I hate to seem like I’m picking on a guy who basically pioneered a sect of internet sportswriting and has way more readers/success than I’ll ever hope to have (hell, whining about the Yankees would only get me so much exposure, while whining about the Red Sox makes you famous). Anyway, Bill Simmons has a piece on ESPN that is touted as the definitive 2008-09 fantasy hoops preview.
Now, I’ll preface this by saying a couple of things. Simmons gives no idea of what format he’s writing for. Not sure if it’s roto, head-to-head, eight categories or nine? It could be that players get extra points for resembling Hall of Fame Celtics, but I wouldn’t know, because there is no mention of it. Already, that’s pretty short of definitive.
Secondly, there is a list of 60 ranked players followed by a group of 40 sleepers/danger picks. So, you can use this “definitive guide” for the first five rounds and then you’re on your own. Unless your league has just six teams, then you’re all set. After the fifth round there is 40 guys to choose from, but what order to pick them is just a guess. HOW DEFINITIVE!
I’m not going to pick too much on the actual rankings (even though they are horrid) because everyone’s opinion is different. I actually respect Simmons’ basketball knowledge but I feel like his actual basketball IQ interferes with his fantasy basketball IQ because he is obsessed with the personality traits of teams/players that mean bunches on the hardwood but not nearly as much on the fantasywood (madeup word registered to Fantasy Basketball Jedi 2008).
Unlike fantasy baseball, where nearly everyone gets the same number of at-bats and starts, fantasy basketball is all about opportunity. Put a mediocre player with a pissy demeanour on a crappy team and give him 20 shots per game and all of a sudden he’s a fifth-rounder (hey, it’s Stephen Jackson!).
So while I won’t nitpick the order of players, some things are just WRONG:
- He has Chris Paul as the fourth pick overall. I’ve made it clear I think he’s number one in any format, but if you want LeBron instead, that’s fine. But FOUR?!? No no no. Unless he gets penalized for being short.
- Dwight Howard is right beind Paul at fifth overall. Apparently, Simmons plays in those magical fantasy leagues that ignore FT%. Unless (or until) Howard starts putting up Shaq-in-his-prime type numbers, there is no way to justify this. (side note: please look at Shaq’s 1992-2003 stats and forgot that he is now the Suns’ version of Erick Dampier).
- Josh Smith at eighth overall. I just don’t get this one.
- Tim Duncan at ninth overall, because apparently rings count in his leagues?
- Had Brand and Garnett back-to-back at 26 and 27. Here he is thinking too much instincts and not with the raw data and comparability factors that indicate these two guys will be a solid foundation for any team.
- Derrick Rose at number 47. Just look at my rankings and you’ll see how I feel about that one. Not nearly conservative enough a ranking for a rookie.
- Chauncy Billups at 51. I agree we’ve seen the best of him, but 51?
- Calling Jeff Green a ” “Wow, he got better!” preseason guy.” That’s why it’s the preseason.
Some credit to Simmons for:
- Pointing out some concerns about drafting Kobe Bryant, who he ranked sixth. There is no way I’m taking Kobe higher than fourth season and Simmons does an excellent job of pointing out why. This is the kind of future and past long-range thinking Simmons is best at when analyzing the Association.
- Putting T.J. Ford on the “stay away” list. I like that he’s finally got a chance to run the show but he never stays healthy and people somehow forget that.
- He pissed on Al Harrington. I know he shoots a lot of 3s at the center position but, as Simmons points out, it’s his 10th NBA season and he’s not just going to emerge as a star suddenly (Note: his disappointing career is what he gets for blowing off Seton Hall, my alma mater, for the pros).
- The mention of Vince Carter “rolling around under the basket as if he has been gunned down by an assassin.” This is a running joke between myself and the guys who sit next to me when I cover Nets games. He goes down like he’s been shot, then he’s back five minutes later like nothing ever happened. (see Pierce, Paul)
- Marcus Camby and Yao Ming at 41 and 42. Much more understandable than the Brand/Garnett rankings.
- Calling David Lee “born to play for D’Antoni”. Seems like it, which why I don’t know how his name keeps coming as a candidate to be traded.
- Great line in saying that Greg Oden is “like Erick Dampier on his best possible day. I swear, that wasn’t a dig.”
- This exchange:Tyson Chandler
The rich man’s Emeka Okafor.
The poor man’s Tyson Chandler.
- “When you’re running your offense through John Salmons, you’re basically announcing to the league, ‘This is a rebuilding year.'” So True.
I understand that these Page 2 pierce are more meant to be humerous and no one should be drafting by them. But with that said, if Simmons’ actual draft list looks like this, I urge the GMTR guys to get him in a league ASAP.