FANTASY AWARDS TIME
*Ranks in parenthesis where noted (8/9 cat). Could shift slightly after tonight’s games.
FANTASY MVP – KEVIN DURANT
Kevin Durant ran away with MVP honors this season and it wasn’t even close. Chances are, you won your league if you owned him considering he provided nearly 150 percent of the value than the No. 2 guy in both 8- and 9-cat formats.
WAIVER WIRE PICKUP OF THE YEAR – ISAIAH THOMAS (23/36), TREVOR ARIZA (28/23), JODIE MEEKS (48/40), RANDY FOYE (59/58), MARKIEFF MORRIS (63/70), TERRENCE JONES (80/48)
Isaiah Thomas isn’t going to take the award since he was supposed to be drafted and he was rated very high around here in preseason ranks (sixth round by the Bruski 150). Still, he was added in many leagues and managed to post a monster season once the Kings got wise to Greivis Vasquez’s real value. Real purists should say that Jodie Meeks should take the award because nobody had him on a roster on opening night, but I’m going to go with Trevor Ariza because he was barely cracking the top-200 in terms of ADP.
ALL FANTASY 6
Because LeBron James has to compete with not-so-nice Kevin Durant and he’s a fantasy superstar, I went with a six-man rotation for the All-NBA fantasy first team. It’s almost mandatory that you have one of these players on your team to win your fantasy league.
PG: Stephen Curry (2/2) – Assassin.
SG: James Harden (5/8) – Turned it on late in the year to keep owners happy.
SF: Kevin Durant (1/1) – Westbrook shifting in and out made riding KD an easy call for OKC.
PF: Kevin Love (4/4) – Finished the year and answered concerns over his durability.
C: Anthony Davis (9/5) – Steve Nebraska has no ceiling.
Sixth Man: LeBron James (3/3) – Disappointing and unsurprising finish, but still a dominant fantasy play.
PG: John Wall (8/15) – He gets the nod over Chris Paul (11/10) because of his durability.
SG: Paul George (7/11) – Fantasy playoff owners will disagree, but his body of work matters.
SF: Carmelo Anthony (6/6) – I couldn’t go seven deep on the first team, but if I could he’d be there.
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (9/7) – I’ll get all lathered up about Dirk in a little bit.
C: Serge Ibaka (14/9) – Didn’t get much benefit from the Westbrook injury, but still a solid finish.
Sixth Man: It’s CP3 but since he’s already mentioned above I’ll add Kyle Lowry (13/12). Stud.
Point Big Men: Since I’m breaking my own rules and adding passing big men, we’ll stick Blake Griffin (12/14) and Joakim Noah (15/13) on the list.
FANTASY PLAYOFF ROTATION
Taking a look at the last month of the season, including bonuses for games played advantages, injuries and the like – here’s the crew that took fantasy playoff owners to the chip. As an aside, I’m hoping that we can continue to come up with new ways to take the luck out of playoff formats, unless of course you’re playing in a casual league and don’t care that 5-of-6 months setting lineups is worthless.
PG: Stephen Curry (tie-3/3) – Bonus points for making you expect greatness.
SG: James Harden (1/1) – If you’re not going to live up to your ADP this is how you do it.
SF: Kevin Durant (2/2) – It speaks to how well Harden did that he could best KD.
PF: Kevin Love (8/12) – A weaker addition to this list, but we’re not running a small lineup here.
C: Joakim Noah (7/8) – Surely we all had Noah running the point when he got drafted out of Florida.
Sixth Man: LeBron James (tie-3/4) – All-in all he survived the stretch run, which wasn’t guaranteed.
Super Sub: Chris Paul (5/5) – Injury derailed the top-5 ADP’s value, but not when it counted.
First Big Off the Bench: DeMarcus Cousins (6/9) – Going to approach Shaq levels of dominance.
Glue Guy: Kawhi Leonard (12/6) – The blueprint is evident. Made up for a disappointing first half.
FANTASY ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – VICTOR OLADIPO (46/97), MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS (51/105), TERRENCE JONES (80/48)
Terrence Jones isn’t technically a rookie but in reality that’s what he was. The technicality is enough to give Victor Oladipo the nod, and in the case of Michael Carter-Williams his disappearing acts both played out in his ranking and made him a bit more frustrating to own. Oladipo didn’t get the keys to the car so to speak and it’s fair to question Jacque Vaughn for sticking with his vets, but he still turned a tidy profit for owners after plenty of preseason hype.
FANTASY COACH OF THE YEAR – TERRY STOTTS, FRANK VOGEL, TOM THIBODEAU, KEVIN MCHALE, DOC RIVERS, MIKE MALONE
All of these are fine choices. Terry Stotts’ rotations were smooth and productive. Frank Vogel’s only real blemish was the team’s downturn in fantasy playoff time. Tom Thibodeau pushed all the right buttons to put lipstick on some pigs. Kevin McHale was consistent and gave Terrence Jones a shot. Doc Rivers was quick to put Jared Dudley out to pasture and instilled confidence in DeAndre Jordan for his big season. Mike Malone did an underrated coaching job this season and deserves Coach of the Year votes, but in fantasy leagues he was smart enough to get behind Isaiah Thomas and got big efficiency gains out of Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.
I’m going to give a nod to the degree of difficulty and give the award to Tom Thibodeau. Though players like Jimmy Butler couldn’t take the fantasy leap (a leap that wasn’t necessarily a given), Thibs was obviously masterful in getting big seasons out of D.J. Augustin and Mike Dunleavy. He correctly took minutes from Carlos Boozer to give to Taj Gibson and the decision to feature Joakim Noah was among the most influential in fantasy leagues.
FANTASY INJURY OF THE YEAR – AL HORFORD, BROOK LOPEZ, ERIC BLEDSOE, RYAN ANDERSON, KOBE BRYANT, DERRICK ROSE
Each of these was brutal for owners. Al Horford and Brook Lopez were locked into big seasons. Eric Bledsoe was a pricy, unproven and ultimately risky pickup. Ryan Anderson’s injury not only hurt but you hurt for the guy after the year he’s had off-the-court. But it’s the last two names on this list that hurt fantasy owners the most. Kobe Bryant, whose history of playing through injuries is a legend of its own, dragged owners through a ridiculous charade of hope. I drafted him 2-3 days before opening night prior to the report that he was nowhere close to returning and it chopped 1-2 legs out from underneath me in a big money league. The report that he would miss all that time? Oh, it came about 15 minutes after I drafted him.
But even though Kobe dragged owners through the mud for most of the year, I’m giving the award to Derrick Rose after his meteoric preseason rise. This guy forced owners to consider using a first round pick on him by flying around exhibition games like the Rose of old, and then it was all over in just a few weeks. At least with Bryant his injury concerns played out behind closed doors, not on the ADP-juicing highlight reels.
MOST ANNOYING PLAYER TO OWN – KAWHI LEONARD
Kawhi Leonard was rated very high by this guy right here and usually taken in the second or third round of drafts. Of course it was good news that he turned his season around, but watching him struggle to start the year and then lose weeks to injury was tough. Seeing what he was capable of after his return just confirmed why he was taken highly, but in a Roto league it was too little, too late – the ultimate tease.
MOST ANNOYING SUPERSTAR TO OWN – JAMES HARDEN, LEBRON JAMES
This award is limited to true superstars and is going to go to James Harden because ultimately LeBron James was the better play, even if Harden did edge him a bit down the stretch. Yes, James owners weren’t thrilled watching him toil at the bottom of first round value for the early part of the year, but Harden’s owners never truly knew if he’d climb back up near his ADP until very late in the year. For a guy that was supposedly the safest of the top 3-5 picks including Stephen Curry and Chris Paul, he lost out on touches and pacing due to Dwight Howard’s arrival and owners had to watch Curry beast all over the place.
NO. 1 ON NEVER DRAFT AGAIN LIST – DWYANE WADE, KOBE BRYANT, ERSAN ILYASOVA
I’m trying to stay away from the obvious but Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant will both get inordinate amounts of fantasy consideration next season, in particular Bryant after he tests owners’ patience one last time with rosy statements about his ability to play at a high level. Barring some big free agent play out of L.A., Kobe won’t be competing for a championship next season and that will lead to a lot of rest, while Wade is already on that page of the book. That leaves Ilyasova, and if you were like me you took a flier on him late and hoped for the best. It’s amidst that backdrop that Ilyasova still managed to be one of the most frustrating fantasy plays on any given week. Owners weren’t expecting the world, and often times they’d have been better off trotting out an empty active slot. With a history of that now under his belt and no talk of Larry Drew’s firing on the wire just yet, he’s setup to do this again for new Bucks owners that aren’t enamored with him like Herb Kohl was.