As someone who participates in all of the major fantasy sports leagues, the months of September and October are undoubtedly the busiest. Fantasy football drafts dominate August and early September, before fantasy hockey draft season begins to heat up by the end of the month. This leaves fantasy basketball drafting as the next major activity before the NBA season begins in mid-October.
I did not have as much time as I would have liked to prepare for this year’s draft. Ideally, I would be familiar with the potential of dozens of players, particularly those with pre-season rankings of 50-100. In lieu of this preparation, I decided to settle on a basic draft strategy which I learned from last year’s mistakes.
|Draft type||Auction ($200 budget)|
|Roster positions||PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, Util, Util, Util, BN, BN, BN, BN, IL, IL|
|Categories||Field Goal Percentage (FG%), Free Throw Percentage (FT%), 3-point Shots Made (3PTM), Points Scored (PTS), Offensive Rebounds (OREB), Defensive Rebounds (DREB), Assists (AST), Steals (ST), Blocked Shots (BLK)|
Generally speaking, I subscribe to the stars-and-scrubs approach to drafting fantasy sports teams. This approach provides maximum return with minimal risk, but it presumes that good value may be found throughout the season on waivers. With fantasy basketball, however, this approach does not seem to work as well. Instead, a more balanced approach works in which most of a manager’s budget is focused on top-100 players.
|1.||(5)||Kawhi Leonard (SA – SG,SF)||$49|
|2.||(13)||Isaiah Thomas (Cle – PG)||$17|
|3.||(31)||Victor Oladipo (Ind – PG,SG)||$12|
|4.||(32)||Mike Conley (Mem – PG)||$26|
|5.||(38)||C.J. McCollum (Por – PG,SG)||$25|
|6.||(50)||Myles Turner (Ind – PF,C)||$33|
|7.||(51)||Bradley Beal (Was – SG)||$18|
|8.||(76)||Steven Adams (OKC – C)||$4|
|9.||(83)||Rudy Gay (SA – SF,PF)||$4|
|10.||(85)||Evan Fournier (Orl – SG,SF)||$2|
|11.||(89)||George Hill (Sac – PG,SG)||$1|
|12.||(94)||Robert Covington (Phi – SF,PF)||$2|
|13.||(105)||Marcus Smart (Bos – PG)||$4|
|14.||(106)||Alex Len (Pho – PF,C)||$2|
When the draft started, my plan was to sit on the sidelines as other managers bid up players to lofty prices. Then, I was going to feast on the quality players that were left over at much better prices. Unfortunately, once the draft started, I realized that players were being drafted at reasonable prices instead of inflated ones. Lebron James went for $47. John Wall went for $45. Because of this, I realized that I needed to take advantage of the situation, so I bid on Kawhi Leonard and drafted him for $49 – quite a nice value (Leonard is the Fantasypros consensus #8 player on the board, whereas Anthony Davis, the #7 player, was drafted for $62).
My next pick of the draft, Isaiah Thomas for $17, was arguably my worst mistake of the draft. I did not realize the extent of his injury, and so I ended up drafting a player who will be out until December. There’s also an issue of how well he will perform on his new team. In retrospect, I wish I would have used the cash I spent on Thomas on a player who could help me now. At least I am able to stash him in an IR spot for the time being and have the luxury of gaining a boost in the middle of the season.
After that, my draft went pretty well. My next five picks, which ranged in price from $12 to $33, provide me with a lot of value. Oladipo, McCollum, Conley, Beal, and Turner will essentially power the engine of my team. Other later cheap picks, such as Steve Adams, Robert Covington, and Marcus Smart, could also provide me with some value.
With that said, there’s still work to be done because of the second major mistake I made during the draft: not prioritizing rebounding. The rebounding category in the league is actually split up into two categories: offensive and defensive boards. I didn’t prioritize drafting many big men, which means I will be weak in both of those categories. I didn’t intentionally punt the category, though I possibly could have. I’ll have to see how this plays out over the next month or so as I inevitably drop poor performing players and pick up more promising ones off waivers.
Overall, though, I’m pleased with y draft. I have 11 top-100 players, and seven top-50 players. Will this be good enough to reach the fantasy playoffs?