The playoffs are all set and the big news out of Thursday’s DNP-fest is that the Grizzlies and Hawks locked up homecourt advantage over the Clippers and Celtics. If you’re playing in a fantasy playoff league (I recommend using Fantasypostseason.com), here are my thoughts on how to manage your draft, and this is based on not being able to pick up free agents as the playoffs wear on. Once your guy is eliminated, there’s no replacing him.
I’ve made my personal rankings of all 16 teams and will break down each one of them, in order, followed by my Top 40 picks.
1. Miami Heat – They have homecourt against the Knicks and will then likely see the Pacers, then Bulls for the Eastern Conference title. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all first-rounders, while Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem will be worth a relatively high pick, as well. Outside of those five, James Jones, Norris Cole and Shane Battier will probably be worth a late-round pick in playoff leagues.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder get the Mavericks, then winner of the Lakers – Nuggets, and will likely play the Spurs for the Western Conference title. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka should all be first-round picks, and taking Ibaka early should secure you the win in blocks each week. Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, Derek Fisher, Daequan Cook and Nick Collison all are worth a look in the later rounds of the draft.
3. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are the No. 1 seed in the West and should mow down the Jazz in Round 1. They’ll get the Grizzlies or Clippers in Round 2, and then likely face the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. This team is so deep, and could beat the Thunder, leaving a ton of options for fantasy owners. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are worthy first-round picks, while DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are worth a mid-round selection. Boris Diaw and Gary Neal are worth a late look, but Neal’s health might be an issue. Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner and Patrick Mills are all worth a late look, in case the Spurs make it to the Finals.
4. Chicago Bulls – I know the Bulls have the league’s best record, but I still have my doubts about getting to the Finals, let alone winning it all. They get the Sixers, then winner of Hawks – Celtics, and will then likely face the Heat for the Eastern Conference title. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah are all worth a look in Round 1 and 2, while Richard Hamilton, Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver might make for nice mid-round picks. C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer are worth a look in the later rounds.
5. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers get the luxury of facing the Magic without Dwight Howard, making them the favorites in Round 1. They’ll then get the winner of the Heat – Knicks, meaning they’ll be playing the Heat in Round 2, which should end their playoff run. Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Paul George and David West are all worth a look starting in the second round, with George Hill, Darren Collison, Tyler Hansbrough, Leandro Barbosa and Dahntay Jones are all worth a look later in drafts. If the Pacers can somehow beat the Heat, all of these later picks would see a huge boost in value.
6. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers get the Nuggets, in what should be an excellent first-round battle. I just don’t see Kobe Bryant allowing his team to lose that early, but it could happen. Kobe, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Ramon Sessions are all worth a look in Round 2 of fantasy drafts. Metta World Peace sees a big hit in value with his suspension for most of Round 1, while Matt Barnes (ankle) is worth a look in the middle rounds. Steve Blake and Jordan Hill might be worth a late-round flier, in case the Lakers can get by the Thunder in Round 2 (if they beat the Nuggets).
7. Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks get homecourt advantage over the Celtics, which is kind of a big deal. If they can pull that one off, the Bulls are next, and the Hawks seem to match up well with Chicago. I doubt they’ll win both of those series, but if they do, they’d likely meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague are worth an early look, while Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson are worth a shot in the middle rounds. Al Horford could be back for Round 2 if the Hawks beat the Celtics, making him worth a late-round flier, just in case. I also think Tracy McGrady is going to play a bigger role in the playoffs, making him a nice sleeper pick late.
8. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies have homecourt advantage over the Clippers and that, combined with Chris Paul’s groin injury, should give the Grizzlies the edge in Round 1. They’ll get the winner of Spurs – Jazz in Round 2, if they survive the Clippers. Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen should all make for solid fantasy picks, while Marreese Speights is also worth a look near the end of your draft. I loaded up on Grizzlies when I ran out of options last year and it paid off, as they upset the Spurs last year.
9. Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers could easily beat the Grizzlies, but the lack of homecourt really hurts. Chris Paul (groin), Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye, Mo Williams and Caron Butler are all solid fantasy options this year, while Nick Young, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans are worth a late look. But if the Clippers fall in Round 1, it’s going to be a short ride for CP3 and Blake.
10. Boston Celtics – The Celtics might be able to beat the Hawks despite not having homecourt advantage, but it will be a tough task. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass should all be taken in the first few rounds of drafts, while Ray Allen will also be worth a look. His ankle injury is a little scary, but it sounds like he should be ready for the playoffs, as he’s had plenty of time to rest and recover. Greg Stiemsma makes for a nice sleeper pick, while Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels are worth a look in the later rounds of your draft.