• The 2020-21 NBA season is finally upon us, so buckle up and get ready for a wild ride. Of course, things will be different from what we’re all used to, but we’re going to just have to roll with the punches and make it work somehow.

    Regardless of whatever challenges the league or we may face this season, it’s going to be good to have the NBA back again.

    To get things started off this week, I’m going to share some of the teams I was able to build through my various drafts. Speaking of which, it’s officially “achievement unlocked” for me, as I’ve finally been able to cull my usually lengthy laundry list of leagues every season down to 10, across three different platforms.

    30 Deep

    Hands down, the most important league that I want to win this season, is the 30-Deep Experts League that I play along with Hoop Ball’s very own Aaron Bruski, Mike Passador, and Dan Besbris. I was primed for a big season in 2019-20, with a bye heading into the quarterfinals, but then the COVID-19 pandemic ruined my chances of claiming the title. This season is another chance to run it back and go for it again.

    The draft was for 9-cat, head to head, 30 teams (duh!), 12-man rosters comprised of PG, SG, G, SF, F, PF, C, Util, 4 BN. Our draft also had a special unique little wrinkle to it. For the first time since I’ve been playing in the league, we used a 3RR system in the draft. To put it simply, in a snake draft, the third round’s order is reversed, hence the 3RR (3rd Round Reverse), which means the team that picked last in the first round, the 30th team, picks first in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and moves along with the standard snake draft order.

    I was randomly assigned the 10th pick of the draft and thankfully, Stephen Curry fell to me and I did not hesitate to take him. He’s arguably a top-5 talent in the league as long as he’s healthy and is a great start with which anyone can build their fantasy team around.

    In round 2, I was totally bummed to see value picks Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris get plucked off my queue. When my turn came, pick 51, I ended up staring at two players on my list, Myles Turner and Kelly Oubre. It was at this point that I made a critical error at a decision point that would direct the course of my draft, irrevocably. I threw out the question in a group chat on Facebook messenger, “who should I take?” The overwhelming response was “Kelly Oubre.” For whatever reason, I went with the collective hive mind recommendation, and within hours, no, minutes, I regretted it immediately.

    I didn’t take into account that my throwing out the question to them was taken in a vacuum and the respondents answered based on pure value. And while I agree with that, Oubre being better than Turner this year, it wasn’t the strategy that I’m used to. Given 30 teams, you have to put a bit of a premium on centers, considering the small population of fantasy-relevant, center-eligible players in the league. Also, as a contender for league-leader in blocks, Turner makes it easier to win the blocks category. I actually had him last season and he was a big part of my epic run towards the playoffs and top-2 seed in my conference.

    After taking Oubre, my team now had a player who would directly benefit, should Curry miss any time. On the other hand, my team was leaning towards small-ball.

    Thanks to 3RR, my pick in the third round was all the way down to 81. At this point, I was looking at three players, Mikal Bridges, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Al Horford. I was still stuck on “value mode” and the best-valued player of that lot was either Bridges or Horford. I chose to double-down and grab another 3-and-D player, yup, Bridges – the direct beneficiary of Oubre’s departure from Phoenix, someone who I’m actually pretty high on this season.

    Thankfully, Horford was still there for me in Round 4 (pick 100). Now, I had my four core players, which collectively isn’t too bad if you think about it. It was here, at this moment, that I decided to go all-in and pursue a 3-and-D themed lineup, which on the surface may look like a bit of a meme, but it isn’t, I promise. There’s a bit of a method in that madness, somewhere.

    Here’s how the complete team ended up looking.

    1. Stephen Curry, PG (10)
    2. Kelly Oubre, SF (51)
    3. Mikal Bridges, SG/SF (81)
    4. Al Horford, PF/C (100)
    5. Otto Porter, SF/PF (141)
    6. Aron Baynes, C (160)
    7. Monte Morris, PG (201)
    8. Justin Holiday, SG/SF (220)
    9. Josh Jackson, SF/PF (261)
    10. Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C (280)
    11. Dylan Windeler, SF (321)
    12. Frank Ntilikina, PG (340)

    I’m particularly proud of my picks in the 9th and 10th rounds. Jackson being a sleeper and Okongwu being the backup center with the highest post-ASB upside, who was available at that spot.

    I ended up with a punt-points and punt-assists build here. Now for some strategic logic. I put a premium on two things, pure value and redundancy. The players I chose may not be the big names that would have and actually were going earlier than they were, but they allow me to auto-win turnovers, steals, FT% and threes in most matchups. Should anyone miss any time, all those core targeted categories will be still contested, even Stephen Curry. Sure, I will miss a ton of 3s and points if he misses time, but I was punting points in the first place, so I’m still counting on the strength of my redundancies to still squeeze out wins in 3s and FT%. It’s actually quite brilliant, when you look at the path I decided to take in that light. The build is more “pandemic-resilient.” Well, at least, I hope it is. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping to make it into the playoffs and make a deep run.

    16-Team Auction Draft

    Whew! That first team, my thought process’ narration, and lessons learned were a bit of a mouthful. Don’t worry though, there isn’t much to this second one. The auction results that will follow are for a 16-team, 9-cat, H2H league that had a meager $20 entry fee.

    1. Karl-Anthony Towns, C ($78)
    2. Lonzo Ball, PG ($16)
    3. Christian Wood, PF/C ($29)
    4. DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF ($20)
    5. Kelly Oubre, SF/PF ($17)
    6. Duncan Robinson, SG/SF ($10)
    7. Delon Wright, SG/SF ($4)
    8. Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF ($1)
    9. Daniel Theis, C ($2)
    10. Nerlens Noel, PF/C ($15)
    11. Isaac Okoro, SF ($1)
    12. Theo Maledon, PG ($1)
    13. Josh Jackson, SG/SF ($1)

    After the draft, I have since burned my waiver position, dropping Doumbouya in favor of Cole Anthony.

    The team is quite balanced overall and I’m pretty happy with what I was able to scrape together via properly timed throttling of aggression during the auction – which by the way, is the unspoken secret sauce on how to win at auctions.

    You WILL end up overpaying for some players, screwing your well-laid-out budgets, but the key is to know when to hang back and get aggressive again towards the end to secure those value one-dollar picks.

    How were your drafts? Are you as excited as I am for the start of the 2020-21 season?

    **Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, where it’s easiest to ask me your fantasy hoops-related questions.**

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