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Fantasy Basketball: Learning From the Preseason

This week Phil answers your questions about Al Horford, Noah Vonleh and whether or not what happens in the preseason should matter to Fantasy Basketball owners.

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The ball is finally in the air and that's a good thing to see. Even though its pre-season there is a certain excitement in the air and that's also a good thing to see. The best thing to see is an inbox FULL of your Fantasy Basketball questions so let's get after it.

Dear Phil,

Where do you see Al Horford getting drafted this season?

Thanks for the question!

It never fails but Horford seems to be one of those unique players that contributes in most if not all the major Fantasy Basketball scoring categories that should be mentioned as one of the best at his position but doesn't. Let's have a look at what Horford has done over his career.

The numbers are solid aren't they? Some would even say spectacular and you won't get any arguments from me. Except for triples Horford contributes in every category straight across the board and is valuable in any format. The problem really is injuries and how much time he misses each season. Horford has missed large chunks of 2 of his last 4 seasons and that is always a concern and probably why he gets overlooked in pre-season rankings.

Last season Horford finished 10th in efficiency amongst centers and with the off-season acquisition of Tiago Splitter now has power forward eligibility. The interesting thing for me about Horford is this; while not necessarily known as a three point shooting threat will they be using him in this manner like they did in their first pre-season game against Cleveland? Horford was 1-3 from downtown in that game and its worth keeping an eye on.

Currently Horford is being drafted at an average at about 49 overall and the 12th center being taken. Considering his injury history that seems about right but if he can remain healthy and is hitting at least one three pointer a game his stock is going to rise and picking him in the mid fourth round area could wind up being a steal. So to answer your question Horford is a mid to late fourth round or early 5th round selection in drafts of 10-12 teams.

Dear Phil,

Been watching the Portland Trail Blazers this preseason and have noticed the Trail Blazers have been using Noah Vonleh quite a bit. How do you see this affecting his draft position in a 10 team head to head league?

Thanks for the question!

Vonleh sure has been fun to watch this pre-season hasn't he? He's played 49 minutes thus far and has shown tremendous potential in scoring and rebounding so far. He's even attempted a couple of triples and while he hasn't made any he does have a nice stroke and in the preseason that's probably all that should matter. He's also a plus 22 overall and that means he hasn't hurt the team when he's been on the floor.

Currently Vonleh is getting drafted around 119 so even in a 10 team league Vonleh currently is seen as a late round flyer. I think that's about right to. I also believe Vonleh is worth that flyer; if he wins a spot in the rotation and gets around 20-25 minutes a night he's going to contribute. If he doesn't then it isn't going to cost you very much and I'm more than certain you'll be able to replace him from your league waiver wire.

Dear Phil,

I'm new to Fantasy Basketball and I was wondering what I can learn from the preseason to help me prepare for my draft?

Thanks for the question!

Welcome to the world of Fantasy Basketball. I hope you enjoy your experience and I wish you the best of luck this season!

The main thing about the preseason for me is watching how position battles are shaping up. The Philadelphia 76ers may be irrelevant in terms of the NBA but their 4 way position battle for the starting point guard job is something that absolutely should interest Fantasy Basketball owners.

Another thing I watch for is how veterans are being used. Not necessarily in how many minutes they play but in their roles and to see what if anything has changed. As I mentioned before Horford is a good example as his role is changing and watching how he responds to these changes matters to me and how I view him on draft day.

This might sound nerdy but I like to watch teams play defense in the preseason. Not so much the veteran teams because their schemes seldom change. A team like the Trail Blazers having four new starters is a good example; I haven't seen the Trail Blazers play the kind of help defense they've demonstrated over their last 2 preseason games in quite a while and that could lead to more steals, blocks and of course rebounds. I'm sure there are other things you can learn but for me it's those little things that helps me prepare for my draft.

Good luck with your drafts Fantasy Basketball owner! If you have a question you would like to see answered here please write me at phil@draftdragons.com.

On this week's Phil's Fantasy Sports Fake Teams DFS Baseball writer Tim Finnegan joins Phil to discuss DFS Fantasy Baseball strategy for the playoffs, Draft Kings Playbook writer Jason Walker and Phil discuss this week's best Fantasy Football plays at FanDuel and Draft Kings this weekend, FanDuel's Joe Pisapia joins Phil to discuss his Fantasy Black Book series based on his theory called Relative Position Value or RPV, Rotowire NBA writer Alex Rikleen and Phil answer your Fantasy Basketball questions about Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroder and more and Rotowire NHL writer Brian Rutherford and Phil discuss week one Fantasy Hockey waiver wire strategy and offer tips and advice for those interested in playing Daily Fantasy Hockey. You can download the show from my site or listen below.