The unfortunate injury to Derrick Rose is awful for him, the Bulls, their fans and the league. It also hurts some fantasy owners in postseason tournaments, like the guy who drafted him third overall at Fantasy Postseason. I’m leading the Sheridan Fantasy league there after one day, thanks in part to 9 PTS on 6-7 shooting by Richard Hamilton. We’re counting total points through the entire playoffs but FP also offers H2H leagues. Suddenly, C.J. Watson is worth a lot more and John Lucas needs to be owned in those formats.
NYK @ MIA: What a disaster for the Knicks. I didn’t really like Iman Shumpert matched against Dwyane Wade, but losing him to a severe knee injury leaves a gaping defensive hole. Baron Davis was sore and Tyson Chandler sick, so they won’t all be 33-point blowouts like yesterday, but LeBron James is on a mission and this series won’t last long.
ORL @ IND: The biggest surprise of the first day was the Magic holding Indiana to 34.5% shooting. Roy Hibbert had 8 PTS, 13 REB and 9 BLK, but went 3-11 from the floor. Jameer Nelson (17 PTS, 9 AST) outplayed George Hill (11 PTS, 3 AST) and Glen Davis (16 PTS, 13 REB, 3 BLK) erased concerns about his knee.
DAL @ OKC: I’m happy to own Russell Westbrook (28 PTS) and Serge Ibaka (22 PTS, 6 REB, 5 BLK and even a 3-pointer) but Kevin Durant (25 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 4 BLK) was the hero. The defending champions won’t give up easily, relying on Dirk Nowitzki (25) and Jason Terry (20) to score and Shawn Marion (17) to anchor the defense.
UTA @ SAS: For once, the Spurs will play their best lineup. Tony Parker is the key to this series, with a considerable tactical advantage over Devin Harris. Tim Duncan will more than hold his own against Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Utah may have no answer for Manu Ginobili.
DEN @ LAL: This is an absolute mismatch in the frontcourt. Andrew Bynum is superior to Kosta Koufos or JaVale McGee and Pau Gasol towers over Kenneth Faried. There’s not much the Nuggets can do about that and the only thing wrong with owning Lakers is, they might sweep.
BOS @ ATL: Too close to call for me, both Game 1 and the series. From a fantasy perspective, you know what Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce can do. Josh Smith has had a tremendous year, but as high as he was drafted in postseason leagues, the Hawks must win two series for the pick to pay off.
LAC @ MEM: The Grizzlies are the deeper team but this could be a hard-fought 7-game set. It depends mostly on Chris Paul (groin) being healthy. Without him at full strength, the Clippers are in trouble. Mike Conley is an underrated PG and Tony Allen can be a game-changer defensively. Marc Gasol had a quiet April (11.9 PTS, 6.4 REB per game) but is ready to step up his effort.
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Step one is to compile a master list. I like Basketball Monster but you can get final stats and rankings all over the internet. My spreadsheet is then customized for a 20-team, 6×6 Head-to-Head league. With 14-man rosters, we need to know the top 280 players, and keeping four means the best 80 are theoretically gone.
Next, adjust for your league’s keeper rules. Rookies are always prized commodities, but in a “dynasty” league with ten or more keepers per team and no limit to how many a player can be kept, the value of a promising youngster soars even higher.
In a “typical” 12-team league, with 15-man rosters and four keepers, I’ll be riding Kobe Bryant until he retires. Steve Nash helped me win this season, but Ty Lawson was drafted as his replacement. Manu Ginobili, Luol Deng, DeMarcus Cousins and Roy Hibbert are my other keeper candidates.
The ideal scenario is a 2-for-1 (or even 3-for-1) trade where I get the best player. Otherwise, there are some tough decisions. Will Nash, on an as-yet-unknown new team, stay healthy and productive at 39? It’s hard to throw either of my young bigs back into the draft, but Manu and Deng both suffered injuries this year, making them candidates to improve.
The development curve of young players is crucial. Cousins is an immature 21, his enormous potential coupled with potential behavior problems. More risk than Hibbert, who is already in his prime at 26. Keeping both is an option, but if I have to choose, youth and upside will prevail.
Predicting which rookies will break out as sophomores is an art, not a science. A truly precocious talent (Kyrie Irving or Ricky Rubio) can be expected to show incremental improvement. Kawhi Leonard and Kenneth Faried have earned more playing time next year. However, none of them will come cheap.
Roster moves can play a huge part; Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight could become a clear #1 PG, and even someone like Nolan Smith, who didn’t get much of a chance this year, could emerge. Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo got thrown into the fire prematurely against bigger, older opponents. Either (or both) might come back bigger, stronger and wiser.
There’s also a major shift for many players between their second and third years. Again, it’s a combination of opportunity, experience and ability that we’re trying to project. Imagine Paul George or Evan Turner taking one more big step forward. Conversely, if a high draft pick —let’s call him Wesley Johnson — doesn’t “get it” by Year 3, he’s probably a bust.
My sleepers on that angle include Derrick Favors, Kevin Seraphin and in deeper leagues, Ed Davis. It will all depend on how the dust settles after trades, free agency, the draft and more injuries. This year more than ever, fantasy hoops is a year-round hobby.
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
This weekend’s Freeroll is halfway through a 2-day contest that began yesterday. I’m sitting 104th out of 237 entries, with four players active: Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and $6,500 salary cap filler Kirk Hinrich.
My best of three teams in the $2 Salary Cap league is sitting 108th of 275 with an identical lineup, and barring some remarkable luck today, I’ll finish Week 8 without even a small payout, down a hundred bucks.
Out of ammo for today, but I joined a free Salary Cap league that goes Sunday-Monday, with the chart reflecting my picks. With a new 2-day league to join each day for the next couple of weeks, I’m looking forward to Week 9 of this ongoing experiment, beginning tomorrow, with a fresh $100 bankroll and exciting games to pick from.
Click here to get started on Draft Street. It’s always free to register and they have leagues with no entry fees, where you can win credits and redeem them for prizes.