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Hoops Lab: The Professor's NBA Playoff Cheat Sheet

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

People call the playoffs the REAL season because that's when things are ultimately decided. But in the NBA it's more than that - the playoffs are the real season because it is the first and only time all year you can be sure everyone is going all out on a nightly basis. No more superstars missing games to rest for the postseason. No more having to scan the waiver wire for back-ups that could be potential studs when the nominal starter shuts it down for the year. No, in the postseason you'll be getting everyone's max effort, which will make a big difference.

But the second big difference is that, in many NBA postseason leagues, you have to choose your players based upon who you think will do the best in the postseason before the playoffs even begin. And games count, so it does little good to pick the No. 1 fantasy player in the league if he's out in the first round after five games. Instead, it might be smarter to invest in a top-20 guy who has a shot to make the Finals and play in 20-plus games. NBA postseason fantasy leagues make you, the fantasy owner, try your hand at predicting what will happen on the court with consequences if you're wrong.

Team Tiers

The key to postseason fantasy is games played. The better a team is, the more likely it is to pass on to the next round, and thus play more games. I separate the 16 playoff teams into tiers based on this likelihood for success. For each tier, I give a general number of games to use as an estimate for player ranking purposes. These are the tiers into which I place the 16 postseason teams from this season, with the number of games multiplier in parentheses:

Tier 1: Heat (20 games)

Tier 2: Thunder (17 games)

Tier 3: Spurs, Knicks, Pacers, Nuggets (14 games)

Tier 4: Chicago, LA Clippers, Nets, Grizzlies, Celtics, Lakers (12 games)

Tier 5: Hawks, Warriors (8 games)

Tier 6: Rockets, Bucks (5 games)

This is such a wide-open playoffs, it's difficult to set the tiers. The Heat and Thunder are pretty clearly favorites in their respective conferences, but not to the same scale. As we've discussed the past couple of weeks on RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today (Sirius 210, XM 87 11-2 pm ET), the Heat would be strong favorites against the Field in the East, while the Thunder would be at best even money against the Field in the West. Thus, after some internal debate, I decided to put them in different tiers at the top.

After that is chaos, because I believe that the No. 2 seed could legitimately fall to the No. 7 seed in the first round of BOTH conferences this year. The Spurs and Knicks are still expected to win, so they deserve to be in a higher tier, but their matchups are too close for them to get much separation from the next tier. The Pacers and Nuggets sneak in with the No. 2 seeds because they also are favored to win their first-round matchups and, should the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds meet, the '3's also have a legitimate shot to beat them.

Tier 4 features all of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, as well as the #7 seeded Lakers and Celtics, because all six of these teams have a legitimate shot to win in the first round but would be underdogs in the second round.

Tiers 5 and 6 are a bit easier. The Hawks and Warriors have a puncher's chance to get past the first round, but wouldn't be expected to. The Rockets and Bucks, on the other hand, would shock the world by even forcing the #1 seeds to break much of a sweat in the first round. They make up the bottom tier.

Points system and rankings

These rankings are based on a points-based scoring approach, as opposed to rotisserie. Each points-based league has its own scoring system, but these rankings were generated from this system:

1 point scored = 0.3 fantasy point (fp)
1 assist = 0.5 fp
1 rebound = 0.4 fp
1 steal = 0.7 fp
1 block = 0.7 fp

Based on this scoring system, how the players performed this season, and the team-tier levels above, here are our postseason rankings:

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
6. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
7. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
8. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
9. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder
10. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
11. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
12. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
13. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
14. David West, Indiana Pacers
15. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
16. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
17. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
18. Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets
19. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
20. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
21. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
22. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
23. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
24. Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
25. Raymond Felton, New York Knicks
26. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
27. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
28. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
29. George Hill, Indiana Pacers
30. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
31. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
32. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
33. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
34. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
35. Ray Allen, Miami Heat
36. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
37. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
38. Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder
39. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets
40. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
41. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
42. Jeff Green, Boston Celtics
43. Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets
44. Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs
45. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
46. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
47. David Lee, Golden State Warriors
48. Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City Thunder
49. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
50. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
51. Corey Brewer, Denver Nuggets
52. Nate Robinson, Chicago Bulls
53. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
54. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
55. Kosta Koufos, Denver Nuggets
56. JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets
57. Jason Kidd, New York Knicks
58. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
59. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
60. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
61. Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls
62. Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers
63. Gerald Wallace, Brooklyn Nets
64. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
65. Jordan Crawford, Boston Celtics
66. Reggie Evans, Brooklyn Nets
67. Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets
68. Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
69. Kenyon Martin, New York Knicks
70. Tayshaun Prince, Memphis Grizzlies
71. Shane Battier, Miami Heat
72. Joel Anthony, Miami Heat
73. Mike Miller, Miami Heat
74. Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
75. Chris Andersen, Miami Heat
76. Norris Cole, Miami Heat
77. Rashard Lewis, Miami Heat
78. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
79. Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder
80. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
81. Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
82. Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies
83. James Harden, Houston Rockets
84. Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
85. Steve Blake, Los Angeles Lakers
86. Earl Clark, Los Angeles Lakers
87. Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs
88. Jason Terry, Boston Celtics
89. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
90. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
91. Jerryd Bayless, Memphis Grizzlies
92. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
93. Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors
94. Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder
95. Ronnie Brewer, Oklahoma City Thunder
96. Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder
97. Hasheem Thabeet, Oklahoma City Thunder
98. Antawn Jamison, Los Angeles Lakers
99. Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers
100. Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana Pacers
101. Caron Butler, Los Angeles Clippers
102. Courtney Lee, Boston Celtics
103. Richard Hamilton, Chicago Bulls
104. Marco Belinelli, Chicago Bulls
105. Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
106. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors
107. Kris Humphries, Brooklyn Nets
108. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
109. Ian Mahinmi, Indiana Pacers
110. Gerald Green, Indiana Pacers
111. D.J. Augustin, Indiana Pacers
112. Steve Novak, New York Knicks
113. Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks
114. Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs
115. Boris Diaw, San Antonio Spurs
116. DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
117. Nando De Colo, San Antonio Spurs
118. Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
119. Chauncey Billups, Los Angeles Clippers
120. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
121. Carl Landry, Golden State Warriors
122. Devin Harris, Atlanta Hawks
123. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
124. C.J. Watson, Brooklyn Nets
125. Keith Bogans, Brooklyn Nets
126. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
127. Grant Hill, Los Angeles Clippers
128. Willie Green, Los Angeles Clippers
129. Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers
130. Chris Duhon, Los Angeles Lakers
131. Quincy Pondexter, Memphis Grizzlies
132. Austin Daye, Memphis Grizzlies
133. Darrell Arthur, Memphis Grizzlies
134. Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
135. Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
136. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
137. Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks
138. J.J. Redick, Milwaukee Bucks
139. Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks
140. Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks
141. DeShawn Stevenson, Atlanta Hawks
142. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
143. Richard Jefferson, Golden State Warriors
144. Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors
145. Festus Ezeli, Golden State Warriors
146. Carlos Delfino, Houston Rockets
147. Mike Dunleavy , Milwaukee Bucks
148. Samuel Dalembert, Milwaukee Bucks
149. Luc Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee Bucks
150. Greg Smith, Houston Rockets

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