The NBA summer league have wrapped up, and the only thing we are looking forward to is the start of the season, which is a few months away. For some NBA fans this it the time when they crave the beginning of the season the most, with not much going on but looking out for team news. For one group, however, this is the time when the most significant amounts of thinking and number crunching take places. We are talking about those hardcore basketball fantasy league masterminds. It’s in the final 2 months before the start of the season they crunch all the numbers and work out a preferred team within their virtual team budget.
What will Kevin Durant do in the new season? Who will be the dominating ballplayer in the Eastern Conference? Will Kawhi Leonard claim this throne? What will the Brooklyn Nets make of the next season? Will the Lakers be able to shed the funk they seem to be in right now? Will it be, as most predictors estimate, a toss-up between the 76ers and the Bucks? Or will the Celtics, Raptors or Heat make a good play for the season? And what about the new unknowns coming from the draft or even potential new entries coming from outside the draft, such as Zach Norvell Jr? These and many more questions will be debated in depth by fantasy league enthusiasts while crunching the numbers.
If you are new to fantasy basketball and all the aforementioned sounds exciting and pretty much what you spend your time on anyway, you might want to get started doing a bit of fantasy league yourself. And before you say it, yes it as immersive and nerdy as it sounds. A whole wad of statistics and numbers crunching and a healthy dose of gut feel and instinct will make you feel like a powerhouse team manager in no time. Here are some top tips to help you on your way.
It all starts with the foundation. No matter if you are a seasoned fantasy basketball veteran or new to the game, your success will be founded in the team you put together initially. No matter how many trades you do or how many players you pick up, your initial selection will set the tone for the rest of your season.
Know your league. It seems extremely basic, but it’s fundamental. Every fantasy league will have their specific scoring mechanisms. Things like negative points for turnovers might make a prime fantasy player in one league, a bad investment in the other. If you do nothing else before you draft, take some time to familiarize yourself with the rules of your league.
Prepare Your Lists
Prepare yourself for your fantasy draft, make a list of picks and non-picks. Although everyone is looking for raw gems in the fantasy draft, you will want to make up your mind beforehand on the picks, you might consider bad eggs. Drafts are usually done on the clock, so having a list can make things a lot easier and more enjoyable. So build a list of who you want, but also create a list of who you don’t want. You’ll be thankful that you did when the timer runs out.
Take player positions into account. Especially when you are further into the draft, consider that leagues will only allow a certain amount of players in the same position to earn points. This is why players that are eligible to earn points on multiple positions prove to be extremely valuable in specific team compositions. The advice is to focus on individual player output, but when you seem to become stacked in certain positions, start filling up your other spots.
Be Careful with Rookies
Do approach rookies with caution. Rookies get plenty of media attention and usually the teams that draft these rookies will be waxing lyrical on how they are going to change the NBA. In practise its often the case of high expectations and under delivery. If rookies work out, they can be an absolute treasure trove of points, but it stays a long shot. The advice here is to pick up a promising rookie or two, but do not build your team strategy on them rising to fame immediately.
Don’t Think Like a Fan
The most important tip, however, is saved for last. Don’t think like a fan. Sure, your team has some players you want to draft to show your support. However, fantasy basketball is all about statistical output, and that does not take into account the team that you favour. In fantasy basketball, the teams that succeed are generally the teams that draft the best player available whenever fit and positional eligibility will allow. It may be tough to pass on your favourite player if they might not be available in the next round, but chances are, your team will be better for it down the road.