Here are 10 things I look forward to doing this fantasy hoops season!
1. Drafting Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick when I get it
Yeah, it could backfire, but Russell Westbrook has some help this year (namely Paul George and Carmelo Anthony), while James Harden’s numbers almost have to take a hit with Chris Paul on board. I’m actually a little torn between KAT and Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 1, but as of now, if I get the first pick, I’m going KAT. He doesn’t miss games, he shoots it well from the line, will shoot and hit 1.5 3-pointers this season and should be an all-around monster. He also averaged a ridiculous 28.3 points per game after the All-Star break last year.
2. Starting the season early!
This Oct. 17 start is the earliest start of an NBA season we’ve ever seen. There aren’t as many five-game weeks on the schedule (Kings are the only one in Week 20) and things are a little more spread out, but it will be fun to kick things off early, get an extra week added to the schedule, and be irritated by half my teams by the time Halloween gets here, which is when things were just getting started when fantasy hoops became my job about 17 years ago.
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I’m a Dennis Smith Jr. guy, just like almost every writer on the Rotoworld hoops staff. We all love him. We all want him. We all get mad when someone else drafts him. He’s one of the Rotoworld poster players this year for sure. I’ve seen DSJ go anywhere from Round 4 to Round 8 so far, but as the hype grows, as it will, you’ll have to plan on getting him in Round 4 or 5 in your draft. Especially if you’re drafting with Mike Gallagher and me. Ball, however, doesn’t seem to generate groans or snickers when he gets taken. He’s probably going to be a fun player to own, but I’m still not convinced the stats are going to be all that head turning. Surprisingly, he’s usually going around No. 60 (end of Round 5), so there’s not a ton of risk getting him in the middle of your draft. But I think he could sneak into Round 4 in some leagues and that’s just too early for me.
The arrival of George in OKC made Westbrook’s outlook a little tough to peg, George’s numbers will almost surely take a hit playing alongside Westbrook and now that Melo has been thrown into the mix, there are simply more questions than answers in OKC. It’s possible Melo could come off the bench, although I don’t think that’s all that likely to happen. I just don’t like Melo and will not be drafting him – anywhere. But if Melo can change his ball-stopping ways and truly be a team player, the Thunder could be a force in the West. I’ll believe it when I see it, as Melo just feels like a poison pill to me.
5. Watching Giannis Antetokounmpo play basketball
I love Giannis. I love his name, I love his game, I love the creative Giannis t-shirts you can buy and I love the way the Bucks use him. He’s quickly become one of the most fun players in the league to watch and one he’s also one of best reasons to have the NBA League Pass.
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6. Watching the Timberwolves play basketball
With a starting unit of Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves look like one of the better teams in the West, at least on paper. I don’t know how they’re all going to play together and they’re not all that deep, but if things go well in camp and the preseason, this could finally be the year the Wolves shock the world.
7. Seeing if the Hawks will actually tank the season and finally get a good draft pick
I love watching my hometown Hawks and listening to main guys Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins break it down. But the Hawks simply aren’t going to be very good this season, even in the East, and I think the fan base is ready for a lottery pick instead of an early out in the playoffs, followed by yet another mid-round draft pick. With a starting lineup of Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Ersan Ilyasova (or John Collins) and Dewayne Dedmon, this could finally be a lottery year for a team that’s made the postseason in each of the last 10 seasons.
8. Hitting the waive wire hard in the first three weeks
Sure, the draft is a blast and trash talking with your friends is always a fun part of most fantasy hoops leagues. But surfing the waiver wire in the middle of the night (or morning) is one of my all-time favorite past times. If you’re not constantly working the wire in fantasy hoops, you’re doing it wrong. I kind of like blowing my last couple picks on fliers that might or might not work out. That way you can make moves on surprising players early in the season without having impossible decisions to make on who to cut. The free Daily Dose column and the Season Pass’s PUD (pickup of the day) daily columns are both great places to get an early tip on who you should be thinking about picking up. And of course, the popular Waiver Wired column will be back this year, usually featuring 25 low-ownership players you should be targeting off the wire.
9. Playing in 30-Deep and with rock stars
For those of you who have been with us for a while, you know about our 30-team expert league. It’s one of the deepest fantasy leagues in existence and one of the toughest to win. In fact, simply starting a decent lineup can be tough in that league and the one time I won the whole thing was because I picked up Jeremy Lin in 2011 just before he blew up for the Knicks. It’s one of my favorite fantasy leagues I’ve ever played in.
One of my favorite perks to this job is that indie rockers seem to love fantasy hoops. I play in several leagues with musicians and love going to see the other owners play music when they come through Atlanta. Members of Pavement, Gaslight Anthem, My Morning Jacket, Explosions in the Sky, Built To Spill, Father John Misty, Quasi and a few others typically play in these leagues and I feel pretty lucky to be involved with them. Let’s Go!
10. Drafting Aaron Gordon
Gordon had a big second half last season and should come into his own this year. He's been available in the middle rounds of early drafts and averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers in 31 minutes a night after the All-Star break. I really think the breakout season is coming and he should be available some time around pick 70 in your draft.