After taking a few years off from playing fantasy basketball, I decided to dust off my high tops and bring my talents to the computer and resume trying. Lame seasons affected by COVID and wokeness had mostly passed on, so I was ready to get back into the swing of things and try my hand at domination on the b-ball (fantasy) court. That was, at least, the plan.
|Draft type||Auction ($200 budget)|
|Roster positions||G, G, G, F, F, F, C, C, Util, Util, BN, BN, BN, BN, IL, IL, IL, IL+, IL+, IL+|
|Categories||Field Goal Percentage (FG%), Free Throw Percentage (FT%), 3-point Shots Made (3PTM), Points Scored (PTS), Total Rebounds (REB), Assists (AST), Steals (ST), Blocked Shots (BLK), Turnovers (TO), Double-Doubles (DD), Triple-Doubles (TD)|
Although I hadn’t played recently, I thought I could rely on my general strategy of skipping the stars and instead focus on capturing talent within the top-50 or so. The general idea is that players within the top five are drafted according to fair market value, or even above market value, which means you get what you pay for. The key to winning at fantasy, however, is to get more than what you pay for. For this reason, drafting players at prices below their value means your net gain is above the gains of other teams drawing solely at value.
Anyway, here’s how my draft went down:
|1.||(3)||Myles Turner (IND – F,C)||$13|
|2.||(25)||Zion Williamson (NOP – F)||$26|
|3.||(30)||Fred VanVleet (TOR – G)||$27|
|4.||(39)||OG Anunoby (TOR – F)||$16|
|5.||(42)||Kyle Lowry (MIA – G)||$14|
|6.||(43)||Collin Sexton (CLE – G)||$13|
|7.||(44)||Davion Mitchell (SAC – G)||$1|
|8.||(47)||Khris Middleton (MIL – F)||$23|
|9.||(50)||Jaylen Brown (BOS – G,F)||$22|
|10.||(55)||Derrick White (BOS – G)||$7|
|11.||(56)||Jrue Holiday (MIL – G)||$30|
|12.||(116)||Mo Bamba (ORL – C)||$5|
|13.||(118)||Jordan Clarkson (UTA – G)||$1|
|14.||(123)||Larry Nance Jr. (NOP – F,C)||$1|
With one exception, my draft was fairly solid. I was able to draft Fred VanVleet (preseason rank #23), Myles Turner (#35), Khris Middleton (#42), Jaylen Brown (#32), Jrue Holiday (#43), and OG Anunoby (#46), which means I had six players within the top fifty. I did go out on a limb and got into a small bidding war to land Zion Williamson, whom I knew would be injured for a few weeks to start the season, but I expected he could carry a large load in the rebounds and double-double category, which I was weak in.
Besides these players, I was also able to draft some other solid top 100 players, such as Derrick White (#53), Kyle Lowry (#65), Collin Sexton (#72), Mo Bamba (#99). The stage was set for a very solid season.
The Season: the good, the bad, and the ugly
Let’s start with the good. I was able to snag quite a few players off waivers who ended up being quite solid performers for my team. One of my early adds was undrafted rookie Scottie Barnes, who ended up as the #65 ranked player on average and helped mostly in points and rebounds. Another player was Saddiq Bey (#91), who had been added and dropped by several teams before I scooped him up and held on since December, and I also grabbed Marcus Smart (#84) after he was dropped in February. Kevin Love (#113) was another nice early add. Although he was limited in minutes played, he enjoyed stretches of great stats in points, rebounds, and threes. Andre Drummond (#123) was a monster on boards, but he really only shined when starting for Joel Embiid and after he was traded to Brooklyn in the middle of the season. My best add, though, was Gary Trent, Jr. (#56), who averaged over 18 points per game.
Now to the bad. Once the season began in the Fall, I quickly realized that my team was highly inadequate, as I lost my weekly matchups for six weeks in a row. Six weeks! One reason I was kicking myself was that I realized the highest value players were those who could achieve the most rare feats – double doubles, and triple doubles. Those players could win one or two categories per week – a huge victory in an 11-cat league. Teams would normally top out at about 6-7 double doubles per week, and often had no triple doubles.
Unfortunately, I drafted zero players double double threats (aside from Zion), so I really struggled in those categories. My team also just unperformed in the early part of the season, which put me in a worst-case-scenario situation right off the bat.
And now, to the ugly. I pinned my hopes, and $26 of my $200 budget, on Zion Williamson. What was supposed to be a temporary injury at the beginning of the season turned into a lost season in which he played zero games because of lingering issues. Zero. All that money was wasted. With that cash, I could have instead drafted players like Shai Gilgeous Alexander ($25, #40 at end of season), Deandre Ayton ($25, #33), or Donovan Mitchell ($25, #35).
What made it worse was that I had him riding the IL for the season because I thought he might come back. If I knew I could cut him, I could have used that IL spot for another player who would have come back.
I should have already known this lesson, but the big takeaway for me is to AVOID drafting players who are injured to start the season, unless at a huge value. I’ve done this before and told myself to not do it again, but here we are. Of course it’s always a risk drafting anyone, but it’s better to let another team manager take on that risk.
Another lesson is to make sure to study the scoring settings in advance, INCLUDING the ramifications of it all. If I had done this, I could have recognized that finding double-double machines would not only have helped in cornering two categories, but likely a third as well. It’s strange, but Nikola Jokic, who was drafted #1 overall at $68, achieved 66 double-doubles on the year, and 19 triple-doubles. That’s an insane amount of production, and probably meant that he was one of the few #1 players who actually produced at a rate that was under his cost.
On to 2022-2023!