Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: What’s the most important thing to know before drafting?

Josh Lloyd is a Fantasy Basketball expert for Yahoo Sport based in Melbourne, Australia. His weekly articles will give you the edge on your opponents. Get in touch with questions for Josh on Twitter where he's always active.

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The NBA preseason is here and we have actual, meaningless games, to look at. They aren’t entirely meaningless, as we can still glean some details for fantasy basketball, so I took your questions from Twitter and Instagram and there were plenty of interesting queries. Let’s get to it.

@shakespeare604: My league has for some reason instituted a "waiting period" on all trades. The trade is announced and then everybody in the league is given a few days to make a better offer on the player. What do you think?

I hear some bad ideas from time to time, and this is up there with the worst of them. Once a trade is organised and agreed upon, it should go through. No waiting period for others to come in with different offers, and especially no league vetoes. The league commissioner needs to put every trade through as soon as possible with the only reason not to put through a trade being suspected collusion between managers. Don’t institute this idea in your league and get rid of league voted vetoes.

@ewill713: Playing in a standard Yahoo cat league but switched from two centres/two utility (2C/2utl) to 1C/3utl. With all positions now equal how does this change your draft strategy?

I like this move. I don’t think leagues should be playing with a mandatory two centres for fantasy rosters. Every other position has just one default starter, except for centre, so I like evening it up, especially as the NBA goes with lineups without centres often.

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As for strategy, it means you don’t need to reach to make sure you fill out your centre position as early, so you can grab more guards and forwards. I didn’t pay huge attention to the two centre default in a draft until I got to the late rounds anyway.

@michaelceravolo: What role do you think ‘load management’ will play in 2019?

There is no doubt that players are going to be rested as NBA teams get smarter and drag themselves into the 21st century in terms of player health and fitness. In some ways, the NBA is a long way behind Australian sports in terms of load and injury management, but they are starting to catch up.

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With that in mind, I think the widespread panic about load management in fantasy circles is getting overblown. We are all expecting the Sixers to sit Joel Embiid in all back to backs, forgetting he played in back to backs last season. Some expect Kawhi Leonard to sit out even more than the 22 games he missed last season. I don’t think either of those things happen. People will rest, no doubt, but I think there is unnecessary panic in some areas.

@yosefks: Why do you think Deandre Ayton is projected to be a second-rounder? He put up meagre defensive stats last year.

While it’s true that Ayton only blocked 0.9 shots and had 0.9 steals last season, he also only played 30.7 minutes per game. He was the 43rd ranked player last season in standard points leagues in those 31 minutes and this season, I project that playing time to jump quite a bit. I think he is likely to be a 20 point and 10 rebound player who could improve his block numbers, which he did at the end of last season.

Oklahoma City's Steven Adams and Phoenix's DeAndre Ayton are heading into the next season with their teams looking very different. Pictures: Getty Images
Oklahoma City's Steven Adams and Phoenix's DeAndre Ayton are heading into the next season with their teams looking very different. Pictures: Getty Images

With a massive upgrade at point guard, thanks to the signing of Ricky Rubio, Ayton should be able to get more and better looks and I imagine his usage of 20.6% should elevate quite a bit as well. He probably has a little more value in a category league versus a points league, but I like him around the top 25 for this season.

@bobbyshokri: What’s the most important thing you should remind yourself before drafting?

The answer to this is and always has been to know your league settings. If you don’t know how your league’s scoring is set up, how can you possibly draft effectively? The answer is that you can’t. You need to know how many teams are in your league, how many roster spots do you need to fill, do you change your lineups daily or weekly, do you have an injured reserve slot. Is your draft an auction or snake draft? How many players can you add per week? If you don’t know the answers to these sorts of questions, you cannot be properly prepared to go into your fantasy draft.

@royistheboy: With rumours of a Steven Adams trade circling, does this mean the Thunder will look to trade Chris Paul as well and go the full youth movement?

The report that came out this week was that the Thunder had made contact with teams about the possibility of dealing the big Kiwi, but were rebuffed because their asking price of draft picks, a young player, and cap relief was considered too high. Whenever we hear about trade deals, it usually because they are off the table. So, for now, I wouldn’t consider Adams getting traded as fact. Now, if Adams does get dealt, I’m sure the Thunder would love to deal Paul and Danilo Gallinari, but in order to get rid of those guys, especially Paul, another team has to come to the party.

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Paul has a lot of money left and the Thunder will not want to give up an asset just to get off the contract. Another thing people have to realise in a potential Adams deal is that the Thunder will still have to get players back in the trade. They aren’t trading Adams exclusively to open minutes for Nerlens Noel, so he doesn’t automatically benefit in a situation that Adams is in a new uniform.

@tallrob23: Does the Nets’ medical staff give you any confidence that Kyrie Irving can stay healthy this year?

Irving has had a lot of issues with his knees over the years and it gives fantasy manager pause, rightfully. The most games he has ever played in a season is 75 and has played just 127 games in the last two years. The start in Brooklyn hasn’t been great, suffering a facial fracture. But, that is an incidental injury and he is going to play in the Nets’ next preseason game. As for the Nets’ medical staff, well, maybe. They fixed Brook Lopez’s foot issues and Caris LeVert also hasn’t had any of the foot issues that plagued him coming out of Michigan and forced him to slide in the draft. But, they aren't infallible. Allen Crabbe’s knee is in bad shape, DeMarre Carroll’s knee and D’Angelo Russell’s knee cost them a lot of time, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could never stay healthy either.

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So, I guess, the takeaway is that I’m not factoring the Nets’ medical staff into my decision to draft Irving in fantasy and I’m expecting him to still miss 12+ games this season. He could go over 70, and that would be great, but I am not expecting it.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and keep an eye out for the next mailbag tweet to gather your questions.

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