Friday, April 14, 2006

Head-to-Head's Up: 2006-'07 Draft Strategy

As the season comes to a close this week some of you may be looking ahead to next season’s draft. For those in Head-to-Head leagues I have prepared a H2H draft strategy that differs from other standard strategies. Emphasis is placed on pursuing players who will help your team win specific categories each and every week, no matter who your opponent, while having a legitimate shot at winning the remaining categories. I wouldn’t recommend punting or forfeiting any category except for maybe points when using this "Head-to-Head Calibrated" Draft Strategy.

Here’s the gist of it: Avoid swingmen at all costs. SGs and SFs simply do not do enough to help your team in weekly H2H matchups. Most G/Fs do not make above average contributions in categories other than points and maybe threes. Resist the temptation to draft the Carmelos, Caron Butlers, and Rip Hamiltons of the league. Instead, aim to dominate four or five out of the eight categories by targeting Point Guards (assists, threes, steals, FT%) and BIG men (rebounds, blocks, FG%). If you end up with 3 or 4 top PGs and 3 or 4 top F/Cs then you will be primed to dominate assists, threes, steals, and blocks every week while remaining competitive in percentages and rebounds (with the conversely strong/weak contributions from your PGs and big men). The only disadvantage you’d probably be facing each week would be in the points department. Barring any serious injuries to your team or terrible luck, you will win your H2H matchup nearly every week by a score of 5-3, 6-2, or 7-1.

Do NOT draft any shooting guards or small forwards until the later rounds. Your first six draft picks should look something like this: PG, PG, PF, C, PG, PF. Swingmen are a dime a dozen with plenty of sleepers available late in drafts anyway. Unlike fantasy baseball where you want to make sure you draft quality players at scarce positions like second base and shortstop; in fantasy hoops you can still find guys at the end of your draft or off the waiver wire who can be everyday starters at the G/F positions.

The only SG/SFs I wouldn’t discourage you from selecting on draft day would be super-studs like LeBron, Kobe, Pierce, Ray Allen, and the Matrix. An argument can also be made for multi-cat contributors like AK-47, Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala, and Josh Smith. The following are tentative top 20 lists for point guards and big men according to this "H2H Calibrated" drafting strategy:

Top Point Guards
1. Gilbert Arenas
2. Jason Kidd
3. Steve Nash
4. Chauncey Billups
5. Allen Iverson
6. Dwayne Wade (doesn’t shoot threes, but makes up for it elsewhere)
7. Chris Paul (see above)
8. Raymond Felton
9. Kirk Hinrich
10. Mike James
11. Delonte West
12. Jameer Nelson
13. Jason Terry
14. Tony Parker
15. Baron Davis (he’s lucky to crack the top 15)
16. Sam Cassell
17. Luke Ridnour
18. Rafer Alston
19. Deron Williams
20. Carlos Arroyo

Top BIG Men
1. Elton Brand
2. Dirk Nowitzki (threes are very nice bonus)
3. Yao Ming (fantastic percentages)
4. Pau Gasol
5. Chris Bosh
6. Tim Duncan
7. Jermaine O’Neal
8. Ben Wallace
9. Amare Stoudemire (higher if healthy)
10. Dwight Howard
11. Rasheed Wallace
12. Zydrunas Ilgauskus
13. Marcus Camby
14. Mehmet Okur
15. Brad Miller
16. Chris Kaman
17. Andrew Bogut
18. Chris Wilcox
19. David West
20. Antawn Jamison (hits the glass like a PF, and his recently developed 3-point stroke will make up for lack of blocks)

If you land 7 or 8 of these forty players (while waiting until the late rounds to grab a SG and SF) you should cruise to the top of the standings and an FBA championship. All that said, there are a handful of PGs and big men that don’t contribute enough in the necessary categories and should probably be left for other GMs to fight over. Take a look:

Point Guards to avoid:
Steve Francis / Stephon Marbury
– Aside from the disaster that is the NY Knicks, which may get cleared up next year, neither player hits enough treys for a PG.
Brevin Knight – Allergic to threes and his job security will be in jeopardy next season.
Andre Miller – Can’t shoot from long range.

Power Forwards to avoid:
Emeka Okafor
– Poor percentages and unable to stay healthy.
Chris Webber – Always an injury risk, plus his FG% and blocks have declined over the years.
Troy Murphy – Often considered a value pick, T-Murph is weak on defense and his FG% is a major liability. His three-point range is NOT enough to compensate.
Zach Randolph - Poor FG%, poor defense, poor attitude, poor knee, just downright impoverished.

Centers to avoid:
Shaq – Diesel’s FT% (and FT attempts) is so much of a liability that you will never win the category.
Jam Magloire – Poor percentages, mediocre blocked shots.
Zaza Pachulia – Poor FG%, weak defensive cats.

I’ll be sure to flesh out this H2H draft strategy quite a bit more during the run-up to next season’s draft. Best of luck to those of you still fighting for championships this season!


Anonymous ambitextrous said...

Hey PR,

Thanks for posting this. How much does your ranking system change, or this strategy period, if your league also counts turnovers? It seems to me that PGs would decline in value then, esp. TO-prone guys like Arenas so that targeting quality big men would be the top priority in the first couple of rounds. Or would you keep your same strategy, with TOs joining points as categories that you don't care as much about?

9:42 AM  
Blogger PR said...

Good question... If turnovers is a category in H2H league it complicates things a bit. I don't think it devalues PGs, but it may alter your draft a little. TOs would likely join points as category you will struggle in, but you can make up for it by drafting PGs with solid FG% (Nash, Parker) and big men with solid FT% (Yao, Miller, David West). This way you'd be adding either FG% or FT% as a category you have a distinct advantage in. So you'd still be favored to win 5 out of 9 categories while still being competitive in two of the remaining four. Also remember, I'm not saying you should go ahead and give up on ANY categories (you can still win points with Iverson/Arenas and Nowitzki/Brand). The objective is to dominate 4 or 5 categories while having a shot at winning the rest of the cats. So if your H2H league counts TOs you can definitely still use this strategy, you just need to be smart on draft day.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey i look at your posts every day and they have helped alot. Right now i am in the finals and it is super close in a H2H and i was wondering what would be some assist or point guys i could pick up to help me out. I'm only 20 assists behind and it would really help. This is a 20 player 8 team league and for assists right now i have billups (who won't get much minutes), kidd, arenas, watson, d. williams, terry, banks and smush. I thought that would be enough because i was getting the most assists out of anyone in the league by like 80 every week. I could also use some help in points and i don't mind dropping guys like griffin, diogu, banks and smush. These guys aren't doing good or are not getting what i want. Could u please help me out.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's always tough to tell who's available in specific leagues, but these guys might work:

jarret jack
chris duhon
antonio daniels
tony allen

even marko jaric and lindsey hunter could help out.


6:10 PM  
Anonymous bigmrpig said...

Come on guys, Carlos Boozer doesn't even make the list? But Bogut does? ;)

You guys didn't even put him on the avoid list


I just like ragging on you guys about Carlos.

12:07 PM  
Blogger PR said...

Sure, Boozer probably deserves to be in the top 20 (maybe #17 in place of Bogut) but he's still a chump. So I've got the former Blue Devil penciled in at #21 for now.

Who's ready for some Wizards playoff basketball???

10:46 PM  

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