Well, the NBA season is about to begin, so we had our annual fantasy league draft this Saturday. This our first year as a keeper league, meaning we'll be able to keep 2 or 3 players from our lineups next season. So younger guys are more valueable than guys in the twilight of their career, even if they still produce well right now.
I was drafting 8th, so I figured I'd be able to land Andrei Kirilenko in the first round. I was rather shocked to see Tracy McGrady go undrafted, and quickly grabbed him instead. T-Mac is one the league's two best guards, so I'm elated with this pick. I think the move to Houston, an actual good team (something T-Mac hasn't experienced yet in the L), will be very good for him, as defenses won't be able to focus on him nearly as much. T-Mac was very good for my team last year, and getting him was a great start. AK dropped all the way to 13, where he was snapped up by my good friend G.
Next round, I was even more surprised to see Shawn Marion available at the 21st overall pick. Marion was ranked in the top 10 in many predraft rankings, and top 15 in just about all of them. Phoenix is a team with many scorers, so some thought his value will be diluted. I think he's the MAN there, and will remain the leading scorer and a top rebounder.
By the time my pick in the third round arrived, I was in shock to see Peja Stojakovic still around at the 36st pick. Peja was a top 20 player last year, and with new scoring rules in our league favoring scorers and passers more than ever, he'll be a great player this year. Despite the return to active duty of Chris Webber at Sacramento, I figure he'll still be the leading scorer, and may have better shooting percentage. So I had 3 of the league's top 20 players with my first three picks, which made me a very happy camper.
Round 4 was my first big gamble, as I picked second year player Chris Bosh. Bosh was a very nice player as a rookie, and I believe he'll get better this year. He's also a center, and good centers are VERY rare. So I gambled.
In the 5th round, I picked up Tony Parker, a super talented player, who tends to have ups and downs. I think this will be a good year for young Parker, and that he'll be a very good second guard for me. Some disagree and call this a gamble as well.
In round 6, I really started to roll the dice, when I picked Shareef Abdur-Raheem. Shareef is a very talented player who usually has great stats, but he was traded to Portland, where he plays behind Zach Randolph, and gets less minutes. If he stays in Portland, this wasn't a very good pick. However, there are very strong rumors that he's getting traded to the Nets, who have NO power forward. If that happens, he becomes a 2nd-3rd round type player, and my team becomes a monster and a top contender.
I went conservative in round 7, and picked the best available player in Michael Finley. Not as good as he used to be, but still a very solid player, who rounds up my top seven (we start 7 players every week).
Round 8 was my round to gamble again, as I picked Jeff McInnis. McInnis is a bit of a headcase, and has been very unstable in his production. But now he's the starting point guard for Cleveland, where he gets to rack up assists passing to LeBron James. I think he'll be solid.
In round 9, I finally got another of my guys from last year, the solid if unspectacular Jim Jackson, who this year will be T-Mac's teammate in Houston as well as on my team. It's considered advisable to have as few players as possible from the same team on your fantasy team, but I made an exception for Jackson, who I really like.
The last three rounds were all about gambling. Melvin Ely, my pick in round 10, is playing in the expansion team, Bobcats, and someone has to grab rebounds on that talent depraved team. Plus, he's a center, and I needed another one. Luol Deng, who I picked up in round 11 is an extremely athletic rookie in Chicago, where he'll be starting. And Eric Williams seems like a nice guy, and the Nets don't have that many players this year. Frankly, he isn't likely to stay on my roster long, and will probably be replaced by some undrafted player or by someone else's castoff.
This draft was often frustrating, as some players drafted very well, and were constantly drafting the guys I was going to get. But overall, I'm happy. My top guys are great and my gambles have potential. This is going to be a fun year.