RotoGuru Menu
Daily blurbs
Message Forum
Forum Keepers

MLB Schedule
Favorite links
Base Advances
Player Lookup

TSN Baseball
Sortable TSN Stats
Yesterday's TSNP
Team Rankings

Swirve Baseball
Sortable Stats
Yesterday's SvP
Team Rankings

PSC Baseball
Sortable Stats

Favorite links
NFL Schedule
Field Goals
Player Lookup

Football Pickoff

TSN/SW Football
Sortable TSN Stats
Weekly SNP
Team Rankings

Swirve Football
Sortable Swirve Stats
Weekly SvP
Team Rankings

PSC Football
Sortable PSC Stats
Weekly PSP

[SW Hockey Stats]

Favorite links
Hoop Pointers
Player Lookup

NBA Schedule
Full Season

Next 4 weeks

TSN Hoops
TSN Stats
Yesterday's TSNP
Team Rankings

PSC Basketball
PSC Stats
Yesterday's PSP

Market Madness
Contest Site

Historical Stats
Favorite Links
Recap of Entries
Unit Returns

Home page
Hall of Fame

This site's features are best exploited using Netscape Communicator 4.0 or higher. You can download a Netscape browser free by clicking on the Netscape Now icon.
Netscape Now!

[RotoGuru logo]
[RotoGuru subtitle]

Hoop Pointers
Fantasy Strategy Ideas from the Guru

Dirty Dozen - a Retrospective Look at my Draft
April 20, 2002

At the beginning of the 2001-02 season, the Dirty Dozen Basketball League held a draft for which each pick was accompanied by a brief write-up by the drafting manager, summarizing the rationale for the pick. Now that the season is over, I thought it might be constructive to review my draft and see what went right, what went wrong, and how it might have gone "if only" I knew then what I know now. My team finished the year in 4th place (out of 12 teams), which certainly has to be considered some degree of success, particularly in an "experts" league. But I'm sure I could have done better, and maybe a recap of the draft will help point out some decisions that could have been better, even without the full benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

So let's try it. I'll run through my draft, pick by pick. (As background, this league used rotisserie scoring with 8 standard categories: FG%, FT%, 3 pointers, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, and total points scored.) I'll repeat my published analysis of the original pick, then discuss how it worked out, and - if appropriate - who I would have picked "if only" I had a better inkling of how the season would turn out. Here goes:

First Round - Ray Allen (11th overall pick)

What I said then: "Allen has deceptive value, as he is a monster in 3 pointers (2.5/game) and FT% (almost 90%). Those categories might be discounted in a true assessment of value, but in this fantasy scoring system, they are just as important as assists and rebounds. Allen is also somewhat unique in that he gets a lot of treys while putting up a favorable FG% (48%). He's been very durable as well, putting in a full 82 games in each of the last two season. Although I got him with the 11th pick, I rank him among the top 5 players overall (in this scoring format)."

Post-mortem: Allen's biggest disappointment was his lack of durability, which was one of his primary selling points. He ended up missing 13 games, and he was not fully healthy in some of those that he did play in. His averages were pretty much as expected, and had he remained healthy throughout, I think he would have warranted a first round pick. In fact, even with his downtime, he still lead the league in 3-point FG made, and he shot 87.3% from the charity stripe. In the context of my team, however, his FT% turned out to be wasted (see Ben Wallace). At this point in the draft, I didn't know that FT shooting would be a punted category. But as it turned out, I might have been well advised to try to trade Allen in November, when his durability was still pristine, but after I knew that FT% was going to be a problem for this team as a whole. Of course, if Ray had stayed healthy, maybe he could have lifted that category a few notches.

"If only" pick: Paul Pierce. He was the 15th overall pick in our draft, but was a top 5 player all year. And he played every game.

Second Round: Steve Francis (14th pick)

What I said: "Although I need to keep a wary eye on the big men, I went with a second guard. The choice came down to Francis or Kidd, both of whom I consider to be top-10 picks. Kidd offered an interesting complementary opportunity with my other guard (Ray Allen), as his strongest categories are assists and steals, while Allen dominates in other stats. Kidd, however, poses some additional risks this year, not only as he fits in with a new set of teammates, but also because of the zone defense, which may or may not have a material impact on his numbers.

Francis offers similar overall value, but better balance across all categories. Heading into his third year, he still may be on a statistical uptrend as well, although I'd be very content if he repeated last year's numbers. Of some concern is that his 3-point capabilities, when combined with Allen's, may give me more than I need from that category, but since it's not going to cost me a lousy FG% to get those 3s, I guess I can deal with it!"

Post-mortem: Francis gave me migraines all season, missing 25 games. What a disappointment!

"If only" pick: I even said it in my draft comment. I could have had Kidd instead (who was actually drafted #16). Dohhh!

Round 3 Lamar Odom (35th pick)

What I said: "Lamar Odom offers solid numbers in almost all categories, and with some added experience and a better surrounding cast, there is a strong possibility that his numbers will continue to improve. I suspect that the only reason he is still available at this juncture is that other teams have been scrambling this round to cover their center slots. "

Post mortem: Sensing a trend here? Odom missed most of the season. He made Allen and Francis look like iron men.

"If only" pick: Probably Andre Miller, who was actually selected #42. In my actual draft, I already had two guards, so this wouldn't have made sense in that context. But in my "if only" draft, he would have fit nicely with Pierce and Kidd, as Pierce was listed as a forward.

Round 4 - Ben Wallace (38th pick)

What I said: "In the last round, I picked up Odom while other teams were grabbing centers. This round, I decided I'd better start working on the center slot myself. Absent his position consideration, Ben Wallace isn't a top 40 player, but he does average double digit rebounds and more than 2 blocks per game, which is what you need to get from the center position. The "price" of Wallace's goods is his lack of scoring. Not only does he score in single digits, but his free throw percentage makes Shaq look like a stud from the charity stripe. Fortunately, Wallace only gets to the line about 3 times per game, so his abominable 34% touch can be overcome if the rest of the squad is reasonably capable."

Post mortem: Finally, an inspired choice! Wallace led the NBA in both blocks and rebounds. His free throw shooting was horrendous, as advertised, but his positives more than made up for this shortcoming. ESPN's player rater ranks him #15 overall. Don't expect Wallace to slide to the 4th round next year.

Round 5 - Kenyon Martin (59th pick)

What I said: "Kenyon Martin solidifies my rebounds and blocks, and also contributes respectable steals for a big man. He has reported to camp fully healed from his broken leg (he even played in the late summer Goodwill Games), and heading into just his second NBA season, offers a lot of upside potential. He was really putting up some good numbers just before his March injury. "

Post mortem: KMart worked about pretty much as expected. He was the 59th pick, and at the end of the year, ESPN's player rater ranked him 68th, so I was in the right vicinity. He'd have been even more valuable if he could have avoided those flagrant fouls, causing him to miss several games due to suspensions.

"If only" pick: Pao Gasol turned out to be ranked much better, but "who knew"? That pick would have seemed laughable at the time. Gasol wasn't even drafted in our league! The best available player without ridiculous foresight was probably Doug Christie, who never appears spectacular, but just puts up steady, solid numbers. ESPN's rater has him at #29 for the season. I'll take Christie - for now.

Round 6 - Donyell Marshall (62nd pick)

What I said: "Last year, Donyell Marshall ranked around #60 under this scoring format, using his full season averages. But he really came on strong during the second half, playing more than 30 minutes per game after January 1st, during which time he averaged roughly 16 points, 2 assists, and 8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. If he can put up those numbers over a full season, he becomes a top 40 player.

So can he? He reported to camp in great shape this fall, after coming in very overweight a year ago. And Karl Malone isn't getting any younger. It sure sounds like the opportunity is there for Donyell. "

Post-mortem: For the first few months, this was looking like an inspired pick. But January came, and Marshall's inability to avoid injuries came home to roost. A complete bust for the second half of the year.

"If only" pick: Kurt Thomas would have been a pretty bold pick this early, but he ended up ranked in the low 40s. Of course, it helped that Marcus Camby was lost for the second half - but can that ever be considered a long shot? Still, I'll defer Thomas until the next "if only" pick. Instead, I'll shore up my center slot with Elden Campbell, who was actually picked just three slots later.

Round 7 - Travis Best (83rd pick)

What I said: "This has been the round for snapping up guards. 10 of the last 13 picks have been guards, and the ranks are definitely thinning. Travis Best is tempting to discount because he's unlikely to start for the Pacers, and his averages last year were somewhat inflated by his starting role during the first two months (while Jalen Rose was out). Certainly, Best's best months were November-December. But after a lackluster January - when he may have been wrestling with his reduced role - he put up very respectable numbers over the last 3 months while averaging only 28 minutes per game, including 6 assists and 1.6 steals. His overall stats during that period rank comparably with other available starting guards who required more minutes to post comparable numbers. This gives Best some very plausible upside if he can squeeze out a bit more playing time, and he becomes a bonanza if one of Indy's other guards gets injured."

Post mortem: Ugh. At this point, you must be wondering how I avoided finishing in the basement. (Some of my remaining picks were better, as you'll see.) Best was clearly a bust.

"If only" pick: I'll take Kurt Thomas now. This was the83rd pick, and Thomas lasted until #105. But I'll nab him now, since I'm going to want to keep my next few actual picks.

Round 8: Clifford Robinson (86th pick)

What I said: "'Uncle Cliffy' offers unusual statistical versatility for a big man. None of his stats are eye-popping, but he doesn't hurt you much in any area, either. Detroit is considering using him as a center, a position which he really hasn't played since college. If so, and he gains center eligibility during the season, this could be a plus. He turns 35 in December, and that's a concern, especially if he has to bang in the middle. But he's reportedly in good shape, and has been quite durable over his NBA career. And no 8th round pick comes without some "hair" - bald pate notwithstanding."

Post mortem: This was a pretty successful pick. Cliffy delivered the expected stats, and did qualify as a center early in the season. I'll stick with it.

Round 9: Brent Barry (107th pick)

What I said: "There are plenty of reasons to avoid Brent Barry. He had a groin injury that caused him to miss some games last year, he turns 30 in December, he faces competition for playing time from Desmond Mason (who is much younger and much more athletic), and he doesn't really produce any stats that catch your attention. But that was true last year, when Barry ranked comfortably within the top 100 players under this scoring format. And I'm taking him with the 107th overall pick.

Barry has also looked very good so far in preseason play. In his first 5 games, he's averaged 28 minutes, 14.6 points, 5 assists, 2.4 steals, and 4.4 rebounds, shooting better than 50% from the field and better than 80% from the FT line. Those numbers are way above my long term expectations for Barry. And while I realize that preseason stats are often misleading, I'd much rather go after someone who has been overachieving. If nothing else, he should start the season healthy and confident."

Post mortem: No doubt my most inspired pick. ESPN's player rater has him at #7 for the full year! He played in 81 games, and was in the top 13 in the NBA in three relevant categories (3-pt, steals, and FG%). Obviously, I could have inserted him for any of my "if only" picks above, but since I knew I got him with the 107th pick, I let him slide this time, too.

Round 10 - Brad Miller (110th pick)

What I said: "I still need someone to fill my second center slot, and Brad Miller seemed like the best option available. When he's been healthy (which is admittedly a tough hurdle for him), he's put up strong numbers, and with Elton Brand missing from the Bulls' frontcourt, there are plenty of stats holes to be filled in. He's also an excellent free throw shooter for a big man, with a career average of almost 77%."

Post mortem: I'll live with this pick, too. I don't think Miller would have lasted much longer, and he performed better than expected.

Round 11 - Speedy Claxton (131st pick)

What I said: "Speedy Claxton should get a chance to show his stuff with all of the injuries in Philly (particularly Snow, McKie, & Harpring). So far in the preseason (6 games) he's averaged 40 minutes per game, with 14.3 points, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, & 1.8 steals. His 36% FG shooting is a concern. But when Iverson returns, he'll probably have less opportunity to shoot.

In any event, this is a speculative pick, and my other guards have good November schedules, so I'll probably just stick him on my bench where, as Yogi said, I should be able to "see a lot just by observing."

Post mortem: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But when Iverson returned, his value was gone.

"If only" pick: The other rookie point guard who was available was Jamaal Tinsley, who wasn't even drafted in our league. (So much for experts, eh?) Even though Tinsley couldn't sustain his phenomenal early season stats, he was a solid performer throughout, and would have been good insurance for Travis Best.

Round 12 - Derrick Coleman (134th pick)

What I said: "Derrick Coleman is obviously a gamble. If he can return to something close to his form of two years ago, then he's a steal. Of course, he's age 34, and has a terrible track record with injuries. And it might require an injury to Elden Campbell, or even a trade for him to get sufficient minutes. But in the 12th round, it seems to be the time to take a flyer, and I'm not astute enough to see another center or forward with a chance to be a top-100 player this year."

Post mortem: This worked out quite well for awhile. Shortly after the draft, Coleman was traded to Philly, and he started the season very strongly. Ultimately, his injury problems made it gut-wrenching to trust him in a league with only weekly transactions, but as a 12th round pick, this has to have been considered a success, so I'll live with it.

Round 13 - Zydrunas Ilgauskas (155th pick)

What I said: "Zydrunas Ilgauskas could be a worthwhile fantasy center if he ever gets healthy enough to play regularly. Will it happen this year? Who knows? I expect to put him in an injured reserve slot for the time being, and then wait to see what develops. With the next-to-last pick in the entire draft, there is certainly little opportunity loss with this pick."

Post mortem: At the time, I really thought this would be a bust, but worthy of a last round stab. As it turned out, I actually did use him for several weeks.

"If only" pick: In my "if only" draft, I need to take a forward. Since we're now at the "let's take a flyer" stage, how about Pao Gasol? Another possibility was Kirilenko, who would have made nice Donyell insurance.

So here's my complete "if only" roster:
Guards: Kidd, A. Miller, Christie, B. Barry, J. Tinsley
Forwards: Pierce, Kurt Thomas, C. Robinson, Coleman, Gasol
Centers: B. Wallace, Campbell, B. Miller

How would this team have done? I won't even take credit for Tinsley and Gasol, since they were clearly speculative at the time. So suppose I just went with my starting "if only" picks for the whole year (i.e., 4 guards, 4 forwards, 2 centers). (This means I have to use Derrick Coleman all year!) Tallying up the actual stats and comparing to the actual league totals, the team would have ranked first, with 82 points. (The actual league winner had a total of 73 points.) The worst category would have been free-throw shooting (courtesy of Ben Wallace), but even that category would have earned 7 ranking points with a 77.8% percentage.

Clearly, with 20-20 hindsight, it should be easy to cherry pick a top team. But we never have that privilege when it counts. Does this post mortem tell me anything that might help my next draft?

I think my biggest problem this year was injuries. I'll just chalk up Allen and Francis to bad luck. Odom? I still think that was a good pick under the circumstances. Donyell Marshall should probably have been more heavily discounted. Travis Best just stunk. But considering that I actually finished 4th overall, I feel like I managed through these problems pretty successfully. Or maybe a lot of other teams had similar problems.

Perhaps the best lesson is to pay more heed to some of the untested rookies. Tinsley, Gasol, and Kirilenko all went undrafted. Had I at least stuck some of them on my bench, I could have had some nice injury-replacement alternatives. Of course, I took that approach with Claxton, just picking the wrong rookie guard.

Hmmm... I'm a firm believer that the best way to learn how to do something right is to really screw it up first. While I got burned by a number of my actual draft picks, I'm having trouble seeing how this could have been better avoided without the benefit of uncanny prescience. I guess I've still got a lot to learn.

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

© Copyright 1998-2002 by Uncommon Cents, LLC. All rights reserved.