Jonas Nader

NBA Roundtable

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Roundtable: Squad Goals

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! This week's topic is going to be something we’ve never done before... We're going to be sharing with the readers what our best fantasy team looked like and how they changed over the course of a season. Here are some of the questions we will focus on:


What did your team look like on draft day and what was your strategy?


Who were your best pickups off the waiver wire?


Any big trades?


Any players you regretted dropping?


Did your original strategy change much throughout the season?


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Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)


This was one of my teams in a paid 9-cat standard league:


1.) James Harden 

2.) Al Horford

3.) Draymond Green

4.) D’Angelo Russell

5.) Nikola Vucevic

6.) Jusuf Nurkic

7.) Devin Booker

8.) Robin Lopez

9.) Jrue Holiday 

10.) Danny Green

11.) Terrence Jones

12.) Cody Zeller

13.) Ben Simmons


To be clear, this wasn’t my best draft by any means, but with several strong pickups and and two amazing trades, I’m winning my semi-final matchup 8-1 and I’m the heavy favorite to win the championship. Also, the league I was in came with two IR slots, so it was an easy decision to take Jrue that late. I don’t want to talk about Ben Simmons, though. 




Right away I knew I was going to punt turnovers with Harden, so taking two turnover-prone bigs in Horford and Green was a no-brainer — Harden’s free-throw volume would also offset Green’s poor FT percentage. I looked strong in every other category outside of my FG percentage (thanks Devin Booker), so that would be a focus of mine going forward. 


Big Trades: 


As soon as Nikola Jokic moved to the bench after Denver’s rocky start to the season, I acquired him in a trade for Nikola Vucevic. Sure it was a risky move at the time, but it’s paying off big time — Jokic has been a top-10 players for months. 


When Chris Paul injured his thumb and was given a 6-8 week timetable, I sent a package of Danny Green and Derrick Rose (who I got off the wire) to his owner who was in 8th place and a little desperate. He was also a Knicks fan, so it pays to know your enemies...


Best Pickups: 


Richaun Holmes- Picked him up as soon as the Nerlens Noel trade went down and Holmes has been money since, averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.0 steals and 0.6 triples in March.


Khris Middleton- As soon as we posted an update on Jan. 19 that the Bucks were “increasingly hopeful” that Middleton would return from his hamstring injury, I stashed him in my IR slot. The rest is history.


Ivica Zubac- I’ve been stashing him for over a month and he’s been rewarding me big time in the last couple weeks. He has the potential to be a top-75 player in the final few weeks if he hits his free throws. 


Biggest regrets:


Dropping Jusuf Nurkic was the hardest thing I had to do this season, but Horford missed so many games and CP3 was still on the shelf at the time, so I couldn’t afford the DNPs. At least I still own him in my other leagues. I also added and dropped John Henson over 25 times, so that wasn't good for my health. 


What my team looks like now:


James HardenAl Horford, Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Will Barton, Ivica Zubac, Cody Zeller, Richaun Holmes.


Turnovers are still a huge problem, but who cares? My FG percentage is back up thanks to Holmes, Zeller and Zubac, and I don’t have any other glaring weaknesses. More importantly, my team is healthy.



Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)


My best fantasy team was drafted in a 10-team money league. This was an 8-cat league with the following categories: PTS, FG%, FTM, 3PT, REB, AST, STL, BLK. I lucked into the No. 1 pick and there was no hesitation in this league with turnovers excluded. Here are my picks.


James Harden (1)...with this all-around stud in the bag I was free to look for overall value, basically, without adhering to a strict strategy (aka punting, focusing on 5-6 cats).

Nikola Jokic (20)...this raised some eyebrows and may have looked stupid for the first six weeks or so, know the rest.

Jimmy Butler (21)...a complete steal

Brook Lopez (40)...I rolled the dice and it has paid off.

Goran Dragic (41)

Gordon Hayward (60)

Nikola Vucevic (61)...Bismack Biyombo's arrival caused Vuc's price to plummet.

Ricky Rubio (80)...Rubio's post-break surge has been incredible.

Thaddeus Young (81)...Thad is no longer on my team

Jrue Holiday (100)

Robin Lopez (101)...RoLo is no longer on my team

Otto Porter (120)...there was clearly no love for this breakout roto stud on draft day.

Nikola Mirotic (121)...Mirotic is no longer on my team

Gary Harris (140)...I've stuck with him through all the lulls and injuries this season, and couldn't be happier.

Mason Plumlee (141)...Plumlee is no longer on my team


My current team has a shocking amount of players I drafted, given that I've got an itchy finger in terms of free agents. Thad recently bit the dust due to his horrible post-wrist-injury play (he's been better lately). RoLo has been lousy for most of the season, but to his credit he's been quite good over the past 7-10 days. Mirotic is infuriating to own and he was my first cut. Plumlee I cut, regretted cutting, picked up when his new owner dropped him, and then cut after the trade to Denver. I didn't foresee the Jokic/Plumlee frontcourt.


The keys to my success in this league were, 1) Doing a lot of pre-draft homework, specific to league settings, 2) Holding high-upside guys even if they struggle out of the gates, 3) Capitalizing on hot free agents, and 4) Getting lucky with minimal injuries. I'll say that this team is an outlier...most leagues I've won have boiled down to ruthless waiver-wire moves.



Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)


What did your team look like on draft day and what was your strategy?


My team looked pretty similar on draft day as it does currently in terms of its core—James Harden, Isaiah Thomas, Victor Oladipo, Goran Dragic, Bradley Beal and Nicolas Batum—and I've been able to supplement categories of need through the waiver wire. Because this is a head-to-head league, the strategy here was to dominate the categories I felt capable of capturing based on my first three picks (Harden, Dipo & Thomas). 


Who were your best pickups off the wire?


James Johnson has to be considered a waiver wire gem this season. I was also fortunate enough to still find a seat on the Jusuf Nurkic bandwagon once he was sent to Portland after previously dropping him out of frustration during his Denver days. 


Any big trades?


None for my team.


Any players you regretted dropping?


I should have given the Marquese Chriss investment more time to provide a positive return. 


Did your original strategy change much?


I played the category game all season long and it provided me a first-place regular season finish. Unless your team suffers a major injury or endures something that forces a shift in the motion of your ocean, I like to stay true to the road map I've been so careful to lay out ahead of sailing the course. 



Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)


My favorite team this year was my keeper league squad. This was the first year of the keeper league, so I was able to take advantage of some fellow GM’s that weren’t as familiar with the ideal strategies to employ in a keeper league draft.


Due to the format, I obviously not only wanted to compete this year, but I wanted to set myself up for future success as well. My two best picks were players with huge questions marks coming into the season: Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton.


Holiday ended up missing only the first 12 games of the season to be by his wife’s side as she dealt with medical issues. Middleton returned sooner than expected as well, before the All-Star, and has been a stud over the last month.


Those are the types of players that are perfect in keeper leagues. They will benefit me this season, and I’ll be able to retain them at a steep discount for years to come. It is also important to note that this league has an IR designation, so I was able to stash Middleton for the first three months without crippling my roster. 


Best Pickup off the Wire:

I picked up Tyler Ulis this month. I’m hoping that he helps carry me to the crown in the fantasy playoffs over these final few weeks. Check back with me at the end of the year.


Big Trade:

I did make one big move. I traded my 2017 fifth-round pick for Blake Griffin and a 2017 12th round pick. It was around the time when CP3 was injured, and Blake was putting up monster numbers, so I may have paid a bit of a premium. But my squad was lagging at the time, and it needed a boost. After talking it over with my team captains (Durant and PG-13) I decided I had to improve locker-room chemistry and show my guys that I was pot-committed this season!! But, yeah, I’ll regret it on draft day next October if I don’t win the ‘chip next month. 


Players I Regret Dropping:

Well, I had to drop Kevin Durant, who was my first-round pick, so of course, that stung. In terms of regret, I dropped D’Angelo Russell early on. But luckily I scooped him back up before it came back to bite me. 


Did your original strategy change much?

Nope. As I stated above, I was pretty confident in what I needed to do, as I had been a part of keeper leagues in the past. 



Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)


What did your team look like on draft day and what was your strategy? I’ll start by saying this was not my best team — it actually struggled. But it started out with a lot of promise. And as a slight contrast to this whole concept, I’m sharing its plight to illustrate the perils of being an idiot.


On draft day, the squad looked like this: Russell Westbrook, Paul Millsap, Kemba Walker, Dennis Schroder, Myles Turner, Devin Booker, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, Jusuf Nurkic, Jahlil Okafor, Gary Harris, Marvin Williams, Markieff Morris, (Matthew Dellavedova) and Marquese Chriss.


This is a 9-category head-to-head league, and I was mainly drafting for intrigue and upside. Looking back, this was a pretty solid draft, and I more or less ruined it. More on that in a second.


Who were your best pickups of the year? Wilson Chandler and Tyler Johnson.


Any big trades? Unfortunately, yes. The worst was a mid-November trade of Turner and Markieff for Andrew Wiggins (at the time, averaging 27.4 ppg) and Rodney Hood (16.9 ppg). That one still hurts. I also eventually became fed up with Westbrook sinking me in two categories every week (FG percentage and TOs), and dealt him and Booker for what ended up being Kyle Lowry and Andre Drummond. With Lowry healthy I’d still be okay with it — even with Westbrook going completely berserk — but obviously I’d love to have that one back. I also dealt Gortat for Zach LaVine, which was a lot of fun until LaVine’s knee exploded.


Any players you regretted dropping? Would you be surprised to hear that the answer is an emphatic yes? I got impatient with Gary Harris while he was injured early on (Harris missed 20 of Denver’s first 25 games) and dropped him. I also dropped Tyler Johnson before he became quite useful. Can’t blame myself for not waiting on Marquese Chriss, but patience would have paid off well with my last-round pick.


Did your original strategy change much? Yes. After a slow start, I went from confident to panicked pretty quickly. This is also my hometown league, and emotions run high because there’s nothing better than squashing old friends. In retrospect, I drafted Schroder way too high due to Hawks loyalty. As much as I like him as a player, he’s still just the No. 116 player in 9-category leagues this season. Ditto Devin Booker, who is pretty exciting at times, but actually ranks just No. 151 overall. If I have one big takeaway from this team, it’s that trading, as always, is a blast. But making big, impulsive roster decisions in November may still sting a lot in March. Note to late-2016 self: Don’t panic.

Email :Jonas Nader

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