Fantasy Basketball So You Lucked Into The First Overall Pick…
Let me preface this with a short story:
During the fall of 2015, the world witnessed greatness.
Whether they knew it or not, whether they cared to spare even a fraction of a second of their time… the persistent waves of victory- one after another, crashed into the levies that kept the waters from tasting the dry lands of historical significance.
But winning can result in more than fame, glory, and swaths of beautiful women surrounding you at all times. Winning can breed complacency if the mind is not prepared to stand next to the immortals.
“??? ???? ????? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ????, ?????? ?????? ?? ??? ??????- ???? ?? ??? ??? ????????? ??????? ???? ???? ??????? ??? ?? ???? ??????? ??????? ??? ??????? ?????????? ?????? ??? ??????? ??????? ???????.”
It pained some to see a team with such gravitas fall from grace. Others reveled in the carnage. Despite all the accolades, all the trash talk, all the swagger, all the dominance. This team proved that if anything… you’re only as good as the last time anyone gives a fuck about you.
In loving memory of my 2015-16 Fantasy Football Team, which started the season 5-0 and proceeded to lose every single game after that, finishing in dead fucking last.
So that was that, and that’s what happened. 5 games into the fantasy football season and I was sitting pretty, undefeated. Get a little cocky, sleep in a couple Sundays, forget a couple bye weeks here or there. These things happen! In fact, these things happen to me- a lot. But why worry?! I know pretty much every name on my roster halfway through the season, come December I’ll be looking at a playoff bid.
But here it’s not about the cash. It never was about the cash. Sure, there’s a little spending money waiting for you if you bring home the prize. But this league was never about that.
This is not a league that cherishes the thrill of victory- this is a league that savors the agony of defeat.
Which brings us to May 7th, 2016. The frozen winter months behind me, my pathetic excuse for a roster along with them. There I stood with bags under my eyes. Cloaked in a grey hoodie and black gym shorts, staring up at the looming building in front of me, shapeless bodies adorned with drawstring bags bustling through the double doors.
I handed my driver’s licence to the smiling woman and knowingly watched the smile fade from her face. She opened her lips as if to ask what in the fuck I thought I was doing, but it was decided at some point before that happened that she apparently no longer wanted to know. I was directed to my room.
I sat quietly in the back, my legs mashed against the desk-chair-transformer-combo which we all remember from high school. Words cannot describe how much bigger I am than that desk. Like, “Fire Department Confirms Local Manchild Has Been Freed” headline bigger. I looked like an idiot, I’m pretty sure a lot of people looked at me like an idiot, and I am positive I felt like an idiot.
And then I took the SATs. Like a god-damn-full-grown idiot.
A lot could be said about the way that I approached this. What if I had really given it a go? Why not try to see how I could do given another chance? If I was already there, I might as well try… right?
No. And I can’t believe you thought that was even close to a possibility. I didn’t do any of that. I filled out pretty much random bubbles and did just about as poorly as I’d imagine you can do with a functioning number two pencil and a basic understanding of how to use it. Ultimately finishing with a very solid 600 out of 1600 total points.
In the end, the point of this story is to help you understand two things.
- I am an incredibly spacial-visual person. If you have yet to learn this from my verbose, winding, simile packed ramblings that compose this special website, I hope that this is something you now seriously understand.
- Fantasy sports are generally not my forte.
As someone who genuinely enjoys sport more for the spectacle and stories more than the statistics, fantasy sports can be difficult to grasp. You get caught up in the magic that some guys simply seem to emanate, the electricity that can shake a stadium, the heart or timing that can keep your eyes glued to the poetry in motion before you rather than the Yahoo box score in your lap.
Is this likely a coping mechanism in order to lend some credibility to what has ultimately been a series of pathetic failures in a field about which I very much care?
Absolutely. But it’s something I have convinced myself might be true and I am going to run with it because its generally intangible, and I don’t really see how you could prove me wrong. Boom.
But this year, perhaps, the Basketball Gods have smiled on me. I’ve been presented a gift- the number one overall pick in my 12 team fantasy basketball league. Now picking first of course has a massive upside. You are king of the castle, all you see before you is yours. The land upon which to build your empire’s palace remains the question.
With every fantasy decision, the rules of your league must be taken into heavy consideration. Will you face one opponent on a week by week basis? Will you take part in the season long all-out-brawl that is rotisserie? How does that interact with the categories chosen as the objects of statistical relevance?
This year I am involved in a roto-league, in other words, one in which each team will receive points (12 through 1) for their roster’s level of individual categorical success. There would be a long pause between my first selection and my second, which would not come until the 24th overall pick due to the serpentine draft. This selection would likely make or break my season.
Karl Anthony Towns can do it all. He burst onto the scene from a massive pack of big men at the University of Kentucky and landed in Minnesota, where he effortlessly sprung over each NBA hurdle with increasing ease. Much is being said about Towns’ potential, though certain assholes who think they are sooo fucking smart bought in on another young big man prospect, Anthony Davis. A bit more than a year ago “The Brow” was the hot ticket. Those assholes, whoever they may be, are likely to approach these situations with a bit more tact.
Steph Curry is coming off one of the greatest offensive seasons in history. Of the nine categories in this league-
- Field Goal Percentage
- Free Throw Percentage
- Three Pointers Made
Curry found himself in a historically elite position in almost half… but on the other hand, there was a bad hambre, new to town in Oakland state that was likely going withdraw from Steph Curry’s otherworldly statistical checking account.
Lebron James secured his throne as the NBA’s King in the 2016 finals. Coming back from the brink of elimination when HOLY FUCK THE WARRIORS ACTUALLY BLEW A THREE TO ONE FUCKING LEAD IN THE NBA FINALS HAHAHAAHHAAH.
In other news, James has also played nearly 2 god damn seasons more of basketball than practically anyone else, his team is poised to cakewalk to the finals yet again, and he just does not like how hard the NBA regular season is. Probably a reason for pause despite at his peak, the man is likely still the best basketball player on the planet.
Then there is Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant’s scorned, scowl-faced love—ex… teammate.
The man is athletically one of, if not the most gifted player in the history of the NBA. A ridiculous penchant for finding the open man. He racks up assists while simultaneously convincing you he has never intended to give up the ball in his life. Time after time he rips down a rebound over top of the outstretched arms of a 7-footer, races down the floor, and stuffs your fantasy statsheet, albeit not without causing a bit of collateral damage to his efficiency.
Finally there is James Harden. The bearded combo-guard has been handed the keys to the offense by his new head coach, offensive lunatic Mike D’Antoni. Luckily for Harden, the less time he has to spend on the defensive end the better. It should be noted that for the purposes of fantasy, Harden is considerably less of lobotomized than it appears in person. His propensity to gamble on steals and blocks puffs his numbers a bit.
In the end, two choices seemed to be my clear favorites. The reckless psychotic abandon of Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and the fast-faced-until-its-free-throw-time…ey-ness… in Houston with newly appointed “point guard” James Harden.
At first glance, Russell Westbrook was my choice.
Have you ever caught a a raccoon in a trap? Like maybe it was eating your butternut squash out back and you got tired of that shit? Little fella is prob not too stoked on the whole idea right?
This is not like that really. This is more like you set a wolverine on fire and threw him into a room full of propane tanks, blaring Andrew CK’s “Lets Get A Party Going” through 15 foot loudspeakers. Westbrook had the edge by category, 5 to 4. Russell holding the advantage with wins in FG%, Rbs, Ast, and TOs.
But the problem was not yet solved. Harden’s advantages were clearly more decisive, and I had to think about a way to truly examine the strengths in terms that would relate to fantasy basketball. Cue Alek the visual learner…
Bingo. Now we’re cooking.
Given that the scoring is not only separated by category, but by level of proficiency 1 through 12 in each statistic, Harden’s intensely focused acumen actually provided me with a startlingly strong case to select him with my first overall pick.
His propensity to turn the ball over in historically gigantic consistency appeared to pale despite Westbrooks distinct advantage in the assist category. The Rockets’ guard hit three pointers at a much higher clip and Westbrook’s shockingly low block numbers would hurt him in his quest to be the do-it-all guard that I felt I needed to captain my ship.
Now, stats don’t tell the whole story… *Slips into narrative mode*.
Westbrook is a man on a mission, hell bent on proving that he is indeed the alpha dog for which he’s often drawn criticism. The former MVP beside him has moved on for yellower pastures, and he might possibly have the greenest light in the history of NBA basketball this upcoming season.
Harden is now the true point guard for a team which has removed the often-grumpy Dwight Howard for a far more pace friendly youngster in Clint Capela. Would harden do as many D’Antoni leading men have done before him and explode into a new realm of statistical glory?
Ultimately, I had to let the numbers make my choice. James Harden would be my choice.
The world of fantasy sports is clearly a beast to be reckoned with. Every year millions upon millions of dollars pour into the industry, while experts both online and in traditional media wonder aloud if Frank Gore’s aging legs will finally give out, and randy in accounting wonders aloud at the water cooler if the devastating death of Gary Barnage’s Uncle Rick could result an extra drop or two this week.
Fantasy is a beautiful, confusing story all in itself, and the tale has no conclusion in sight. I am sure that there will be no end to the series of catastrophic mistakes that is my fantasy-life. There will be high points, there will be low points, there will be beers, there could be tears. Let me emphasize that seriously there will be beers. So don’t sweat it too much.
Everyone has their own little thing that they think can be the key to finding this year’s fantasy treasure. I hope you find yours… Unless that treasure puts me back in the SATs. Then you can fuck right off.
Right off. God. I hated that.