Draft Strategy: The First Bounce
Posted by Erik on September 15, 2008
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
“Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy”
“The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will imposed on him.”
“Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
~ Col. John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team
It’s always good to have a “battle plan”. An idea on how you want to approach picking the players for your fantasy basketball team. The first two to three players in your Fantasy Basketball draft will invariably be the core of your fantasy basketball team. I wanted to zoom in and focus on the strategy of picking the first two; “the first bounce” in your fantasy draft. These 2 picks can set the tone for the strategy you intend to follow for the remaining rounds.
Strategy #1: Drafting for Value
Some experts would say that is how you should draft for the first 3 rounds. Get the best guy available to you once it gets to your turn and balance out the positions needed in later rounds. This is especially easier if you’re in early (top 5) draft position. Things are pretty much straightforward as you draft for value and have your pick of the cream of the crop. The first 5 players represent the hands down tier 1 players of their position. This is where names like Chris Paul (PG), Kobe Bryant (SG), LeBron James (SF), Amare Stoudemire (PF/C) come to mind. So you now you’ve gotten your hands on one of Fantasy NBA’s finest, come second round what do you do? You can proceed and get the “best” player that lands on your lap. You can consider particulars like position played and stats contributed. You can then start your “reaching” for guys in the 3rd round as you have the initiative to do so.
Middle to late position: In the first round the hands-down best guys are taken. You’re now left making to value judgements as to who you feel is the BEST player to pick. Values begin to get more debatable, but if you’ve done your homework this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you. The second round should be as easy as the first as you still have a decent selection of players to choose from. In fact if you’re in the last two positions, you have the initiative to get 2 of the best quality second rounders whose combined value can be arguably comparable to the team who may have an early 1st round choice but will be left with the lesser quality 2nd round options.
Strategy #2: Locking Down Positional Stats and Positions
Whether you like your men big or small, that’s a matter of preference (we are talking basketball here). Grabbing 2 players of the same position or who contribute stats that are expected from a specific position; is a strategy I’ve tried, tested, and have found to be reasonably reliable route to success.
Fantasy basketball players normally apply this strategy to lock down quality players in the PG and C positions as these are regarded as the “thinnest” positions in the game today.
PROS: You gain a tactical advantage in the stats of the position of your choosing: PG = assists, steals and some 3s; C = FG%, rebounds and blocks; as you have chosen to pick top quality players in their respective positions. By taking 2 players in a thin position it is possible to put pressure on the other teams to reach for players who may be ranked much lower than their effectively drafted position. This is manifests in a “feeding frenzy” of sorts and frees up opportunities to grab good picks in the other positions you passed up on in rounds 1 and 2.
CONS: You will need to be satisfied with lesser players in the position(s) you have passed over. You may even have to use multiple players to contribute in certain categories just remain competitive with your opponents.
As I have mentioned this strategy is a viable one. Here are examples from 2 of my leagues from last season.
Double PG Bounce:
2nd place finish; 12-man 9-Cat Roto; draft position: 7th of 12 – Steve Nash bounce to Allen Iverson
Double C Bounce:
3rd place finish; 12-man 9-Cat H2H; draft position: 10th of 12 – Amare Stoudemire bounce to Tim Duncan
Strategy #3: Drafting for Balance Based on Position
This strategy is an off-shoot of strategy #1. It takes player valuation into consideration but provides for deeper emphasis on their position. Since strategy #1 does not take position into account in the early draft rounds, it is possible to suddenly realize that the draft pool is low on “good” centers or point guards for example.
The goal of this strategy is to get the best possible player per position needed available at a particular round. How does it work? Simply put, if you drafted a tier 1 PG in the first round, you then target the best available C/SG/F in the pool as your pick of choice for the 2nd. Through the course of the first 3 draft rounds your team should be competitive across majority of the 9 categories.
I’ve had some success while using this strategy as well.
Center bounce to Point Guard:
2nd place finish; 14-man 9-Cat Roto; draft position: 13th of 14 – Marcus Camby bounce to Chris Paul.
Strategy #4: Starting a Multi-Cat Contributor Collection
This strategy is the tangential opposite of strategy #2. While strategy #2 is a about an early, focused specialization in particular stats and positions, this strategy ignores position and seeks out players who can chip in categories not necessarily associated with the positions they play in. Now this strategy is arguably the most difficult to pull off because it is dependent on the availability of the said multiple category-contributing players.
Since being a multi-cat producer tends to raise a player’s ranking you will generally be able to find some fierce and explosive guys who you can build your team around in the first 3 rounds.
An example of the application of this strategy this year is the possibility of a LeBron James bounce to Danny Granger bounce to Rudy Gay. These guys contribute pretty much across the board and prime you to get a decent PG and C in the succeeding rounds to round out your team.