Suppose you've got the second overall pick in a snake-format fantasy basketball draft. Kevin Durant went first because he's Kevin Durant and he's great, and now you have to choose between the two point guards on your radar: Chris Paul and John Wall. It's not even a discussion. You'd pick Paul, the best point guard in the league, a hundred times before you'd pick Wall, who'd be the Rookie of the Year if not for Blake Griffin. Wall's good, but you'd never use your No. 1 pick on someone as raw and turnover-prone as him.
Now let's say it's an auction draft. Again, you're presented with the chance to get Chris Paul, except that Paul will probably cost $70 to $75, roughly a third of your entire spending limit. Wall, on the other hand, probably won't cost more than $20 (if even that), and will be no better than the eighth PG off the board behind Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash, and possibly behind Tyreke Evans, Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo. Suddenly you've got a dilemma on your hands. Do you go ahead and spend the moola on Paul, or do you save your cash and invest in Wall?
If you're savvy, you'll go with the second option.
Sure, Paul is great, but his stats are only slightly superior to Wall's. Take a look at their 2010-11 statistics as of Mar. 8:
Chris Paul -- 46.7% FG, 89.3% FT, 1.0 3PM, 3.9 RPG, 9.6 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 15.9 PPG
John Wall -- 40.8% FG, 73.9% FT, 0.6 3PM, 4.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 15.6 PPG
Paul's numbers are definitely better, but are they really so much better that you'd rather spend $70 on him instead of $20 on Wall, with enough left to spend on someone like Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol? He's averaging 0.3 more points, 0.7 more assists, and 0.9 more steals than Wall; that's hardly a $50 difference, even with the noticeable discrepancy in free-throw and field-goal shooting. (Only Steve Nash offers better percentages at the point guard position than CP3.)
And that's not even factoring in that Wall is just a rookie. Whereas Paul's numbers will likely remain the same (though they've actually gone down from a year ago), Wall's can only go up. His field-goal shooting is terrible, but so were Tony Parker's (41.7%) and Rajon Rondo's (41.8%) in their rookie campaigns, and both are now locks to shoot over 50%. Considering that Wall's biggest issue has been converting lay-ups, there's no reason to think he won't exponentially improve his percentages the same way Parker and Rondo did. After all, Wall's already a better shooter than either of them; he's hit 29 three-pointers this season, more than Rondo and Parker combined (26).
Winning an auction draft is all about picking your spots. Sure you could get Dwight Howard, but you could also save $30 and get Al Jefferson, who's almost as good. You could spend big money on Kevin Love, or you could pinch your pennies and pick Zach Randolph for a fraction of the price. With the money you've saved, you'll have far more opportunities to select quality players down the line. And since Paul poses to be $20 more expensive than either Love or Howard, the bargain basement route isn't such a bad alternative. Wall and $50 is a pretty good consolation prize.