For nearly six months every year, college students everywhere have the privilege of being the general managers of a National Basketball Association franchise – a fantasy NBA franchise, that is. I have taken it upon myself to provide some pointers on how to handle an NBA fantasy draft, so that you can bring home your league’s trophy at the end of the season.
I have been the commissioner of a successful league for three years now, and over that time I’ve crafted what I believe to be a guaranteed winning formula. Being the generous guy that I am, I’ve decided to pass that winning recipe along to you. It should be noted that all of these suggestions only apply for a live draft, since having your draft at ESPN Zone or any other sports bar is always more exciting than sitting in front of a computer screen.
The Arthur Fonzarelli Rule is crucial to having a successful draft day. Fonzie is an American icon, not because he was cool, but because everyone else thought he was cool. That is precisely what you have to strive for on draft day. You have to bring a quiet confidence with you into the draft room, so that you’re immediately on everyone’s radar as someone to look out for. Every decision you make should force everyone else in the room to question the move they previously made as if they might have missed something. In other words, you have to make them believe that you know something that they don’t.
Supporting this idea, there is a scene in “A Few Good Men” in which Tom Cruise’s character coaches his colleagues in how to handle the jury in an upcoming trial. In that scene, he recites this gem, “Something doesn’t go our way, don’t hang your head, don’t shift in your seat, don’t scribble furiously. Whatever happens, you have to look like it’s exactly what you knew was gonna happen.”
Cruise might as well have been talking about how to handle yourself at an NBA fantasy draft. Once you show weakness, or make it apparent that someone’s draft pick threw off your game plan, you forfeit the edge that you had been working so hard to keep over your opponents. If the guy right in front of you selects the player that you were gung-ho on taking next, the last thing you want to do is start ruffling through your notes nervously. If you’ve reached that point, you probably won’t even be able to read your notes because they will be covered in the pool of sweat pouring from your forehead.
Always have a backup draft pick ready, just in case.
While you don’t want to show weakness, it is still acceptable to acknowledge someone when they make a solid draft pick. However, there is a certain finesse to going about doing this: The Middle Reliever Rule. One of the goofiest positions in all of sports has to be the middle relief pitcher. He kicks back for six or seven innings, comes in to get one or two guys out, and then the coach always casually strolls out, takes the baseball from him, pats him on the back, and his day is done.
Well, that’s how you handle any type of compliments you’re planning on giving during the draft. You keep them short, you only make a few during the whole day, and you never make the guy feel like he just made the best pick of the draft. For instance, in this year’s draft, my brother picked up Caron Butler in a later round, despite everyone knowing that he shouldn’t have still been available. This was a double whammy for me because Butler was actually the next guy I was going to select. Instead of morphing into Chris Webber time-out mode, I gave the obligatory “Nice pick, bro,” and proceeded to pick up a guy who nobody wanted to take a chance on, Zach Randolph. Now, Randolph is putting up 24 points, 10 rebounds, two dimes and one steal a game, and he is making me look like Jerry West in his GM prime.
Now, since every truly great NBA fantasy draft has a food spread fit for a king – a real king, not to be confused with the Sacramento kind – it’s time to take a hot wings break. Next week I’ll be back with the second half after I sample the nachos.