Fantasy basketball can be very different from other fantasy sports, in that there is not one proven draft strategy. The “Running Back-Running Back” fantasy football strategy is timeless, along with the standard mantra of “Wait on Tight End, Kicker, and Defense,” to which “Wait on Quarterback” is being added more frequently. In fantasy basketball, the position is not as important as the player. The best players in basketball play all different positions, so targeting specific positions early in drafts is not a reliable strategy. Some people plan to “punt” categories, which means they intentionally draft players who do not excel in a certain category (free-throw percentage is a popular one), but that is a strategy that presents itself out of desperation as the draft progresses. The lack of a specific, proven strategy is why you will hear a lot of experts tell you that the best fantasy basketball draft strategy is no strategy. But I disagree.
It’s fitting that my rookie contribution to Razzball would be focused on this year’s rookie crop. I may tend to start off posts with a heavy Kevin-centric focus. I’ve been obsessed with Fantasy NBA for 15 years. Have I won chips? More than zero. Are my fantasy prognostications correct? Ride with me for a solid 50/50 shot at accuracy. What about real basketball? Was I a scrappy D3 player that really understands the game? I’m on the bottom half of bad pickup games, but I can dunk on an 8-foot rim. So yeah, you could call me an expert. Let’s begin! UPSIDE!!! The promise, upside, and mystery of rookies entice us Fantasy GMs every season. Yet there is statistical history that proves love, like Jon Arbuckle for Veterinarian Liz, generally goes unrequited. Last season there was a boon in productive rookies, with 8 being standard league relevant (12 team, 13 player roster): Ben Simmons (27), Donovan Mitchell (39), Jayson Tatum (42), Lauri Markkanen (66), Lonzo Ball (78), John Collins (92), Kyle Kuzma (116), Jarret Allen (143). While that rookie class surpassed the hype, what's in store for this year’s group? These youngsters carry a lot of weight in dynasty leagues, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on standard redraft leagues. For a deep dive in terms of dynasty, check Craig’s rankings here and here.
Rolling rolling rolling. The list keeps on unfolding. This is where drafts start to get interesting, as everyone should have a foundation of two players in 12-team leagues. Choose wisely. Ok, enough babbling. Let's get chugging along. Choo chooooo!
I’ve been on hiatus, probably since about a month to go in the 2017-18 season. I blame myself, and my schedule, for not being loyal to my readers. My league had ended, as I ranted about in my last piece, but yours probably didn’t. For those looking for the league winners I had been providing throughout the season, I apologize. For those who are reading my column for the first time ever here in July, I applaud and welcome you to Beyond the Glory. For those who don’t remember, I was literally two game 7 wins away from being the only Razzball writer to have the Rockets and Celtics in the finals, and then I got neither. I would have basked in that glory for at least a year, but being bold only brought me close to brilliance. Either way, I am back and will be knocking out more content in the offseason, before going back to weekly columns for your reading pleasure. Oh, the offseason. The start of the NBA season is many months away, yet something inside of me is far too excited for fantasy basketball. Call it what you will. We are the midst of the baseball season and fantasy football prep has begun in earnest. With all of this going on, though, I come home at night and turn on the NBA Summer League. I don’t know why, but my remote leads me there. The only reasonable explanation is that I am pumped for the new draft class. I am pumped to see free agent signings and I am pumped for LeB… I promised myself I wouldn’t go there. I am going to hold strong, because in truth, I’m not excited for anything but basketball, fantasy basketball, and Kevin Knox (more on him later) for 2018-19. So let’s get into the recent draftees and who they may compare to this upcoming year, giving us some pre-pre-preseason sleepers.
Yes Razzball nation, Dynasty Deep Dive is back. I was nearly out for the season, Greg Odon-style, but the current recovery from back surgery has allowed for a swift return back to prospecting and podcasting for your basketball needs on my 2 year anniversary of serving up delicious offerings for those dynasty teams of yours. The season might be over for fantasy basketball, but now should be the time that your research and scouting clicks into overdrive. Now for some time of a little self indulgent reflection. For those of you that are new to Dynasty Deep Dive, this was the article in the pre-season that recommended you draft Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markennan, John Collins and Malik Monk. Ok, it might have took Monk three quarters of a season to get going, but there are many a championship team out there that owe thanks to his late season production. Don't believe me? Check out last preseasons article for yourself: https://basketball.razzball.com/dynasty-deep-dive-roto-rookie-effect-ft This week I will be focusing purely on where I see potential fits for guys in the upcoming draft class and ease my way back onto the court with a minutes restriction. But it is good to be back and make sure to tune in throughout the off season for your prospect draft breakdown.
Can't believe it, but another fantasy season is in the books. I hope you enjoyed it and can celebrate some success. I'll keep the talk short this week and get to the players we have to thank for our wins and those we have to blame for our losses. Obviously, players have hot streaks, so some of the most valuable players were valuable for, like, a month or maybe half a season. However, I'm going to compare season-long results to average draft position and highlight a few players that performed dramatically differently than expected. I thought about using total season stats, but the differences there often are so heavily influenced by injuries that I don't think it's a good way to judge how well a player played. So, I'll just be looking at per-game stats for 8-cat and 9-cat. Players that exceeded their draft position the most ("most" being subjective, since someone that was drafted 10th and finished 3rd could be considered more or less of a value than someone that was drafted 120th and finished 60th, for example). Then, those that finished most below their ADP. You get it. Sort of a breakouts and busts with 20/20 hindsight. I used the Yahoo ADPs (should be a mix of 8 and 9-cat leagues) and the Basketball Monster Player Rankings.
John Wall went from hero to zero back to hero in Washington this season. Nobody will argue that John Wall is the most talented player on the Wizards, but when he went down with a knee injury and the team started playing its best basketball of the season, people started questioning Wall’s value to the team. His selfish play was viewed as holding the team back in the day-and-age of the Hoosier method of at least three passes before a shot. The team’s hot streak wore off, however, and everyone started clamoring for Wall’s return. Now the Wizards are battling for a playoff spot and John Wall stepped up for one of his best games of the season: 4/29/7/13/3/3. I mean, wow, nice game and nice timing. Anyone still playing in fantasy who has John Wall is as excited about the timing of this as the city of Washington D.C. Anyway, here is what else I saw last night as teams battle for the last playoff spot and just plain old last place:
You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud. Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same. The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money. Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:
Just a few days left in the fantasy basketball season. That means it's just a few days until the season of anticipating the next fantasy basketball season. I love the fantasy offseason almost as much as the actual season. The NBA playoffs, the draft lottery, the draft and draft night trades, free agency, summer league, training camp, and then we've made it back to fantasy draft season. And all the while, our hope is renewed. Until next season starts, we haven't lost half our team to injuries! Anyway, to round out the season next week, I plan on reviewing this season's surprises. Who greatly exceeded expectations? Who didn't come close to meeting them? These are the difference-makers that greatly determined the outcome of leagues this year. But first, this week, we're gonna have some fun with an expanded version of my weekly classic fantasy line feature (which comes at the bottom of my weekly posts, in case you haven't made it that far). I've thoroughly enjoyed looking back at old and not-so-old stats, whether I'd been familiar with them or not. Seeing the old stats through the lens of a fantasy bball player in 2018 fascinates me. If that sounds like something up your alley, feel free to go back and check them out to find some commentary on stats from great game, season, and career lines for legends like Wilt, MJ, and Steph. Today, I'm going with some championship teams whose seasons I just wanted to check out. And I thought I'd see who the key players could compare to these days, at least stat-wise. Thanks to basketballreference.com, of course.
We choose to supersize that meal or put cheese on the burger so that our stomachs look like Kuato in Total Recall. That's our choice. We choose to wear the jimmy hat or live dangerously. That's our choice. We choose to draft KAT over Anthony Davis in fantasy. That's our choice. But there is so much out of our control. The world we were born into. Our parents. What we look like. In a videogame, we choose what difficulty level we play on. In life, that has been chosen for us. Some play on hard, while others get cheat codes. Willy Hernangomez hit the genetic lottery. 6' 11" 240 pounds, athletically skilled, and good looking. Sure, he worked his ass off to get where he's at. Lifting weights, running, and plucking eyebrows, but he had a nice base to work with. Last year during his rookie campaign, he was a monster per-36: 16 points, 13.6 boards, 2.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% field goal percentage, and 73% free throw percentage. Unfortunately, he only played 18 minutes per game. Out of his control. Regardless, Willy was viewed as a franchise piece, but then the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter. The minutes plummeted to 9 a game, even though the per-36 numbers were still robust. Out of his control. If you go back to my earlier blurbs regarding Willy, I mentioned that he hooked up with Hornacek's daughter. I'd hit up the Google machine right now. Wouldn't you? I'm still not dismissing that angle, so maybe Willy had some control in the matter. Anyways, after bitching and complaining, he finally got his wish and was shipped to the Hornets. Too bad the Hornets had some guy named Dwight Howard. Can't forget about Cody Zeller as well. So, Willy was not freed and the situation looked identical to the one in New York. But, Zeller is out for the season due to injury and yesterday, Willy played a season-high 22 minutes.
Per-36 in CHA, Willy is at: 17.7 points, 14.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture and there's no reason to push Dwight, so Willy should see significant run to end the season. Free at last....free at last....Willy is free at last.
Here's what else I saw yesterday: