Hey basketball nerds. My name is Ringer, one of the new writers for Razzball basketball. I’m very excited to start writing about fantasy basketball. Not like, lose your virginity excited, but definitely more excited than D’Angelo Russell was after getting shipped off to Brooklyn.
Probably about as excited as any team not named Golden State is going into the NBA season, since I think that anybody taking six games from them in the playoffs would be considered an achievement.
I’ve been a huge basketball fan for as long as I can remember and got introduced to fantasy basketball four or five seasons ago. All you need to know about my first year in fantasy basketball was that I drafted Carmelo Anthony with my first pick. Because he got buckets. I lost that league. Needless to say I’ve learned a lot since then.
One of my favourite things about fantasy basketball are the countless draft strategies that provide so many different paths to building a league-winning team. You got the punt FT teams, the punt turnover teams, the guy that doesn’t seem to draft anybody but point guards or big men, and of course, the auto draft team. That team is as likely to win your league as the New York Knicks are to winning the NBA championship because, as you guys know, Yahoo fantasy basketball always has a bunch of guys ranked way above or below where they should be. If they didn’t, why else would you be here? Hopefully, this article will help make sure that your team is at least better than the guy that drafts Joe Ingles before the end of the fifth round.
*Note that these are only guidelines. Grab that player you love if he falls to you. Don’t reach if you don’t have to. Also, these guidelines are for 12 team head-to-head standard leagues, as a lot of things change in bigger leagues or leagues with different settings.
Round 1: Draft best player available. Duh.
Rounds 2-3: Draft best players to match first round pick. Aim to have at least one point guard and one big (or at least players that get the stats typically acquired by those positions) by the end of round three.
In my opinion, there are a lot of guys between the end of the first round and the end of the second that have similar value and should be drafted based more on fit than anything else. For example, I have Hassan Whiteside, Kristaps Porzingis, Draymond Green, and Paul George ranked 19-22, but I could see myself drafting any one of them depending on who I took with my first pick. If I were to draft the Greek Freak, I would draft George (although he’s probably gone by this point) before any of the guys before him because he would make up for Giannis’ lack of 3PM. If I were to get Kevin Durant or Steph Curry (who I have ranked 2-3), I would target Whiteside, since I think his FT percentage can be somewhat mitigated by them, and they both offer assists. If I drafted Karl-Anthony Towns or Kawhi Leonard (who I have ranked 4 and 5) I would target Draymond, so I have assists in case I miss out on the second tier of point guards in the third round. Porzingis is there in case I miss out on my desired player and is my backup in every scenario. You might be thinking,“Holy shit, he’s thought way too much about this!” That’s probably true, but it just serves as a reminder that your player rankings should not be valued higher than player fit, especially when you’re choosing between players you’ve ranked similarly.
Also, I am willing to draft guys like Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal and Gordon Hayward, who I have ranked 28, 29 and 34. I would value them differently, though, if I had a wing who isn’t gonna get at least five assists (Leonard). Paul Millsap, Marc Gasol, and Kevin Love (ranked 30-32) would jump over Thompson and Beal if I didn’t have a big man yet. There are scenarios in which I could end up with two wing players by the end of round three. I wouldn’t stress over it, though. For example, if I took Leonard 5th, Whiteside 20th, and I was choosing between
- 28. Klay Thompson
- 29. Bradley Beal
- 30. Paul Millsap
- 31. Kevin Love
- 32. Marc Gasol
- 33. Joel Embiid
- 34. Gordon Hayward
- 35. Al Horford
- 36. Eric Bledsoe
at 29, I would definitely take Beal over Eric Bledsoe, even though it goes against my guideline. Beal would be valued over Thompson simply because he gets more assists and I still don’t have an assist machine. The point is to mentally group players in your rankings together and pick the best one, taking into account who you already drafted. Even though I have some guys ranked higher than others, I am not confident enough in my abilities (and neither should you) to value my rankings over team needs.
Rounds 4-6: Draft players for team fit. Try to have at least two PGs and two bigs by the end of round five. Definitely by the end of round six.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people weigh the player rankings from Basketball Monster too heavily when deciding how to value different players. Not to knock Basketball Monster, as I refer to their player rankings constantly, but it is not as simple as one guy being worth more than another simply because he has a higher ranking. Two great examples of this are Otto Porter (ranked 22 on Basketball Monster for the 2016-2017 season) and Trevor Ariza (ranked 26, 36, 38, and 39 for the last four seasons). You may be thinking, “These guys are guaranteed to finish in the top 50 again this year.” I don’t think anybody would argue with you. That’s a lie, somebody will. It’s 2017 and people argue about everything. That is not how I want to spend my time, though. I just want to say that drafting either one of them near their Yahoo rankings would make your team weak in either point guard or big man categories, unless you hit the jackpot later on in the draft. I don’t like relying on luck, even though it’s the only way I’ve ever scored in real basketball.
Here are the players I have ranked around Porter and Ariza:
- 42. Ricky Rubio
- 43. Goran Dragic
- 44. Jeff Teague
- 45. Serge Ibaka
- 46. Jrue Holiday
- 47. Otto Porter
- 48. Nikola Vucevic
- 49. Nicolas Batum
- 50. Jusuf Nurkic
- 51. Victor Oladipo
- 52. Gary Harris
- 53. Robert Covington
- 54. Trevor Ariza
- 55. Aaron Gordon
- 56. Lonzo Ball
- 57. Andre Drummond
- 58. D’Angelo Russell
- 59. Elfrid Payton
- 60. Dennis Schroder
Off the bat, you probably noticed that I have a lot of big men and point guards ranked above them. That’s on purpose. You may also be thinking that I’m pretty low on Lonzo Ball. I won’t deny that, as I don’t really like rookies for fantasy, but again, rankings aren’t everything. There’s still a chance that I would take him over Harris, Covington, and Ariza, assuming they’re all available. If I do not have my second point guard and everybody before Porter is taken and everybody after is still available, I’m choosing between Batum (who gets point guard stats for a wing), Oladipo, and Ball. If my first point guard is somebody like McCollum, who gets low assists for a PG, I’m going Ball. In fact, Ball is probably valued as high as Dragic if that happens. Maybe I’m not so low on him after all. If my team is low in scoring, I’m going Oladipo. Otherwise, I’m taking Batum. If I don’t have a point guard stat filler yet, then it’s time to fire up FIFA.
The only scenario I can see myself drafting Porter, Harris, Covington, Ariza, or Gordon before the end of the fifth round is if I got two point guards and two big men with my first four picks. Not impossible, which is why the rankings are how they are, but I’m not gonna miss out on the elite wings early for these guys later. I am very willing to take any of those guys in the sixth round, however, and would take the highest one available. For example I drafted Gordon 69th in a recent Razzball draft, after taking Durant (4), Whiteside (21), Thomas (28, yes I’m worried), Teague (45), and Ibaka (52). It won’t always work out that way, but my rankings are meant to give myself enough options that I should be able to maintain the point guard/big man balance throughout the draft.
Rounds 7-10: Continue drafting players for team fit. Have at least four PGs and four bigs by the end of round 10.
If you’re still reading my verbal (or written, I guess) vomit, you’re probably wondering, “Why should I target point guards and bigs over wings? Isn’t value, value?” The answer is yes. Value is value, but that doesn’t take away from this guideline. The way I understand it, your team would have to be perfectly, and I mean perfectly, balanced to be able to extract the value of Porter at 22 and Ariza in the late 30’s, given that they are low volume players. That’s just not gonna happen, especially considering that many point guards or bigs you would draft in the later rounds come with asterisks. Guys like Jeremy Lin, Jamal Murray, and Dennis Smith Jr. are high-upside guys that come with major risks and guys like Patrick Beverley, George Hill, and Malcolm Brogdon will not provide the volume to help balance the ship if you’re weak in point guard stats. They can be great options as your 3rd or 4th point guards, depending on your team, but I wouldn’t want any of these guys as my second point guard. Same can be said with bigs like Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Clint Capela as the high-upside guys or Jonas Valanciunas, Gorgui Dieng, and Marcin Gortat as the low-volume giants. In a perfect world, you can grab one of the high-upside guys and one of the more steady, low-volume guys.
In my recent Razzball draft, I drafted Lin (76), Dieng (93), Caldwell-Pope (100), and Marcus Smart (117). Having Smart as my fourth point guard isn’t great, but sacrifices were made in order to get Dieng and Caldwell-Pope, who I have ranked 76 and 87. If Rondo was available at 100 I probably would’ve taken him, even though I have him ranked 17 spots later than Caldwell-Pope, but somebody grabbed him in the eighth round. I was pretty happy with my bigs at this point with Whiteside, Ibaka, Gordon, and Dieng. I think I should be good in the big man categories (FG%, REB, BLK) and was able to make up for Whiteside’s drain on FT% with the guys I got around him (Durant, Thomas, Teague, and Lin).
Rounds 11-13: Fill out roster, and DRAFT WINGS.
These rounds serve as the best example of why you should target point guards and bigs above guys like Porter and Ariza in the early-to-mid rounds. You can get comparable stats at a way lower price! This is the fantasy basketball equivalent of getting two McDoubles dressed like a Mac instead of a Big Mac. Buying those “meal” burgers doesn’t make you cooler or make you enjoy Mcdonald’s more It just makes you less efficient. As an example of just how many wings there are, let’s look at a few guys who I have ranked in those later rounds.
- 113. Wesley Matthews
- 114. Tim Hardaway Jr.
- 115. Rudy Gay
- 116. Kent Bazemore
- 117. Darren Collison
- 118. Terrence Ross
- 119. Maurice Harkless
- 120. Justise Winslow
- 121. Buddy Hield
- 122. Zach LaVine
- 123. Eric Gordon
- 124. Dario Saric
That’s yummy and there’s a very good chance that at least one of them will be available in rounds 12/13. For example, I was able to draft Matthews in the 12th round (pick 141) after taking Seth Curry at 127. I think that the addition of Dennis Smith Jr. could boost Mathews FG% up to the .410-.420 range, while he should be able to hit 2.5 threes and get you a steal. Ariza averaged 2.4 threes on .410 shooting last year, and while he will provide more steals and rebounds, everything else is basically a wash. So yeah, I’d rather have one of the point guards that I ranked in the top 50 (or Batum, Oladipo, Ball, Payton, or Russell if it comes down to it) and Matthews, than Ariza and a late-round point guard. Don’t be the guy that’s forced to take a flyer on Kris Dunn, or has to reach for Collison before the end of the 10th round. These are how I ranked my wings, but there are so many options that there’s bound to be some “3 and D” value in the late rounds for you. Make sure your team is built so that you can exploit it without having to worry about point guard or big man stats.
To wrap up my thoughts, remember that these are just guidelines that I try to follow to keep my team balanced throughout the draft. If I were to decide on building a punt FT or punt FG team, it would certainly change things.
Another thing to notice was that the draft I used as an example was in a Razzball league, where people tend to draft better than the average league you join. I wasn’t able to draft any of my sleeper picks or get incredible value at any point, since most people’s rankings probably looked similar to mine or SON’s. If you go into a Razzball draft taking the best player available at every pick, it’s likely that you’ll be forced to reach for undesirable point guards like Reggie Jackson or bigs like Enes Kanter late. Don’t do it.
In an alternative reality where I’m drafting against a bunch of me’s, I don’t know what would happen. There would probably be a me or two freaking out that they don’t have enough point guards or bigs. One me would probably go punt FT, etc, etc. WUBBA LUBBA DUB-DUB. That’s some Rick and Morty shit.
Most people won’t be drafting as smart as you, you’re a Razzball fantasy basketball reader!
Good luck in your drafts!