Here Are 5 Moves You Must Make to Win Your Fantasy Basketball League

  • Derrick Rose
    Have a backup plan for Derrick Rose

    This is an issue that may be unavoidable this far into the season. I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you sooner.

    It isn’t a knock on Rose the player that we have to discuss. The problem with the former MVP is that we can’t say with any sort of confidence that he’s built to last. Assuming that he’s playing an important role for your squad, you really need him to put up All-Star-caliber numbers to justify what it cost to acquire him. His body’s persistent failure makes it hard to believe that’s coming on a consistent basis.

    Depending on how deep your league goes, you can prepare to absorb the impact of your star point guard missing time. Utilize the “handcuff” strategy that’s popular in fantasy football and grab one of Rose’s backcourt buddies like Kirk Hinrich or Aaron Brooks. In deeper formats, see if you can snag a backup that looks to be in the coach’s favor, like D.J. Augustin in Detroit. Whatever you do, don’t let Rose’s frailness catch you off guard.

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  • Get rid of Josh Smith

    The artist formerly known as Smoove is traditionally a fantasy monster. At his peak, he was giving you brilliance in a wide variety of categories, snatching the typical big man points and boards, while splicing in dimes, blocks, and steals. Having Smith as part of your core was never a bad thing.

    The issue facing Smith owners these days is the awful fit on his current Pistons team. Detroit has two young big men — Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe — who need development time. Combined with their investment in Smith, it has forced the coaching staff to play super-big lineups involving all three players, which has only brought out the worst in Smoove. His three-jacking tendencies are heightened playing on this roster, which drags him away from the post area he was so successful in.

    Many believe that Stan Van Gundy will unlock the potential of the triumvirate, but make someone else bet on that. Find a desperate trade partner looking for an all-around stat producer and jettison Smith before he tanks your field goal and free throw percentages.

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  • Roy Hibbert
    Believe in Roy Hibbert

    It’s tough to get basketball fans to trust Hibbert after watching him completely self-destruct down the stretch last season. Don’t get wrapped up in the past. The Pacers big man has nothing but opportunities ahead of him.

    For better or for worse, this is Hibbert’s team until Paul George returns from his gruesome leg injury. While he isn’t known as an offensive machine in the post, Hibbert will see his touches increase due to a lack of options elsewhere, and his gargantuan size stands out in a league that’s going smaller every day.

    That helps him on the other side of the ball, where he’ll continue to swat shots at an elite level. In fact, while it might hurt the Pacers defense in real life, the loss of George and Lance Stephenson will likely lead to more opportunities for blocked shots. Given his solid free throw percentage from the pivot — usually in the mid-70s — Hibbert should exceed expectations this season.

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  • Grab Sixers deep-sleeper K.J. McDaniels

    Though the Sixers are dealing with something of an image crisis right now, there are plenty of young studs relevant on the fantasy team lurking in Philadelphia. While Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams are the headliners, don’t sleep on rookie wing McDaniels.

    Deemed a first-round talent by a majority of talent evaluators, McDaniels slid to the Sixers at the top of the second round this summer. He has quickly shown why many scouts loved him, flashing obscene athleticism as his skill-set rounds into form. The key to his value is his ability to out-produce other players at his position in certain categories — this guy led the ACC in blocks during his final season at Clemson.

    That’s a hell of a feat for a wing player, and the Sixers up-tempo style should inflate his raw numbers a ton. He isn’t yet starting, but given what we’ve seen early on, that day will come soon, and you’ll be glad you snatched him early when it does.

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  • Dwight Howard
    Don’t try to win every category

    The hardest part of fantasy basketball is the give and take of owning certain players. Dwight Howard will clean up a number of categories for you, but his free throw woes can submarine the category single-handedly. Rajon Rondo will stockpile assists, but he isn’t a big scorer and you can’t count on him for three-pointers.

    Rather than trying to cover for those deficiencies, embrace the strengths of those players. Trying to straddle categories will often lead to losses, as you don’t get wins by being merely average in every category. If you have a star with a specialized skill-set, try to enhance his value with the rest of your picks.

    You don’t have to worry about constructing a normal-looking roster with your team. If that means loading up on non-shooters or building a three-point juggernaut, just make sure you follow through with it. Steer clear of the middle ground and you’ll be well on your way to fantasy basketball success.

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  • Derrick Rose
  • Josh Smith
  • Roy Hibbert
  • Dwight Howard

Just about anybody can play fantasy football. The games are played during the same time slots every week, minimizing the time you have to spend checking and updating your roster throughout the season. There are entire TV shows centered on the topic — it boils down to Fantasy Football for Dummies — and exhaustive preseason rankings that have taken a lot of the guesswork out of it.

Fantasy basketball is a totally different animal. A successful team requires close maintenance and a more watchful eye, and people who are totally invested in seeing their team succeed. Don’t expect to just casually coast through your league and win the championship. Titles in these leagues only come through careful crafting. Unlike in football, there’s no all-encompassing point total that decides whether you win or lose. You have to find sources of points, rebounds, steals, and a number of other statistical categories in order to reign supreme over your opponent.

If that sounds like a challenge, it is! The learning curve is what makes jumping into a new fantasy sport fun. But not everyone is ready to take on a tall task on their own, so I’m here to dish out some advice and get you off on the right foot.

As is standard with any advice about fantasy sports, nothing that follows is guaranteed to win you the championship — you still need to put in the work and read/react to the market on your own. However, you can’t go wrong if you stay true to these core tenets through the 2014-15 season. Here Are 5 Moves You Must Make to Win Your Fantasy Basketball League.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleNeubeck