Ten Rules To Follow When Building a Successful Fantasy Basketball Team
Although not as dominant the fantasy sport that football is, fantasy basketball leagues have been able to acquire a relatively loyal following throughout the years. While football will always be number one due to its gigantic fan base and almost excessive coverage from various mainstream media angles, fantasy basketball will always be an undeniable, lesser force which will attract many NBA fans.
Fantasy leagues are basically heaven for stat geeks, where points are assigned to different statistical categories for sports gurus to breakdown in hopes of putting together the master team. What makes fantasy sports so compelling, like sports in real life, is the unforeseen changes that occur throughout the duration of the season, such as injuries (sometimes nagging, other times season-ending), players struggling to find their groove, or random figures emerging from obscurity to become coveted chips for any fantasy owner.
Here are ten rules to follow for putting together a team that should have an undeniably solid chance at being awarded champions of their league at year’s end.
No. 10: Staying Confident In Your Team
Sure, there will be times when your guys have off nights or show signs of regression, but you should attempt to stay confident with who you pick, even if they suck for more than a few games. I cannot even tell you how many times I have benched a player after a bad game and he goes off for 30 points and seven boards on my bench.
This is what happens in fantasy sports. You have these guys for 82 games and most of the time, they do a great job. So I would stress having confidence in your guys. Only when you are one hundred percent certain that a player will not return to original form or is going to be out for a while due to a nagging injury—waiving him might be a good decision.
Otherwise, stay patient, no matter how hard it might be sometimes.
No. 9: Don't Overvalue Scoring
Sure, scoring threats inside and outside are ones to be desired, but never underestimate other categories such as rebounds, assists, and blocks. That’s why guys like Gerald Wallace and Rajon Rondo are such awesome players to have on your fantasy teams, because even when they do not light up the scoreboard, it is still very important to have players that will fill up each category (except for turnovers) each night.
I am not saying that scorers who do not really do much else besides hit threes are horrible (Kyle Korver), but I would definitely advise against taking players who just specialize in scoring in a high round, since they will be around on waiver wire or during the last rounds most likely.
No 8: Beware Of The Rookie Wall
Sure, guys like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Derrick Favors look like they are going to be very nice NBA players. However, one must always take into consideration the dreaded “wall” most first-year players run into during the later part of the season. Since all of these players are not as well adjusted to an 82 game schedule as other veteran players in the league, this might make for an erratic season for some.
Take for example Brandon Jennings or DeJuan Blair, who were both phenomenal to start the year and had overall good years for their respected squads, but both players crashed hard into the rookie wall last year. It happens to most rookies, it takes a special talent to hop over it (maybe Wall fits in here? We’ll see…).
No 7: Make Sure At Least One Of Your Big Men Is a Nightly Double-Double Threat
Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, heck even Zach Randolph are names that pop to mind when one is searching for that coveted double-double nightly threat. Maybe one of your forwards or centers is a rebounding/shot-blocking machine, but make sure one of the guys you pick in the draft will at least be a consistent menace on both the low-block and glass.
It is important to have a low-post scorer with a high field goal percentage on any team if you have to be successful.
No 6: Aim to Have Atleast One All-Around Player
Take for example my team—I made Rajon Rondo fit into this category. He does everything generally well and can be a triple-double threat any given night. However, he is not alone in this category. Guys like Andre Iguodala and Gerald Wallace also possess the ability to fill up the stat sheet on random nights.
If you can, try to get a guy who is balanced across the board, since double-doubles and triple-doubles are definitely desired by anyone who is enamored with fantasy basketball.
No 5: Make Sure Your Guards Are Not Turnover Machines
Just like in real life, turnovers in fantasy suck and cost your team. Since guards handle the ball considerably more compared to the rest of the positions, it is absolutely important that your guards have a firm grasp on ball-control.
Although you might be able to get away with guys like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry since they make up for their high turnover rate with impressive scoring, most of the time over three turnovers is where I draw the line. If you can get Steve Nash, a guy who can shoot from outside as well as have some ridiculous games from an assists perspective, I’d say you’re in good shape.
No 4: Never Discount Veteran Players
Yes, guys like Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and the like might be getting old and this potentially means they will not be as effective. That still does not mean they are not worth picking in early rounds.
With the current infatuation with young talent and potential, most old vets get tossed aside when it comes to draft time, as one would rather get a player that could really expand during the year instead of an aging star in the league.
Sometimes veteran players are the most driven to put up big games in order to get their team wins and to the playoffs, since their days as a professional athlete are numbered and they want to make the most out of what they have left. I am not saying that you should take a guy like Marcus Camby with your first pick or anything, but just keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with picking an older player who still has star qualities attached to his name.
No. 3: Try To Predict Breakout Stars
It is not easy, I know. I would suggest going through teams’ rosters and picking players that will probably slide through many rounds, despite being projected to get a fair amount of playing time through the upcoming year. These guys emerge every year, and almost nobody sees them coming.
My best guess as of this year would be that Jrue Holiday has the biggest chance to shine, seeing he will be given the starting point guard duties in Philadelphia and he has already recorded a triple-double in preseason action. These types of players are usually selected in the later rounds where no one sees anything special in them other than an average contributor.
No 2: If You Are Going to Take One of The Big Three Early, Make It LeBron
No offense to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but LeBron has to be the favorite when it comes to picking between the three of them. Unlike Wade, who has to be satisfied in assisting with the huge off season haul, and Bosh who everyone knew was leaving Toronto after the season, LeBron has been doing a lot of talking back to his critics ever since he made the choice to “take his talents to South Beach”.
Let’s face it, if he does not win as many titles as Jordan and Kobe did/does, he is going to be eternally looked as a cheap-shot artist who robbed Cleveland of their pride and identity – all on national TV.
He claims that he is motivated to prove his doubters wrong, and I for one believe him. Despite being surrounded by two other huge talents, LeBron will bust out more than a few huge games that will make his owners proud.
No 1: Your First Pick Is Your Most Important One
I know, it sounds obvious and cliché, but your first pick in the draft really is your most crucial one. It is hard to define who the best player for this particular setting might be, since names like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James all have very distinct skill sets.
Personally, I would suggest going with Kevin Durant, who is feeling secure after just signing an extension in Oklahoma City and who has the purest stroke in the league. He rebounds at a nice clip and has the ability to run the floor like Lamar Odom. He is without question one of the league’s strongest talents who can score in bunches and take over games when he wants to.
With your first pick, eye a guy who can just flat out dominate in one area, such as scoring, rebounding, or assists. If you are looking for defense right off the bat, Dwight Howard is definitely the favorite there.
Like Durant, Kobe Bryant will still be a force to be reckoned with. Whatever your first pick is, make sure you get a guy you know can put up big games in certain statistical categories, as this could propel you victories at key stretches in the season.