Congratulations if you were a winner last night. I’m pleased with my results, including a couple of championships. Finishing second in the 20-team elimination was satisfying and rebuilding went very well in some deep keeper leagues.
Every other year, fantasy basketball has ended with the regular season, but I didn’t know about Draft Street before. Looking forward to the challenge of that game throughout the playoffs.
There’s also Fantasy Postseason if you like the idea of drafting a team and collecting points throughout the playoffs. You’re welcome to join the free 12-team Sheridan Fantasy league that drafts on Saturday morning.
DAL @ ATL: Atlanta came out smokin’ — a 38-21 first-quarter lead — and rolled to an easy win behind Josh Smith (23 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST) as the Mavs didn’t really care. They used 13 players, rested Jason Kidd and limited minutes for the other regulars.
NJN @ TOR: The Nets played eight guys, the Raptors seven, most of them D-League graduates. Ed Davis (24 PTS, 12 REB) needs to gain some muscle to play that way next year against real NBA power forwards. Alan Anderson (20) and Gary Forbes (23) were auditioning to stay in the league.
ORL @ MEM: The 18-point return of Hedo Turkoglu, who missed “only” ten games with a facial fracture, was a pleasant surprise. Most Grizzlies played, Zach Randolph (13 PTS, 12 REB) starting for the first time in a month.
MIA @ WAS: Miami rested the Big Three and started Eddy Curry. It was no surprise they got destroyed by the red-hot Wizards, who finish on a six-game win streak with some optimism for next year.
POR @ UTA: I guessed right on Alec Burks (18 PTS, 3 REB, 2 STL) and Enes Kanter (12 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) who will have larger roles with the Jazz in the future. J.J. Hickson (20 PTS, 9 REB) and Jonny Flynn (18 PTS, 11 AST) played well for Portland in a meaningless finale.
DEN @ MIN: As predicted here, the Nuggets started their regulars and wanted to win. Seven players scored 15 points or more, led by JaVale McGee with 19 in just 18 minuyes. J.J. Barea (20) and Nikola Pekovic (18) were the only Minnesota players who even tried.
NOH @ HOU: One happy reader took my Chase Budinger recommendation yesterday; his 27 points helped clinch a championship. I’m pleased with the assist. Nobody else stood out in this one; rarely-used Darryl Watkins double-doubled (13 & 10) in 42 minutes for the Hornets.
PHI @ DET: Resting almost everyone, the Sixers were never close. The Pistons used 13 players; Ben Gordon drained eight 3-pointers, to the delight of his fantasy owners.
CLE @ CHI: Derrick Rose (rest) didn’t play and the rest of the Bulls’ starting five got limited minutes, but it was more than enough to trounce the Cavaliers. John Lucas had a career-high 25 off the bench.
MIL @ BOS: What a strange line for Rajon Rondo. In 25 minutes, he took one shot, missed it, and never got to the line. The total? Zero points, 15 assists and 4 steals. The Bucks had nothing to play for, and it showed. Boston used 13 men in another ugly win.
NYK @ CHA: I did not expect Amare Stoudemire (21 PTS in 24 minutes) to play at all and thought Charlotte would have more intensity. The Bobcats finish a mere 52 games under .500 and are officially the worst team ever. Anthony Davis must be hoping he goes anywhere else.
LAL @ SAC: DeMarcus Cousins (23 PTS, 19 REB) and Jason Thompson (17 PTS, 10 REB) dominated the Lakers’ backup big men in the Kings’ home finale.
SAS @ GSW: In hindsight, Patty Mills was a great play. I just didn’t think he could do it two nights in a row, but he had the game of his life (34 PTS, 12 AST) in the Spurs’ tenth straight win. DeJuan Blair (22 PTS, 13 REB) and James Anderson (19) were the other scoring stars. Chris Wright had 25 on 11-14 shooting for the Warriors.
Free Agent All-Stars
For me, the challenge of fantasy sports isn’t paying full price in an auction or spending a first-round pick on a superstar, it’s finding undervalued players who can make a difference. Assuming that all the best players were drafted, a free agent who genuinely helps is like gold. Even in leagues where I didn’t win, picking up valuable assets for nothing made this a fun season.
PG: Jeremy Lin might have made this an even closer race if he didn’t suffer a knee injury. He sure was exciting for a while. Isaiah Thomas emerged from complete obscurity to average 14.8 PTS and 5.4 AST in his 37 games as a starter, yet he still wasn’t the best FA. Goran Dragic was pressed into starting 28 games for the Rockets, averaging 18 points and 8.4 assists. Freely available in most 12-team leagues, he made a huge difference to his owners in the second half.
SG: Back in January, I dropped Jared Dudley after he lost his starting job and scored 29 points (total) in five games. It was one of my dumber moves and gave an opponent in that league a bargain FA, as he started every game since and averaged about 14 PPG while contributing in other categories. Some young guys who went mostly undrafted, like Klay Thompson and Danny Green, had fine seasons and if you picked up J.R. Smith (16 PTS, 4.4 REB, 4.2 AST, 2 STL per game in April) when he returned from China, you can’t complain.
SF: Kawhi Leonard and James Johnson are contenders, but I like Chandler Parsons in this spot. A relatively unknown rookie, available even in 20-team leagues, he wound up starting 57 games and did everything but make free throws. Averages after the break: 11.5 PTS, 3.7 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.3 BLK.
PF: Not really in the rotation at all, Drew Gooden had played a total of 20 minutes in four games when forced to take over for Andrew Bogut the first time, yet he rose to the challenge. When Bogut was done for the year, Gooden battled bigger men every night. Despite some aches and pains, he averaged 15.5 PTS and 7.1 REB in his 46 games as a starter. Kenneth Faried deserves honorable mention.
C: My center and personal fantasy MVP is Nikola Pekovic, who showed strength, skill and courage in his breakout campaign. It was mostly a bet against Darko when I picked him up in January, but Pek quickly took over as the starter and had an amazing month of February: 16.3 PTS, 9.7 REB, 0.9 AST and 1 BLK per game, while shooting 56.4% from the floor and 79.7% from the line. March was just as good, until two painful ankles shut the big man down. Despite needing surgery, he hobbled through April for his shorthanded team. I traded him for a valuable future draft pick in one league and he’s a keeper for me in two others.
Out In DraftStreet
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
Week 8 of this adventure has been a comedy of errors for me. When a $5 GPP league opened up with 110 entries, I joined three times. Finished 15th, 23rd and 29th which is respectable, just out of the money. Deciding not to use Patty Mills (I thought it might be Cory Joseph’s turn) cost me big time. My teams in the $2 league fared no better, and the $100 weekly bankroll is down to a measly six bucks.
I have already made the maximum three entries in the $2 Salary Cap league (275 teams, $500 guaranteed prize pool) that starts tomorrow and includes Sunday’s games. That 2-day duration is very clever. There’s a tremendous talent pool to choose from, but with only $100,000 to fill eight roster spots, the big guns are quite expensive.
Click here to get started on Draft Street. It’s always free to register and you can play in leagues with no entry fees, for credits and prizes.