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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

2006-7 Fantasy NBA Basketball Draft

Now for something entirely different to take a break from the Bang of Big...

Blogging the Deep, Deep Draft! Part one, rounds 1-4.

I was invited to join a group of fantasy basketball veterans to play in a large H2H league. Now, when I say large, I mean sixteen teams. With fourteen man rosters, doing the math means a two-hundred-and-twenty-four–man draft! Now, thirty NBA teams times five starters is one-hundred-and-fifty players that start, including at least one Bruce Bowen. Obviously one needs to know whether Rasual Butler will be worth much of anything this year when drafting that deep. I accept the invitation, with players from both Rotokingdom and Fantasy Kings sites participating.

The fun begins when I am randomly selected to be the sixteenth, and last, drafter. So I am not going to be getting LeBron or The Matrix. I resign myself to starting behind the eight-ball. But there is a bright side in that, as I tell myself, “Dude, you’re getting two of the seventeen best players in the game!” Su-u-u-u-u-u-re.

We agree on standard cats and rosters:

Standard 9 category, Head to Head - FG%, FT%, 3PTM, PTS, REB, AST, ST, BLK, TO

Standard positions - PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, C, Util, Util, BN, BN, BN, BN

Now, one of the first things I do is check out the Yahoo player ‘cards’ to determine who has what eligibility. No use drafting Rasheed Wallace as a center if Yahoo has him listed as a PF...or should I say it is a gamble to draft ‘Sheed and expect him to get center eligibility. I also wanted to see what cool designation they were going to give to Boris Diaw, but Yahoo simply lists him as a ‘Forward-Center’ which is rather boring of them.

After we quibble over whether we want turnovers as a category or not (we do) and whether there will be time limits on the draft (yes, 24 hours) we get down to it:

1.01 SirDunkAlot - LeBron James
1.02 dcdoorknob - Shawn Marion
1.03 Baseballar13 (From Dutch) - Kevin Garnett
1.04 bangalack89 (From UCLAccord) - Kobe Bryant
1.05 Ucaimaman - Dirk Nowitzki
1.06 Goubs - Gilbert Arenas
1.07 Dutch (From baseballar13) - Dwayne Wade

(This seems too low for D Wade...but all of these guys are primo..)

1.08 LdubLakerPrideFKUnit - Elton Brand
1.09 SantaKlaus02002 - Steve Nash

(I wonder if Nash, like Samson, loses his strength along with his hair?)

1.10 DAtaris17 - Chris Bosh
1.11 UCLAccord (From bangalack89) - Paul Pierce
1.12 KB89 - Ray Allen
1.13 Mikl - Andrei Kirilenko
1.14 CelticsFan3519 - Yao Ming
1.15 Supa-FK-Unit - Allen Iverson

People are already making trades! In any event, things begin in a normal manner and none of the early picks surprise me. As a group we drafted the top eight players with the top eight picks, so we must know what we are doing. I think that after those top eight the opinions become a bit mixed concerning who to take. But there are no mistakes in the first round as far as I see it.

As it gets close to my turn, I decide that my first choice will be a point guard, either Iverson or Chris Paul. When Supa goes with Iverson, then I select Paul, who as the NBA Rookie of the Year scored well, with good FT% and assists and a ton of steals. I also considered how Dwyane Wade increased his scoring by 50% and boosted his numbers generally across the board in his second season in the league. LeBron saw his numbers increase dramatically in his second season. In fact, the truly outstanding rookie usually makes a big leap in production in his second season, if injuries are not a factor. Paul was a good bet to make people wish they had drafted him somewhere between, say, Brand and Ming. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

1.16 radar - Chris Paul
2nd Round
2.01 radar - Jermaine O'Neal

My next pick was going to be for Pau Gasol. Keep in mind this draft began before Pau’s injury, so I saw him as an obvious choice. I didn’t want to be dragged down by Tim Duncan’s terrible FT% this year and was afraid to invest a top pick in Amare, who had yet to prove he was recovered from microfracture knee surgery. So it was between O’Neal and Gasol and possibly Okur. For some reason, mainly because I figure JON is going to block more shots, I take him instead of Gasol (and immediately hope that Okur will be available in the third round)! This turns out to be incredibly bad luck for KB89. Then again, it was me who last year drafted Amare in half of his redraft leagues! Later we learn that Gasol will miss four months after surgery but right now none of us know this, so KB made a good choice at the time.

Anyway, it is early but I can see that I am doing okay on points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. I may be punting FG% and not sure about FT% and 3PTM. I like to figure out early in a H2H draft where my strengths are and draft accordingly, but within reason. I am not going to jump thirty places ahead to get a shot-blocking center! But I very well might jump, say, three....The draft continues:

2.02 Supa-FK-Unit - Vince Carter
2.03 KB89 (From CelticsFan3519) - Pau Gasol
2.04 Mikl - Tim Duncan

(Mikl probably will decide to punt FT% now)

2.05 CelticsFan3519 (From KB89) - Jason Kidd
2.06 UCLAccord (From bangalack89) - Joe Johnson
2.07 DAtaris17 - Michael Redd
2.08 SantaKlaus02002 - Chauncy Billups
2.09 Goubs (From LdubLakerPrideFKUnit) - Tracy McGrady
2.10 Dutch (From baseballar13) - Amare Stoudemire

(The last two picks are big injury risks with high upsides. Gutsy to draft them this high!)

2.11 LdubLakerPrideFKUnit (From Goubs) - Rashard Lewis
2.12 Ucaimaman - Gerald Wallace
2.13 bangalack89 (From UCLAccord) - Jason Richardson
2.14 baseballar13 (From Dutch) - Dwight Howard
2.15 dcdoorknob - Rasheed Wallace
2.16 SirDunkAlot - Brad Miller
3rd Round
3.01 SirDunkAlot - Mike Bibby

(I am thinking maybe SirDunk is a Sacramento fan?)

3.02 dcdoorknob - Ben Wallace
3.03 Dutch - Josh Smith

(Josh was a 15 point, 3 block, 1 steal and 8 boards per game monster after the All-Star game last year. Is he AK47 part 2? Yet Yahoo lists him as a backup to Childress!!!)

3.04 UCLAccord - Ron Artest
3.05 Ucaimaman - Lamar Odom
3.06 LdubLakerPrideFKUnit (From Goubs) - Antawn Jamison
3.07 baseballar13 - Richard Jefferson
3.08 Goubs (From LdubLakerPrideFKUnit) - Peja Stojakovic
3.09 SantaKlaus02002 - Marcus Camby

(Looks like Santa is going for good FT% now, taking Nash, Billups and now Camby.)

3.10 DAtaris17 - Carmelo Anthony
3.11 bangalack89 - Boris Diaw

(Oh-oh...I wanted Boris this round. Only one more center-eligible I really want now.)

3.12 CelticsFan3519 (From KB89) - David West
3.13 Mikl - Carlos Boozer

(Now I am getting pumped! They took Boozer before Okur!)

3.14 KB89 (From CelticsFan3519) - Raymond Felton
3.15 Supa-FK-Unit - Caron Butler

I would have liked to have Butler here, so I will go guard again. Boozer and Felton are gone but I preferred one center and one guard above them and now I can take them here.

3.16 radar - Kirk Hinrich
4th Round
4.01 radar - Mehmet Okur

Drafting those guys, I am still doing good for points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. These are my categories I intend to consistently win. Okur, like JON, is a FC so he can play center, forward and power forward. Paul is a PG but Hinrich is just a G, which means he plays PG, SG and just plain G positions. I like having a bit of flexibility for scheduling and injury purposes. Also, I have two top-rated centers already and my point guards are definitely covered. I am still looking pretty good for FT% and 3PTM as additional strong categories....and I am now absolutely for sure punting FG% and TO. Did I mention that I am a Chicago Bulls fan? Drafting Captain Kirk guarantees at least a bit of Bulls flavor to my team.

You ask, what is punting in basketball, I thought that was a football term? Punting is when you deliberately decide to ignore a category and expect to usually lose it. If I decide that I am punting FT%, then I am not afraid to pick up Shaq because he will help me win in other areas and I am ignoring FT%. In H2H, it would be unwise to pick up Nowitzki and Nash, with their outstanding FT shooting, and then bring Shaq on board to ruin your category anyway. In my case, I am punting FG% and TO so I don’t worry about that phase of my potential draft pick’s game. I’ll still take a guy with good FG% if he helps me in my target categories, though. You don’t get points for being the worst in a category...Otherwise Shaq would be a first round draft pick!

Why punt at all? Because you can’t win every category, so punting is the simply the flip side of trying to score in your target categories. Again, I am not looking to find the worst FG% shooters, I am looking for guys who score, rebound, get assists, steal and blocks. I just don’t care about FG%. Make sense?

Here is the rest of the fourth round:

4.02 Baseballar13 (From Supa-FK-Unit) - Stephon Marbury
4.03 CelticsFan3519 - Jason Terry (traded to dcdoorknob)
4.04 Mikl - Shane Battier
4.05 UCLAccord (From KB89) - Zydrunas Ilgauskas
4.06 KB89 (From UCLAccord which was from bangalack89) - Chris Kaman

(KB covers for his Gasol loss here a bit, with an underrated center in Kaman.)

4.07 DAtaris17 - Jameer Nelson
4.08 SantaKlaus02002 - Andre Iguodala
4.09 LdubLakerPrideFKUnit - Mike James
4.10 Supa-FK-Unit (From baseballar13) - Morris Peterson
4.11 Dutch (From Goubs) - Richard Hamilton
4.12 Ucaimaman - Tony Parker
4.13 bangalack89 (From UCLAccord) - Baron Davis
4.14 Goubs (From Dutch) - Luke Ridnour
4.15 CelticsFan3519 (From dcdoorknob) - Chris Webber
4.16 SirDunkAlot - Andre Miller

We have reached the Webber Line in round four – Webber being the player who is so much better in fantasy than he is in real life, so you want to draft him, but you never know when he is going to go down and never get up. The next line to cross is the Shaq Line, that place where Shaq’s other great stats finally overcome your aversion to his free throwing miseries and you take him. Everyone knows that Shaq is a great player in real life, much, much, much better than Webber. Yet in fantasy Webber goes first...

Not counting my picks, what do I think are the best value picks in rounds 1-4?

Round 1 – This is tough, all picks were completely understandable, which means no one screwed up. I will give it up to dcdoorknob for wisely taking the Matrix in the #2 slot, because it is tempting to go KG there and his numbers are beginning to drop just a hair.

Round 2 – Tough again. Maybe baseballar with Dwight Howard at 2:14. I think the guy is ready to be a stud this season!

Round 3 - Josh Smith at 3.03 by Dutch. Dutch seems to be reaching, but in fact Josh really turned it on near the end of last season and so Dutch is probably getting the equivalent of Kirilenko with fewer injury risks.

Round 4 – KB89 saves the day by taking Kaman, who is maybe the last really top-notch fantasy center available. Kaman just keeps getting better and really has no glaring weaknesses, unless you demand three-pointers from your center...and I got the last of those guys when I took Okur. He has to draft with the injury to Pau in mind going forward. He’ll get Gasol back after Christmas sometime and be so much stronger then but it was wise to go center here and Kaman was the best choice.

My best pick – Getting Paul in the first round. I didn’t think he would drop so far and was glad to get him.

My worst pick – Maybe I reached on JON at the top of round 2. I figured getting rid of Artest/Peja and adding his old Buddy Baby Al makes him both the focus of the offense, the acknowledged leader of the team and happy. Does that translate into production? Maybe pure dumb luck saved me from taking Pau but I may be sorry I didn’t take VC here. Time will tell.

Sixty-four players drafted, one-hundred and sixty left to go!

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