• Dicky Fung

Fantasy Basketball Draft Strategies

As we edge closer towards the basketball season, owners want to prepare for their upcoming draft. Most of the time, everyone wants to draft the right the player and usually has a strategy. However, things may not go as planned come draft night. Other owners may be targeting the same player you have been eyeing all along, or you’ve just been unlucky with certain picks because other owners have picked ahead of you. So, how exactly do you overcome these unfortunate situations?

Research and mock drafts – I can’t stress this enough. If you are not up to date on basketball during fantasy season, you might as well not play. In order to prepare for your draft, you need to set aside time to participate in mock drafts. Mock Drafts are basically practice drafts and give you an idea of where the players are being picked on average. It also gives you an advantage to be able to practice if you already know what number you are picking before the draft. Some leagues reveal this information before your draft. Personally, I also take some time to read forums, twitter blurbs, and fantasy basketball websites for any revealing information that might help me come draft day. I also use BasketballMonster.com as a reference for player values. For instance, today I read that Tim Frazier might start come opening night because Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely due to family matters. Information like this is vital to make the right picks and may even land me a sneaky pick with Frazier come draft night.

Q: How do you know which Twitter users to follow for fantasy basketball-related info?

A: Every team usually has a beat writer/insider working for them. The Twitter handles of the beat writers are very easy to find. For example, @SerenaWinters of Lakernation works very closely with the Lakers and has insider information on everything Lakers.

Q: I have the 7th pick in my upcoming draft next week, should I practice on being #7 pick in my Mock drafts?

A: Yes, Yes, and YES. Practice makes perfect and gives you a perfect idea on what your draft might look like.

Knowing value and usage – You see all the names on the draft list? You realize most of the best players are on the top 10 or 15 off that list. Not only are they some of the best players in the NBA, but they also receive most of the playing time. Most are them are franchise players on their teams so they demand the ball in their hands and use it to maximize their statistics output. Russell Westbrook comes to mind when it comes to usage. Usage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by the player while he is on the floor. Westbrook’s usage last year was at 33.3, which was highest in the league. Just imagine this year WITHOUT Kevin Durant. Value is the criteria I follow in selecting my players. I weigh in the risks in selecting a player if they are able to at least match or exceed the value depending on which round or pick I selected them in. It is critical to spend your first 2 or 3 picks on someone who is going to have high usage and return equal or higher value. Don’t make a foolish mistake and repeat what I did in selecting Rudy Gobert at #14 overall in last year’s draft. Gobert finished the season with an overall rank of 67th, only returning 6th round value. So yeah, a fail gamble on my part.

Q: Dennis Schroder has a higher usage than Chris Paul last year, does that mean he is a better player to select?

A: No, usage can be misleading at times because an injured-riddled team can cause a certain player’s usage to sky rocket. Chris Paul is a rare case where he doesn’t have to have the usage of Russell Westbrook to excel. Chris Paul’s all-around game in scoring, assists, steals, 3-pointers, FG%, FT%, and low turnover ratios makes him an elite point guard in fantasy.

Playing ADP and target discounts – Yahoo!, CBS, and ESPN all have their Average Draft Positions (ADP) rankings differently. It is up to you to determine if you feel like they are correct. Many owners come draft night will follow down the list and draft players that appear on the list. However, targeting a player who has more upside than their ADP are the hidden gems that can win your league. Every year there are potential break-out players who come cheap on draft day but become extremely valuable as the season goes on. I won a league last year because I decided on picking CJ McCollum in round 6 and it paid off dividends because he returned 3rd round value on the year. Taking the time to scout for players with upside on the list is a good way to stay ahead of your opponents who are too busy drafting. I will have another piece on potential break-out players soon.

Q: Kevin Durant is ranked #1 on Yahoo! ADP rankings, does that mean I select him if I have the 1st pick?

A: No, Kevin Durant’s arrival to the Bay Area has not only hurt his fantasy outlook, but the rest of the Warriors. His arrival means less playmaking and shots from Curry and Thompson. Durant will also no longer take the same amount of shots he has in OKC and Draymond Green’s rebounding and assists numbers may come down a bit now that there is another 7-footer grabbing rebounds on Golden State.

Q: So what if you’re wrong?

A: I believe Durant is still a top 3 pick because his efficiency will most likely improve in GSW. I won’t fault anyone for picking Durant #1 because he is still a monster in fantasy. I just believe this year’s #1 overall player is James Harden because of the new coaching change in Mike D’Antoni. That system is going to be all offensive-minded and Harden’s usage is going to be through the roof, which is a recipe for success in fantasy.

Q: You mentioned CJ McCollum being a stud last year for you, he’s #37 ADP this year. How do you feel about him this year?

A: I love CJ, and I hate to say that this year I will probably pass on him unless he falls to me at a discount. I think #37 is a bit high for him because Portland added depth in Evan Turner. He is still a solid pick but I would much rather gamble on Victor Oladipo (ranked #35 ADP) this year at almost the same range.

Knowing when to gamble on UPSIDE – To win, sometimes you need a bit of luck. Perhaps sometimes you need to gamble and risk drafting a player that you might not like at all. For example, there will come a situation when you are faced in drafting a safe player Chris Paul (#7 ADP) or a player who has upside in Karl Anthony-Towns (#8 ADP). Knowing what you are getting into, CP3 gives you security. On the other hand, picking KAT, you have a younger stud who's able to pick up more minutes to produce on a Timberwolves team that is dedicated to him, blossom. To add cherries on top, you have Tom Thibodeau, a coach who loves to play his starters big minutes.

Keep in mind, everyone has their own philosophy on drafting certain players. Not everyone is entitled to follow values and usage. I just learned from past experience this is what works for me and this is what helped me win, numerous of times. I like to hear about your drafting strategies and approach! Follow and tweet me @fungo24 for everything basketball and fantasy!

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