If you’ve read part one of this column (Daily Nexus, Jan. 30), you probably think you have an NBA fantasy draft all figured out – well, Walter Cronkite, I’ve got news for you: You don’t.
There’s a scene in “Tommy Boy,” in which David Spade’s character breaks down the dilemma that Chris Farley’s character faces, saying, “But there’s two types of smarts: book smarts, which waved bye-bye to you long ago and there’s street smarts, the ability to read people. And you know how to do that.”
Well, in a fantasy basketball draft, you can’t get by with just book smarts or just street smarts; you need both. In the first installment I prepared you for how to conduct yourself in the boardroom, but, if you haven’t done your research on the players and don’t know how to draft a rock-solid team, every other general manager in the league is still going to look at you as Joe Schmo instead of Joe Cool.
For example, a key thing to look for that often gets overlooked is whether the player you want to draft is in a contract year. If he is, his stock should move up at least three to four spots on your draft list. The opposite applies if he just signed a big contract, because you can expect him to mail in at least a handful of games throughout various points in the year. If you don’t believe me, just ask any guy who owned Erick Dampier or Jerome James the year after they signed their now head-scratching megadeals.
So, make sure you’ve read up before the big day. They don’t call the drafting room a “war room” for nothing; it can be brutal in there. That being said, there will always be that one guy who shows up with a few notes unintelligibly written on the back of a ketchup-stained Denny’s placemat. At the minimum, take the steps necessary to ensure that you aren’t that guy.
Now, there are three portions that a draft is broken into: the franchise guys, the game breakers and the risk takers. Your first five draft picks are the franchise guys because they make up the core of your team; they’re the figureheads. If you mess up in this portion of the draft, you can kiss your hopes of the trophy goodbye. Right now you need to be looking for the best available player on the draft board before you make your pick.
At a point this early in the draft, the last thing you want to do is try to get real fancy just for shock factor. This is where you should immediately snatch up LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant for at least the next five years.
However, don’t fall into the trap of just taking a big-name media player or a player with a catchy nickname if there happens to be a quieter, yet more effective, giant still available. Guys like Elton Brand and Jason Kidd can sometimes slip through the cracks just because they don’t have a new shoe coming out every November or a guest spot on MTV’s “Punk’d.”
I’m hoping you’ll all stick with me for the next installment because if the “Mighty Ducks” series was able to produce a third installment where they try to force the viewer to fathom that the Ducks could possibly go from winning the Junior Goodwill Games to not being able to beat the varsity team at a preparatory school, then I think that I can tackle the game breakers and risk takers, plus throw in a few other gems. And you know why? Because ducks fly together. Wait, I mean because Gauchos ride together.