It’s finally here… The GMTR tribute post you’ve all been waiting for. Enjoy!
When I was browsing around the net sometime in early 2007 for a topic I could blog about, I discovered that there were a bunch people out there who decided to talk about Fantasy Basketball all day long as if they had nothing better to do with their lives. And I thought to myself, “Hey that sounds like fun! I pretty much do that all the time with my buddies over some KFC and Pizza; why don’t I blab/blog about fantasy basketball all day long too?”
And so it began… I googled “fantasy basketball blogs” and found two blogs in particular that simply inspired me to go ahead and give it a go. The first was Fantasy Basketblog (RIP) which is sadly no longer with us in the FBB blogging world; and the other was, you got it, Give Me The Rock.
I ended up last year as a spunky Fantasy Basketball blogging upstart with some interesting potential; but I lost my way, floundered a bit and PitP died by November. I’m hoping this year, my sophomore season, will be a bit more Rudy Gay and a lot less Andrea Bargnani (sorry Il Mago, but you really stung me last year.)
I really owe a lot to Nels and Patrick of GMTR for the exposure Points in the Paint has gotten. Whether it’s through having my posts on their “Midnight Snacks” sidebar widget or directly linking to me on one of their entries. If you’re reading this and/or have been following PITP for some time, you odds are found about this blog through GMTR in one way or another. These guys have been the blogging big brothers I’ve never had. (sentimental tear rolls down cheek) So I decided to honor them and do a feature post HERE and share with the world some insight into the mad genius tandem that make up everyone’s favorite fantasy basketball blog, Give Me The Rock.
And so without further ado, here are my 30 questions with Nels and Patrick…
First Half – Getting to know the gurus behind GMTR:
1. Erik – What is your favorite NBA team?
Nels: Chicago Bulls
Patrick: Boston Celtics
2. Erik – Who is your favorite NBA player?
Nels: Sticking with Tyrus Thomas. I have to pick someone on the Bulls, and I haven’t seen Derrick Rose play yet.
Patrick: Ronald Glen “Big Baby” Davis
3. Erik – Who is your favorite NBA coach?
Nels: Mike D’Antoni. I’m sure it’s frustrating to have a fun, watchable team who never quite makes it. But until I know better what that feels like, I’d be happy to try it.
Patrick: Now that Isiah Thomas is gone, I’ll default to Gregg Popovich. Have you seen his HEB commercial?
4. Erik – Fearless prediction time. Which team do you predict to win the title this year?
Patrick: The Lakers
5. Erik – Who will be this year’s MVP?
Nels: Kobe Bryant. LeBron James will have to wait another year for his reign of successive MVP awards to begin.
Patrick: LeBron James
6. Erik – Who is your favorite Fantasy NBA player?
Nels: I know Chris Paul is the easy choice… so, Chris Paul! Really, it changes every year and several times during the year (I know, I’m a total bandwagoneer).
Patrick: If I had to pick one player for my team above all others, it would be Chris Paul. But Joel Przybilla has given me some good memories.
7. Erik – In the fantasy basketball blogging world, whose views/voice do you respect/admire?
Nels: Well, despite having done it for 4 years, it seems like fantasy basketball blogging is still a young thing, and as such, most of the voices that I’m hearing now are new (or fairly new) guys like: 2nd Round Reach, HoopsFantasy, Roto Evil, and, of course Points in the Paint.
Patrick: Well chances are if you have a fantasy basketball blog, I read it. I pretty much try to read everything that is out there, and I respect anyone who decides to take the time to write about something just for the love of it. The problem is that the half-life of a fantasy basketball blog is about 1 season, so a lot of the blogs that I loved are no longer here. Fantasy Basketblog was one of my favorites before they shut their doors and Fantasy Basketball Pros and NBA Roto were doing good things last year – but are probably no longer with us.
But GMTR has given me the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of interesting people, like the guys from Dropping Dimes and the Fantasy Lounge. And of course, that guy over at Points in the Paint is a genius for his call on Dwight Howard (as you’ll see).
8. Erik – Ha ha. Thanks once again for the love, guys. Please name the top 3 basketball related sites you follow or read everyday.
Nels: Well, according to my Google Reader Trends: Yahoo Sports NBA Experts Blog, Empty The Bench, HoopsFantasy. Really, I don’t know if there’s an accurate way to track that since I get all my basketball related sites through RSS and I don’t think that the Google Reader analysis is entirely accurate.
Patrick: In addition to fantasy sites, I filter a lot of my reading via Ballhype, which is a site I so wish I could have created. Henry Abbott of Truehoop is like the Godfather, everyone should have an oil painting of him hanging above their fireplace. And the stats geek in me loves Basketball Prospectus. Maybe someday Kevin Pelton and I can get an apartment together.
9. Erik – I’m not sure how your wife would feel about you moving in with Kevin… (laughs out loud) Speaking of moves, what’s the best move, draft pick, trade, you are most proud of in your fantasy basketball career?
Nels: Oh, there have been so many… But since we’re in a What Have You Done Today? society, I’ll go with picking Nick Collison and Al Horford as my Centers in the DroppingDimes Experts’ League last year. I won that league. Yes, there was luck involved. Since when is there not ever luck involved?
Patrick: I remember trading Ron Artest a couple days after the brawl in Detroit. No one knew at the time how long he’d be out. I forgot who I got in return, but since he was suspended the rest of the year, I’d say I made out pretty well in that trade.
10. Erik – What’s the biggest blunder/mistake you’ve ever made in fantasy basketball?
Nels: Since I didn’t go back past last season with my best moment, I’ll stay there for this one too… In the GMTR Readers’ League, I traded Dwight Howard for Manu Ginobili. Now, Gino did fit better with my overall team strategy, but I probably could have gotten someone better for Howard.
Patrick: I was really high on Darko Milicic a few years back, to the point where I drafted him in every league I was in one year (I couldn’t believe no one else wanted him). Joe Dumars and I are slow learners.
11. Erik – Through the years you’ve dished out a lot of advice and shared some good strategy over at GMTR, do you always practice what you preach? What’s the aspect of your game you’d like to improve on the most?
Nels: I often try to practice what I preach. And then I end up drafting a midball team instead of sticking with small ball picks. I’d like to actually be able to remember stats. I just kind of have an associative memory (like dogs do) where I look at the stats enough that I just have a general sense of which players are good (and bad) at what, even if I can’t remember any actual numbers.
Patrick: I’m fortunate enough that Nels lets me go wild and write whatever the hell I want, so, yes, generally I write about aspects of fantasy basketball that I believe in, like the youth tax (never draft a rookie whose names aren’t LeBron James or Chris Paul). I also have an interest in statistics and measuring stuff so a lot of my posts are like statistical experiments, where I’m trying to quantify how much something matters or doesn’t matter. You can trust that if I’m pimping a guy on GMTR that I’m going after him in my leagues (for better or worse).
12. Erik – Between the two of you, who would you say is the better Fantasy Basketball player?
Nels: Patrick. He’s so much more rational. I tend to do something stupid thinking that it’ll work out when I shouldn’t even consider it in the first place. I’m also a lot more of a homer.
Patrick: No offense to Nels, who is a very talented fantasy player, but I did win the GMTR readers league last season. Nels will have his shot at redemption, but for now I hold the trophy.
13. Erik – Please share with the fantasy basketball world something it probably doesn’t know about you.
Nels: I usually try to eat an entire box of Wheat Thins on fantasy draft night.
Patrick: I almost started writing about baseball instead of basketball. I like the two sports about equally and when I started my own blog back in 2004, I seriously considered making it about baseball. Back then, I think Nels had the only fantasy related basketball blog out there, but there were tons of baseball sites. So I decided to take the road less traveled. The funny thing is since then, the number of basketball blogs has exploded. But I’d say I made the right decision.
I hope you got to know these guys a bit better. And now in the spirit of GMTR’s style here are some gratuitous NBA Dancer pictures for you to enjoy…
Enjoyed that? Of course you did! Now on with the second half of the interview…
Second Half – The GOODS: Fantasy Basketball straight from the Coaches
1. Erik – What is your basic fantasy basketball strategy?
Nels: Oh, if I had a fantasy basketball strategy….
For H2H, try to load up on players who are good across 5 categories with the chance to win another 1-2 every once in a while. In Roto, I try to draft players who are decent in as many categories as possible (provided they’re rated at least as well as guys who are dominate in 1-2 categories).
Patrick: It depends on whether the league is H2H or roto. In an 8-cat H2H league, I take the 6-2 approach: try to create a team that goes 6 and 2 every week. That lets you stack up on players who fit your team well and ignore a couple categories rather than reaching for a player just because he gives you a certain category. I hate drafting a guy for one category – what a waste.
Roto is a little tougher, because it’s very difficult to tank a category and still win. The easiest way to stay competitive in roto is to have a team that shoots good percentages. Percentages are more injury resistant because they aren’t counting stats. You can maintain your percentages if your team is ravaged by injuries, while that quickly becomes impossible in the counting categories.
2. Erik – What should someone’s goal of the first three rounds in a draft be?
1st round: Take the best available player
2nd round, H2H: take a player who has the same strengths as your first rounder (usually someone in a similar position) (there’s enough good players in the 2nd round that you don’t have to worry about “taking the best available” as long as you’re not reaching)
2nd round, Roto: take a player who can win categories your first round player is weak in
3rd round, H2H: continue strategy of loading up to win 5 categories
3rd round, Roto: Try to take a player who is decent across several categories
Patrick: Take the best three players available to you at your pick, regardless of position. You have 7-12 rounds after that to worry about filling your remaining positions.
3. Erik – A lot of people obviously like getting the first pick in order to get that first round initiative. Do you have a preferred draft position (early/middle/last)? How come?
Nels: I like the middle of the round. 1st pick means you have to wait forever for your 2nd and 3rd round picks and it’s hard to see all those other good players get taken off the board. Last pick of the first round means, once again, you have to wait forever until it’s your pick. Plus you have to plan two picks together, which requires a little bit of extra thinking. This is especially a great season to have the 4th, 5th or even 6th pick in the first round.
Patrick: It depends on the year. Way back in the early aughts when KG was tearing it up, I would have locked my mother in a trunk to have the first pick. This season things are a little more complicated. If you tier the first round, there is a drop off after pick 4 and again after pick 9 or so. This year, I’d be happiest with picks 1, 4, or 9.
4. Erik – Hypothetical scenario: You’re the last to pick in a 12-man, H2H; Who do you figure to be available for you to draft in round #1? Who would you bounce to?
Nels: I would say an Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups double-up would be decent. Both a little risky, and I feel like it’s a little bit of a reach for Billups. I think a good big man combo would be Chris Bosh and Marcus Camby, but again, you’ve probably got a little risk there, and reaching for Camby too.
Patrick: I’d really, really hope that someone in the 5-9 pick tier fell to me, like Dwyane Wade or Elton Brand. But the more likely scenario would see me taking either Allen Iverson or Caron Butler, or maaaybe Boozer if I felt like I needed a big man. I would be disappointed if I had pick 10+ this year.
5. Erik – What do you see as the thinnest position this year? How should this affect people’s draft strategy?
Nels: Definitely Center. If you’re going small ball, then it won’t affect it too much, except that you need to keep in mind centers like Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur. Sheed’s probably a good third round pick after you’ve got 2 point guards.
If you do big ball, then you need to get your big men early (Think: Amare, Brand, Bosh, Camby, Al Jefferson would be good).
Patrick : Center is always the thinnest position, and this year is no exception. It’s strange that the default setup for a lot of leagues is PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, C. That means you need to start double the centers of any of the other positions. If you’re in a league that starts 2 centers, the last center I’d feel comfortable drafting is Nick Collison. Grab them while you can.
6. Erik – Based on GMTR’s Big Board you both agree on who the 1st pick should be, but differ in opinion on who should be drafted 2nd. Please share the reasons why you chose who you did.
Nels: Actually, it’s funny… in the time between I received the questions and the time I answered the questions, I moved Amare up to the #2 spot on my list, so Patrick and I are now in agreement there. Kobe seems a little bit more risky with his pinkie this year, and LeBron’s FT% is still holding him back as a fantasy player. Amare is the way to go.
Patrick: For those who don’t know, I have Amare while Nels has Lebron at number 2. Looking at Amare’s last 2 ½ months in 07-08, he averaged 28.5/9.3/1.9 with 1.8 blocks a game. I expect him to maintain that line this season, which is a nice little bump over his career numbers. The fact that he’s a center is just icing on the cake. Unless LeBron improves his FT%, it’s going to limit his fantasy greatness and I think Kobe is going to be in “good teammate” mode this season as a way to redeem his finals performance.
But ultimately, all three guys are so close to each other that I wouldn’t have a problem with any of them going in the second spot.
7. Erik – What is your fantasy outlook for Elton Brand this year?
Nels: BULLISH! I’ve drafted him with the 5th and 6th picks so far in both mock drafts I’ve participated in. I have him ranked at #6 on the GMTR Big Board.
Patrick: Very good. I have him in that 5-9 first round tier, along with Shawn Marion, KG, Dirk, and Wade. I don’t see why he can’t bounce back this season and be the Elton Brand we all know and love, even on a new team.
8. Erik – How about Jose Calderon?
Nels: More Bull. With Calderon taking over the PG position in Torontoland, he’s should be up a few spots from his rating at the end of last season.
Patrick: I fear that someone is going to take him a little too high in just about every draft. But I have him 34 on the big board and I’d happily take him in that spot. It’s nice to wrap up your assists category in one pick, which Calderon can pretty much do.
9. Erik – I’m very intrigued at how high you ranked Andrew Bynum on your Big Board. Can you please let us in on why he’s ranked so high?
Nels: Honestly, I see Bynum as more of a force for the Lakers than Pau Gasol. If he can play like he did last season, and bang down low with the centers, then Pau can play his more laid back type of post passing game. He’s still young enough to run with Show Time, and is playing a shallow position for fantasy basketball.
Patrick: In an abbreviated season, Bynum finished at #25 on our per game player rater. He’s basically pulling down Dwight Howard-lite stats without the team altering FT% at 21 years old. Current performance + additional potential is a tough thing to pass up. That being said, Nels and I are currently participating in a mock draft and I was a little too nervous taking Bynum in the spot that we had him on our big board. So, I recently dropped him down a little on the board based on that nervousness. I’m more comfortable with him ranked in the 30s.
10. Erik – I ranked Dwight Howard #13 on my Head to Head TOP 50, what rank would you put him at for H2H?
Nels: I’m not sure I’d go as high as 13 even in H2H, but I kind of hate Howard for making me recognize the difference between the two systems. Usually you can get away with just picking people based on general rankings, but Howard does really impact how you do things if you’re in Roto vs. H2H.
Patrick: My first instinct was to say you’re crazy. However, I when I ran the GMTR player rater using last year’s stats without shooting percentages, Howard finished ranked at #16. So, you might actually be on to something. For H2H, I’d probably put him a little lower than that, maybe somewhere in the low 30s if you can build the right team around him.
11. Erik – Who would you consider to be a good high risk-reward pick for this year’s draft?
Nels: Yao Ming. Center is a scarce position, and while Ming has had his injuries and probably won’t play more than 70 games this season, he’s probably on sale for TJ Maxx style prices during your draft. He’s one of few Centers who will actually help you in FT%, and if you’re playing H2H, his deficiency in games played won’t be as big a hit because you can kind of plan for and around it.
Patrick: Guys with long injury histories are usually high risk/high reward: Guys like Gilbert Arenas and Jermaine O’Neal could be bangs or busts this year. Manu Ginobili is going to be an interesting case since there is not a lot being said about his timetable. But the biggest risk/reward pick this year is probably Yao Ming, because of his foot. Personally, I’d stay away unless it’s in the 6th or 7th round, but he’ll have one of those seasons where he either plays 80 games or 8.
12. Erik – Name some players who due to age and/or injuries do you expect to decline this year.
Chauncey Billups probably tops the list. But I’ve been expecting a decline from him for a long time now, and he keeps producing.
Yao Ming is always an injury risk.
Grant Hill. Have to wonder how long he can keep producing at a Top 75 level.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He just keeps getting older, and with Mo Williams on the Cavs now, some of the load should be taken off of him.
Patrick: Marcus Camby, Steve Nash. Ginobili might be in for a down year (for him) because of his injury. While I have no evidence to back it up, I’d be scared drafting Brad Miller. Rip Hamilton fell off some last season. Expect that to continue. Kiss Monta Ellis goodbye this season. And no one should be drafting Ben Wallace or Shaq anymore.
13. Erik – Who, if you could snag at the right round or trade for, are you most excited to see on your fantasy team this year?
Nels: Brandon Roy. I love watching him play. He’s got style, and I’d be happy to have him on my team.
Amare Stoudemire. I realize this is more a function of what draft pick I get, but I’ve never had Amare on a fantasy team, and I’d be interested in seeing what I can do with him.
Patrick: Excluding Chris Paul, I’d love to have David Lee on my team – this is the year he’s finally free, FREE! And Rudy Gay has the opportunity to run wild in Memphis. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished this season as a top 20 ranked player.
14. Erik – Please name 3 players you are most wary of seeing on your fantasy team’s roster this year.
Nels: Richard Jefferson. He’s never been one of my favorites since he doesn’t produce across a lot of categories, and I’m worried that putting him on the Bucks will continue to limit him as opposed to present a new opportunity.
Yao Ming. He just keeps coming up… He’s high-risk, high-reward, and I’m not a big risk taker. If I can get him in the 40’s it’s probably worth it, but I’d still be worried taking someone in the 3rd or 4th round who’s only played as many games as Yao has in the past few years.
Patrick: Yao Ming would scare the crap out of me. Baron Davis, Ben Gordon.
15. Erik – Is there a rookie you are willing to pick in this year’s draft? Who and Why?
Nels: There are several… Depending on where they’re drafted, there’s Gred Oden (he _is_ still a rookie, technically), Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Jerryd Bayless, and maybe Kevin Love.
Patrick: While I’m not the biggest fan of rookies, it’s usually because people draft them too high, not because they aren’t fantasy worthy. The only rookie I’d draft before the 10th round this year is Michael Beasley. The Heat have an opening at PF for him and people who know more than me say he has an NBA ready offensive game.
I’d also consider Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, and Jerryd Bayless at the end of a draft, but I’d doubt any of them would be around then.
16. Erik – Ha ha. Thanks Patrick, it was actually your answer to question #15 that convinced me to pick Beasley over at the GMTR Mock Draft. Who would you be happy to see available for you to grab in the last round in this year’s draft?
Nels: Luis Scola. I’m sure people will probably take him sooner, but if he were available in the last round (and I was Big Ballin’) that would be money in the bank.
Patrick: Charlie Villanueva? John Salmons? Mike Conley? Jerryd Bayless? Generally, I shoot for someone with as much upside as possible.
17. Erik – Please finish the following sentence…you will have a good chance to win your fantasy basketball league if _________?
Nels: Everyone else is stupid. That’s usually what I rely on in my leagues.
Patrick: You stay active during the year trading and on the waiver wire.
* Oh look what we have here! A de-constructed draft guide of sorts. Woohoo!
Thanks to both Nels and Patrick for answering my interview questions!
Thanks to my wife for loving the writer, geek, and fantasy basketball stud that I am.
Thanks to my new boss for being patient with me regarding my blogging hobby/obsession.
I felt it was only right to site the interview that inspired me to do my GMTR version. Here it is.
Thanks to all of you who have been following Points in the Paint.