I’ve had a couple requests lately for a post about draft pairings through the first two rounds. I planned on publishing 1,500 words on the value of calling Shaquille O’Neal the “Big Shamrock” instead of “Ordeal O’Neal,” but it occurred to me that 1,470 of those words would probably be unprintable. Oh, and draft pairings are pretty important too. I already went over the importance of the second pick, but barely touched upon the importance of evaluating your first and second picks as a single unit. How important are pairings? Take the White Stripes. It wouldn’t be unheard of to say the White Stripes are 90 percent Jack White and 10 percent Meg. But if you showed up to a White Stripes show and it was Jack White and some stranger behind the skins – admit it, you’d feel slighted. Even if the backup drummer was better. Anything else would feel incomplete. It’s all about the pairing. So here we’re going to use the 2010 fantasy basketball rankings, top 10 and top 20 lists to pair each of the first round picks with whom they would fit well with from the second round. Make sure you go to the bathroom before we start, because we’re not stopping before we get to the end. Here are some pairings for the first two rounds of 2010 fantasy basketball drafts:
Kevin Durant – You can’t go wrong pairing the Velvet Hoop with anyone in the second round, but his weakest (least strong?) stats lend themselves to teaming him with a PG. Steve Nash wouldn’t be bad, but Rajon Rondo would be perfect. Durantula’s high FT%/solid 3pt would easily offset Rondo’s low output in these categories. If you’d prefer to set him up with a big man, Dwight Howard is reasonable even in roto leagues. Durant is the only guy that can offset Howard’s FT% by himself (they shot a combined .748 from the line last year, which isn’t great, but at least your team’s FT% won’t have to wheel around an oxygen tank just to stay alive). He can also offset Dwight’s lack of threes. Together, their turnovers would be atrocious, but look at the bright side: you just turned Dwight Howard into a roto deficit of one instead of three.
Chris Paul – Stay away from Deron or Curry. You’re looking for rebounds and blocks to pair with Paul, so go ahead and look at Al Horford. Look at him! If not Al, Brook Lopez is a likely candidate to get overlooked and may fall far enough down in the draft to grab in the second round. Lord help the league that lets Lopez and Paul fall to the same owner.
LeBron James – No ‘Melo or Wallace. You’d just be drafting lesser versions of LeBron. His only real statistical weakness is his free throw shooting, so you have the freedom to choose among the solid free throw shooters (Nash, Curry, Lopez, Joe Johnson) that might still be available in the second-round and whatever stats in which you feel like dominating early. But this is LeBron James we’re talking about, it’s hard to go wrong when you’ve already started off so right!
Dirk Nowitzki – Dirk is a very balanced player without being gaudy. Guys like this need to be matched with other balanced players. Wallace or Iguodala would fit nicely. You might consider the less-balanced Rondo too, but your threes and blocks would need attention in the third round and it’s not always easy to cover those two stats with one player.
Danny Granger – I’d go for a big man here. Preferably a reliable one like David Lee. Granger owners are going to be worried about his health above all else, so taking someone like Amar’e or Al Jefferson will make for a nerve-wracking winter. Aside from the emotional side of things, Granger needs to be paired with an efficient shooter and an above-average passer. Pau Gasol would also be perfect but unless both players are undervalued and last until the turn in the draft, you won’t have the option of both of them. Lee is easily going to shoot over .500 from the floor this season and should dish off 4 – 4.5 dimes to boot.
Kobe Bryant – Go for a big man ’cause Kobe be gunnin’ this season. His FG% and TOVs are going to be bad. Bad. Ba – wait for it – d. Someone like Bosh, Horford or Wallace would work here. You want a reliable FG% and low-to-average turnovers without sinking you anywhere else.
Pau Gasol – As the first traditional big man on the list (Dirk might as well be a SF), Gasol needs someone quick to pair up with. Stephen Curry would be the best match-up and not entirely unthinkable as both have an ADP fluttering somewhere around the end of the first round. If not Curry, maybe Iguodala or Deron if he should fall that far. Nash seems like he would fit, but I don’t love the steals numbers this pairing would put up.
Dwyane Wade – Close your eyes. Wait. First put out that lit cigarette. Okay, now close your eyes. Are they closed? Imagine Wade and ‘Melo together. Their ADP suggests the two could easily fall to the same owner. Wade needs someone to shoot over .800 from the free throw line. He also needs someone to shoot the three ball a little better than he will (but not WAY better), and grab a rebound or two more than him. That’s Carmelo Anthony. Curry or Nash would work here too.
Deron Williams – Williams is a passer. Give him someone to pass to. I like Horford, Amar’e, Jefferson in that order.
Brook Lopez – BroLo is many things, but he is not fast. At least not Curry or Iggy fast. Pair him with one of those two. If you’re okay ignoring threes until the third round, you could easily pair him with Josh Smith and form a really powerful frontcourt twosome.