The ultimate beginner's guide to Fantasy Basketball

So, you've decided to try NBA Fantasy. Maybe you got roped into a league with your mates. Maybe you love the NBA and want to put your knowledge to the test.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad you’re here. I'll help you through the somewhat daunting-looking task of playing fantasy basketball. Let’s get to it.

Let’s start with the basics. What are fantasy sports?

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In its most basic form, it's the idea of selecting players from a sporting league (the NBA in this instance) onto your fictional (fantasy) team and having their on-field exploits create a score for your fictional team.

The format of the league varies wildly, but at its core, we are choosing players across an entire league to contribute their stats to our fantasy squad of players.

How do I score points in Yahoo Fantasy?

First of all, the most basic form of NBA fantasy involves a points scoring format. Players accumulate points based on their actions on the basketball court.

In default Yahoo points leagues, those points are distributed as follows:

  • 1 point for every real-life point scored

  • 1.2 points for every rebound grabbed

  • 1.5 points for every assist registered

  • 3 points for every steal swiped

  • 3 points for every shot blocked

  • -1 point for every turnover committed.

So, a player who ends the night with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and two turnovers would end up with 30.7 fantasy points.

Fantasy Basketball is the perfect way to learn more about players like Steph Curry, pictured.
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry could be a crucial piece for any Fantasy Basketball team. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A standard Yahoo fantasy team will have 13 players on it, with ten active players and three bench players.

Every player that is in one of your active slots will contribute to your team’s total score, while points accumulated by a player who is on the bench will not count.

You can move your players from the bench to the active slots during the week so that you maximise your total fantasy points scored.

During the week, you will take on another manager and at the end of the week, the team with the most fantasy points wins the matchup.

How does a fantasy draft work?

So, how do you go about getting these players onto your fantasy team?

Before the season starts, a draft occurs. This is one of the most exciting (and important) parts of any fantasy league.

Each person's team is given a spot in the draft (usually at random) from 1-10 or 12, depending on the size of the league.

If your team is randomly selected at spot 4, that means you will choose 4th in the draft. If you're selected at spot 9, you get the 9th pick in the draft.

At the end of the first round, when everyone has picked one player, you move into round 2. In round 2, the order of the teams reverses. This is known as a snake draft.

So the team that picked last in round 1, now picks first in round 2. This pattern continues through all 13 rounds of the draft, until each team has selected 13 players.

If you want to ask for advice from other players and our experts, join our Fantasy Basketball Insiders group on Facebook.

How to structure your Fantasy Basketball team

A standard Yahoo fantasy roster has 13 spots on it - 10 active slots and three reserve positions... but it isn’t just as simple as that.

For the 10 active roster spots, there are positional designations. Each player in the NBA and in Yahoo’s fantasy pool has at least one, often two, and sometimes three, positions that they play in an NBA game.

The five positions on an NBA court are

  • Point Guard (PG)

  • Shooting Guard (SG)

  • Small Forward (SF)

  • Power Forward (PF)

  • Centre (C)

A default fantasy roster has the following roster requirements when you are drafting your team

  • 1 Point Guard

  • 1 Shooting Guard

  • 1 Small Forward

  • 1 Power Forward

  • 2 Centres

  • 1 Guard (either point guard or shooting guard)

  • 1 Forward (either small forward or power forward)

  • 2 Flex (can be any position)

These are your 10 active slots. So, when drafting, it is important to make sure you have players to fit all of these designations.

Your three bench players can be any position. These restrictions make it so that you can start, on any given day a maximum of four point guards, four shooting guards, four small forwards, four power forwards, and four centres, but not all at once.

So, if your roster contains five players who are all point guards, if they all play on the same day, you won’t be able to count their fantasy points.

At the end of the draft, you will have your 13 players, as will the other members of your league. That isn’t the end and your team will likely look a lot different when the season is over.

Managing your Fantasy team

There are two ways of changing your team during the season...

You can negotiate a trade with another member of your league, where you send one, two or three players to another team in exchange for one, two, or three of their players.

This is more complex than other ways of changing your team, as it puts your negotiating skills to the test - but a good trade can change everything.

What is the waiver wire, and how do I use it?

There is also the waiver wire or free agent list.

Any player who wasn't selected in the draft sits on this list. At any point during the season, you can choose to drop one of your players and add a player off the free agent list, but often leagues will have restrictions on how many of these moves you can make in a week.

This is key when a player is injured long-term, or underperforming, and a surprise player is playing well.

Making astute moves on the waiver wire is key to winning a fantasy league.

Being active in moving players into your active slots, making trades with your fellow managers, and scouring the waiver wire for players who can help your team are the key ways to maximise your chance at winning your first fantasy league.

How playoffs work in Fantasy

At the end of the season, the top 4-6 teams (usually) will qualify for the playoffs, where they will play in a loser goes home matchup until we are left with just two teams to contest the fantasy championship.

Hopefully, you find yourself in the championship matchup this season as you learn the ins and outs of fantasy NBA.

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