July 21, 2020, 8:21 pm
The NBA is coming back soon to resume the 2019-20 season and we’re all very excited. It’s been a rough several months with the whole world adjusting to a “new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league’s decision to hold an eight-game, 22-team resumption of the season in the Walt Disney World “Bubble” is an ambitious yet well-planned and well-organized event. Hopefully, in less than two weeks from now, we will be able to enjoy some basketball once again.
With the NBA’s return also comes the return of fantasy basketball. Sort of. Given that only eight more games will be played out and only by 22 teams, there will be some clear differences that will be apparent compared to that of normal redraft leagues that we’re used to drafting for and playing out under “normal” circumstances.
Honestly, these last few months have made for a challenging adjustment, both at work and at home. The resumption of the NBA and the corollary return of fantasy basketball has been admittedly, a welcome boost for morale. While it’s a refreshing respite from the harshness and gravity of what else is going on, playing fantasy basketball is still something that brings out the fierce competitor in all of us. So with that in mind, there’s obviously no reason why we shouldn’t go all out and prepare for it as best as we can.
It didn’t take too much arm twisting from some friends for me to jump head-first into a Points League draft, two weeks after the NBA resumption was announced to be taking place in the bubble in Orlando. At the time, we were so committed and excited to just get into a draft, that we slapped together some custom points settings, declared that there’d be no bench and that all the players we’d be drafting would be part of an all-active roster for the remaining eight games of the season.
After going through that draft and spending some time on research I decided to come up with my own points league rankings for the resumption of 2019-20. Despite the high volume of factors affecting value volatility, I went ahead and put together a top-100 which we’ve shared here on Hoop Ball for our loyal fans and readers. To be transparent, this is the first points league I’ve ever joined, but I’m pretty sure I was able to keep my eye on the right players who’d perform well given our league’s point settings. Now after that, I signed up for a 12-team rotisserie league, figuring that it’d be good for a classic, old-school draft.
So with that out of the way, I figured, “Hey, why not share with everyone some of my strategies and draft targets for the resumption leagues that I’ll be playing in,” and here we are.
Given the resumption’s limitations, a head-to-head league is pretty much out of the question. There simply aren’t enough games to run a viable H2H league. The most likely formats available for us to play will be Rotisserie and Points leagues. Both of these formats will utilize total stats compiled throughout the eight-game run of the season.
For rotisserie, it’s pretty much straight-up value you’re looking for. However, because we’re dealing with a small sample size of games, I’d personally put extra emphasis on the shooting percentages, because any volatility in those categories from any high-volume shooters would put your team in position for some terribly wild swings. For example, for every free throw that your Ben Simmons misses, your James Harden is going to need to make so many more of his shots just to compensate and keep your team competitive in that category.
For points leagues, you should obviously be mindful of what the points settings are. As previously mentioned the league I joined had custom settings. The default, standard NBA settings are as follows:
Unfortunately, the base setting does not reward 3-pointers made, something my group of friends wanted to tweak. Different platforms may have different settings and allow for some customization.
After studying the format for a while, it’s apparent that it favors the volume of counting stats recorded with an emphasis on the defensive stats. And unlike rotisserie, accuracy is not part of the equation, giving guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo and even Russell Westbrook a leg up in this kind of format.
As I prepared for these leagues, I noticed a pattern of players I tend to favor and tend to avoid. Off the top, I tend to avoid players who are injured or are recovering from injury, which means a big “No” to the likes of Victor Oladipo, Jonathan Isaac and Kelly Oubre Jr. With only eight games to be played, you simply cannot afford the risk associated with guys like these.
Aside from injuries, I also took a look at teams who are likely to sit their star players once they’ve secured their seeds. I’ve stayed away from LeBron James and have considered avoiding Kawhi Leonard because they’re high sit-risks down the stretch. Leonard, especially, is already earmarked for some load management, which is a handcuff headache I just don’t want to deal with.
On the other hand, I noticed that I had a preference for players whose teams are in the thick of jockeying for playoff positions. Given the list of teams invited to return, the list of teams is more weighted from the Western Conference. An exception to this rule would be Damian Lillard, who said publicly that he’d prefer not to play if the Blazers were out of contention. So, he’s only really as good as the Blazers’ chances hold up. That said, the return of key big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins could be what the team desperately needs to push them over the top.
Without going into too much detail, here’s a shortlist of players I am targeting in drafts.
Nikola Jokic – Yes, I know he tested positive for COVID-19, but it happened early and he was cleared early as well. Beyond that, Jokic lost a ton of weight. So far, he’s looking like he’s ready to play and we all know how good he can perform when he’s light on his feet and not dealing with extra poundage.
Jimmy Butler – The Heat will need their star player to serve as a leader on the court if they want to improve their potential seeding in the standings. Butler, whose only real risk-factor is his injury history, should be good for a strong eight-game rush down the stretch.
Jayson Tatum – While Tatum is an obvious choice, it doesn’t really matter. He’s THAT good and simply worth the price of ownership. Can’t go wrong with him at all.
Chris Paul – Surprisingly, CP3’s hamstrings have been kind to him this season (knocks on wood). That said, he snuck in some sneaky-good value as a top-15 guy in 9-cat scoring.
Nikola Vucevic – The Magic’s playoff hopes and dreams are resting on Vooch’s shoulders. He’s a solid, no-nonsense pick that you can simply count on night in and night out. He does a bit of everything and doesn’t really have any drawbacks.
Khris Middleton – If the Bucks do decide to rest Giannis Antetokounmpo down the stretch, it opens up a nice window for Middleton to drop some explosive games. He’s solid all around and has come up with a much appreciated bounce-back campaign in 2019-20.
DeMar DeRozan – With LaMarcus Aldridge out for the remainder of the season, the Spurs will need to lean heavily on DeMar DeRozan. Expect him to score in bunches and be very friendly on the percentages. He’s an underappreciated roto gem.
Robert Covington – A lot of people will be looking up players’ season-long value when preparing, which does not do RoCo any justice. They’re weighted more on his time with the Wolves and do not reflect his jump in value since getting traded to the Rockets.
Caris LeVert – No one on this list is as much of a no-brainer pick as LeVert. The Nets roster is completely gutted and LeVert is going to be carrying so much of the load for the team. Yes, everyone is aware of this and will be gunning for him. Hard. But that’s no excuse for wimping out on him. If you’re lucky enough to get him at the right spot, don’t hesitate.
Jonas Valanciunas – JV was on a tear with those blocks just before the league went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now his minutes (26.3) aren’t much to write home about and he is also someone who might be potentially rested if the Grizzlies get mathematically eliminated from contention. That said, he’s a great go-to big man to target in the middle rounds.
Will Barton – Don’t laugh. Don’t even snicker. Barton has been able to put up sneaky-good mid-round value all season. The beauty is that he’s able to do it in both points and rotisserie scoring formats. Don’t sleep on him.
Joe Ingles – Ingles was a bit of a disappointment for most of 2019-20 thanks to him finding it difficult to adjust to his role off the bench. Now, with Bojan Bogdanovic, the team’s second-leading scorer and the biggest threat from beyond the 3-point arc out for the season, the Jazz will need Ingles to help fill that spot-up shooter’s role.
Daniel Theis – He’s the type of guy who’ll fly under the radar but whose role is set in stone. Theis shoots 76.4 percent from the free throw line, making him a rare big man who doesn’t burn you in that category, whom you can look for late in drafts.
Brandon Clarke – If the Grizzlies somehow get edged out of that eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, Clarke is someone you’d figure the team would give a ton of minutes to hasten his development.
There you have it folks, a little sneak peek into some of the players I’ve been targeting in drafts. While it’s not a full cheat sheet per se, you shouldn’t worry too much as there’s a ton of other articles, rankings, and news here on Hoop Ball for you to kill it in your 2019-20 Orlando Resumption Leagues.