 boards and 2 blocks per night. But he's valuable in FBB because he'll also make 2 or 3 threes each game.

Or take a guy like Russell Westbrook. He scores about 16 per game, with 7 assists and 1.5 steals - a solid but not amazing point guard. But what makes him worthy of super sleeper potential in fantasy basketball is his propensity to grab 5 or 6 rebounds every game. When you get rebounds from the PG or SG position, it takes a lot of pressure off you bigs to act like typical bigs, and it allows you the luxury to have high-scoring bigs who stink at rebounding, such as Dirk Nowitzki or Amare Stoudemire.

Conversely, getting 3 assists a game and high FT% from your bigs (such as David Lee or Carlos Boozer) allows you to take uncharacteristic guards. A perfect example is Rajon Rondo. He'll be in the top 5 in the NBA in both steals and assists this season, but he scores only about 13 per game and shoots a horrendous 52% from the free throw line. His 2-6 nights from the line will kill your team. But if your big guys are routinely going 10-12 from the stripe, it neutralizes things and all you're doing is benefitting from steals and assists.

There are two basic strategies: you can go the specialist route (take Bogut for blocks, Nash for assists, David Lee for rebounds, etc) or you can do what I do, a strategy that's won me 2 fantasy basketball championships in my 3 years of experience. And it's simple: get guys who do a little bit of everything.

Not that I wouldn't draft a "specialist" player like Bogut or Nash (I gladly would), but don't leave the category there. Don't say "I've got blocks covered, now I need scoring." Try to get as many well-rounded fantasy players as possible. Guys who fill the stat sheet. Guys who get a steal, a block, a three and 4 rebounds every single night. Guys who play a lot of minutes, but don't score a ton of points, but they make their presence known.

I realize I'm writing this to nobody, because either nobody is reading this or nobody gives a crap about fantasy basketball. But the point is - you should. It's every bit as fun as fantasy football, and involves a lot less luck. In fantasy football, you could be the smartest guy in the league and never win the championship. You could start a team of guys who are "projected" to put up big numbers, and get totally hosed by some dork who autodrafted and couldn't even tell you 3 players on his own team. In fact, for week 6 of the NFL season, you could have played this team full of slam-dunk, can't-miss fantasy football superstars:

Phillip Rivers
Michael Turner
Maurice Jones-Drew
Miles Austin
Wes Welker
Reggie Wayne
Antonio Gates

...and you would have got destroyed. You would have scored about 40 points total. Isn't that just ridiculous? Fantasy basketball isn't remotely like that. If you have a team full of first and second round picks, you're unbeatable. There's no such thing as 'LeBron James only scored 3 points and had 1 rebound tonight.' But that's exactly what happens on Sundays. And it's pretty dang maddening.

So anyway.... I'm excited to see how the draft goes, who I end up with, and if any Pistons players are taken in the top 100.

Stay tuned for my pathetic week 7 picks.

1 comment:

  1. basketball? do they still even play that?

    and hey, don't beat yourself up about your picks. everyone has off weeks. remember last season when you, me, and Bill Simmons started the playoffs 0-4?

    random fantasy question: should i start Flacco (home against Buffalo) or Orton (home against Oakland)? (i might do the opposite of what you say)