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InsideHoops NBA [HOME] Oct 10, 2003

Getting ready for fantasy basketball




The Answerman has been writing Fantasy Hoops guidance articles since last season. He has helped dozens of people improve their fantasy hoops ability (and many other improve other abilities). Let him help you as well. Help him help you.

Welcome back, my loyal readers.

We have so much time and so little to do before the NBA season. So lets break it down nice and slow. We'll do specific players as we get closer to the draft. This is the time to prepare for your fantasy championship season. As your trusted guide, I will help you through it.

Preparing for the fantasy season is like preparing for a date. Not the sort of date you have with your wife or long-suffering girlfriend, but more of a third date.

Here's the thing, you may be a big player with all kinds of great lines and moves, but none of it works if your lady is not "into it." The groundwork must be laid first. It's like Tim Duncan; first he brings out the fundamentals - a drop step, a banker, a left pivot - and after he establishes himself he shoots a long jumper and throws down a dunk. Before I mix yet another metaphor, lets get to the point:

You will lose your fantasy league - no question - if you do not prepare yourself with certain basic fundamentals beforehand.

1. Know how the league works. Sounds stupid, right? It's not. There are literally a hundred rule permutations out there. Roto leagues, head to head, 5X5 leagues, 8X8, games played limitations, position limitations, scoring changes, transaction limitations, minute limitations, fg%, 3ptfg%, to's, ft%, oreb, dreb - you name the peculiarity, the place for it exists.

As a result you have to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your specific league way before drafting. Don't think because Duncan and Garnett are the two best players in the league, they are the two best players for your league. They may be, but others may be better.

When all the fantasy draft guides come out, take the advice, but apply it independently to the league you are in. Understand the rules from day one and you will have an advantage over 75% of your opponents.

Similarly, before you take a date out, you have to know something about her. As many different rule configurations exist, there are infinitely more types of girls out there. It's why people love dating shows -- you never know what the dates will say. Know something about her and plan accordingly. If you bring a vegan to a steak house, all the smooth lines in the world won't save you.

2. Have a Plan. I was talking to some buddies at a bachelor party about fantasy hoops (how's that for commitment?) and someone said, "I'm just going to take the best player available." I immediately invited him to join my money league.

Once you understand the rules, you should be able to formulate a plan for victory, i.e. if it's a 5X5 league you can take a few of those odd players that get steals (McKie, Ginobili) and corner the category for yourself. Your plan should be malleable -- have two or three guys per round that interest you -- but it should be focused.

Do you know how often girls complain to me about guys showing up for a date saying, "What do you want do?" If that's first thing you say, her answer will never be "You."

It gets confusing because you want her to think that she's part of the planning and it was her idea. The solution is to present her with a couple of options - preferably restaurants you know and are comfortable with - and say, "I was thinking of these three restaurants we could go to A, B, or you have a preference?" She chooses, and while you are eating, say things like, "mmmmm....Great choice."

If you do not know the area, go to or It's not hard.

3. Brush up on the Players. Read articles and follow training camp. Good articles mention players doing the following: putting on muscle; followed a program this off season; being a free agent next year. Bad articles are: took some time off this off season; is ready to make a comeback; and is 'getting comfortable' with the new offense (see Mutombo).

The three most important things you need to know about a player: 1. How many games did he play in over the last three season; 2. Have his stats increased or decreased over the last three seasons; 3. Contract status.

Similarly, Brush you teeth, hair, and toilet bowl before a date -- preferably with different brushes. You want both yourself and your apartment to look good. If you wind up back in your place, she will judge you based on cleanliness.

4. Like your Players. I haven't had a team in the last five years with Payton or without Cassell. I don't know why I like one and dislike the other. I just do. Not saying that I pick Cassell ahead of Payton, just never pick Payton in the first and always pick Cassell a round early. Never allow yourself to be pressured into taking a player you dislike, you will hate your team and either quit or not enjoy the season. Either way you are defeating the purpose.

Though fantasy is about numbers, there's not a player in the league whose numbers cannot be replaced with another player. So draft guys with good stats that you like. Your team will be better as a result.

Like your date. Though men work with math (I like her body, I can sleep in tomorrow -- I'm ready), Women make decisions based on emotions and instincts. So often guys get so worked up in the desired sum they forget to enjoy their date. Girls can read it and will shut down. It sounds corny and new-agey, but trust the Answerman when he tells you that ladies read minds and will open up if they think you like them.

5. Go with friends. Nothing worse than joining the league as an anonymous stranger. No one to talk about it with, no trading partner. It's supposed to be fun. If you enjoy the league, you will do better. Get a friend to join you.

In dating, this really only applies to open minded girls and she should bring a friend as well.

Good luck. Get ready. Look for my upcoming "How to Draft" article. If you have any questions, write me at

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