by Ray Kuhn
Basketball knowledge is vital to success in fantasy basketball. Kind of goes without saying, right? But there is more to it. One big piece to the puzzle is the draft and how you manage it. Yes, you can recover from a bad draft, but wouldn’t you rather start from a position of success?
When it comes to any cheat sheet or set of projections, there is no such thing as 100% accuracy. I know, I shouldn’t be admitting to that as we want everyone to purchase and devour our draft guide, but that fact cannot be avoided. At best, anyone is probably going to be wrong at least a quarter of the time. And that is fine. You just need to avoid those 25% of players in your draft. Yes, it is easier said than done, but that is one of the things that make fantasy basketball so much fun.
So, you do the research, the cheat sheet is done, and the tiers are made. It is now draft day, and what do you do?
I would break the draft down into three different categories or types.
The objective is to build the best possible team. And that is done by drafting the best combination of players. Ok, that’s common sense, you got me there, but there is a point behind it.
For the first four or five rounds, draft the best available player. Look at your sheet and draft the highest ranking player on your board.
Sounds simple, right? You should know by now there is going to be at least one caveat.
While you do want to draft the best player available, because that will give you the best chance at winning, you still must pay some attention what each player offers you.
Don’t draft five point guards or five centers because your team will be unbalanced and you will likely be deficient in at least one statistical category. But, if drafting three point guards, and you can start all three of them at once, gives you the best value, then do it. Just try and make sure you have at least one contributor in each category and that you won’t have a 60% free throw percentage.
At this point, it is time to enter the second portion of your draft. Evaluate where the draft is at and also what your team looks like. Have there been any runs on a specific position or category? What about any glaring drops on the draft board?
But more importantly, you have to evaluate your own team and how it fits into what has already taken place in the draft? This is when you need to accurately take a look at your squad and figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Are there any categories you are especially strong or weak in?
The answers to those questions will determine the next steps in your draft. Use these rounds to target specific positions or categories that you need to fill. But at the same time, you also need to be realistic in your team is shaking out. If it looks like punting one category might be the best option, then this is when you begin to do it. Punting a counting category like blocks or assists makes more sense than something like free throw percentage which will be harder to overcome. Of course in an ideal world, you never want to punt a category, but there times when it is the best option.
When taking part in a draft, ADP is often a very useful tool. You don’t want to get too tied to it, but as we enter the middle rounds it is something to be aware of. The aggregate ADP data is never guaranteed to be a perfect indicator for your specific draft, but it will give you a good idea of when to select specific players. It is alright to reach by a round or two, to fill a need or if you are high on a player. Do not become paralyzed by the ADP as it is just an average. A very useful average, but still just an average.
At this point we enter the last portion of the draft. This is when you take any fliers, draft any sleepers, or fill any needs on your team. As you enter the last few rounds of the draft, you can throw ADP out the window.
Ok, so perhaps the most exciting part of the season, the draft is over. Now what?
Don’t overreact to your team’s success or failures after a few games. The draft was just the beginning of the marathon that ends in April. Buckle in and get ready.