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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.

  1. AnotherFalstaff says:
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    @Adam – Thanks for a great post! I’m in 2 Yahoo leagues that give you the draft order a 1/2 hour before so this really helps. One request (at least for today): Can you arrange your tiers in a spreadsheet? If I get motivated I guess I can do it myself (lazy, I know), but they’re great helps on draft day.

  2. ThE sHiT says:
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    Good post, Adam. Thanks for helping me get an idea of what my draft should look like. I’m in a 14 team H2H league that also releases draft order 30min. before the draft. I look forward to more draft tips. Have an awesome day!

  3. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @AnotherFalstaff: re:your request – If you can wait until Thursday, then yes. If you can’t … well, then no, I guess.

    @ThE sHiT: Thanks!

  4. Will Ber says:
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    You mentioned my league in your post. They let me get Chris Paul and Brook Lopez. With my third pick I to Iguodala to boot. Looks like we have similar thinking.

  5. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Will Ber: Eesh. I’d wish you luck, but I’m pretty sure if I did, someone in your league would offer you Durant for whoever you took with your fourth pick!

  6. thepizzaman says:
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    Brook Lopez looking very solid tonight. Is there anyway to justify taking him before Dirk, Granger, or Gasol? As a net fan I’m looking for any excuse to get this guy on my team but not at the expense of completely blowing up my draft

  7. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @thepizzaman: Well, you’d be dancing with fire taking Lopez over Dirk and to a lesser extent Granger and Gasol.

    Honestly though, if you really like the guy and you’d have more fun rooting for the Nets with him on your fantasy team, it’s not THAT far of a reach. A bit of a reach, sure, but not one you couldn’t recover from.

  8. N00b says:
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    Hi Adam,
    Thanks for those awesome columns you give us. It helps a lot, especially guys like me who jumped to the world of fantasy for the first time this year.
    I am in a very deep league (18 team) with a slight variation in the scoring (no TO but offensive rebounds instead) and I can’t seem to find advices for this situation.
    Do you have an email where I can reach you with few questions regarding this league? I don’t want to bother other people in the comments section of your posts.

    Thanks again!

  9. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @N00b: Nice of you to say. Head to the Razzball Hoops forum and post your questions there:

    http://razzball.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=46

    Otherwise, feel free to let ‘em rip in the comments, you won’t bother anybody.

  10. N00b says:
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    @Adam:
    I’m gonna ask in the forums and here to double my chances :D.
    As I said before, I am in an 18 team leagues with 11 players (PG, SG, SF, PF, C, 3 Util, 3 Bench). The scoring is standard with just one modification, we don’t have turnovers but we have offensive rebounds instead. We play in a roto league.
    We have a serpentine draft and I know I have the 9th pick. As I said, it’s my first year ever playing fantasy basketball.
    What strategy should I use? Is Howard interesting without the tos and the off. reb.? Should I get Deron or Lopez? Who to take in round 2 and 3? What is the deepest position (better to wit for a PG or a C)?
    Thanks for any advice ;). And two thumbs up again for the quality of your job.

  11. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @N00b: Essentially, big men become hugely important in the league you’re in and throws average rankings out the window.

    PF and C values go up, as PGs traditionally commit the most turnovers. That said, you can’t just draft bigs first. The draft top 10 for your league should go Dwight, Gasol, Lopez, Durant, LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Dirk, J.Smith, D.Lee.

    Target one of those last few names in the first round, with ‘Melo, Amar’e, Granger, Deron, Paul, Rondo (in that order) somewhere around your second pick.

    I would suggest using a traditional cheat sheet (like the ones from Razzball!) and having a site like http://www.basketball-reference.com handy during your draft. When you identify one or two players you’re hoping to grab, compare their ORbd numbers. It might not always shift the value of each player from your cheat sheet, but it likely will.

    Below is a rough stat equivalency reminder:

    0-1 turnovers per game is equivalent to 3-5 ORbd per game.
    1-2 turnovers per game are equivalent to 2-3 ORbd per game.
    2-3 turnovers per game are equivalent to 1-2 ORbd per game.
    3-4 turnovers per game are equivalent to 0-1 ORbd per game.

  12. Roberts says:
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    @Adam
    Just found this site – nice articles!

    I will have the 8th or 9th pick in a 12 man roto league (8 cat – no TO’s). What are your thoughts on grabbing two strong PGs to start it off? Let’s assume I can grab D-Will with my first pick. Im thinking about trying to take Rondo/Nash/Kidd with the second pick.

    Any of these guys will give me ~22 asts. My rationale would be that guys providing Rbs/Blocks (and FG% and pts) are much easier to find in the later rounds. You actually wrote something about this in a post I just read. And with no turnover category, Rondo, Nash and Williams all become more attractive.

    Williams + Nash would give me solid %’s, 3′s and ok pts. Rondo would supply steals. Kidd is a workhorse although hes getting pretty old and could potentially see a drop in mins. I’m leaning towards trying Williams and Nash for the 3′s because I’ll have to target some PF’s and C’s with my next few picks and won’t typically add any 3′s. Then try and pick up some combination of Duncan/West/Nene/Marc Gasol/Z-Bo for my next two picks.

  13. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Roberts: Especially in leagues without a TOV category, your strategy could work. The biggest problem is starting in such a deep deficit so early in your draft. It’s going to take you another 5-6 rounds of fishtailing trying to even out your team and plug the holes you forced on yourself early.

    Everyone’s gotta fishtail, I just prefer doing mine after the first three rounds.

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