On Sunday, the draft for the "FakeTeams Hoops Tournament" fantasy basketball league took place, and a good time was had by all. 11 of the 14 members showed for the draft, and the three that didn't at least had excuses -- two said in advance that they might not be able to make it, and the third guy... well, he entered the wrong time into the calendar. But I still consider this a 100% active league, which is the most important thing to strive for in a fantasy league; no one willingly ditched because they had better things to do, like order a Brittney Griner poster from Amazon.
Here's how it's going to work. I'm gathering testimonies from all the owners, so they can tell you why they chose a certain player, what their strategy was, yadda yadda yadda. I'm essentially stealing Ray Guilfoyle's round-for-round recaps of his dynasty league, only it'll include quotation marks, so it's more an homage than a blatant case of plagarism. (Or at least that's what my defense will be in court.)
For now, though, I'm just going to list who was drafted by which team, so we have an appreciation for what all the teams look like as a whole. Let's take a look...
For the record, I am getting the absolute most out of the Wisdom-soft ScreenHunter, because it saves me the trouble of having to write down these names one by one. Plus it's free! Also, I named the two conferences after Greg Ostertag and Olden Polynice, simply because I wanted different division names than the standard East/West, and Ostertag and Polynice are two of the least deserving NBA players to have something dedicated to them. Polynice, after all, once got arrested for impersonating a police officer. Anyway, onto the gif files:
Owner: ZombieMonta (FakeTeams, Inhistoric), Draft Order: 5 of 14
So I can't really decide whether I like my team or hate it. Usually, I like to build around scorers, and fill out the other positions from there. But I've gone with something very specific here, building almost exclusively around rebounders. There's a reason behind it. In the lockout-shortened 1999 season, shooting numbers were horrendous, and I expect the same to happen this year. If there's any statistic that should actually go up thanks to the lockout, it's rebounding. Obviously, I've got some 'splaining to do with my last pick, but I'll do that in the subsequent articles. The problem with my team is that there isn't enough here besides rebounding; Lowry, Jack and Rubio simply won't cut it as my only point guards.
Owner: Mike Gallagher (FakeTeams, fantasybasketball.com), Draft Order: 12 of 14
Mike has an armada of solid backcourt scorers with guys like Gordon, Crawford, Walker, Miles and Johnson. His two main big guys (Ibaka and Gasol) are players anyone would be thrilled to have on their team. His build is pretty much the opposite of mine, whereas I had an excess of big guys, he has a ton of capable small guys. Marshon Brooks is a really good sleeper too, since that Nets team is begging for role players to step up. Between Devin Harris (Mr. DTD), Marcus Camby and Baron Davis, injuries might pose something of a problem. Granted, they're impossible to predict, but these are three of the most routinely hurt players in the league, so that could become a headache at some point.
Owner: Thomas Mahoney (FakeTeams), Draft Order: 10 of 14
Flexibility is the name of the game with Team Mahoney. Curry, Iguodala and Diaw all contribute in areas that make them specific targets in fantasy drafts, and having all three gives Mahoney room to change the strategy of his team on a whim. If he wants to go rebound heavy, he can play Curry at the point, Iggy at the two and load up with Reggie Evans-types from there, or he can do the exact opposite if he chooses. He has a few interesting late-round fliers between Casspi, Turner, Knight and Reddick, so we'll see which of those guys pan out. His bugaboo might be that he'll need to add some rebounding as the season goes on.
Owner: Adam Madison (ESPN, TalentedMrRoto), Draft Order: 9 of 14
Due to a last-second problem with his internet, Adam was not able to take part in the draft, although he's determined to win this league anyway. Truth be told, this isn't a terrible roster considering it was completely determined by the computer. Williams, Melo and Nash establishes that his team can get a nice combo of points, assists and three's, with some nice percentages in between. Turnovers might be a problem, especially with Andray Blatche and Stephen Jackson getting chosen, and his field-goal percentage might languish in the early part of the season. But if he can find some big dudes to balance the nice assist guys he's got, he should have a good team by the end of the year.
Owners: Dennis Velasco (The Basketball Jones, Blog Dudes, a hundred other sites) & Ken Gayton (Blog Dudes), Draft Order: 9 of 14
It's a block party, and everyone's invited. Jefferson, Lopez and Jordan are going to do wonderful things for the Blog Dudes' block totals, and the nice thing with those guys is that other than Jordan, Velasco and Gayton are filling out that category without immediately sacrificing free-throw percentage -- which I had to do when I picked Dwight Howard. Brendan Haywood was an excellent pick in the twelfth round, since he's a charter member of the Better-On-Paper-Than-He-Is-In-Real-Life Club. The Dudes also had a secondary stat in mind, loading up on masters of the three-point shot like Anthony Morrow, Ben Gordon, Jason Richardson and Manu Ginobili. The obvious shortcoming here is in assists. They've housed only one point guard, Toney Douglas, and he may not be a starter for long if Baron Davis can speed up his recovery.
Owner: Neil Tardy (ESPN, TalentedMrRoto), Draft Order: 11 of 14
Neil Tardy did a really nasty thing when he stole Ty Lawson from me in Round 4. Boo! I have reasons to be bitter, because there wasn't a player more universally loved as a sleeper in this draft than Ty Lawson. We were all gushing over him in the draft chatbox. He has the potential to become an absolute stud with half his teammates in China, especially when you consider how abnormally great his field-goal shooting is for a young point guard. Lawson aside, he's got some real nice diversity in the first few rounds. Beasley continues to be extremely underrated, considering what a beast he was when he was healthy last season. As with any team housing John Wall and Michael Beasley, field-goal percentage and turnovers will probably be a problem, but to a lesser extent with Lawson, Stoudemire and Noah around them.
Owner: Nels Wadycki (Give Me The Rock, SI), Draft Order: 14 of 14
Nels, representing the guys at the Give Me The Rock -- who have what has to be the longest-running fantasy basketball site out there -- had the unenviable 14th position, meaning he had to do a lot of waiting in between his picks. But I'd say things turned out okay. Monta Ellis is an offensive juggernaut, who should flirt with the Top 10 rankings as the year goes on. There's a lot of sleeper potential here, with Afflalo, Blair and Harden waiting to have breakout years. Much like several of the teams already listed, Team GMTR is deficient in the point guard category. I imagine assists will be the most sought-after category on the waiver wire in this league.
Owner: Adam Shafer (Razzball), Draft Order: 1 of 14
So in my first matchup of the year, I get to go against the team with Kevin Durant. Joy. Adam has a lot of quality scorers who also hit three's, from Durantula to Martin to Evans to Jamison. I'm also guessing he lives in Indiana, or he might as well considering he's gone all in with four separate Indiana Pacers. It'll be interesting to see if George Hill and Daren Collison actually share the court, or if they'll trade off being the starter, with the lone man out coming off the bench. He also has a lot of big men who do stuff, like hit three's (Anderson, Jamison, Odom) and block shots (Hibbert, Udoh, Hickson). It's interesting to note that his team doesn't seem specifically tuned to one particular category, like a lot of the teams here, which means he'll never be unable to win a category. (Although, he too could use some more point guards, which I think I'll stop mentioning because it's getting redundant.)
Owner: Tom Lorenzo (Straight Outta Vancouver, RotoExperts, a million other sites), Draft Order: 8 of 14
Tom was an assassin in the draft, keeping his thoughts mostly to himself, no doubt calculating the best way to achieve total victory. His first ten or so picks were all excellent rebounders at their respective positions -- Westbrook in particular. This is one of the most balanced teams of the 14. Brandon Jennings, for instance, is a FG% catastrophe, but he's sandwiched between Chandler and Nene, who have two of the highest field-goal percentages in the sport. While this team has a lot going for it, three-point shooting appears to have been abandoned in the process. Smith and Westbrook suck at it, and Marion and DeRozan are notorious for not being able to drill the longball. Agent Zero was an excellent last-round flier; he'll never be the player he was pre-injuries and pre-absurd-gun-incident, but he can be more than serviceable depending on where he lands.
Owner: Mark Harmon (Fox Sports, Fantasy Freaks), Draft Order: 4 of 14
Mark Harmon made the critical mistake of writing down that the draft was at 8 PM Pacific Time, when it was really at 8 PM Eastern Time... which was a definite oops, and one that prevented him from taking part in the draft. Adding insult to injury, the computer had the nerve to select Jeff Green in the twelfth round -- the same Jeff Green who was recently diagnosed with a season-ending heart problem. This isn't a bad team, but there are a lot of players who are old and definite injury risks -- Duncan, Pierce, Kidd, Williams, Crawford, Turkoglu. This team deserves an AARP membership and a movie theater discount. The nice thing is that a lot of these old guys were so un-coveted because of their age that they're actually extremely undervalued -- Duncan in particular. But with having all those guys comes the obvious concern that any one of them could drop dead at any moment.
Owner: Jason Hahn (Dime Magazine, fbasketballblog.com), Draft Order: 2 of 14
Jason told me pretty early on that he wasn't going to be able to make it to the draft. But I have to imagine that when he opened up the internet and saw that he had been gifted with LeBron James, there must have been a smile on his face. The computer's first five picks were really excellent; Lee, Rondo and James can all rack up assists and rebounds at the same time, making Basketball Reasons a nightmare to prepare for. I'm not so sure about some of the later picks, like Jonas Jerebko (who?), but that's to be expected when an emotionless computer is at the wheel of a fantasy team. All things considered, this is a pretty nice squad.
Owner: Aaron Bruski (Rotoworld, ProBasketballTalk), Draft Order: 7 of 14
Getting Kevin Love at No. 7 allowed Bruski to construct a really unique team. Both Love and Frye give him ample three-point shooting at positions where three-point shooting practically doesn't exist. Factor in Gay, Nelson, Conley and the man who led the league in three-pointers made last year, Dorell Wright, and it's going to be pretty much impossible to beat him in three's. Then factor in the quality free-throw shooting that the players have, and the nice rebounding totals that come with having Kevin Love, and it's obvious that this team has a chance to be a contender. The only weakness here is in field-goal shooting, which is a direct result of all the outside shooters. Still, for someone who had a sketchy internet connection throughout the draft, this is a really quality team.
Owner: Justin Kendall (Life is Just a Fantasy... Basketball Blog, The Pitch), Draft Order: 7 of 14
With Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday -- another player everyone in the league loves -- Soulless Ginger Soldiers will not only have one of the best names in the league, it's a team that will never be desperate for assists. There's a lot of three-point shooting here, not to mention all the points that Gallinari and Granger can put up. Soldiers has a clearly-defined path to victory, where rebounds and blocks are being put on the back burner in deference to more guard-centric stats. The only problem: Ed Davis and Samuel Dalembert are the only centers on the roster, which will make it difficult to stay in the running in rebounds and blocks.
Owner: Jeff Andriesse (Damn Lies and Stats, RotoExperts), Draft Order: 6 of 14
It's a damn shame Mr. Damn Lies and Stats had to take Kobe Bryant in the second round. I was directly behind him, waiting anxiously to pounce on the aging but still incredibly good Lakers superstar. Alas, Andriesse beat me to the punch. His team has a nice collection of shot-blockers and scorers, with a few assist guys for good measure. I was ready to commit to the bad free-throw shooting that comes with Andrew Bogut, but he chose him before me, meaning he too is obviously willing to sack that category in lieu of other statistics. And with both Kyrie Irving and Jimmer Freddette, there's some real sleeper potential here, not to mention Kenneth Faried and Tristan Thompson. This is really, really good team.
So there you have it. All 14 teams have their strengths and weaknesses, and all 14 teams are run by competent managers who'll be hell-bent on making their team perfect. To best equate the difficulty of this league, consider this. There are only three players on the waiver wire who are owned in over 10% of ESPN leagues: Greg Oden, Vince Carter and James Johnson. And they may all be gone by the end of the week. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an incredibly deep league. The only question now is who will come away the victor....
(For continual updates of the FTHT, click here. It'll make a fine addition to your Bookmarks collection.)