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Fantasy Should be Fun: Themed Teams You (Technically) Could Have Drafted

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

Fantasy should be fun. Winning is fun, and that’s why most fantasy articles focus on trying to help you make your team better. Better teams, more winning. It all makes sense.

But sometimes, we just want a break. We don’t want to learn anything new, we don’t want to work that hard. We still want to procrastinate the outside world, we want to have fun, and fantasy sports are fun, but we don’t want to put in that much effort. In that spirit, I present to you the Fantasy Should Be Fun teams.

It’s kind of like a theme party, but without the hangover. Let’s imagine some improbable-yet-believable teams that you might have drafted if, instead of trying to win, you’re goal was to create the least likeable fantasy team imaginable. Or, perhaps, to pick a team whose jerseys represented all the colors of the rainbow.

So relax, take a break with me, and let’s enjoy just talking about fantasy basketball, without having to actually think too hard.

All-Villains Team

What if we drafted a team of players so widely disliked that we ended up rooting for our own team to lose, simply because rooting for these guys is that unpleasant?

The Picks: 1. Kevin Durant; 2. DeMarcus Cousins; 3. Draymond Green; 4. Blake Griffin; 5. Jusuf Nurkic; 6. Rajon Rondo; 7. Dwight Howard; 8. Dwyane Wade; 9. Josh Jackson; 10. Kelly Olynyk

Is the team semi-realistic?: A lucky masochist would have totally picked this team. Green in the third is improbable, but if the King of the Crotch-kick doesn’t make the team of villains, then what is the point of this exercise? Four-straight bigs was a questionable call, but all offer enough versatility that I can pass it off with a straight face.

Mission accomplished?: I think I got a technical foul just looking at this team. So much whininess, multiple coach-killers, dirty players, and probably the only starter ever to get fired mid-playoffs. To different audiences, some of these guys have their charms, but all of them revolt a wide swath of NBA fans. In other words, yes.

Chances this team is good?: Not great. If we had stopped at Rondo, and started picking for fit instead of repellant-ness, we could have salvaged a pretty good team. But sticking with the theme left us short on guards, value, and upside. Also, while Wade was picked close enough to his Average Draft Position (ADP), and the season is still young, he looks like a totally lost pick.

Mother-Approved

I literally called my stereotypical over-protective Jewish mother and asked her what standards she would set for her fantasy team. She said she would want “nice people” – guys with no history of violence, active contributors to the community, players who help kids.

“Bottom line,” she said. “Someone who would be a good role model”.

I specifically asked her if she wanted players with college degrees, and she said no – “that’s just not a realistic option for some players given their family situations” – how woke of her!

The Picks: 1. Steph Curry; 2. Damian Lillard; 3. Kemba Walker; 4. Al Horford; 5. Jrue Holiday; 6. Isaiah Thomas; 7. Gorgui Dieng; 8. Jeremy Lin; 9. Gary Harris; 10. Andre Iguodala; 11. Enes Kanter; 12. Buddy Hield. 13. Jonathon Simmons

Is the team semi-realistic?: Totally realistic by ADP, though no one would actually pick so many guards. The NBA is in a great place right now – there were so many options I probably could have picked six or seven non-overlapping teams that held up to my mother’s scrutiny. Also bonus points for getting Lillard, who still lives with his mom.

Mission accomplished?: My mom already ordered another participation trophy for me.

Chances this team is good?: Not that high. There were enough fitting candidates the team could have been a lot better, but my mother was always very picky about who I hung out with. So I tried to include players who taught a wide range of lessons. Lillard and Holiday emphasize the importance of family; Iguodala the importance of sacrificing one’s personal pride for the betterment of the group; Kanter has been an ongoing lesson in international politics; Simmons shows the importance of hard work and dedicated effort; and there was no way Lin, the Harvard graduate, wasn’t making this team. As it turned out, going above and beyond for my mom’s approval actually got in the way of my own success. Huh. That sentence probably doesn’t signal any deeper meaning, right? I’ll go call and ask her now.

Maximum Downside

What’s the worst team you could draft without eliciting your league-mate’s overt scorn? Sticking close to ADP, can we draft a team almost certain to get shut out in H2H leagues, or with a virtual lock on last place in Roto?

The Picks: 1. LeBron James; 2. Kyle Lowry; 3. Eric Bledsoe; 4. Andre Drummond; 5. Danilo Gallinari; 6. Markelle Fultz; 7. Nerlens Noel; 8. Zach LaVine; 9. Jabari Parker; 10. Marcus Smart.

Is the team semi-realistic?: Absolutely. Reaching for big names and understating injury risks happens in every draft.

Mission accomplished?: Definitely. Every pick is a slight reach, and every pick is either a huge injury risk or hamstrings the team in a different category. James has no business being a first-rounder, and he kills turnovers. Drummond kills FT%, Smart kills FG% and hurts in points. Lowry has missed several late season games each of the past few years, damaging teams when they are most vulnerable, and Bledsoe and Gallinari are two of the biggest injury risks in the league – assuming the Suns ever let Bledsoe play in the first place.

Of the four rookies who were generating a ton of preseason buzz, Fultz had the lowest floor and the lowest ceiling for 2017-18 (though I’m not betting against his career), and that’s already looking like a wasted pick. The Mavericks said Noel would not start, and he’s not helpful if he’s only getting 20-25 minutes per game – so far, he’s getting even less than that. LaVine won’t even play for months, and Parker is out for longer still.
Chances this team is good: Pretty low, but it is possible. In the unlikely event that Lowry, Bledsoe, and Gallinari stay healthy, this team could accidentally fall its way into the top half of a league.

Rainbow Connection

Let’s pick a team the same way my wife picks her NCAA brackets – based entirely on the teams’ colors. We can start at either end of the rainbow, but then the players’ jersey colors have to go in ROYGBIV order. This team has to go the full 13 rounds.

The Picks: 1. James Harden (red); 2. Kristaps Porzingis (orange); 3. Paul Millsap (yellow); 4. Brook Lopez (yellow); 5. Lonzo Ball (yellow); 6. Victor Oladipo (yellow); 7. Gorgui Dieng (Timberwolves neon green); 8. Nerlens Noel (Mavericks alternate green); 9. Marcus Smart (Celtics green-green); 10. Greg Monroe (Bucks deep-green); 11. Terrence Ross (blue); 12. Malik Monk (whatever bluish-purple color the Hornets wear); 12. De’Aaron Fox (purple)

Is the team semi-realistic?: Very much so. Natural balance of positions, no major reaches.

Mission accomplished?: Yes. I wanted to start with the purples, since there are so many Knicks (orange) and Bulls (red) that were justifiable in the late rounds. However, not even my wife would have taken any of these Kings or Lakers in the first three rounds. We also did a nice job lining up the various shades of green in legitimate rainbow order.

Chances this team is good?: Things were only OK until Oladipo fell to us in the sixth round – what a relief! I don’t love that Noel pickup though. But this team definitely has a shot. And, hey, my wife has beaten me in March Madness seven years running. Maybe there’s something to this method.

One Degree Of Jared Dudley

Jared Dudley is awesome, and he’s been around the league. He’s a great interview and one of my favorite Twitter follows. So instead of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, let’s go with One Degree of Jared Dudley – an entire team of one-time Dudley teammates

The Picks: 1. John Wall; 2. Chris Paul; 3. Khris Middleton; 4. Blake Griffin; 5. Goran Dragic; 6. Markieff Morris; 8. Marcin Gortat; 9. Darren Collison; 10. J.J. Redick; 11. Ersan Ilyasova; 12. T.J. Warren; 13. Tyler Ulis

Is the team semi-realistic?: Yes, but only for someone drafting at the end of the first round, since Chris Paul is the only semi-realistic second round pick that works. To keep the realism, therefore, I had to assume DeAndre Jordan was off the board before the late third round pick, which led to string of reaches.

Mission accomplished?: It got sticky in the middle rounds, but it works.

Chances this team is good?: I am really high on all of the first four picks, and Dragic was good value, but then I need a few reaches to keep this going, and I ended with a bunch of dart throws. This team might be competitive in a 10-team league though? I mean, it’s not as crazy as Dudley’s current Suns’ management who thinks they are making the playoffs every year, right?