Thursday, March 7, 2013

BRAGGIN' RIGHTS: 2013 Fantasy Basketball Update

Felipe M

My credentials....
(photo courtesy of Felipe M)
I haven't talked too much about my fantasy basketball team, the basketball Baraka Obama, all year long.  This is a travesty because we're having a really good season, so far.  We've lead the BRYANT DIVISION for most of the season, but team Eyebrows the Net have finally caught up and we're deadlocked at 13-5, with only 3 games (including this week) left to this season.  I believe they win the tie-breaker to win the division, but I still control my own destiny in the Wild Card meaning a possible match-up in the playoffs with arch-rival, long-time nemesis, the EJ-led Young Blood (former editor of this blog). 

Quick background on this league:

  • It is a keeper league that was established on CBSsportsline, back in 2004, but most of us have been playing fantasy basketball since 2002.
  • It's a fantasy point, head-2-head league.
    • 1 point for every point scored
    • 2 points for Assists
    • -1 for turnovers
    • 3 points for steals and blocks
  • Nightly, individual scores are averaged, so number of games in a week are not important.  It's all about EFFICIENT PRODUCTION.
  • Teams must start 4 guards, 4 forwards, 2 centers and can have up to 4 bench players, plus an IR slot for long-term, injured players
  • All teams participate in post-season play, but only the top 4 teams play for the Championship.
  • The middle 4 teams play for the #5 pick in next year's draft in a consolation bracket.
  • The bottom 4 teams play to increase their chances in the lottery sweepstakes, for the #1 pick in next year's draft, in their own, separate bracket.
  • Trades are not limited to only 2 teams as 3-way, and I believe even 4-way trades, have been completed before in this league's history.

We've just went through our trade deadline this past week and after a year full of questionable, quirky, and quizzical transactions between two teams (no 3-way deals this year), the trade deadline has thankfully come and gone, but not before its most controversial deal occurred at the last minute.  More on that later.

So far, team Baraka Obama ranks in the following categories... 

....(again, quick review on the evolution of my team name: Formerly team Kingdom Conker: named after the video games Kingdom Hearts and Conker's Bad Fur Day. After almost a decade of losing, changed the name of the team after having Kevin Durant for a 2nd full season to Baraka Obama: named after the character from Mortal Kombat and, of course, the current president of the U.S.A.  Its also the name of my current football team, but thinking of changing the name next season)...

  • 3rd in Points For
  • 2nd in FG%
  • 2nd in FT%
  • 3rd in Rebounds, Assists, and Turnovers per game
  • 6th in Steals
  • 2nd in Blocks per game
  • Dead last in 3-point shooting (but, thankfully, this isn't a roto-style league)
We've mentioned Young Blood leading his RODMAN DIVISION, while our very own, disgruntled Sacramento Kings' fan, Josh Chiaratti has wrapped up his dominance of the lowly BARKLEY DIVISION.  Which proves once again that if you contribute to any of my blogs, you will be very successful in fantasy sports (except for Reggie's team, Van Excellence.  He's sitting pretty at 6-12 and on his way to one of the consolation brackets.  To be fair, however, he technically never wrote a sports' article for us so that would explain that).

Clearly, at 13-5, I took my own advice leading up to our annual fantasy basketball draft.  Here's how my team looked for week 1 of play:

GREEN = KEEPER PLAYER
YELLOW =  DRAFTED PLAYER
PURPLE = ACQUIRED VIA TRADE
RED = ACQUIRED VIA FREE AGENCY/WAIVERS

GUARDS
  • RAJON RONDO
  • JEREMY LIN
  • RODNEY STUCKEY
  • BRADLEY BEAL
FORWARDS
  • KEVIN DURANT
  • PAU GASOL*
  • TIM DUNCAN
  • ANDREI KIRILENKO
CENTERS
  • ANDREW BOGUT
  • KEVIN GARNETT
BENCH
  • J.R. SMITH
  • TONY ALLEN
  • THOMAS ROBINSON
  • HARRISON BARNES
INJURED
  • AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE (selected in the 1st round (virtually the 4th round, after keepers) of the draft.  Yep, bad move!)
*Pau Gasol acquired via trade in the offseason for Brook Lopez and swapped draft slots

I got off to an amazing start, but injuries soon caught up to me and my "Greatest Paper Team Ever Drafted" looked very vulnerable and on its way to collapse.  Nevertheless, the resiliency of the squad, led by Durant, kept me in games and maintained my pace towards the playoffs.  However, with a veteran team like this, and with Rondo's imminent exit looming after the season (after this season, I could only keep Durant or Rondo, but not both.  Who would you pick?), I had to ditch my "patient" approach to fantasy sports and get aggressive in the trade market.  At first, these trades looked awful as I was forced to trade producing veterans and depth, for more explosive players and more help (quantity over quality) in the middle.  The trades did, eventually, begin to payoff as I have not suffered a losing streak of more than 2 games all season long.  Nonetheless, I was mostly "winning ugly," while the other elite teams seemed to be crushing the competition on a weekly basis.  

As the trade deadline approached, I needed to make one more move for the final push for the playoffs.  I needed help everywhere it seemed like, but had to go after a guard.  After going through countless trade scenarios, I was approached with a deal that would sacrifice the little frontcourt depth that I had, for that elusive guard. Here's what my team looks like after the trade deadline:

GUARDS
  • DWYANE WADE***
  • MONTA ELLIS****
  • JEREMY LIN
  • DEMAR DEROZAN**
FORWARDS
  • KEVIN DURANT
  • DAVID LEE*
  • TIM DUNCAN
  • TOBIAS HARRIS
CENTERS
  • OMER ASIK**
  • MARCIN GORTAT***
BENCH
  • AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE
  • SPENCER HAWES
  • KIRK HINRICH
  • TIAGO SPLITTER
*David Lee was acquired in a deal proposed by Van Excellence for Kevin Garnett and Ron Artest
**DeMar DeRozan and Omer Asik were acquired in a deal proposed by Van Excellence for Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, and Andrei Kirilenko
***Traded Rajon Rondo and J.R. Smith for Dwyane Wade and Marcin Gortat to Ming Dynasty. A week or so after the trade, Rondo would end up lost for the season due to knee injury.
****Monta Ellis was acquired in a deal proposed by South Beach Talents for Pau Gasol

I hate making trades and work really hard to make sure that I have an excellent draft to avoid making trades and not have to depend on anybody else to improve my team.  As you can see, only 4 players remain from my original team in Week 1.  Making trades was definitely an evil necessity this season.  I don't think I've ever made this many trades in this league before.  

Regardless, there are still holes on my team, mainly the two centers that are currently starting.  Asik has 26 points so far this week, but divisional foe, team Eyebrows, has at least two centers that can score 35+ each on any given week.  No use fretting about it as we continue to march toward the playoffs and will have to continue to keep an eye on the waiver wire.  

But it's worth noting the key players that have helped this team so far.  Tim Duncan is definitely one of them.  After getting mocked at the draft for selecting him and people criticizing his age and diminished skills and body, he still has managed to play at an elite level and has been the most pleasant surprise on my team.  Duncan has always been one of my favorite players and I'm happy to have him on my squad this year.  

I cannot mention Duncan without mentioning Splitter.  He got off to a very slow start, but I've always liked his game and kept tabs on him.  As soon as he had one big game and saw that he was available on waivers, I immediately snatched him up in early December and have not let go since, providing much needed insurance in case Duncan goes down for a long period of time.  

After bashing Lin last season, I took a deeper look at his game and his projections for this season and decided that he would make a great pick in the draft.  Did I want to select him with my 2nd round pick?  Absolutely not, but that is what happened.  He got off to a very slow start as his 3-point shooting was lagging and James Harden was taking over as the primary EVERYTHING on the Houston Rockets (ball-handler, scorer, shooter, perimeter threat, distributor, dribble-driver, etc.).  Eventually, Lin did find his role on the Rockets and has played a lot better of late. 

It was very sad to trade away Rondo, but he was struggling and not producing like in years past.  Even when he would get triple-doubles, he was still not playing to the elite-level status he had been playing in the last 2-3 seasons.  I tried trading him to the Talents for Steph Curry, but it was of no use.  So I'd settled on my 2nd option, D-Wade.  Threw in a hot-streaking J.R. Smith into the deal and even with Gortat not playing as well as I had thought, D-Wade has been playing like its 2006 all over again and combined with Durant, has been one of the best dynamic duos in our league.  Even though Rondo was no longer on my team, it was still sad to see him lost for the year.

Looking back at the David Lee deal, Lee's game has suffered since he was acquired.  From being a player that can explode for +45 points/week, Lee struggled to obtain 35+/week, even scoring a low of 28 on my team (week 15).  He has turned it back on the last 3 weeks, however, and if I can find one more, legit forward, I can always move Lee to center.  

DeMar DeRozan has had a nice year so far, but can be inconsistent sometimes.  But I like his athleticism (he can really fly!), versatility (qualifies at guard/forward), and his tenacity (he really believes that he can turn around the Toronto Raptors' franchise) make him a a must-have player, especially on this team.  

The key here is Stoudemire.  If he can co-exist with Carmelo Anthony and not just flourish whenever Anthony is out with injuries, that will easily put me over the top and solidify my frontcourt and I can even slide him at center.  Currently, he's playing well with Anthony missing, but has averaged 17 points/week in the last 3 weeks with Anthony in the lineup.

And finally, a quick shout-out to Kevin Durant.  It is amazing to see how much he has developed from his rookie year, to now.  I believe I acquired him during his rookie season and he was only averaging 25 points/week in our league.  My team was undergoing yet another hard, tough, losing season and I had to start thinking young and ditch my veterans.  That deal caused an uproar in the league because of all the players I gave up to get Durant, but I didn't care.  I liked this kid since I read about him in a magazine article and how he's constantly working hard and refining his game every day and his mom keeps him in check so he can focus on his game and not get trapped in the NBA lifestyle. To see him become one of the best scoring options in the league, under my team, just makes me beam with pride.  

Is this a sad lifestyle to have to vicariously live through the accomplishments of others?  Perhaps.  But at this point, it's all about BRAGGIN' RIGHTS!



Feel free to share your fantasy basketball season with us.

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