A dismal, rainy April Friday, with mere days remaining in the NBA season, seems a perfect time to look back on this year's fantasy NBA drafts to see where things went well . . .
And where things went horribly awry.
The formula for winning a fantasy NBA league is fairly simple: you need early-round picks that play to expectations; you need a couple of mid-to-late round picks that exceed expectations; and you need to avoid catastrophic injuries. The trick, of course, is knowing which players will meet and exceed expectations ahead of time. So let's take a look at the expectations that were set at the start of the 2012-13 season, those that were met, those that weren't, and what we could have done differently.
I'm using a really simple method for isolating the most surprising and disappointing players. I'm starting with each player's preseason rank in a standard Yahoo! 9-category rotisserie league and comparing it with his rank – based on season totals – as of April 12.
Based on that admittedly-simplistic formula, here are the 20 most disappointing players in fantasy NBA for 2012-13:
's injury was just bad luck, though I suspect it has made knuckle pushups a whole lot less popular in NBA circles. But look at some of those other names.
Granger. Bynum. Rose. Harrington. Howard. Gordon. Bogut. Notice a common theme? All of them entered the preseason coming off injuries and had uncertain timetables for their season debuts. And every one of them either failed to return when expected, struggled to play through their injuries, re-injured themselves, or a combination of all three.
Lesson learned. If a player isn't going to start the season with a regular role, he's someone you draft as an "upside" pick. It doesn't matter if the player is coming off an injury, mounting an unlikely comeback (Brandon Roy
), or an unproven youngster (White, Rivers, Vesely). And you don't draft for upside in the early rounds.
Let someone else take the risk on next year's version of Dwight Howard
or Derrick Rose
. (Frankly, I'm not certain that Rose will be a great investment in 2013-14 drafts, but that's a column for next September.)
And now the flip side of that list, this season's most pleasant surprises:
Most of the players on this list were available on the wire at one point or another. Back in October and November, nobody really expected Chandler Parsons
to emerge as a do-everything wing in Houston, or Nikola Vucevic
to be the most productive big fantasy big man in the Dwight Howard
trade, or J.J. Hickson
– unceremoniously dumped by both Cleveland and Sacramento – to become a reliable double-double guy in Portland.
Meanwhile, Metta World Peace
's productivity jumped thanks in part to a coaching change, Jose Calderon
's value changed after a trade, and Nate Robinson
's value was greater than expected due to Derrick Rose
's longer-than-anticipated absence. And who anticipated Vince Carter
's return to relevance as a three-point specialist?
Another lesson learned. Some of the factors that define who will and won't be successful in a given NBA season are not – and cannot be – known on draft day. Always leave yourself some flexibility, so you can take advantage of these situations as they emerge.
Of course, if you're reading this column, you're probably doing that already.
Enjoy the playoffs.