Experts League Playoff Draft: Talkin’ Strategy

Oh, just because the regular season is over doesn’t mean that the fantasy hoops fun needs to stop! At least not here at the DL&S offices. See, we decided to invite some of the top fantasy basketball experts to join our fantasy hoops playoff league. The rules are simple: draft eight players (2 G, 2 F, 1 C, 2 UTIL) and then left the fun begin! We decided against having any transactions or even having a bench.

The scoring system is as follows:

Points: 1 pt
FT: 1 pt
Assists: 2 pts
Rebounds: 2 pts
3-pointers: 3 pts
Steals: 5 pts
Blocks: 6 pts
Turnovers: -3 pts

As for the participants (you’re going to love this)…

Jeff Andriesse, RotoExperts/Damn Lies & Statistics
Tom Lorenzo, RotoExperts/Damn Lies & Statistics
Greg Fox, Damn Lies & Statistics
Steve Alexander, Rotoworld
Tamer Chamma, RotoExperts/RotoRadio
Dave Gawron, RotoCommunity
Tommy Beer, Hoopsworld
Patrick Madden, Give Me the Rock
Nels Wadycki, Give Me the Rock
Rick Kamla, NBAtv
Eric Wong, RotoEvil

With draft day here, the DL&S staff decided to give you a little insight into our fantasy playoff strategy. Obviously, you can’t just go and take the best player available — unless that best player is the King of Cleveland — since once a player’s team is eliminated from the playoffs, he is then sent to a farm upstate to join your old family dog.

And with the first pick of the second round, Jeff Andriesse selects Anthony Parker.

Jeff Andriesse

It seems like just 14 years ago that we got together for our fantasy basketball drafts, the season but a gleam in our eyes and our fantasy futures limitless. With the ending of the regular season on Wednesday, a profound sense of loss has swept through Damn Lies & Statistics corporate headquarters. Not only will we have to figure out a way to get on with our lives with no more fantasy hoops, but we’ve come to the realization that a 32,000-square-foot office park for a staff of three was a bit much to put on the ol’ company credit card.

As for the latter problem, we’re probably going to go with a strategy of tip-toeing out of town around 5 pm and leaving the keys under the mat. As for the former, we’ve decided to extend our fantasy seasons by starting up an NBA Playoffs fantasy league.

This is my first one, so I’m pretty excited. Not only will this keep my mind off my fantasy baseball players blowing saves, going 0-for-5 or getting caught stealing with startling regularity, but we can have another draft. That in itself is awesome. But postseason playoffs leagues bring the added strategy of getting to shape your team based on your own predictions for team success.

LeBron James is going to be the first pick, but then what? Are the Lakers going all the way, and if so, I have to consider whether I want to taint my team with the abhorrent Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant is arguably the game’s No. 2 pick in next year’s draft… but when he’s on the No. 8 seed in the West, he probably won’t be around long enough to help your team.

Since our league is points-based, the strategy is to load up on stars from the top seeds first, then work your way down. If you have a hunch on a team such as, say, Utah, you could choose to load up on Jazz players in an all-or-nothing strategy that will pay off if they get to the Finals. It’s probably best, however, to have a wide range of talent from teams you are confident can get to the Conference Finals. Yes, this is a league where Mo Williams could be a better pick than both Durant and Dwyane Wade.

Unfortunately, the matchups this year are really tough to predict, especially in the West. Other than the Lakers series (and the Thunder can certainly give them hell there), each matchup is a toss-up. It might make more sense to target players from the top four seeds in the East – Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and Boston – than having to sweat out Dirk Nowitzki even getting out of the first round.

Whatever happens, it’s a new season, a new draft, and a level of excitement I haven’t reached since five seconds from now when I have to jump from my second-floor corner office window and evade the fire from federal helicopters in a desperate sprint across the parking lot. I forgot it is also Tax Day.

Greg Fox

Now that the 82-game warmup is over, I’m ready for my first foray into postseason fantasy NBA. My strategy for Friday night’s draft in our points-based league is simple: Do my best Willy Loman impression and talk up the guys who I think are going down in the first round as if they are playing for the ’66-67 Philadelphia Warriors. While Dwyane Wade is a Greek God in fantasy, can I convince the 10 other owners that the Heat have a chance in round one against the Celtics? All they need to do is look at that pathetic Miami roster to know that D-Wade will be working on his Fave Five in South Beach by early May.

"I should have taken D-Wade!"

After that strategy fails miserably, I will go with the chalk and absorb the best available starters on the Cavaliers and hated Lakers. But after LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams, would I rather have 22 average games out of Ron Artest or 11-17 solid games out of Joe Johnson? Twenty two out of Anderson Varejao or 11 out of Carlos Boozer?

The Eastern Conference looks pretty straightforward in the opening round, though the Bobcats, Bucks and Heat could give the higher seeds a good run for their money. The West is an absolute crapshoot, though the Trail Blazers, sans Brandon Roy, will be hard-pressed to get past a mediocre but streaking Suns team. I feel as if the winner of the Dallas/San Antonio series will get past the winner of the Phoenix/Portland tumble and face the Lakers. That team, whether it be the Mavs or Spurs, might get 16-18 games out of its key players, potentially rendering Dirk Nowitzki, Caron Butler, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd or Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan pretty potent selections.

So there you have it. I actually don’t have a feel for who is going to go far. I think the Suns stink but will win in round one. The Nuggets are always tough to beat at home, but the Jazz are playing well and will find a way to play an additional six games. After the players from the Cavs and Lakers are taken, the safe move will be to grab guys from the Magic, Hawks and Celtics, three teams that should at least get to the second round.

Tom Lorenzo

What’s my strategy? First, get the Internet at my apartment to work. I’ve been having “connection” problems for some time now. How’s that for a strategy!

The second part of my strategy is to, obviously, maximize on games played. Jeff makes a lot of sense when he says that Mo Williams is probably a better pick than Durant or Wade — though, I wouldn’t count out Wade. (I know Jeff’s a Celtics guy, but I don’t think the Heat are going to roll over in the first round. If they can make a deep run into the second round — meaning a seven game series in round one followed by a six or seven game series in round two — you might be looking at a Top 5 guy in the playoffs. He’s that good, that in 14 games he can put up enough numbers to make it worth your while.)

I’m hoping to get a top talent who should at least have a shot at playing in their respective Conference Finals — LeBron, Kobe, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, etc. From there, I’m not going to be afraid to jump on some possible “one-and-done” guys — Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, etc. See, the Jazz and the Nuggets play each other in the first round, meaning one is definitely a one-and-done team — the question is, which one? If you hit it right, you’ll get a talent like Williams or Melo for at least two rounds. Get it wrong and, well, one-and-done!

I’m staying away from Blazers, Bull, and Bobcats. Those three teams have no chance of making it passed round one (the Thunder as well, but I can’t promise I will stay away from Durant). Especially Portland, now that Brandon Roy is out.

Finally, I’m going to use the old Lorenzo technique of “pointing and picking.” I’m going to point at a player, and pick him. There are a ton of bright fantasy basketball minds in this league. There’s little room for error and I’ve found in the past that my point-and-pick strategy sometimes works better than over-thinking.

I’m sure we’ll run through a little draft re-cap this weekend, so make sure you come back for that. You’ll want to see who jumped on Durant in the first round. I’m not counting myself out of the Durant sweepstakes, so it may very well be me!

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