Fantasy Basketball Rules, Draft Strategy, and Tips as the 2020-21 NBA season is set to start Dec. 22
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers wants you to think before you draft.Kevin C. Cox | Pool Photo via Associated Press

Fantasy Basketball Rules, Draft Strategy, and Tips as the 2020-21 NBA season is set to start Dec. 22

Didn't basketball just end? Is LeBron still tired? Here's a guide on how to build your team for the coming year.

Basketball fans around the world often wonder what it feels like to run your own NBA team. This holds especially true for fans of franchises who seem to never get over the hump for failing to construct a viable roster. Meanwhile, there are people who dream of teaming up their favorite stars and seeing the magic unfold.

Although it’s definitely a long shot for the average fan to get into a position in an NBA team’s front office, fantasy basketball allows fans to get as close to the GM experience as possible.

What is Fantasy Basketball?

Fantasy basketball is a fantasy sport which allows players to act as general managers of their respective teams. Each player gets to construct his own team through a draft similar to the NBA, except that the players being drafted are actual players from the league.

Every fantasy basketball league has its own distinct rules, but the central goal of the game is to score the most points through the computation of the basketball statistics of the players of each respective team.

Fantasy Basketball Rules

There is no rigid set of rules for fantasy basketball, and the league you join may have different rules than those of other leagues. For example, some leagues may only take into account three statistical categories such as points, rebounds, and assists, while others may take more advanced metrics into the equation, such as three-point field goal percentage and turnovers.

How points are scored also vary depending on the fantasy league. Some leagues have a rotisserie scoring system, where fantasy points are awarded to the team with the highest number of a particular statistic while also considering the number of teams in the league. For example, in a fantasy league with ten teams, the team with the greatest number of points scored per player would receive ten points, while the second team will receive nine points, and so on.

On the other hand, there are also leagues that adopt a head-to-head scoring system, where teams are placed against other teams throughout a week, and the team with the most points by the end wins. Fantasy GMs then get to advance and face the other winners similar to a playoff system until the final winner is determined.

How to Draft Strategically in a Fantasy League

Conduct a Mock Draft Beforehand

Conducting your own mock draft is a good exercise when planning to build your team. Predicting where particular players will go, especially early in the draft, is crucial so that you can adjust accordingly once you find out the drafting order.

Of course, you’d also want to put the names of all the best players on the top of the list so that you don’t forget any of the stars once it’s your turn to pick. You wouldn’t want to draft a benchwarmer not knowing that there’s still an all-star on the board.

Know Your Format

Your league’s format should dictate how you construct your roster. You wouldn’t want to pay too much attention to advanced stats if your league just tracks three statistics, so playing in this type of league will allow you to have more liberty in picking high-volume yet low-efficiency players.

Build a Holistic Roster

It’s tempting to stack your team with high-scoring superstars such as James Harden and Damian Lillard. However, it’s important to maintain diversity in your team. While having stars such as them can never be a bad thing, remember to supplement them with other solid players who dominate other statistics.

Tips for Triumph

Keep Watch on the League

The best way to maintain an edge over the competition is to have greater knowledge than them. In fantasy basketball, getting ahead means keeping track of real-life basketball. By keeping watch of the NBA, you’re able to see who the injury risks are, who are having a hot streak, and who’s likely to stuff the stat sheet on any given night.

Be Aware of Trade Opportunities

With your superior knowledge, you can finesse other GMs in your league by proposing trades that give you an advantage. You can use your knowledge to convince other GMs to let go of their rebound machines in exchange for an inefficient scorer of yours, for example, and they’d think that the trade is mutually beneficial when you’re in fact giving your team the ultimate edge it needs.

Pay Attention to Bad Teams Too

For most casual fans who try their hand in fantasy basketball, it’s natural to build their team with established names and to go for popular stars especially early in the draft. However, the best players aren’t always on the best teams. These underrated players may even perform better than other famous stars and give your team an advantage over the competition.

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