When it comes to fantasy hoops, I can't overstate the importance of the draft. Sure, you need to manage your team during the season with trades and waiver wire pick-ups, but getting quality players in the draft relative to the round you pick them gives you the strength to trade against later on.
I took a look at 10 fantasy leagues and particularly 115 players that were drafted in each of those 10 leagues. Then I analyzed where the teams that drafted these players were currently in their respective standings. There were some very interesting results:
Highest Ranked Players
|Rank||Player||Avg Pick||Avg Score|
|1||Brevin Knight (G CHA)||111||65.2|
|2||LeBron James (F CLE)||2||64.9|
|3||Marcus Camby (C DEN)||50||64.5|
|4||Chris Bosh (F TOR)||36||63.3|
|5||Gilbert Arenas (G WAS)||14||63.2|
|6||Cuttino Mobley (G LAC)||67||62.3|
|7||Andre Iguodala (G PHI)||54||62.0|
|8||Joel Przybilla (C POR)||99||61.9|
|9||Wally Szczerbiak (F MIN)||91||61.8|
|10||Troy Murphy (F GS)||78||61.7|
|11||Paul Pierce (F BOS)||16||61.6|
|12||Rashard Lewis (F SEA)||33||61.3|
|13||Allen Iverson (G PHI)||8||60.8|
|14||Richard Jefferson (F NJ)||35||60.6|
|15||James Jones (F PHO)||118||60.4|
|16||Stromile Swift (C HOU)||97||60.2|
|17||Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C CLE)||41||60.1|
|18||Tony Parker (G SA)||59||60.1|
|19||Joe Johnson (G ATL)||43||60.0|
|20||Ricky Davis (F BOS)||95||60.0|
Brevin Knight is at top spot because he was picked was low in the draft (111th on average) and is performing at a top 50 level, bringing tremendous value to those teams that drafted him. That is the case for most guys on this list, including Camby, Bosh, Szczerbiak, Pierce, Lewis, Parker and Davis.
However, guys like James Jones and Stromile Swift really stand out because they haven't been performing very well at all so far this season (Swift in particular). I believe the reason they are up there is because these were two guys that were major sleeper picks at the beginning of the year and both had very nice preseasons. The average fantasy player may not have paid any attention, but a shrewd owner would've taken a chance on one of these guys in the later rounds. So although neither player has performed (and probably aren't on the team's roster anymore), the fact that they were drafted is an indication that the guy who drafted him is a shrewd owner who actually knows what he's doing.
Lowest Ranked Players
|Rank||Player||Avg Pick||Avg Score|
|1||Shaquille O'Neal (C MIA)||19||40.7|
|2||Jalen Rose (F TOR)||77||42.9|
|3||Carmelo Anthony (F DEN)||39||43.1|
|4||Amare Stoudemire (C PHO)||62||45.3|
|5||Richard Hamilton (G DET)||60||45.5|
|6||Kenyon Martin (F DEN)||58||45.7|
|7||Steve Francis (G ORL)||24||46.1|
|8||Damon Jones (G CLE)||108||46.6|
|9||Tim Duncan (F SA)||8||47.7|
|10||Eddie Jones (G MEM)||92||48.3|
|11||Zach Randolph (F POR)||50||49.2|
|12||Pau Gasol (F MEM)||33||49.4|
|13||Jamaal Magloire (C MIL)||74||49.6|
|14||Antoine Walker (F MIA)||73||49.7|
|15||Chris Webber (F PHI)||46||49.9|
|16||Corey Maggette (F LAC)||47||50.1|
|17||Rafer Alston (G HOU)||91||50.1|
|18||Eddy Curry (C NY)||90||50.2|
|19||Andrei Kirilenko (F UTA)||11||50.2|
|20||Al Harrington (F ATL)||90||50.4|
The low-ranking list is full of guys that have underperformed relative to where they were drafted. Some guys are only there because of injuries (Amare, Maggette, Kirilenko). My indicator theory is even more apparent on the bottom 20 -- teams that overpaid for the likes of Shaq, Carmelo, Rip Hamilton, Kenyon Martin, Francis, Duncan, Randolph, Gasol, Magloire, Walker and Curry are secretly admitting that they have no clue about fantasy basketball. Guys like Carmelo, Duncan and Gasol are actually putting up decent numbers, but reaching for one of these guys early when other more valuable players were on the board is a death sentence for the owners that drafted them. And many of these owners don't even realize it! They're probably sitting there wondering why they're in the bottom half of their league. The only hope is they can deal one of these guys to another unenlightened owner.
If you remember back to my recent list of "Top 10 Guys You'll Never See on One of My Fantasy Teams" , you'll see that Shaq (1st), Curry (3rd), Antoine (5th), Magloire (6th), Kenyon (7th), Carmelo (8th), Harrington (9th), Francis (10th), Randolph (Hon. Mention), Duncan (Hon. Mention) are all on my list for good reason. Avoid these guys like the plague. Let some other dude draft them early.
JR SMITH UPDATE:
Here's what J.R. has done since CBS Sportsline proclaimed that he was well on his way to becoming a 'great fantasy player' :
He followed up a great game on 12/12 with another strong performance, but has since tailed off tremendously. I hope you didn't waste your time on this guy. He's the 170th-ranked fantasy player over the time period above. Avoid.
FRELTON SPENCERS UPDATE:
Three Spencers teams were hurt tremendously by the news that Yao Ming is going to be out for six weeks ("Two rules: Always take good care of your feet. And don't do anything stupid...like getting yourself killed.") Two teams had Yao as the only center and the other had Amare as the other center, so needless to say there was a lot of waiver wire scrambling this week. Fortunately, the 3 teams that have Yao are in the best shape overall, so the impact of losing him for six weeks may mean we win our league by 8 points instead of 10 points.
Spencers 3 pretty much locked up their league for good after trading Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Bibby and a red-hot Wally Szczerbiak for Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and Troy Murphy. This was a beautiful deal that helps out in the categories that we needed while only giving up PTS, which we were projected to win by 1,300. So overall, I'd say this one is on cruise control even with the Yao injury.
Spencers 6 is rolling the dice on Marcus Camby after picking him and Ray Allen up for Rashard Lewis and Joe Johnson. Johnson has been player better lately, even being named Player of the Week last week, but he's top 40 material at best. Allen is top 15 and Camby is at least top 15 when he plays. We may end up dealing Camby later in the year, but for now this puts Spencers 6 right back in the hunt.