November 1, 2004

Some Fantasy

I had my fantasy basketball draft on Saturday afternoon and it went horribly wrong from the very beginning. Not only did I miss out on Kevin Garnett for the ninth year in a row (a span of 15-20 total fantasy teams), I got stuck with the #9 pick in the draft.

Much like with the early days of the Timberwolves, my pick was one spot past where it needed to be. In 1992, Minnesota picked third, taking Christian Laettner after the two obvious, franchise-changing players, Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, had been taken. In 1994, they picked fourth, taking Donyell Marshall after Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill came off the board. Marshall was in Golden State halfway through his rookie year.

For me, picking ninth meant I had to hope that one of my top eight guys fell ...

1) Garnett

2) Tim Duncan

3) Tracy McGrady

4) Kobe Bryant

5) Andrei Kirilenko

6) Peja Stojakovic

7) Dirk Nowitzki

8) Shawn Marion

After those eight, I thought there was a major dropoff. Sadly, one by one those names were all snatched up, and when my turn came around I had 90 seconds to stare at my list of second-tier guys. After debating taking a chance with LeBron James (I think he's going to have a monster sophomore season), or going with either Elton Brand or Paul Pierce, I decided on Ray Allen.

Now, I'm not a huge Allen fan, although he was a member of the Timberwolves for about 10 seconds during the 1996 draft, before Minnesota shipped him off to Milwaukee for Stephon Marbury. Still, he's a good player on a bad Seattle team, which is typically a good combination in fantasy basketball. Last year, Allen averaged 23 points per game, was good for five rebounds and five assists, swiped 1.3 steals, and made 2.6 three-pointers per contest.

In a league where three-pointers are worth one-eighth of the overall standings, a shooter like Allen is pretty huge. Plus, he did all that while shooting 44% from the field (which isn't bad) and 90% from the foul line (which is great). The only category Allen doesn't contribute in is blocks, where he averaged just 0.2 per game last year. Oh, and he's also a bit of an injury risk, playing in only 56 games last season.

So I grabbed him and hoped that LeBron would make it back to me safely when I picked seven spots later. After all, that would be the #16 overall pick and LeBron had been going #15 in the average league. It was not to be, however, as he was snatched up two spots in front of me, leaving me with yet another choice between a bunch of guys I didn't really like that much.

With all of my second-tier guys (Allen, LeBron, Brand, Shaq, Pierce) gone, I somehow ended up with Baron Davis. I'm still not sure how, because a) I think Davis is an overrated player in real life, and b) his extremely low shooting percentage makes him someone I would never target in a fantasy league. Plus, my plan going into the draft was to take big guys early and grab some of my sleeper guards later on. Instead, I took a shooting guard and a point guard with my first two picks and didn't even love either of them.

By the time my third pick came around, my whole draft board was basically obliterated. In need of some rebounds and blocks, I grabbed Donyell Marshall with the 33rd pick. Yes, the same guy I just said the Timberwolves got stuck with back in 1994. Marshall, while a very underrated fantasy player, is quite a stretch in the third round. Then, on the way back with my fourth rounder seven picks later, I took yet another perimeter player, Ron Artest.

So, after four picks I had a point guard, a shooting guard and a small forward, none of whom I am big fans of and all of whom shoot a low percentage. And my only big guy was Marshall. (When told of my drafting Marshall, my mom, a big Timberwolves fan, said simply, "Oh no.")

The draft didn't get better after that, as I felt the whole time like I was 2-3 picks too late on every guy I really wanted, which led to me taking guys I either didn't like all that much (Allen, Davis, Artest) or reaching to take guys I liked too early (Marshall, Theo Ratliff, Drew Gooden, Rafer Alston).

Anyway, here are the Minnesota Fatboys of the "11 Guys Kicking Gleeman's Ass" league, who have almost no shot at defending their championship from last season:

Ray Allen

Baron Davis

Donyell Marshall

Ron Artest

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Theo Ratliff

Drew Gooden

Rafer Alston

Grant Hill

Vlade Divac

Tyson Chandler

Nick Collison

Keep in mind that the league has 12 teams, so it's not quite as bad as it looks. However, even more than the quality of the team, the thing that bugs me is the type of team I put together. After a draft I can usually look at my team and see my stamp on it, and I can even show the rosters from the league to other people and they'll know which one is mine.

This time, the only guys I got who I really targeted heading into the draft were Marshall, Gooden and Alston, and I took all of them way too early because I was worried I'd lose out of them. Then, late in the draft I took Divac, which is the sort of pick I would never make. An old player with no upside is exactly what to avoid in the last few rounds.

Ugh. It's just ugly all around.

Today at The Hardball Times:

- The Meat Market: Catchers (by Aaron Gleeman)

- Who Gave Up What? (by Studes)

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