• We’re heading into the last weekend before the the NBA season begins and this is my last chance to share with you a little bit of information before you dive into those important fantasy basketball drafts.

    I’m playing in a total of 16 leagues this season. They come in different formats, shapes and sizes. At the moment, I’m in the middle of three slow drafts. One for a 30-team 9-cat head-to-head league (the Official Hoop Ball League), an 8-cat roto league, with no game limits and weekly roster lock-ins, and a 12-team, 7-cat head-to-head. I’ve got three MORE drafts do to do this weekend. That means, I’ve done 10 drafts already.

    I’ve got my own personal drafting style and set of preferences. I’ve shared with you my list of players that I’ve excluded or avoid in drafts. Over the off-season, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been dropping hints as to who are some of the players I expect to have a good season this 2017-18.

    You’ve heard me complain that the term “BPA” or Best Player Available gets thrown around to easily and without context, I am in principle, in favor of drafting for value, getting players who will get you wins in fantasy hoops. I am also a proponent of addressing both statistical and positional needs, whether to achieve categorical balance (for roto) or for building on strengths and/or compensating for weaknesses. It is important, and I cannot stress this enough, that reaching for players to so should be within a reasonable value range that’s appropriate for the current draft pick. I don’t believe in snatching an Alex Len to get his blocks in the seventh round of a draft just because I missed out on some key shot-blockers earlier. I will, however, prioritize picking him over guards and forwards who provide a similar value range when that moment arrives.

    I tend to be very attached to my preferences and because of that I have found that I have a very specific set of players that I tend to target in my drafts. They represent the players I feel have the biggest chances to outperform their ADP and deliver good fantasy value for my team.

    I put these names together and came up with my “Elite 80”. Why 80? You mean aside from the fact that someone else pioneered and coined a “150 list”? There are only so many targets that you really want. Just because a player’s name is not on this list, it does not mean I won’t draft him. It just means that I tend to prefer to pick other players in his general zone of value. For example, I do not own Jimmy Butler in any of my leagues. Is he a bad player? No. Do I think he can deliver value? Yes. It just so happens that I tend to pick other guys ranked lower than Jimmy when it comes to my pick in the second round. I tend to like Chris Paul, Draymond Green, Myles Turner, Damian Lillard, Rudy Gobert and Paul George as second-round picks. Do I think will outperform Butler? No, not necessarily. I just prefer them. However, any lead or value advantage Butler may have over any of my preferred guys at the end of the season is marginal and within a range of error I allow myself to have, considering I expect to outdraft most of my competition in the later rounds.

    First of all, THESE ARE NOT RANKINGS. As I said, I play in too many formats and different league settings to rank them universally. Besides, we’ve got a perfect list for that already. I’m just coming through Yahoo!’s 9-cat preseason ranks and eyeing who I like. Since I play in leagues as deep as 30 teams, you may encounter some names that are not valuable enough to be worth owning in your shallower leagues. Ignore those names. Focus on the names you may or may not have doubts about drafting. I don’t own all of these players. Some of them I wish I did. For example, I still don’t have a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo :sad face:. I had two leagues where I was fortunate enough to get the first overall pick. Both were for 9-cat, head to head. In both leagues, I went with Steph Curry. Yes, I do think he will still end up finishing the season with better value than the “Greek Freak” in that format. So, I went with Curry in both drafts. The next lowest pick I had was the fifth pick. Giannis was taken and I went with James Harden.

    IF I will end up being a winning fantasy player this season, it will be because of these names that I am putting my trust in this season. THIS is a road map to most of my fantasy teams. Players like Andre Drummond, are only taken/targeted in my 7-cat leagues, where we don’t count shooting percentages. The more drafts I do, a name or two could be added as I refine my preferences. Mostly, this is the guts of my fantasy basketball season.

    With this list, you can arguably counter-draft me at every turn. But that would be drafting to deny and not necessarily to win, because these players are mixed and matched and targetted in varying contexts.

    With it, I hope you can gain an appreciation for the guys I value highly this year.

    1. Stephen Curry, GSW
    2. Kevin Durant, GSW
    3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
    4. Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
    5. James Harden, HOU
    6. Anthony Davis, NO
    7. Nikola Jokic, DEN
    8. Chris Paul, HOU
    9. John Wall, WAS
    10. LeBron James, CLE
    11. Damian Lillard, POR
    12. Rudy Gobert, UTA
    13. Myles Turner, IND
    14. Draymond Green, GSW
    15. Paul George, OKC
    16. Kemba Walker, CHA
    17. Marc Gasol, MEM
    18. Mike Conley, MEM
    19. Kyle Lowry, TOR
    20. Khris Middleton, MIL
    21. C.J. McCollum, POR
    22. Kevin Love, UTA
    23. Paul Millsap, DEN
    24. Ricky Rubio, UTA
    25. Al Horford, BOS
    26. Otto Porter, WAS
    27. Klay Thompson, GSW
    28. Goran Dragic, MIA
    29. Brook Lopez, LAL
    30. Jrue Holiday, NO
    31. Jusuf Nurkic, POR
    32. Serge Ibaka, TOR
    33. Aaron Gordon, ORL
    34. Dennis Smith Jr., DAL
    35. Victor Oladipo, IND
    36. Nikola Vucevic, ORL
    37. Avery Bradley, DET
    38. Andre Drummond, DET
    39. Clint Capela, HOU
    40. Nerlens Noel, DAL
    41. Robert Covington, PHI
    42. Trevor Ariza, HOU
    43. Jae Crowder, CLE
    44. Patrick Beverley, LAC
    45. Tim Hardaway Jr., NYK
    46. D’Angelo Russell, BKN
    47. Malcolm Brogdon, MIL
    48. Gary Harris, DEN
    49. Josh Richardson, MIA
    50. Gorgui Dieng, MIN
    51. James Johnson, MIA
    52. Thaddeus Young, IND
    53. Joe Ingles, UTA
    54. Zach LaVine, CHI
    55. Taurean Waller-Prince, ATL
    56. Jeremy Lin, BKN
    57. Tyler Johnson, MIA
    58. Wilson Chandler, DEN
    59. Nikola Mirotic, CHI
    60. Richaun Holmes, PHI
    61. Josh Jackson, PHO
    62. Dewayne Dedmon, ATL
    63. Kelly Olynyk, MIA
    64. Jeremy Lamb, CHA
    65. Malik Monk, CHA
    66. Justin Holiday, CHI
    67. Milos Teodosic, LAC
    68. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
    69. Alex Len, PHO
    70. Donovan Mitchell, UTA
    71. Dario Saric, PHI
    72. Kyle Kuzma, LAL
    73. Caleb Swanigan, POR
    74. Denzel Valentine, CHI
    75. Ish Smith, DET
    76. Dejounte Murray, SA
    77. Jerian Grant, CHI
    78. E’Twaun Moore, NO
    79. Bobby Portis, CHI
    80. Alec Burks, UTA

    Boom! :mic drop:

    Seriously though, I feel rather sensitive and vulnerable right now, having pretty much shared my “play book” in it’s EZ draft mode with you all.

    It’s all good though. I’m sharing my journey of growth and improvement in fantasy hoops. Hopefully, they give you a litttle bit of an edge in one way or another.

    Remember, you can always reach me on Twitter: @FantasyHoopla, if you want to chat about fantasy hoops!

Fantasy News

  • Luke Kornet - PF - New York Knicks

    According to Chris Haynes, the Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Luke Kornet.

    Kornet will hit unrestricted free agency and will likely only return to the Knicks if they miss out on big-time free agents. He has had some bright spots with the Knicks over the past two seasons, so he could garner interest once he hits the open market as a bench stretch-big.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Emmanuel Mudiay - PG - New York Knicks

    Report: The Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Emmanuel Mudiay, which makes him an unrestricted free agent.

    Mudiay was the Knicks' starting point guard for a majority of last season when he was healthy, but since they acquired Dennis Smith Jr. and are pursuing big free agents this move makes sense. He will hit unrestricted free agency and should garner some interest being that he is a young athletic point guard who averaged 14.8 points on 44.6-percent shooting last season.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • DeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors

    According to Marc Stein, the Knicks will extend a short-term offer to DeMarcus Cousins if they miss out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.

    They have been planning for quite some time to pursue the big-time names, but will pursue some short-term deals like Cousins if they strike out. Cousins' offer would likely be a considerable one-year offer, while other free agents may get the same as the Knicks have two max spots.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kevin Porter Jr. - PG-SG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced that they have officially acquired the draft rights to Kevin Porter Jr.

    This trade was confirmed on draft night but it has now officially gone through. Porter Jr. figures to see opportunities off the bench as a score first guard for a Cleveland team in desperate need of bench production in his first season. He'll get his first look with his new team in Summer League.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Stanley Johnson - SF - New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans have opted to not extend a qualifying offer to Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent according to Shams Charania of the Athletic.

    This doesn't come as much of a surprise. Johnson struggled to make much of an impact both in Detroit and in New Orleans this season, despite possessing defensive upside that has been mired by his inconsistencies elsewhere throughout his career. He's still 23, and should find an offer elsewhere for next season. Wherever that may be, he will have a long way to go before he will become fantasy relevant.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Derrick Favors - PF - Utah Jazz

    According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, Derrick Favors will field calls from several interested teams and act as if he will be an unrestricted FA, a sign that he doesn't expect the Jazz to pick up his team option.

    Favors has gone on the record indicating that he'd love to return to Utah, but it appears that they are interested in allocating the 17 million he would have made, elsewhere. Favors has always struggled to maximize his fantasy potential playing next to Rudy Gobert, and perhaps a situation with a less clogged paint could do more for his value.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Thomas Bryant - C - Washington Wizards

    Thomas Bryant has been given a qualifying offer from the Wizards, making him a restricted free agent.

    Bryant surprised last season, coming from obscurity to finish with top-125/100 value (8/9-cat). That despite Scott Brooks toying with his minutes. If the Wizards can keep Bryant around last season's workload he'll easily be a steal in fantasy leagues, though we're obviously hoping he takes hold of the starting job.

    Source: Fred Katz on Twitter

  • Romeo Langford - PG - Boston Celtics

    The Celtics start Summer League practice this weekend but first-round pick Romeo Langford will not be cleared for full contact.

    Langford is recovering from right thumb surgery, which is not expected to have any significant long-term effects. This is just the Celtics taking it easy on their new rookie. Hopefully he's cleared before Summer League ends, otherwise we'll get our first look at him in preseason.

    Source: Adam Himmelsbach on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers

    The Blazers, Lakers and Celtics are among the teams that will be interested in free agent Enes Kanter, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

    Portland knows Kanter well and would surely like to have him back after his admirable work filling in for an injured Jusuf Nurkic, while playing through his own serious ailments, in the playoffs. The Celtics could use a ferocious rebounder to replace Aron Baynes and are barren at the center spot with Al Horford's departure, while the Lakers are lining up cost-effective depth with their roster almost completely empty. Kanter might not replicate his Knicks numbers, but he'll be a standard-league asset no matter where he lands.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Cheick Diallo - PF - New Orleans Pelicans

    Cheick Diallo will be an unrestricted free agent after the Pelicans decided not to extend him a qualifying offer.

    Diallo has solid per-minute output but the playing time has never been there for him in New Orleans. He's got talent and good work ethic, but the league is flooded with available big men at the moment. Hopefully Diallo lands in a spot where he can continue his development.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter