Fantasy NBA: A Story and Power Ranking

Below is my 2013 Power Ranking for one of the fantasy NBA leagues I run called “Stern’s Iron Fist”. This is a 14-team, 8 category H2H league with daily moves. We have an auction draft with a starting budget of $200. Normally only the managers in the league are succumbed to read it. But as I’ve been told, it’s worth sharing. Hope you enjoy!

              I feel like I’ve made it. I’m sitting on a plane as I’m writing these rankings, looking and acting the part of a real writer. Little do they know… I’m just a commish. My plan was to write these in the air, but when do flights go as planned? As I sit down, the pilot stutters out the words you don’t want to hear: “Air Traffic Control has stopped all departures heading South or North East due to lingering thunderstorms. I don’t know how long you will be delayed but I will let you know as soon as I do.

I’m assuming the worst which is why I pulled out my laptop to start these rankings. Normally, I use a systematic ranking system that I created to assist me in ranking the teams. Since I don’t have the internet at my disposal and I’m cramped up in a tiny seat, I’m going to improvise. I screenshotted each team’s roster so I can at least look at who you drafted, at what price and how your team looks on paper.

There are many new guys in the league, so I’m going to go with a throwback here. These rankings are not meant to offend anyone (except those who I intend to offend) and are not be taken semi-but-not-at-all-serious. I will attempt to predict how the league turns out, but inevitably, I’m going to make some mistakes. I’m fine with that and you’re free to scold me. Just don’t take anything I write personal. You have your opinions; I have mine. Mine are right.

There was also talk in the draft about the team names including Jimmer. I’ve talked about it before, but I have time on my hands so I’m going to go ahead and brag. After a 30 minute break, we took off and I’m now at 30,000’ finishing up this little (long) intro. By the way, I’ve been reading “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons in the meantime. Great read. I highly recommend it to any basketball fan.

If you don’t care for personal stories, you can skip to the rankings. But I promise you this is good. So, Jimmer. Jimmer grew up in Glens Falls, NY just 15 minutes outside of my (and Pidgeon’s aka Jimmer Junkie) hometown. From 2nd grade to 6th we played against Jimmer a couple times each year. He was a short chubby kid who could handle the ball like no other, performed behind the back passes on flawlessly on fast breaks and could score. And he was fat. AAU came around 7th grade and Jimmer got a little taller and slimmer. It was clear he was better than the rest of us. He’d pull up from 25+ feet consistently and drain jumpers. He was a year younger than us so we only got to play against him when he played up. From ’04-’06 our team(Class D – very small), along with Jimmer’s team (Class A – large) made the State Finals all 3 years. The finals were played at none other than the Glens Falls Civic Center. Basically a home court to both of us. We cheered for them, they cheered for us. It was a great big cheer-off. Moral of the story is we stayed in touch throughout and we can claim that we are friends with Jimmer.

But wait, there’s more! Jimmer went on to BYU to have a fantastic career and win a National POY award. I went on to play D3 ball and barely get any playing time. Pidgeon stayed home and worked for my dad. Fast forward 5 years to 2011. I graduate college and move to Charlotte, NC for a job. I go to multiple Bobcats games for less than $15 a ticket. The Kings were coming to town at the end of the year. My chance to see Jimmer. I scalp nosebleed seats and make it down behind their bench in the 3rd quarter. Mind you, Jimmer hasn’t seen or talked to me in 5 years. I’m drunk as a skunk and a TO is called. Jimmer wasn’t playing, so he is on the outside looking in. He’s facing me. I do what any normal person would do and stand up screaming “JIMMER! JIMMER!”. He looks up, glances around and boom; he sees me. My heart drops like a little kid meeting his idol. He gives me a confused look like ‘what are you doing here’ then waves. My night has been made. I start texting Pidgeon and other friends about how cool I am. Then in the 4th quarter, I hear an announcement over the loudspeaker (The player meet-n-greet will take place in Section 106 following the game. Please make your way there as the buzzer sounds with your VIP ticket.) Holy shit. My buddy and I are sitting in Section 106. We play it cool and just stay there after the buzzer. I’m ecstatic. I get to talk to Jimmer for the first time in years. He doesn’t show. Cousins is right next to me talking to his Mom and Sister/Girlfriend. I’m drunk and anxious so I muster up the courage to say “Demarcus, any way you could get Jimmer out here? I know him from high school.” Without missing a beat he does 3 things:

  1. Says “yeah”
  2. Turns around and yells “Jimmer” (when Jimmer is clearly in the locker room)
  3. Says “He’ll be out”

Are you kidding me? I knew he was a dick, but C’Mon man. Needless to say, Jimmer never came out. Fast forward one more year. The Kings play in Charlotte again. Of course I go and pull the same maneuver. He sees me again in the huddle. This time I wait by their tunnel after the game. He stops and says what’s up, how’s it going, gotta go now I’m an NBA basketball player, take care. I’m a happy camper. Fast forward one more year to the present.  I am now in Houston and guess what; Sacramento is coming to town this year. Boy is he going to be confused when he sees me screaming his name in the stands again.

Alright, the novel is done; let’s move on to the meat and potatoes.

#1 – Rockpie Rangers – a couple of weeks ago, Tom didn’t play fantasy basketball. This ranking may have a little to do with that fact, but I absolutely love his team – outside of Wade. Bledsoe, Conley, Davis and Sanders are all primed for big years. I like Alec Burks to have quite the year with no one else scoring in Utah, and he showed it in his first game. Henson is a solid role player and Adams has a real shot to do something in OKC. Perkins is great defensively but he’s not the best fit for that system. Wade will hurt you with his DNPs (see game 2) but he contributes across the board and will definitely have some big games.

#2 – Red Hot Curry – if I didn’t know any better, I’d say Tommy likes the Warriors. But I do; and he does. That explains drafting Bogut. The other two are legit players I love Curry (it’s a must-have for the team name) and could have bid Tommy up to $120. But I played nice. Thompson’s value could take a hit with Iggy in town, but he should still put up top 50 numbers. My plan was to get Ibaka, even if I had to pay $60 for him. And somehow I let Tommy have him for $45. All because of drunk kids at my house asking me how their Halloween costumes look. I HAD to go check. Monta Ellis is going to be a beast this year. After game 1, I am slightly concerned with Deng. I expected a decrease in minutes, but he looked noticeably less spry out there. I like the Morris and Johnson pickups for cheap. All in all it’s a solid team, but not my top choice.

 

#3 – Fredette About It – I love my team. Jrue for $27 is a steal in an 8-cat league. He’s going to put up large numbers this year. Favors should finally thrive with no big men in front of him. Lillard and Holiday should fill up the stat sheet for me and give me plenty of assists. Turner, Green and Griffin are all going to put up 20 ppg along with a couple other categories each week. Valanciunas is in for a big year as the MVP of the summer league. There may be some bumps along the way, but I like him to double his $12 value. Thaddeus Young was spectacular the last half of 2013 and he’s sitting on my bench. Same goes for Faried. I need him to get minutes before he starts piling up the steals, blocks and rebounds. Stephenson looks like he’s going to continue his late 2013 value as well putting up a great line in game 1. I’m not worried about Granger affecting his value at all.

#4 – Jimmer Junkie – I see a lot of value on this team. It doesn’t necessarily looked like it’s loaded with stars, but almost everyone on the team should make a solid contribution. Leonard is poised for a monster season if Pops doesn’t throw everyone a curveball. Aldridge is one of those set-in-stone guys who is going to give you great consistent numbers. Lawson and Jennings will contribute across the board as the top PGs should. Matthews, Gortat and Varejao were all under $10. Remember how Varejao started last year? I love me some Tar Heels and Danny Green has become a terrific player for the Spurs. I don’t like Hill or Vasquez, but they still can dish the ball and get some steals. Outside of the subtle-bash in the intro, Pidgeon gets away clean in these power rankings.

#5 – Helmut Boshemann – possibly the most interesting name I’ve seen in fantasy. I have no clue what it could mean, but it sounds cool. I like the Harden and Melo combo, I think they complement each other very well. Iggy, Boozer, Martin, Johnson and Pierce should all put up solid numbers in their respective roles. I love DeAndre Jordon this year. I think he could really breakout with some extra minutes. I’m not a big fan of Lin but he could be very valuable if Beverley were to go down. Overall I think it’s a good but not great team.

#6 – Swishin N Dishin – Strach started out near the top of my list, then ended up down here mid-ranking. I talk about proven players too much to let my hype get in the way of a ranking. With that being said, if the hype plays out, Strach is going to have a killer team. Wall and Rubio see a big increase in 8-cat leagues and Kemba and Beal will push 50 ppg together. I feel weird putting him down there seeing as I love the look of the team, as well as its balance. You win some you lose some though. If I lose this, I still won because I called the mistake. I should do that for every ranking!

#7 – Batum Shakalaka – *glances over at a girl in the bar “I got Durant and LeBron baby”. I have no idea how to do this. I’ve never seen these two on the same team. They are the most undisputed 1-2 in any fantasy sport and they end up on the same team. How do I judge the difference between having multiple great players with 2 legendary players and some bums? I’m flabbergasted, confused and excited to see how this pans out. Some noticeable buys as fill ins: Tyson Chandler ($4), Tyreke ($6), Nelson ($2), Barnes ($6) and Anderson ($1). If three or four of these guys can put up good numbers this year, Derek’s rank will sky rocket. I think. But if these guys along with the bad Lopez, Burke, Splitter and KCP topple, his team will struggle. I think. Nice job Derek, you stumped the Schwab.

#8 – Nuthin But Net – never have I seen anyone, let alone Mike, go for a strategy this bold. JR Smith, Kobe and Westbrook all drafted to the same team when all will miss time to start the season. Yes, Smith won’t miss many games, but he’s definitely a red-flag player this year. With the news that Westbrook is only 2 weeks away, my point becomes less and more validated now. Less valid because it’s not that big of a risk to spend $26 on a $55 player who will only miss 2 weeks. That’s manslaughter + rape during a robbery. It’s more valid because the risk of re-injury goes up when trying to return too soon. Westbrook should pull a D-Rose and miss the season. Kobe’s timetable is still up in the air. Fully healthy this might be the best team in the league. Josh smith will kill your percentages, but dominates the other 6 categories. Butler is going to severely out-produce his $14 price and Reggie Jackson for $8 is great. I’m a big advocate for mitigating risk, so I won’t be surprised when this ranking is off by 4-5 spots.

#9 – $amorian$ – I have no clue what this name means or is. I actually loved this team at first glance. Although it’s oozing with value across the board, it’s lacking a key position. Jeff Teague is the only PG on the roster. That’s a tough cookie to cut in daily leagues. Match that with my displeasure for Teague and your team takes a big hit in the rankings. Cousins, Bosh, Lopez, Milsap and Randolph will surely win you rebounds week in and week out. Garnett ($4) and Milsap ($25) could be extreme value picks. I just don’t see assists, steals or many threes on the roster. Dominating FG%, points and rebounds will guarantee category wins, but it won’t make you a top 5 team.

#10 – Waiting For Dion – Jake also has two studs along with a lot of mediocrity. CP3 and Love are studs and will definitely carry him in 4 game weeks. Noah doesn’t look healthy at all and his production will be severely limited if his minutes go way down. Drafting Bynum is like walking up to a 10 at a bar, when you are a 5 (and drunk), and saying “you’re going home with me tonight”. There is about a 2% chance the risk pays off. There is a lot of decent talent here. I love Chalmers for a buck. He’s consistently undervalued but he’s very consistent. McGee is a huge question mark. The increased playing time he is about to see could make his value skyrocket. It’s not going to make him any smarter though. I love the upside, but I tend to stay away from morons. Note: I want to move this up after seeing MCW last night, but I refrained.

#11 – Red Army Ballers – Eugenius easily has the best name in this room. Not team name, just first name. If that is your real name. Normally when you grab Dwight, you punt FT% as he is just god awful at the short easy shot. Rondo is a good compliment, but guys like Kyrie, Parker, Dragic and Gallinari all take a hit because they can’t bring that FT% up most weeks. Rondo and Gallinari’s injuries make them big question marks on this team. Rondo is a competitor, so I’m sure we’ll see him back this year. But what incentive does he have on a team that is rebuilding? Surely they won’t rush him back. Like I said in the draft, Kyrie is my favorite player in the NBA. He’s electric and has the best handles in the league. I see a team that’s pretty well balanced, but lacks in 3’s and FT%. Rebounds and blocks shouldn’t be a problem, but the upside isn’t there in my eyes.

#12 – Moneyballs – never have I seen more last second bids. Mr. Indecisive seemed unsure of who he wanted on many occasions. I think Rose is going to have a fine year, despite the poor game 1 against Miami. Duncan is Mr. Consistent, but will surely only play between 65-70 games this year due to rest alone. Hibbert is looking like a fly swatter out there and Lee puts up the Jeopardy daily double doubles. Mayo and Gordon provide scoring and 3’s but not much else. Beverley could easily be a value pick starting for Houston this year. I like Hawes as well, but the rest of the team doesn’t do it for me. I don’t see too much breakout potential and there are too many injury risks.

#13 – Memphis Huns – the lack of point guards on this team is frightening. Isaiah Thomas and Randy Foye. That’s it. No assists and limited steals could hurt Randy big time. My strategy with M.  Gasol would be to match him with PG’s considering he dishes like a forward. His assists will virtually go to waste. I love the core of the Gasols, Parsons, Batum and Dirk but father time isn’t on their side. Batum and Parsons are young, solid players and should put up great numbers. I think Dirk is on the decline and Pau is up in the air. Speaking of walking up to a girl with no chance in hell that it works – see Danny Granger. I can’t wait to watch Zeller this year and face Randy with my studly PGs.

#14 – ThreeHeat – not enough depth for me here. I think Rick got great values in West and Knight ($7 and $8). Paul George at $55 wasn’t too shabby either. I’m not a big fan of D-Will this year (bad ankles + slow pace of play) and Horford is boring. A good boring, but he’s not going to break out and win an MVP or anything. The rest of the guys are just players lower on my, probably just personal opinions, but they don’t stick out to me. I don’t want them on my team because I don’t think they can perform at a high enough level to carry the talent he has at the top of his team.

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