Fantasy Basketball Draft Guide
For those fixing for some last-minute fantasy hoops advice!
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
We’re a week away from the Heat and Celtics kicking off the ‘10-11 season at The Garden. Many leagues will be conducting drafts in the next few days, so here is a last-minute preparation guide with my Top-24 rankings, targets and players to avoid. But first, just a few tips to consider as you prepare to build your squad:
• It’s invaluable to have a player who shoots a lot of free-throws and hits them extremely often. Kevin Durant is the best example, as he sunk 90 percent of his 10.2 attempts per game in the ‘09-10 season. The list of elite free-throw shooters who actually get to the line often is very short. The other charity stripe stars are Dirk Nowitzki (91.5%, 7.2 FTA), Chauncey Billups (91%, 7 FTA) and Kevin Martin (87.7%, 7.4 FTA). The next tier includes Carmelo Anthony (83%, 8.9 FTA), Paul Pierce (85.2%, 6.1 FTA), Danny Granger (84.8%, 6.9 FTA) and Corey Maggette (83.5%, 7.9 FTA). Brook Lopez (81.7%, 6.2 FTA) and Chris Bosh (79.7%, 8.4 FTA) also deserve a mention here since bigs generally don’t shoot well at the line.
• As much as we love to watch Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook, I advise you to stay away in fantasy. Because they are popular and exciting players, they will likely be drafted higher than their fantasy value. ASSUMING YOUR LEAGUE FOLLOWS THE STANDARD NINE CATEGORIES (FT%, FG%, PTS, REB, AST, 3PT, STL, BLK, TO), these guys end up hurting more than they help. Generally speaking, point guards are helpful with points, assists, threes, steals and free-throw percentage. They are usually hurtful in rebounds, field goal shooting, blocks and turnovers. That’s five positive categories and four negative. Therefore, I NEED MY POINT GUARDS TO HIT THREES! (Sorry to go all Dan Gilbert on you with the caps lock.) You don’t want any player to underperform in more categories than they excel. Rondo is dreadful in four categories (FT%, BLK, TO, 3PT) and slightly below average in two (REB, PTS). His elite assists and steals totals separate him from the other two guys. Rose is counterproductive in threes, rebounds, steals, blocks and turnovers. Westbrook will kill you with his field goal shooting, turnovers and lack of threes. He doesn’t do much blocking and rebounding either. They’re young and improving players. They’re great playmakers. They’ll get you a nice combination of points and assists, and sometimes rebound well for guards. But, since I know there will be at least one person in my league to value them much higher, I’ll be passing on them in my drafts.
• This is a continuation of the previous note, but I think this a strong motto to follow: I need my point guards to hit threes, and my big men to block shots. Don’t take this too close to heart. Use it to help you decipher between two relatively similar players. For instance, if you come to a point when it’s time to take either David Lee or Brook Lopez – go with Lopez. You may be sacrificing a few points and rebounds, but it’ll be worth it for Brook’s blocks.
• Before drafting a player, think about the next best player at that position. How much difference is there? For instance, Kobe is usually being taken somewhere between picks 4-10. Joe Johnson scores slightly less, but also turns it over less than Kobe. Otherwise their stats are quite similar, but Johnson will go about 15-20 picks later in many drafts.
• Many leagues require you start two centers and only one point guard. If you’re in a league like this, you better stack up on bigs early. Plus, the point guard pool is fairly deep this season.
• There is a discernible gap between the third and fourth picks. The top 3 are clear, picks 4-12 promise to be stressors. Don’t worry; the rankings will guide you through it. Just breathe.
• You can’t plan for injuries, but you can limit your risks. Try to avoid drafting multiple injury prone players. If you already drafted Kevin Martin, don’t follow that up with Blake Griffin. Get it?
TOP 24 (Based on standard nine-categories)
1. Kevin Durant – Undisputed. Don’t think twice.
2. LeBron James – What if DWade has the hot hand? I guess he’ll get more assists.
3. Chris Paul – The best player in fantasy two seasons ago.
4. Stephen Curry – Showed amazing confidence as a rookie. Ready to breakout.
5. Dirk Nowitzki – Not the sexiest pick but as reliable as they come.
6. Dwyane Wade – Though he’s always an injury risk. You can’t let him slip by here.
7. Danny Granger – Expect a bounce back season. Darren Collison will help.
8. Pau Gasol – 11.3 rpg last season, by far his career-high.
9. Kobe Bryant – Health a bit of an issue. But will likely post another 25/5/5 season.
10. Amar’e Stoudemire – Should do big things in NY.
11. Deron Williams – Welcoming Al Jefferson to Utah with lots of dimes.
12. Brook Lopez – Like the blocked shots. Could be a 20/10 guy this season.
13. Chris Bosh – Might be the third option, but only option in the post.
14. David Lee – No more Nellie-ball, but should still flirt with 20/10.
15. Dwight Howard – Be ready to punt free-throws, and probably turnovers too.
16. Jason Kidd – Call him old, but he’s still filling the box score up.
17. Carmelo Anthony – He’ll be sure to attract potential suitors for a trade.
18. Gerald Wallace – Phenomenal year last season. This is a good spot for him.
19. Al Horford – Solid fantasy big man. Doesn’t hurt you in many areas.
20. Al Jefferson – The return of 20/10 for Al-J? Jerry Sloan and DWill will help.
21. Steve Nash – Very good in five categories: points, assists, threes and percentages.
22. Joe Johnson – Always a solid fantasy player. Hovers around 20/5/5.
23. Josh Smith – Love how he quit shooting 3s cold turkey last season. Smart move.
24. Joakim Noah – Elite rebounder, great shot blocker. Gets it done.
These players, for whatever reason, will probably be undervalued. They’re listed in the order you should target them. The estimated round they’ll be drafted is in parentheses.
Kevin Love (4) – Stock is very high, might not be around after the 3rd round.
Darren Collison (4) – Will fill up the stat sheet like he did in CP3’s absence last season.
Zach Randolph (4) – Not being treated like a 20/10 guy in drafts. Good value.
Andrew Bogut (5) – Another player not getting much love in drafts.
John Wall (5) – Don’t usually like rookies, but I like him in this round.
DeMarcus Cousins (6) – Don’t usually like rookies, but…
Chris Kaman (7) – Dude is going way too late. I guess people are worried about his health but he played 76 games last season.
Luis Scola (6) – Usually a nice value in the middle rounds.
Jrue Holiday (6) – I think a breakout season is likely.
Jameer Nelson (7) – Always try to grab him as my back up pg late in the draft.
Mike Miller (9) – I like him this late. He’s going to get A LOT of open threes.
JaVale McGee (9) – The JaValevator is a great source of boards and blocks this late.
DJ Augustin (9) – If I don’t get Jameer, I’ll try and grab DJ.
Terrence Williams (10) – This could be a breakout year. Snag him late.
Spencer Hawes (12) – Multidimensional big man who should start in Philly.
In addition to Rose, Rondo and Westbrook, these players will also be drafted higher than they should.
Andre Iguodala (3) – I think his offensive role will be dramatically reduced.
Blake Griffin (3) – The way he plays, I can’t trust him to stay healthy.
Brandon Jennings (6)– Field goal percentage will haunt your team.
Anthony Randolph (6) – Let somebody else roll those dice.
Gilbert Arenas (7) – Not a bad value this late, but he’s too unpredictable.
Stay tuned for the draft results of the First Official SLAMonline Family Fantasy League. Follow me on Twitter @Charles_Peach where I’ll be happy to respond to specific draft day decisions. Good luck!