Fantastical Choices, Part I: Pre-Draft


My fantasy bball league recently had their draft, and I’m gonna go thru it, round by round, analyzing everyone’s choices. For those who play fantasy & want specifics: we have a 12-team head-to-head league with 9 stats. The 9th stat is FTM (Free Throws Made), not turnovers, but the other 8 are the standard ones (pts, rebs, assists, ft%, fg%, stls, blks & 3pters Made).

Note that any criticism (or praise) is based solely on the knowledge that was available at the time. For instance, we only learned after the draft that Blake Griffin would be out for the first 6 weeks of the season, so it’d be unfair to claim he was a bad pick ‘cuz he was injured.

Also, we play with a keeper system where you get to keep up to 3 players from last year in the same round you drafted them. As a result, most of them are steals, so I’m not gonna bother praising each one. In fact, I’m pretty much gonna ignore the keepers.

Lastly, for at least the first few rounds I’mna go into my own personal thought processes for my picks. Actually, before we even get to the draft, here are my way too extensive pre-draft thoughts:

Because of a complex system based on last year’s final results, I ended up with first choice of draft pick (I swear it wasn’t rigged).  Not first pick, but choice of where I wanted to pick (like if I was gonna keep someone in the first round, then I’d have chosen to pick last so I’d get first crack in the second round.  Make sense?).  Dwayne Wade was gonna be kept, leaving LeBron & CP3 as the two available picks who were head-and-shoulders-and-knees-and-toes above the rest.  So I had to go with one of the first two draft spots.  To get a view of how obsessively I think about this junk, here were all the things I debated:

Personally, I seem to have a thing where I like to always get new players, and as much as I love Chris Paul, I’d had him a couple of years ago (& he helped me win the league that year).  As a result I was leaning towards LeBron.  It seemed to me that LeBron had improved slightly each year (fantasy-wise), while CP3 had kinda leveled off the last few years.

However, after looking at a million pre-season rankings it seemed like everyone ranked Chris Paul as the better choice, so I’d be dumb not to go for him.

Upon further analysis of their stats from last season, it seemed like CP3 was only slightly better than LeBron and that if say CP3 missed 4 games and LeBron only 2, then LeBron’d be the better pick.  With it based so much on the luck of health, I figured maybe I’d just pick 2nd and let the next manager in our league (Eyal) choose between the top 2.  That’d leave me free from year-long debilitating guilt as to whether I chose correctly, plus give me a slightly better 2nd round pick.

Then I started thinking about the players’ key differences: LeBron gets more rebounds, & most importantly he gets blocks.  Plus you get PG-like assists from a non-PG slot.  Paul was more about big gains in a few key stats, like assists and steals, but he also shot 50% from the field which was insanely good for a PG.  Hell, that’s great for anyone who’s not a post-player.  The thing that kept nagging at me though was LeBron’s ft%.  It had been a huge liability in the past, but last year got up to a respectable 75%.  It still slightly drags down your ft% ‘cuz he shoots so darn many of ’em.  Bottom line was it’s a negative and Paul had no negatives.  However, LeBron had improved his ft% each year, which if he did it again, should make him clearly the better pick.  Continuing to overthink, I remembered Shaq is now on the Cavs, and honestly bad free throw shooting can be contagious.  Not that LBJ would suddenly be Shaq-like, but if there was even a chance that the King’d drop slightly, to say 73% ft, it’d be a big strike against him.

The final point I considered was that during our fantasy playoffs, which is the end of the season, the Cavs could be locked into place for the real NBA playoffs.  As a result they might let LeBron rest.  However the Hornets would probably battle for playoff positioning up until the last minute.  Meaning CP3 could be at his best when I needed him most.  I decided I had no choice, I hadda go Paul, and thus I chose to pick first.

Whew, that was a long story.  I promise I won’t be quite as long-winded when we get to the round-by-round analysis.

By the way, I of course already regret my decision.  I should’ve pick LeBron.  What was I thinking?  Oh yeah, I just told ya.