Friday, April 19, 2013

BRAGGIN' RIGHTS: 2013 Fantasy Basketball Champion

Different fantasy sport, same team name; same result.

Felipe M

With the NBA Playoffs looming, now would be the time for me to give myself some kudos.  As I explained before, I am part of a highly competitive fantasy basketball keeper league and my team, Baraka Obama, was having a banner year and was coming off a trade that helped me acquire Monta Ellis.  With that move, I solidified my backcourt, but I was still thin at the frontcourt.  Even worse, I had to give up Pau Gasol to make this deal.  I was looking forward to inserting him into the lineup after battling foot issues that cost him a huge chunk of the season.  I would easily had slid him into my starting lineup and help out my frontcourt.  Alas, even with Ellis on board, my squad was still a mess.  

Very late in the season, it's hard to find any reliable and productive players on the waiver wire.  However, there was this one player that I have been keeping tabs on for the entire season.  

We first made a big deal about the firing of Scott Skiles and how that would improve the overall production from their suddenly deep frontcourt.  Not listed was Tobias Harris, but I made it my priority to keep an eye on this guy for the rest of the season.  This was back in early January, but I had this hunch that based on his ability and the scouting report that I acknowledged back on his draft day, I was just simply gravitated towards him and it was imperative to take special notice and follow him for the rest of the year.  

Harris finally busted out to have his most productive week of the season back on February 23, 2013.  It was a good showing by the former Milwaukee Bucks' player.  Considering that the game was his debut with his new team, the Orlando Magic.  Solid effort, but not good enough to warrant a roster move.  Finally, on February 27, 2013, he exploded for 23 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and two steals in 31 minutes of play.  It was unbelievable that no one else had picked him up.  I immediately dropped Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that night in order to make room for Harris and he performed beyond my wildest imagination.  

With a solid frontcourt intact, my squad was finally ready to be legit contenders for the championship.  Not only that, but the move elevated the play of Omer Asik and most notably, Spencer Hawes.  I don't know what it is, might be a mere coincidence, but sometimes, when you make certain decisions on your fantasy team, it somehow affects the rest of the squad.  We're talking in indirect, intangible terms here, but for those that are serious about their fantasy sports, sometimes outside factors, beyond your control, get together and elevates the entire team to a higher level.  Of course, the converse also holds true as a string of back luck will definitely cripple your squad.

At any rate, I was able to win the Bryant Division (yes, named after Kobe, the most hated player in my little world).  Unfortunately, I was forced to face the hottest team in the last 10 games or so, the Nut Sac Lootmonkeys (the "Sac" stands for Sacramento.  The squad is run by our resident, disgruntled Kings' fan, Josh C). 

You're talking about a team that was not only winning, but with their high scoring, they were humiliating opponents every single week.  They were definitely an immovable force in the 2nd half of the season.  They were led by the following players:

  • Goran Dragic
  • Brandon Jennings
  • Ty Lawson
  • John Wall
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Paul Pierce
  • Marc Gasol
  • Al Jefferson
And they still had injured players Kevin Garnett, Andre Drummond, and Kenneth Faried on the bench.  This team was very deep!

I went with my thin lineup of the following players:

  • DeMar Derozan
  • Monta Ellis
  • Jeremy Lin
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Tim Duncan
  • Kevin Durant
  • Tobias Harris
  • David Lee
  • Omer Asik
  • Spencer Hawes
Even with Lootmonkeys' injuries, my team just didn't look very formidable compared to his.  I gave myself an optimistic 45% chance of winning this game.  Sure enough, the 'Monkeys scored 350+ points.  Unfortunately for them, I ended up scorign 365 points!  Who would have thought that Duncan, very late in the season, would continue to get enough minutes to produce big time numbers?  And there's Harris with the surprising 44.5 points.  Wade and Ellis combined for 83 big points.  Special note is Hawes accumulated 37.5 points.  Real proud of him and the improvements he made as the season progressed.

On to the Championship Game and once again, I was stuck having to face my divisional foe and longtime nemesis, Eyebrows the Net (or as I like to call him, Tim C from KC).  After beating him in our first match-up, he went on to win the next two contests.  His team, although not as strong as the Lootmonkeys, was picking up steam as they entered the playoffs.  They defeated the best team in the league, in terms of win-loss record, Young Blood, to get to the championship game.  Final score: 346-322.

For the Championship Game and the 4th and final game between us, the Net went with the following lineup:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Damian Lillard
  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Nicolas Batum
  • Luol Deng
  • Zach Randolph
  • Tirstan Thompson
  • Anthony Davis
  • Greg Monroe
I went with the same lineup that got me into the Championship Game, despite the fact that D-Wade was reported to miss a few games because of an ankle injury.  He would later go on to miss the entire week and post a big, whopping ZERO POINTS!  I was devastated by his absence. I even conceded the match-up to my opponent on that Saturday.  How can my team win short-handed?

What I didn't realize was that the Net was dealing with an injury of their own.  Batum had only posted 15 points as he was dealing with a shoulder problem (eventually would end his season).  With a whole slate of weekend games to go, my situation was not very favorable as I was holding onto a small lead going into the weekend.  However, despite D-Wade's absence, we prevailed!

49 points from my favorite player, Kevin Durant, 41 from Harris, 42 from Lee, Hawes and Asik combined for 60 points at center and even Jeremy Lin showed up with 40.5 to add to Ellis' 44.  

Truly a satisfying season.  I worked hard in my draft preparation during the offseason, went outside my comfort zone and made a whopping FOUR TRADES (I usually am lucky enough to perform one trade per year, let alone four), and kept my eyes glued to the waiver wire.  After years of many losing seasons and seasons where my team was knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, we finally made it over the top, defeated a couple of great teams and now we scream from the mountaintop as champions!

Can't wait for these NBA Playoffs to start all ready, but as we close out another season in our Big Ballers' keeper league season, as always, I'm looking forward for another exciting season in 2013-'14.

We leave you with our review of Tobias Harris' after he was selected by the Bucks:

"Tobias Harris out of Tennessee was selected by Milwaukee. Described as a "versatile" perimeter player with a "high basketball IQ," this player has a reputation for his hard work and for being a gym rat. On the downside, Harris was one of the few players in this draft whose lack of athleticism was a major concern."

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