The NBA season is nearing its second half watermark, the all-star game. Thus, the fantasy basketball season is winding down as well, with each team having 30 or so games remaining on their schedule.
Now, I don't like to brag, but I tried a new fantasy draft technique this season and it is working wonders...hold on, let me start over.
I do enjoy bragging, especially when it is warranted, and this is one of those cases. I tried a new fantasy draft technique this season and it is working wonders.
Now the auction draft technique commonly termed 'stars and scrubs' is not new to the world. I had simply never tried it before. In prior seasons, I had beat around the so-called bush, gone halfway with it, but never rested my whole roster, my whole season, on this risky draft endeavor.
In the past, it was much easier to draft a balanced team, spending big money on just one player, if that, and having a full, talented roster, at least seven or eight deep with star players. This is the safe way to go. If someone goes down, or even if they don't, your roster can overcome a poor season by any one player, and also gives you freedom to make literally any trade.
In 2010-2011, I wanted to live on the edge. Stars and scrubs drafting is pretty self-explanatory. You spend nearly all your money on a couple players, and fill in the rest of your roster with whatever is left. Your team will end up very, very top heavy, but with a few of the very best players the league has to offer.
Having all your stars healthy for the entire year is necessary. Hitting on two or three of the scrubs, benefiting from an unlikely big year, is desired. Paying attention to all free agency moves, waiver wire claims, available trade pieces, etc. is paramount. There is no wiggle room when drafting like this, as your roster has the thinnest of margins for error.
I spent 90% of my budget on three players. Two of them were the top two rated players in the league, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. The third was projected as one of the best big men in the league, Brook Lopez. Paul and Durant currently reside first and second overall on the Player Rater. The reason being, they produce in so many categories. Lopez, on the other hand, has had a disappointing season.
Two for three usually a'int bad, but in this instance, missing on one of my top picks could have been catastrophic. Except, Lopez' season is a worse "real-life" season than it is a fantasy season. He is not rebounding, but he is still recording points and blocks, and has good percentages (especially from the line) for a big man.
Yet right out of the gate, I had to recover a major deficit in rebounds. Back to the draft, I spent my remaining coin on players with category upside. There is no point in wasting money on someone who will produce average stats in a couple categories. That same type of player can be added later from the waiver wire. Instead, I drafted $1 players such as JaVale McGee, Andris Biedrins, and Anderson Varejao (for major blocks and rebounds), Trevor Ariza (steals) and Anthony Morrow (3's), as well as point guards like Mike Conley, Beno Udrih and George Hill who, if playing time shook out correctly, could wrack up assists and not kill me anywhere.
Of course, my work was not even close to done after the draft was over. I had too much uncertainty. Thus, I scoured the waiver wire every day. Someone panicked and dropped Danilo Gallinari before the calendar even changed to November. I pounced and added him even with his very slow start out of the gate. I did the same with Mo Williams just a few days later.
As the year was rolling along, I was competing in every category rather well, except for field goal percentage, points and 3s, so I worked on a deal for a scorer with solid percentages, Kevin Martin. Since the mid-December trade, Martin has been one of the top shooting guards in the league.
Future adds such as J.J. Hickson and Channing Frye have helped me currently rest in a tie for first place. The only category I am weak in is field goal percentage. I still have not been able to make up ground from the awful shooting start of Brook Lopez, and to a lesser extent, even Kevin Durant, who both take at least 15 field goal attempts a game (Durant is up over 20). I was hoping/banking they would shoot 50% from the floor, to overcome the Arizas, Gallinaris, and Conleys who have been known to go 2 for 11 every now and then. Instead, neither Durant nor Lopez have gotten their season FG% to 48% yet.
So there is still work to do, but my first venture into the risky world of 'stars and scrubs' drafting has paid off thus far. And it has been fun.
If this entire post sounded too self-serving, I apologize...kind of. I wanted to explore another way of drafting, and using my real example was the easiest way to do so. To make up for it, I'll sum this up with some lessons.
In fantasy sports, your job is not done after the draft is over. In fact, most of your work is just beginning. It takes time to work out trades for your needs, deliberate on when to cut bait with players, when to pick up others, and to pounce on mistakes made by other owners in your league.
Also, if you have a draft technique that you always use, try something new, perhaps with this coming baseball season. Stars and scrubs works best with basketball, without a doubt, but don't be afraid to take some risks and work to make sure those risks end up in your favor.
Drafting differently and experimenting with style can be a fun way to mix up your fantasy season if playing in a public league or non-money league. Who knows, you may end up with a new technique that works even better than what you had been doing. I think I have.
Now if only I can get Brook Lopez to grab more rebounds...
(Image courtesy of butthegameison.com)