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'Experts' NBA Fantasy DRAFT League, year II

by Roland Beech,

Last season saw the first running of the 82games 'draft only' league and bold predictions aside, the winner wound up being the Talented Mr. Roto, Matthew Berry, edging out NBA TV's Rick Kamla and Yahoo! Sports fantasy guru Brandon Funston in a race that went down to the last day and was decided by a mere point in the final standings (67 - Berry, 66 - Kamla, 65 - Funston).

Most fantasy leagues are set up to make the participants sweat through the season on a daily basis -- start/bench decision, scanning the free agents for worthy pickups, wondering when to give up and drop the draft day disappointment, evaluating trades, and so on. Not at 82games! We're too busy for that, and have elected to go with the most PURE league you could imagine:

  • Standard 8-cat Roto league
  • Draft 10 players
  • All 10 players start the entire season
  • no pickups/drops/trades or roster changes of any kind
Once again I sent out invitations to notable NBA minds, with an obvious skew towards fellow participants in the recent David Thorpe/IMG Academy "Train Like a Pro" media camp (more on that shortly). In the end schedule conflicts left us with ten brave souls who stepped forward. Draft order was randomly set as follows:

1. Jonathan Givony - DraftExpress
2. Eric Weiss - BBIQ
3. Matthew Berry - ESPN
4. Chris Ballard - Sports Illustrated
5. Eric Wong - 82games fantasy expert
6. Tommy Beer - Hoopsworld
7. Kevin Pelton - APBR/Sonics/BasketballProspectus
8. Roland Beech - 82games founder
9. Chris Liss - Rotowire
10. John Hollinger - ESPN

Duly we gathered the day before the season for a ten round draft that lasted about an hour. The one additional rule of note was that you had to have on your roster one of each position (a PG, SG, SF, PF, C) and then the remaining five players could be of any position.

Given the particulars of the setup (no replacements, all players drafted start all year) there was some aversion perhaps to 'injury risk' types compared to the usual fantasy league 'average draft placement' type ratings. Gilbert Arenas, among others, went undrafted! [Side story: Givony contemplated taking Arenas "he says he's back in late November" to which Hollinger responded "Arenas in late November, ha ha ha ha. Better chance of seeing Sasquatch!"]

Being the numbers oriented guy I am, and having obviously learned no lesson from last time round when I predicted I would win (it wasn't all bad, I did have Berry forecast for third), I've gone ahead and projected out the standings for the various rosters using an average of assorted player projections. In a format like this the 'games played' projection is key and consequently makes the standings estimate quite dicey.

This last part is huge -- a guy may be a star but if he only plays 50 games, that's 32 games in this league where he's giving you zeroes across the board...and he may not be as valuable as a journeyman off the bench playing 20 minutes a game, but all 82 games! That's the key to this league, guys who produce, and guys who produce over the full schedule!

So throwing the projections into the computer, and letting it whirl to add up the expected stats (including the zeroes for predicted games missed), reveals the following results:

Predicted Standings DRAFT SUPERSTARS League II Category Points
Pk   Team Owner PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  3's  FG%  FT%  PTS  REB  AST  STL  BLK  3's  FG%  FT%  Total 
 Matthew Berry - ESPN 14432  5195  3002  835  714  520  0.489  0.732  10  55 
 Roland Beech - 82games 12290  5019  3052  837  639  931  0.469  0.772  10  54 
 Chris Ballard - SI 14110  5233  2969  790  532  800  0.467  0.783  10  53 
 Jon. Givony - DraftExpress 13980  4597  2857  884  520  914  0.468  0.779  10  48 
 Eric Wong - 82games 13074  4778  2478  839  509  721  0.490  0.800  10  47 
 Tommy Beer - Hoopsworld 12859  5217  2650  827  493  551  0.474  0.816  10  45 
 Kevin Pelton - APBR/Sonics 12714  4816  2997  780  746  611  0.475  0.767  10  44 
 Chris Liss - Rotowire 12206  4653  2889  786  657  757  0.460  0.809  40 
10   John Hollinger - ESPN 13377  3864  2680  805  398  988  0.457  0.806  10  37 
 Eric Weiss - BBIQ 10744  4663  2227  712  513  332  0.458  0.769  17 

Berry quickly punted on the FT% category by taking Dwight Howard, Okafor and LeBron, but the projections at least say he may survive and wind up on top. Of course significant injuries are bound to strike some teams, and while that can help boost you up in 'accumulator' categories, you're not going to be gaining FT points through other teams' misfortunes. In other words, he's picked to win, but very vulnerable!

And gosh if he does falter, look who is right there to move on up! Clearly the fact that the projections I used for calculating the standings are the same as those I used to draft means my team is likely to be viewed favorably. A different set of projections could be another story.

It should be mentioned that this year drafting in the first few spots would appear to be a nice advantage, whereas Liss and Hollinger who were stuck at the bottom might inordinately suffer through no fault of their own.

Finally I must add that Eric Weiss' very unconventional picks came about through a disciplined plan: "I am just re-instituting an old experimental draft strategy - no player not on a rookie deal" and if he ends up having the last laugh we may have to throw a lot of the standard fantasy ideas out the window!

Ah, but of course the standings are super tight based on the projections, and this league could dissolve into a last man standing affair when injuries and Artest-quality suspensions start taking their toll. Expecting the actual results to be anything close to the above is foolish.

Surprisingly though if I ignore the games played projections and just pencil in every player for the full 82 games, the prediction looks quite similar:

55 - Beech
54 - Berry
53 - Givony
50 - Beer

We'll keep tabs on how the league unfolds through the year (you can too: try this link and if you're thinking you could take down this field, work on your qualifications and maybe we'll open it up to some more folks for 2009-10.

For the pick-by-pick drama, feast your eyes on the following:

1 Chris Paul, Nor Team Givony 11 Kevin Garnett, Bos PERfect Drafter
2 Brandon Roy, Por Team Weiss 12 Danny Granger, Ind Team Liss
3 LeBron James, Cle Team Berry 13 Baron Davis, LAC Team Beech
4 Kobe Bryant, LAL Team Ballard 14 Josh Smith, Atl Team Pelton
5 Amar'e Stoudemire, Pho Team Wong 15 Shawn Marion, Mia Team Beer
6 Dirk Nowitzki, Dal Team Beer 16 Caron Butler, Was Team Wong
7 Deron Williams, Uta Team Pelton 17 Tim Duncan, SA Team Ballard
8 Steve Nash, Pho Team Beech 18 Dwight Howard, Orl Team Berry
9 Elton Brand, Phi Team Liss 19 Andrew Bynum, LAL Team Weiss
10 Dwyane Wade, Mia PERfect Drafter 20 Carlos Boozer, Uta Team Givony
21 Joe Johnson, Atl Team Givony 31 Kevin Martin, Sac PERfect Drafter
22 Kevin Durant, OKC Team Weiss 32 Jose Calderon, Tor Team Liss
23 Allen Iverson, Den Team Berry 33 Marcus Camby, LAC Team Beech
24 Al Jefferson, Min Team Ballard 34 Rudy Gay, Mem Team Pelton
25 Chris Bosh, Tor Team Wong 35 David West, Nor Team Beer
26 Andre Iguodala, Phi Team Beer 36 Rashard Lewis, Orl Team Wong
27 Carmelo Anthony, Den Team Pelton 37 Paul Pierce, Bos Team Ballard
28 Vince Carter, NJ Team Beech 38 Pau Gasol, LAL Team Berry
29 Jason Kidd, Dal Team Liss 39 Michael Beasley, Mia Team Weiss
30 Chauncey Billups, Det PERfect Drafter 40 Jason Richardson, Cha Team Givony
41 Greg Oden, Por Team Givony 51 Corey Maggette, GS PERfect Drafter
42 Rajon Rondo, Bos Team Weiss 52 Stephen Jackson, GS Team Liss
43 Antawn Jamison, Was Team Berry 53 Mike Dunleavy*, Ind Team Beech
44 Hedo Turkoglu, Orl Team Ballard 54 T.J. Ford, Ind Team Pelton
45 Devin Harris, NJ Team Wong 55 Mo Williams, Cle Team Beer
46 Yao Ming, Hou Team Beer 56 Andre Miller, Phi Team Wong
47 Chris Kaman, LAC Team Pelton 57 Lamar Odom, LAL Team Ballard
48 Ron Artest, Hou Team Beech 58 Tony Parker, SA Team Berry
49 LaMarcus Aldridge, Por Team Liss 59 Al Horford, Atl Team Weiss
50 Rasheed Wallace, Det PERfect Drafter 60 Gerald Wallace, Cha Team Givony
61 Jamal Crawford, NY Team Givony 71 Tracy McGrady, Hou PERfect Drafter
62 Derrick Rose, Chi Team Weiss 72 Josh Howard, Dal Team Liss
63 Michael Redd, Mil Team Berry 73 Andris Biedrins, GS Team Beech
64 Mike Bibby, Atl Team Ballard 74 Andrew Bogut, Mil Team Pelton
65 Mehmet Okur, Uta Team Wong 75 Zach Randolph, NY Team Beer
66 David Lee, NY Team Beer 76 Tyson Chandler, Nor Team Wong
67 Manu Ginobili*, SA Team Pelton 77 Brad Miller, Sac Team Ballard
68 Mike Miller, Min Team Beech 78 Emeka Okafor, Cha Team Berry
69 John Salmons, Sac Team Liss 79 Charlie Villanueva, Mil Team Weiss
70 Ray Allen, Bos PERfect Drafter 80 Luol Deng, Chi Team Givony
81 Jermaine O'Neal, Tor Team Givony 91 J.R. Smith, Den PERfect Drafter
82 Jeff Green, OKC Team Weiss 92 Samuel Dalembert, Phi Team Liss
83 Andrei Kirilenko, Uta Team Berry 93 Al Harrington, GS Team Beech
84 Richard Jefferson, Mil Team Ballard 94 Kevin Love, Min Team Pelton
85 O.J. Mayo, Mem Team Wong 95 Randy Foye, Min Team Beer
86 Raymond Felton, Cha Team Beer 96 Jason Terry, Dal Team Wong
87 Leandro Barbosa, Pho Team Pelton 97 Ricky Davis, LAC Team Ballard
88 Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cle Team Beech 98 Ramon Sessions, Mil Team Berry
89 Ben Gordon, Chi Team Liss 99 Rodney Stuckey, Det Team Weiss
90 Troy Murphy, Ind PERfect Drafter 100 Peja Stojakovic, Nor Team Givony

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