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How to win your fantasy basketball league, despite picking last

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The key: reach for the sky and pray on Unicorns

NBA: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever started a project and realized that you’re already behind schedule? That’s the somewhat desperate feeling of OHMYGODPANICWE’REALLGONNADIEEEEEE! that we sometimes have when faced with an unforgiving predicament and lack of leverage. For fantasy basketball players, this is called “Picking 12th”.

But, this is America, and in America you don’t complain. Wait, that...doesn’t seem right. Let me try again. ...And, in America you don’t ever lose anything, EVER! Hmmmm...no, that doesn’t work...let’s try And, in AMERICA we refuse to pick last! We just won’t play if you’re going to make us pick last! No, that’s not helpful. Huh. What do Americans love more than anything?

Oh yeah. SPITE.

Thus: behold my response.

“Hi! I’m Natty! I have the 12th pick in my fantasy basketball draft. The draft is NOT snake, so I pick 12th in every round. This is, how you say, Golgotha. But, much like Josh the Nazarene, I ain’t dead yet! And, guess what? Not only am I going to DOMINATE, but I’m gonna win this dadgum league.”

THAT is why we want to win: to punish others and rub their faces in our glory.

And, so, because the world is red in tooth and claw and we poor mortals are rarely blessed with the #1 pick, let’s defy expectations and reach for the sky! Here’s a fantasy roster composed of players whose average draft position is at least one round later than the round in which you pick them. So, our first round pick will be a player generally taken in the second, our second round pick a player generally taken in the third, and so on. We’ll do 8 players since that’s usually how many you start in daily or weekly lineups, and we’ll use the following roster format: PG, SG, SF, PF, C, UTIL, UTIL, UTIL. All of the ADPs (Average Draft Positions) are based on ESPN’s numbers.

Remember, we’re trynna kiss the sky. How does one reach said sky? By riding magic unicorns, of course!

1st round: Kristaps Porzingis, PF

Average Draft Position (ADP): 24
Player Rater rank 2016-17 season: #44

2nd round: Joel Embiid, C

ADP: 36
PR rank 16-17: #168

3rd round: Devin Booker, SG

ADP: 40
PR rank 16-17: #57

4th round: Ricky Rubio, PG

ADP: 60
PR rank 16-17: #35

The first three are basically self-explanatory: all three are good but could become great. The fourth round is where things get interesting. You could also draft Lonzo Ball (ADP 50), D’Angelo Russell (ADP 52), Ben Simmons (ADP 53), or Andre Drummond (ADP 56). But, since this is our Worst Case Scenario draft, we’ll take Rubio because of his lowest ADP out of the five players. Plus, Rubio is undervalued compared to his ranking. He was the 13th best point guard last year. His assists will fit nicely in our desperation team, and there’s a good chance he improves since he’s only 26.

5th round: Harrison Barnes, SF

ADP: 66
PR rank 16-17: #62

Here’s another interesting round. Isaiah Thomas’s ADP is 61. He won’t play until January, which means he’ll miss at least a third of the season. If you draft him, you’re hoping that he comes back healthy and plays amazing and propels you into the playoffs. But, wins at the beginning of the year matter as much as wins at the end, so we’re going to skip him in favor of a guy who can help us all year. You can also go with Victor Oladipo, Dwyane Wade, or Dwight Howard in this round, but we need a Small Forward and Barnes’s ceiling is higher than those three guys since he’s transitioning into being the focal point of the Maverick’s offense as Dirk Nowitzki, the Old Man at the C, continues to fade into legend.

6th round: Markelle Fultz, PG

ADP: 83
PR rank 16-17: N/A (#1 pick in the 2017 draft)

Whoa! A starting point guard on a unicorn team! Historically, rookie point guards don’t do that well. Typically, a rookie has to deal with a difficult learning curve as he adjusts to the speed and size and sophistication of the NBA. Usually, you’d want to pick a safe guy in this part of the draft, a guy who can provide stability, like Tobias Harris (ADP 73), Avery Bradley (ADP 76), or 24-year-old Steven Adams (ADP 78). But, again, THIS HERE’S DA MAGIC UNICORN TEAM! WE DON’T DO “SAFE!” Fultz IS the point guard on the 76ers, and he WILL be given time to figure things out. He WILL be passing all the time to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Old Man Redick. He WILL get his when he’s made sure his teammates have had theirs. Fultz is a safer bet than you think, but he gets undervalued because he’s a rookie and his ratios probably won’t be pristine. In fact, they might just be rhino butt. But, who cares? His counting stats will be tremendous and consistent. AND, he’s our backup point guard?? Get real, this is my favorite pick so far.

Okay, we’re going to make our final two rounds EVEN HARDER. Our 7th and 8th picks have to be TWO rounds lower than the draft round (so, our 7th round pick will be from the 9th round, and our 8th rounder will be from the 10th).

7th round: Gary Harris, SG

ADP: 99
PR rank 16-17: #110

WHOA AGAIN. Why do people hate on Gary Harris?? I don’t understand, it’s as if no one watched Denver Nuggets games last year. But, that’s impossible!

Well, that’s a humdinger of a mystery, because Gary Harris is working on his PhD in scoring at the University of Basketball, and we’ll all be calling him Dr. Harris when this season is done. This dude kinskorr. I wouldn’t be surprised if he averages 20 points a game and makes 3-4 threes a game. I love Gary Harris, I mean Dr. Harris. Also, a lot of people think that Dr. Harris was a rookie last year. I have no idea why, since, as we discussed earlier, everyone definitely watches Nuggets games, and thus know what they’re talking about.

8th round: Buddy Hield, SG

ADP: 132
PR rank 16-17: #157

There is no one in the NBA who has a higher ceiling of possible astonishment than Buddy Hield. Remember, this is the guy who Vivek Ranadive, the owner of the Sacramento WTFs traded BOOGIE COUSINS for, and then said that Buddy could be the next Steph Curry. Vivek Ranadive is out his damn mind, but...ohmygodwhatifhe’snot????

If Hield is anywhere close to what Ranadive thinks he is, then he’ll be the most surprising player who ever lived (fun fact: he was drafted higher than Curry was, though not in the same draft). And, c’mon and get real, he 99% probably won’t be. But, he could end up being a very strong, stable rotation player on a team that “wants” to win. I know we don’t play safe on Team Unicorn, but Hield is a responsible and healthy-looking salad that is actually made of cocaine and hundred dollar bills. There ain’t one damn thing safe about this guy, this team, or their WTF owner.

Hield and Ranadive also might form the basis for a sexual thriller along the lines of Sleeping with the Enemy which is my favorite Patrick Bergin movie.

You can’t kiss the sky unless you’re just a lil bit nuts. And, the Sacramento Kings are only here to do two things: chew gum and be crazy...and, they’re all out of ubiquitous and easily purchasable gum. By the transitive property, Buddy Hield brings the crazy to our team.

So, here’s our Worst Case Scenario Team, with a few Way Desperate picks thrown in to make our lives even harder. Remember, there are still good players available after the 10th round, and you obviously fill out your bench with other dudes you believe in (post-ADP 150 players I like: Joe Ingles, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Ntilikina, Thon Maker, Luke Kennard (just kidding), and Al-Farouq Aminu).

Final Roster:

PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Devin Booker
SF - Harrison Barnes
PF - Kristaps Porzingis
C - Joel Embiid
UTIL - Markelle Fultz
UTIL - Gary Harris
UTIL - Buddy Hield

Yoooo...am I Sacramento Kings, I mean crazy? I like that team! Fantasy basketball is about winning, but it’s also about having fun. Is that a fun team or is that a fun team?? Everyone’s young, everyone could improve, and everyone else in your league is going to talk trash to you during the draft until they see your complete team and think to themselves, “Damn, that’s a fun ass team!” It’s heavy on the guards, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fantasy basketball these days is about shooting threes and getting assists. Everything else is secondary. Do you know anyone who won their league because they started 5 bigs? You’re lying, no you don’t. Non-elite big men are fungible and are constantly available. Like, go get John Henson if you really need to, yknow? Or, make sure you grab Thon Maker or Boban Marjanovic. This is the Worst Case Scenario Team, after all. We’re a lil bit desperate and not at all safe.

Regardless, have fun out there, try to win, but most of all, never stop dreaming. We can all be unicorns and kiss the sky! Especially if Buddy Hield turns into one of the greatest basketball players who’s ever lived.