What Happens When An NBA Novice Joins A Fantasy Keeper League

Perhaps I'm opening myself up to unnecessary ridicule here, but before I joined the SB Nation team, basketball wasn't one of the sports that was firmly in my wheelhouse of knowledge. I'm a baseball man first and foremost, with MMA, football, hockey, cycling and some tennis also in my database of things to care about. Truth be told, my association with basketball began with that Isiah Thomas made-for-TV movie, picked up again when there was that whole "Michael Jordan" thing, then tailed off again before the resurgence of the Celtics, the advent of Rajon Rondo and the fan crucifixion of LeBron James. Heck, I've never even seen "Space Jam."

So needless to say, when the opportunity presented itself to join a fantasy keeper league earlier this month, how could I refuse?

The idea for the league was borne out of an Internet acquaintance of mine having seen an article by Bill Simmons on Grantland that proposed a keeper NBA league where each team had a hard salary cap of $65 million per year, based on actual player salaries. Even knowing what little I do about basketball, it seemed like an intriguing opportunity, so I signed up.

The league was set up on Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, but the draft was held on a free message board, so we could all draft at our leisure without having to set aside a huge block of time. Unfortunately, I missed the notification that the draft was beginning until two days later, meaning I missed the entire first round. This was especially unfortunate, since I had apparently drawn the No. 2 overall pick. By the time I checked in, the only real no-brainers I knew about regarding talent vs. cost-effectiveness (Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and the Golden State Warriors' own Stephen Curry) were long gone. I ended up taking Luol Deng as my first pick, because even though I knew next to nothing about basketball, I know that Luol Deng is awesome.

I had Monta Ellis and LaMarcus Aldridge (who were the only other two players I had in mind when the whole thing started) swooped right in front of my second-round pick, so I locked up my center by taking Marcin Gortat, who was name-dropped as a good pick for this type of league in the original Bill Simmons article. That tidbit and SB Nation Arizona coverage is most of what informed my decision.

For the next few rounds of the draft, I stuck with pulling up the league leaders in major stats (mostly PPG, rebounds and assists), occasionally filtering by position to make sure I had everything more or less covered. Along the way, I also picked up Sacramento Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette in the hope of lucking into some value. I also made sure to pick up Los Angeles Clippers point guard Mo Williams, based on advanced metrics of "he was awesome in a game I watched on TV." In the late rounds, I pulled up a list of salaries by position and filtered from lowest to highest, then selected based on what names I thought I recognized. Again, not exactly what you would call "smart" methods. For my last pick, I took Metta World Peace. No explanation should be necessary there.

So using these pathetic, pathetic methods, I ended up with the following team:

1. SF Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls - $12,341,275
2. C Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns - $6,790,640
3. PF/C Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic - $2,244,600
4. PG/SG Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers - $5,917,500
5. SG/SF DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors - $2,625,000
6. PG/SG Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings - $2,238,360
7. PF/C Marreese Speights, Memphis Grizzlies - $2,721,254
8. SG OJ Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies - $5,632,636
9. PG Mo Williams, Los Angeles Clippers - $8,500,000
10. PF/C Nikola Vucevic, Philadelphia 76ers - $1,645,440
11. SF/PF Travis Outlaw, Sacramento Kings - $3,000,000
12. SG/SF/PF Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers - $6,790,640

After the first few games, Vucevic and Outlaw had proved why they were available on the extra-cheap, so I dumped them and picked up someone off the waiver wire who I felt would be a good acquisition based on the percentage of Fantasy Sports players who were using him as a starter. (Thanks, Yahoo! Sports!) Giving me my current team consisting of:

1. SF Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls - $12,341,275
2. C Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns - $6,790,640
3. PF/C Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic - $2,244,600
4. PG/SG Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers - $5,917,500
5. SG/SF DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors - $2,625,000
6. PG/SG Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings - $2,238,360
7. PF/C Marreese Speights, Memphis Grizzlebees - $2,721,254
8. SG OJ Mayo, Memphis Grizzlebees - $5,632,636
9. PG Mo Williams, Los Angeles Clippers - $8,500,000
10. SG/SF/PF Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers - $6,790,640
11. PF/C Andray Blatche, Washington Wizards - $6,442,083

Total Team Payroll - $62,243,988
Cap Room - $2,756,012

I have an open slot for one more player, and I know I will need to drop World Peace at some point, but I'm going to ride things out for a few more weeks and see where this team gets me. And yes, I have World Peace riding the pine and only plan to use him when other players don't have games or in the event of injury.

As of today, I'm in seventh place out of 12 teams in the league, but was in fifth place for a couple of days. Not too bad for a team assembled based one-third on "I recognize that name," one-third on "this guy's in the top 20 in rebounds!" and one-third on "I don't know who this is, but he's cheap."

I'm learning a lot more about basketball all the time, so I'm sure that before long I'll realize how hilariously terrible my team is. But for the time being, I'm content with seventh place. Come on Jimmer, win rookie of the year or something.

For all news and information regarding the Golden State Warriors, check out Golden State of Mind. To catch up with Jimmer and the Sacramento Kings, head on over to Sactown Royalty. For NBA news by people who actually know a whole bunch about basketball, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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