Saturday, December 24, 2011
"Hobo with a Shotgun" begins Fantasy NBA "Quest"
Even though NFBBC was cancelled this year due to the NBA lockout, this week Lou Nemphos and I shared a team in a highly competitive league with almost exclusively NFFBC veterans. Five of the contestants drafted in a similar league the night before, so we had either a handicap or perhaps an edge in not participating in that one, depending on how you look at it. Yes we heard through the grapevine a couple of the picks, but didn't get the experience of "in-draft" dynamics. However, as I've seen many times with doing multiple baseball leagues, we never had the dilemma of not wanting to get over-invested in one player and thus we never passed on a pick "just to change it up" from the night before.
We had the 10th pick- Lou regretted not choosing an earlier pick- we originally targeted pick #6 but we also wanted a stud at pick #15 of the 12-team league, who ended up being the very safe Dirk Nowitzki (after Carmelo Anthony), and we wanted an early third round selection in this third round reversal format, so we were fine with our start. Although we wanted a guard like Deron Williams or Russell Westbrook to fall to #10, we were expecting to take Pau Gasol, Carmelo, or Howard at #10, so there was no panic at that time. At #15 again we were hoping a Curry or Ellis slipped through, but there is a difference between hoping and expecting. We were more realistically targeting Dirk, Al Jefferson, or John Wall.
Given that we took two forwards, albeit very versatile ones, to start off, assists immediately became a priority, and if you follow Rotoevil.com's Eric Wong's "3 point guard in the first 5 rounds" postulate, we were already in deep doo-doo, so we continued our "age/injury risk" strategy by taking perhaps the top assist man in the history in the NBA in Steve Nash in round three. Already it was looking like we'd need to stock our bench with immediately playable guys in case of injuries, in favor of home run plays such as how Derrick Favors or Evan Turner were last year.
By that point our category-rater lifted off ESPN.com was shouting to us that we needed blocks. We didnt ignore him, as we hoped Javale McGee or Serge Ibaka or someone in the 1.8+ blocks a game group was still around for our late fourth selection. Ibaka, our first non-injury risk, was our selection. Like the Samuel Dalemberts of the world, the risk is merely that he never figures out his offensive game, or that his French-speaking on-court friend Thabo Sefolosha gets benched for James Harden, and Ibaka and Perkins get in the way of each other, and coach Scott Brooks goes more with the offensive- minded Nick Collison types at PF and ruin Ibaka's confidence. Not likely, just saying.
Our Carmelo/Dirk opener gave us a giant head-start in a weak forward position and more importantly gave us some nice breathing room in points and FT, but after adding some assists and blocks in round 3 and 4, we knew we were short in steals. So, only having one guard also at the time and wanting to stay flexible, we took perhaps not the best PG left but the best for us in Mike Conley, whose job is secure, and is above average in steals for a PG. Marc Gasol was a possibility there instead. We had a long wait before our next pick, and 6 point guards went before our next pick, so in hindsight we were happy with a slight reach there with Conley.
For the next wrap-around, floor stats remained a priority, to counter our first three picks, so we were banking on some floor stat (steals and blocks) value, and we were happy to get Wesley Mathews' steals and threes, and Elton Brand's nice steals and blocks, even though it was one more slightly brittle vet.
What I'm calling our draft keys came in the next two rounds. We still needed a third PG for assists, and a third shot-blocker/second center. For once the two guys we were targeting far in advance were available to us. We believe in Jarrett Jack in New Orleans after Chris Paul's departure, and while he's not a sexy pick, he was incredibly safe for round 8, so we felt very fortunate that perhaps his one-game suspension to start the season or his lack of a track record or giant upside repelled people away from him. The fact is that he is the guy there- not their best player, but the veteran glue the brand new set of Hornet players need. We just need him to play and be okay.
The second triumph was getting Okafor for rebounds and blocks next, also securing our 2nd center position. Go Hornets!!!
Our first 9 was looking very balanced and our goal shifted to taking immediately playable similar swing-men type guys to shift in and out depending on schedule or to replace a Nash or Brand during a period of injury. Eventually we wanted some upside, but before that we collected JJ Hickson, Thaddeous Young, John Salmons, and Carlos Delfino to give us somewhat predictable situation-play numbers, plus Shane Battier for the same reason in the last round.
Our two "sleepers" that we had room for were Gerald Henderson, the new starting SG for Charlotte, and Udoh, the raw backup center for Golden State. We're not sure what GHen is good at. He's a son of a former NBA player. He went to a nearby prep school Episcopal Academy who I played against in baseball and football in highschool in the philly suburbs. His coach Dell Curry had his son Stephen tutor Gerald this summer on shooting 3's. Gerald is guaranteed minutes. Henderson had a nice April last year in garbage games. We are hoping all of that amounts to something. Udoh could be the next Ibaka if he gets playing time.
So that is our squad and we are thinking good things currently. The power of positive thinking.
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