At long last, the new NBA season is upon us! You’ve finally learned your Adebayos from your Anunobys from your Anigbogus. Now, let’s get our Miltons, Meltons, Okobos, and Okogies straight. The Charlotte Michael-Hyphens (Kidd-Gilchrist and Carter-Williams) and the Miami Derrick Juniors (Jones and Walton) broke up, but I think all three NBA Reggies are still on the Pistons, at least. It’s going to be a great season. We’ll start playing more with numbers next week in this column. But for now, let’s talk drafting!

Fantasy drafts are the best. Snake, auction, slow, in-person. Whatever the format, I’m in. You’re likely a grizzled veteran of fantasy hoops drafts at this point as well, if you’re part of Razzball Nation. But whether you are or not, I’m hoping I can give you a couple advantages you may not have thought of yet. Or maybe, with all the aspects of a draft to consider, something I mention will be a helpful reminder when you’re frantically scrolling through late round players that all look terrible.

Last year, I went pretty in-depth with a two-part draft strategy series (Part 1, Part 2). Some of the names may have changed, but it holds up pretty well (thank goodness I said something positive about Donovan Mitchell). This year, I’ll try to keep it a bit more brief, but no promises.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to the second season of Run The Numbers. For those of you that are new here, I’m Tad. That clip was an homage to my avatar and my favorite basketball movie. I’m a stats nerd and I grew up in the Chicago area during the Jordan years. These days, I drool over highlight montages of prospects and manipulate spreadsheets of NBA statistics to find ways to squeeze out every last drop of value I can.

I’m not as much into predicting sleepers and breakouts. You get enough of that, anyway. I’m into finding advantages. Market inequities. This season, I’ll be providing ways to maximize the value of your team and philosophies that yield stats at a discount. I’ll also regularly update you on players most valuable to certain builds and punt strategies, which helps you even if you aren’t intentionally ignoring any categories in particular. So, you’ll definitely be getting names to target and pick up as well. We want to play smarter than our competition. Treat these players as fantasy assets. A set of numbers. Don’t get swayed by flashy plays and hyped-up, empty double-doubles. I mean, of course it’s way more fun to have highlight dunks to go along with your stats, but it’s the most fun to win!

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October is upon us and that is a wonderful thing. The leaves turn beauteous colors while the weather provides crisp breezes. Both adults and kids get to dress up. Kids to beg for huge bags of candy. Adults to fantasize and act silly. There is even a holiday when some folks get to stay home from work to celebrate the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus! But the real greatness of October lies in the fact that it is the month where our sports converge together like women for the 70% off sale at Nordstroms. College football, which if you haven’t heard, is its own religion in the South, and the NFL are into their second month. The guys in the US and Canada start wielding sticks and slapping pucks around, as the NHL season begins. Our national pastime breaks into its glorious playoff season. But for fantasy hoopheads, the most important thing that happens is the NBA season kicks off in earnest.

It is almost here. We have just a few days until October 16, and there are mock drafts, real drafts, online drafts, auction drafts, snake drafts, and dynasty drafts scheduled over the next two weeks in every hamlet in this fair country.

On September 28th, we saw Gordon Hayward in the Boston Green to kick off the preseason. Each team will play five games that don’t count in preparation for those that do. What then to watch for to help you  hoodwink all your buddies and have the best draft imaginable?

I will look Division by Division to give you some keys to watch that might provide some guidance.

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We all need a fresh start on occasion. Atlanta has entered full-blown house cleaning #process territory. Along with the youth movement, they managed to move Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala for Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first rounder. Melo obviously didn’t fit their plans and they moved on, while paving room for Trae Young to take control of the backcourt in GM Travis Schlenk’s Golden State model. This squad will be bad, but in a fun way. It will be a few seasons until they can eat their lasagna, but at least they’re not Sacramento.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

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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.

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The NBA is now a year-round drama, but the last 24 hours have been nuts! LeBron James finally made his decision and will join Laker Nation, whose fans are preparing for the next chapter in their colorful existence. Not only do we get to see LeBron adorn the sacred Purple and Gold, but the theatrics of LaVar Ball and Lance Stephenson, which could simulate the experiences of the Ultimate Fighter Challenge. It wasn’t all about Lebron, though. Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Chris Paul committed to the Warriors, Thunder, and Rockets respectively. The West now hoards all the talent, while the East looks to be the land of opportunity.

Free agency dominoes have, and will continue to fall over the upcoming weeks, but don’t let that distract you from another piece of the NBA machine: SUMMER LEAGUE.

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Welcome back Razzball Nation. What a night the draft was. A true testament to Adam Silver and the NBA for putting on a fantastic spectacle which had more twists and turns than a South American mountain road. One clear message that came from current and former players was that work is only the beginning. For this article, I have also taken a twist and turn, as I bring an email dialogue between myself and Steve Connell about the draft. Steve works hard researching high school and college basketball and provides inspiration for many of the Dynasty Deep Dive articles. Two minds are better than one, right?

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?