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Imagine Woody Allen arriving on-stage at the Academy Awards (“Zoinks, he never comes to these award shows! What a get!”) three minutes past the time the broadcast was scheduled to end to present the final award for Best Sound Effects Editing to “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Coblah.” That’s what fantasy drafts are like. They get trickier and less important the closer to the end you get. LeBron was gone 90 minutes ago. Durant? Paul? Wade? They were picked so long ago you can’t even remember who drafted them (you got Paul. Wait … no, I’m sorry. It says here you drafted Pau! Your exclamation mark looked like an “L”. My bad. Gasol’s good too). Anyway, forget the first round of your draft. It’s easy and it’s boring. Let’s also forget about sleepers and reaches and whatever the hell Gilbert Arenas is and look at the unsung succubus of many drafts: Round 2.

Round 2 is all about building out the identity of your team. When they carved Lincoln’s face into the side of Mt. Rushmore, no one knew what it was all about until they added people around him. Before Washington and Roosevelt and Jefferson were added, Lincoln’s head could have signified anything. It could have been a monument to presidents, historical men with beards, fellas named Abraham. Hell, it could have been a full-body statue of just Lincoln, who knew? That’s my point. In Round 2, it’s still generally considered the time in which you pick whomever is the best player still available and leave the strategizing for Round 3. To some degree, that’s true. Don’t overthink it. But also, don’t underthink it either. Remember, you’re adding Roosevelt’s head here, bro.

A lot of fantasy owners don’t mind the idea of building a one- or two-stat powerhouse right away. You get Brook Lopez with the final pick of the first round and burn your round 2 pick on David Lee because that’s the next name on your draft list. After two picks, having Lopez and Lee isn’t a bad thing (assuming we’re not talking about Robin and Courtney), but right off the bat your fantasy team has holes in it and it’s likely that you’re going to burn a bad pick while trying to make a small recovery. Like a truck fishtailing on an icy highway, you cut the wheel to right yourself in the third round. This is what usually happens: You’ll pick a guy in Round 3 – probably a guard to balance out your first two picks – with a high threes, high steal rate. You’ll look for those stats first because you can’t go three rounds without addressing those issues. You just can’t. It’s one thing to punt one stat, maybe even two, but you’re punting three unless you pick up an above-average guy in the categories you spent the first two rounds ignoring. So maybe you reach for a guard earlier than you should because there wasn’t a natural exact match.

What most people end up doing is making an even worse third round pick to make up for their slightly imperfect second round pick. There’s nothing wrong with building a team that is heavy in one stat or another, but that will develop (if you want it to) in the middle rounds. The sooner you build that one- or two-stat powerhouse the more difficult it is going to be to make a dent in the stats you ignored early on. Your goal for the second pick should be to take the best complement to your first round pick from the three or four best available players.

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Wait! Don’t go yet! Here’s a reminder to sign up for the Razzball Commenter Leagues if you haven’t already. Just e-mail one of the organizers listed at the bottom of yesterday’s post and give them three dates and times when you might be available for a live draft between October 4-10. Okay. Now you may go.

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  1. Tony says:
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    Long time razzball baseball reader just jumping over here to basketball, got a QUICK Q:

    I’ve played H2H for 10 years now? Always 10-12 team leagues. I’ve been invited to play in this 20 team league with a bunch of guys I know thru a college buddy. I think you get like a $200 budget and i’d be taking over a guys roster and I can keep 4. Would you take on a team in a 20 person league thats starting with Paul Pierce, Stephen Curry, David West…… and I dont know who else i’d keep but those 3 are going to take up about $90 of my dollars.

    At first I wasn’t too sure bc i know Pierce is a risk, but Curry could be huge, and between those 3, a 4th, some trading…. and then the draft I think I could assemble a contender?

    What do you think?

  2. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Tony: I’m glad you made the jump. Welcome. I would never tell anyone NOT to take on a fantasy team, but I don’t love the three players you know you have at $90. Without knowing too many other specifics, I’d say you can still build a contender. You’re just going to have to play a little riskier with your mid-round picks and hope that the upside gains you a little ground.

    In such a deep league, you could do much worse than Curry, Pierce and West. That’s three top 50 players after 60 picks.

  3. Tony says:
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    @Adam: Ya i think its only like a $30-40 buy in league. If pierce stayed semi-healthy, curry explodes like he’s being drafted, and west does his normal west deal I think i’d be alright. I just dont know what else is really available. I guess I need to find that out and probably like you said draft for some upside and the FUTURE.

  4. Andy – One of the keys in fantasy basketball is – the amount of players your fantasy team has available to them in each week matchups – if one team has 6 extra’s players in their lineup for the week that is a great advantage – my question is – is there at way to drtermine which players will give you an edge each week in your match ups

  5. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Mr Basketball: Are you talking about H2H leagues where there is no games played limit? Even so, playing six more games than your opponent every week would be a stretch.

  6. jayson says:
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    great post adam – makes a ton of sense. so question – first round lets say you pick dwight. you’re advising that the second round to pick someone who compliments dwight – such a nash/rondo. what about third round? what direction would you go in at that point? another rebound/blocks guy or an assister? i’m in a H2H league. thanks!

  7. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @jayson: It depends on how the draft is going and who’s left on the board. Ideally, you’d find a solid SG/SF like Stephen Jackson who scores at a higher clip than Dwight and doesn’t have a clear-cut weakness in any major category.

  8. jayson says:
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    hey adam. well i’ve got some news for you. i guess i like predicted it or something – but i did get DH in the first round (i was #8 and did not want granger or amare). I’m very happy with DH, but when it came back to me, man was i nervous. on the board was Nash, Rondo, and Melo. I couldn’t resist – I took Melo!!! I know its not the complete complimentary-ness that the assist kings can provide, but I think i fared well going forward. My #3 was Billups (great assists, 3s, and FT%), #4 was Collison (praying, but all reports point round 4 as his pick), and finally, the point to this long rambled paragraph, #5 was stephen jackson. I dont’ know how the hell he stayed down there, is there something i dont know about him??? he’s been a stud for years, i figured he’d gone by round 3. anywho. the rest of the draft is normal – took risks on troy murphy and yao ming. etc. what’s your take my team etc? thanks!

  9. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @jayson: Not bad at all. I’ve noticed Jackson being taken between picks 45-60 this year, I have no explanation for this. But really, from the players you mentioned, you’re off to a great start.

  10. crump582 says:
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    I’ve played fantasy football for YEARS… making th jump to b-ball this year and feel LOST. In a H2H league on ESPN. Can you point me to a nice article with an in-depth rundown for a complete newb?

  11. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @crump582: What kind of stuff are you looking for? If you’ve played fantasy football (H2H?) you should have a general understanding of how it works, right? Are you looking for strategy, rankings or draft steps?

  12. crump582 says:
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    Strategy I guess. I just started doing research tonight. I was just looking for trends for the year. Like which positions you can wait on, which you should get early, what you should load up on. That type of stuff helps me on football drafts, but I could be totally off base on thinking b-ball is the same.

Comments are closed.