It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well one of the most wonderful times of the year anyway. Time to start thinking about building that fantasy basketball dynasty and taking your team to the top.
The smörgåsbord of All-Stars, Shawn Marion, is a hot commodity in fantasy leagues with his ability to do it all. (NBAE Photos)
For me that process has come a little early this year. Usually my friends and I like to reserve our draft for the most last second, most inconvenient time possible. Say five hours before the first game of the season tips off for example. This season, however, the Suns.com staff was asked to participate in an NBA-wide fantasy basketball league – with opponents coming everywhere from houstonrockets.com to orlandomagic.com. Kind of like a “who’s who” in the world of NBA Web sites if you will.
The draft is a day away now, and already my mind is weighing out all the possibilities. During class, all I could do was think of which options are best depending on where we end up selecting. With 12 teams participating, the margin for error is slim. Obviously there aren’t any mysteries with the first four or five selections. Unlike Alex Rodriguez, athletes like Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are considered can’t-misses when it comes to October. Picking at the end of the first round, meanwhile, has its advantages as you can get yourself a nice one-two punch say in the form of Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson. But where do you go if you’re dead in the middle? Is it too early to pick Amaré Stoudemire or do you chance waiting for him to come around again?
The scoring system in the league is unlike any I’ve experienced before, but it has made my strategy simple. The system gives you a point for every player’s point scored, three-pointer made, assist dished, rebound grabbed and blocked shot… um, blocked. Field goal percentage and free throw percentage are also factored in somehow, but that’s way too much algebra for me.
Anyway, while I am far from an expert in math, there is something which jumps out at me immediately. Most leagues I do are about balance and finding ways to be strong in a number of different categories. For example, you’ll have five different categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals) and win based on the amount of total categories you beat your opponent in. This is obviously where a guy like the Matrix comes in handy. The Swiss Army knife of the NBA can help a fantasy team in a number of ways, from scoring to rebounding to blocking shots and grabbing steals. The scoring system we’ll be using in this league, however, makes guys whose strong suit is putting up points much more valuable.
If you get one point for each statistic, guys like Michael Redd and Ray Allen are much more valuable than in other leagues. Normally I would select Dwight Howard well before these scorers because he’s going to contribute fairly good numbers in a number of different categories. But here, I’ll take 30 points, three rebounds and three steals from Redd over 17 points, 12 boards and two blocks from Howard. Not to mention the fact that Redd is also going to help a lot more in the three-point category as well as free throw percentage (however that works).
So now you see what I’ve been dealing with all day and why a number of times during today’s class I found myself looking over statistics rather than my notes. Tomorrow morning is the draft and I’ll be sure to give you the breakdown of how things play out. Then over the course of the season I’ll keep you updated in terms of how things are going throughout the league as the Suns.com Newsroom Team tries to capture that all elusive fantasy championship.
If anybody has any suggestions in terms of where to go tomorrow, don’t hesitate to throw in your two cents.