The upcoming season hasn’t begun yet. Really, it’s still a glimmer in your eye, a good idea, a bottle of Boone’s Farm and a basement futon away from fruition. What you do with fruit and futons is your own business, unless it involves keepers. Then it’s my business. Some keepers you end up casting aside, only to find they were never keepers after all, just tramps who liked the same music and looked good wearing your dress shirts. Others take you by surprise. There you are having a goof, a fling, a giggle and all of a sudden, Darren Collison gets traded to Indiana. Kevin Love inherits his own team and Stephen Curry spent his freshman year playing like Reggie Miller. Now you’re inseparable. You get airbrush t-shirts with each other’s name on them. You’re riding a tandem bike and not doing any of the pedaling and when you run out of Goobers at the movies? Yup, they get you more Goobers. Here are some tips to help you decide which keepers you’re gonna want to … you know, keep this season.
Point guards rule – Everyone has a job to do on the court. The centers block and rebound. The shooting guards score and drain threes. The swingmen have to do everything well, but nothing spectacularly. Power forwards rebound and block, but also carry a larger bulk of the scoring load. But the point guards, they need to score, steal, distribute and maintain above-average percentages while doing it. Take each player at face value, but weigh the floor leader position a smidge heavier than the others. If the other four positions are Fred Astaire, point guards like Chauncey Billups and Rajon Rondo are Ginger Rodgers. They do what all the other players do, only in reverse and in heels. Yeah, I said it: past and present Celtics wear pumps.
Ignore rebounds – Each player on your team’s roster needs to average between 6.5 and 7.0 rebounds for your team to fall between third and first place in your roto league. There were 57 players in the league that averaged at least that throughout their season. Only Dwight Howard averaged twice that. Now to continue with the previous tip, let’s look at assists. Each player on your squad averaging between 4.1 and 4.4 assists puts you somewhere in the top three. There were only 45 players that met or exceeded those averages. Of those 45 players, eight of them doubled the magic average. What does this mean? Well, nudge the guy sleeping on your shoulder and I’ll clarify. Basically, if you’re hard up for a stat, you’ll be able to find a guy who rebounds a lot easier than you’ll be able to find a player who does anything else. So if you’re trying to decide between keeping Kenyon Martin for his 9.4 rebounds per game or C.J. Watson because of his 1.6 steals per game – all else being equal, keep Watson.
Expect rookies and sophomores to get better, juniors too – Yeah. That means Tyreke Evans and Curry are likely (though not definitely) going to be better next year. There’s a learning curve, okay? By a player’s fifth season, you’ve probably seen most of the weapons he’s going to have. This doesn’t mean he won’t ever have a better season than one he’s already played, it just means the amount of growth is likely to slow down greatly after year 3 or 4.
One injury doesn’t matter, a series of similar injuries do – Remember Andrew Bogut’s jelly arm injury that ended his season in early April? Of course you do. Jelly arms don’t just pop out of people’s heads (they pop out of people’s sockets!) Anyway, come October November, he’ll be fine he may be resuming basketball activities and you’ll likely draft him later than he should go leaving everyone to wonder in January why the hell they let Bogut go untl the ninth round. Greg Oden on the other hand? He’s been in the league three years and played just 82 games. All three of his seasons have been stunted by knee injuries. This is worse than a jelly arm. This is a jam.
Wait to see who your league mates are keeping before deciding – If the top three PG in the league are gone before the draft even starts, whatever top-tier PF or C you have becomes more important than he otherwise would have been. That’s three fewer teams that will immediately be gunning for a PG in the first two rounds.
Gamble on next year’s upside – but do it intelligently – Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry and Curry won a lot of teams a lot of league championships in ’09, championships they wouldn’t have won had they not a) taken a chance on unlikely candidates and b) stocked up on new Swiffer™ brand duster strips. I say this because a) the most industrious among us will add one, two or even three top 50 guys to a team that already had an equal number of top 50 players on it as all the other teams and b) Swiffer paid me. If you were lucky enough to be one of the owners of these guys, you likely drafted them late. Don’t keep Marc Gasol over his brother, but do understand that if you don’t keep Marc Gasol, he’s likely going in the first seven rounds next season. How many late-round keepers are on your team that would otherwise be taken 6-12 rounds before your keeper spot?
Be wary of a player’s performance in the playoffs, summer league, preseason, World Championships, etc. – Strange things happen outside of the regular season, okay? Goran Dragic scored 26 points in 17 minutes in Game 3 of the second round against San Antonio last postseason. Does that mean you should keep him for next year? ‘Course not, not just based on his postseason numbers, anyway. Why? Because strange things happen. What did I just say? Also, because he wasn’t on your team last year, silly. No one had Dragic on their team. That’s just crazy talk. What’s this willy-nilly keeper league you’re in where you can keep whomever you want? Uh, yeah. I’ll keep ’96 Scottie Pippen, late-’80s David Lee Roth and pre-Seal Heidi Klum.