Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Top 6 reasons why fantasy basketball rocks... and one big begging moment

I've been playing fantasy basketball for seven years -- or, well, about the exact same amount of time as I've been begging people to play fantasy basketball. Except for the begging to fill my leagues, it's actually my favorite fantasy league, beating out baseball and football. Here's why.

1) No stupid park effects. Look, picking the right players for your starting lineup is difficult enough without worrying about rain or snow in football, or some wind or bandbox killing your pitchers in baseball. Basketball, it's the same everywhere. Just like they say in "Hoosiers."

2) Everybody can do everything. Need a save? You better have the single guy on the pitching staff that's getting them. Didn't get a top QB? You're boned on passing yards.

But the NBA offers a million ways to get your numbers. There are guards that block shots. Centers that shoot three pointers. Power forwards that get assists. It's incredibly liberating, and a lot more fun. When your point guard blocks a shot, that's just cool.

3) It rewards knowledge of the overall game. In baseball and football, the won-loss record of the team doesn't matter very much for the value of any particular player. Sure, maybe a running back from a bad team gets pinched a little as his team throws a ton in catch-up situations, or a QB from a team that gets a lot of leads might sit out some fourth quarters. But for the most part, you can pretty much draft the numbers and forget about it.

In the NBA, you need to actually know which teams are going to suck, because those are the ones where the star players are much more likely to "get hurt" and ease off on the minutes in March and April. You also have to ease off the guys from the very best teams, since they wind up losing minutes, and minutes drive everything. Lose enough games, and a lineup shuffle will happen. If you don't watch wins and losses, it's going to cost you in the long run.

4) Overtime. In baseball, extra innings means extra at bats from offensive players that never do enough with them. In football, overtime almost never happens.

But in the NBA, overtime -- and even double and triple overtime -- happens just enough to occasionally give you a Big Stiffie of oversized numerical goodness. Fantasy sports goodness is all about the outliers, and when your point guard pulls off 20+ assists in a double-overtime barn-burner, you're loving life. A lot.

5) It's niche-y. Let's face it... too many people play fantasy football. Every ticker tells you the stats you need, you can talk about your team with millions, and somewhere in your league, there's somebody who lucked into a Michael Turner who is utterly kicking your ass.

With pro hoop, it's still kind of underground, and just a lot more fun. Trust me on this. Fantasy sports fist pumps are best served in private.

6) It totally saves the winter. January and February is pure misery for fantasy players, unless you do a basketball or hockey league. Even if you are an NBA fan, fantasy is huge, since it keeps you involved during the mid-season grind. If you are the kind of fantasy football player that mopes his way through December onward because you've got no more juice in the games, the Association will save you.

* * * * *

Now, having said all of that, here's the sales pitch.

After seven years of running a head to head Yahoo league with a serpentine draft, I wanted to take it up a notch, and go to an auction league, roto scoring, with keepers.

Most of the guys who have done the league for years were starting to lag in interest, or are increasingly whipped by their women. (Sad but true.) Others are having schedule conflicts. And well, NBA fantasy leagues are tough to fill; always have been, probably always will be.

So I've got six slots to fill, and 10 days to fill them. It's a Yahoo league, $50 to enter with 100% of the funds going to the winners. There's a dorky trophy involved, a big board to draft in, beer and bbq and all of the pure fun that is a live draft. The draft will be at my place in Central New Jersey (about halfway between New York and Philly, and close to trains), and if you aren't local, it's no problem; we'll be doing a conference call and web meeting to keep you involved.

Anyway, I need people to fill the league. If you're interested, email me at dmtshooter@gmail.com. If you know anyone who's an NBA fan and can forward this along, I'd also appreciate it. If you can link this post and spread the word about the openings, that's also a big help.

Because, well, I'd love to have a league, and I'm sure that people who join will love it, too. Even if I have to beg folks to give it a try...

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