Lessons (Continually) Learned

No matter how long you play fantasy sports and subsequently get kicked in the balls by fate, there are always instances where you are willing to go against things you have previously “learned”. Sometimes it’s because you have an unnecessary attachment to certain players, other times it’s because all you can see is the payoff and not the downside.

Enter: Elton Brand.

Fantasy owners have to be somewhat relieved that the season-long agony that was owning Brand is over. Now it’s official. It was a horrendous draft pick and you’re probably reeling from it in one way or another.

I’m especially peeved at myself since I took Brand 11th overall in 12-team league. I know I’m not the only one who did. After all, many of were drooling over the idea of Brand feasting on the undersized forwards in the Eastern Conference and living up to his giant contract.

But I broke two fundamental rules I try to observe within the realm of fantasy basketball. Firstly, is be wary of players that change teams. Secondly, don’t assume a player coming back from an injury is going to play like his old self until he proves it.

The first rule I hold especially true for basketball. In baseball, a player gets a certain number of at-bat no matter what team he is on. The rest of the lineup and the park can help/hurt some stats, but he’s the same player with the same skill set.

In basketball, a new team changes the entire equation. There is only one ball and the team needs to learn who gets it and when. There are plays to learn and rotations to figure out and a team’s style can dramatically alter a player’s fantasy value (See anyone on the Knicks this season).

This clearly happened to Brand, who struggled at the outset to mesh with his new team. He just wasn’t the same player, which leads me to point number two.

Looking back, I don’t know why I was so certain a 30-year-old power forward who had player who had played eight solid but meaningless games following an torn Achilles heal was going to become a 20/10/2 producer this season.

Disregard the shoulder injury that prematurely ended his season. He was an inefficient big man this season. It’s like Brand was paying me to like his prospects. For all my prescience with certain guys I loved (Al Jefferson, Danny Granger, etc.), I had the blinders on with Brand.

I plan on doing a follow up post in a few days on how often changing teams actually helps a player’s value. Off the top of my head, Brand, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, Allen Iverson and Jason Richardson have all taken a dive switching teams.

Could “new team” be placed right next to “injury prone” when analyzing players in the future?

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Filed under Draft Strategy, Injuries, Player Analysis

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