The 2008-09 Skywalkers!

In our first season of fantasy basketball the Skywalkers finished with a respectable .500 record, and left management with a taste for the game and a desire to improve.

We left the old CBS Sportsline league and moved to the new ESPN sponsored league 'all-star' (no capitals) to face-off against a bunch of guys from Texas and Utah.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty amusing too.

The new league has a few twists compared to the last one. Instead of doubling the assists, they only count one for one, and both field goal %and three point shots made are stats to be reckoned. How these make any sense baffles me, if a guy hits a lot of three point shots won't his scoring be higher - and don't we already count that? And counting field goal % is like using shooting % in hockey, only more retarded. Anyway, it is what it is.

The new league allowed you to go in and rank all the players in the top 200 or so. Then at a specified date the 'draft' is held - which takes all of a few picoseconds of computing time since human beings aren't involved. Check the website later that day and 'voila' I had my new Skywalkers!

The teams are structured like this;

You must have one of each of the five starting positions filled; Point Guard (PG), Shooting Guard (SG), Small Forward (SF), Power Forward (PF) and Center (C). Then you get to dress one extra Guard (PG or SG) and one extra Forward (SF,PF or C). On top of those starting five and two reserves you have three 'utlility' players who can be of any position, and three guys of any position to sit on your bench - for a total of 10 players whose stats will count for you each and every week and three reserves.

Here's a rundown of how my 'draft' went; ?Note, I was picking 10th in a 10 player league (second year running I've been bottom drafter), so I had the wraparound.

1. Kevin Garnett-PF Bos

I think I had KG ranked 8th on my list so I was pleased to see him land on my squad. His numbers have diminished slightly from his MVP caliber seasons, but that is more attributable to coaches being more judicious with his floor time. Two players I want to monitor are Carlos Boozer-PF in Utah and Dirk Nowitzki-PF Dallas as both were taken ahead of KG and I want to see if the GMs who did so were justified.

2. Dwayne Wade-SG Miami

I had Wade all of last year so I know what I am getting from him. He's a top five stats buster when he's healthy and motivated - which is roughly 50 games a season lately. If he makes it a full season and the Heat are gunning for a playoff spot, his numbers should be sick wicked and nasty. If the Heat flounder early and often he'll see his minutes and intensity drop as he seeks to avoid more injuries. I prefer to see the upside of Wade, and this year he isn't the Skywalkers top pick so the pressure is off. I could have had Steve Nash with this pick, so I may have some explaining to the fanbase to do.

3. Joe Johnson-SG/SF Atlanta

I've loved JJ since his time in Phoenix, and his game hasn't declined at all. Somebody picked the injured for most of the year Gilbert Arenas ahead of him (HA!), and I'm sure he was overlooked in part because the Atlanta team is in total dissaray. Except Johnson - who is wicked awesome.

4. Al Jefferson-C Minnesota

I am shocked this monstrous center was still available in the fourth round - but as you will note this becomes a common refrain for me. Jefferson was the centerpiece of the KG trade that landed the Big Ticket in Boston. I checked a bunch of different draft boards and many had Jefferson in the late first early second. None had him in the 4th.

5. Tyson Chanlder-C New Orleans

I had Chris Paul as one of my top players to get, as well as his partner in crime David West. Unfortunately I had to settle for the third best player in New Orleans, alley-oop dunk machine Chandler. His assist totals are non existant, and his points are all from Chris Paul lobs, but at this stage he provides solid rebounding numbers to go with his offense.

6. Greg Oden-C Portland

One of the setbacks you get in an auto-draft is that you can't account for positions already filled. I already have my top center in Jefferson and a solid backup starter in Chandler - so I really would have preferred to take a point guard (Leandro Barbosa was still available) or small forward (Lamar Odom) instead of Oden here. That said, Oden looks like he could be a monster right out of the gate especially with his ability to collect blocks and rebounds (can you say 'trade bait'?, I knew you could).

7. Brandon Roy-SG Portland

Ridiculous. Roy lasts until the SEVENTH round? How did that happen? I don't care. As one commenter put it 'this is the last year Roy will be available outside of the 2nd round'. If there is one pick I made that I think will boost me into top contention it is this one.

8. Tracy McGrady-SG/SF Houston

Last year I drafted the immensely talented but seriously injury prone Yao Ming out of Houston. This year I drafted the immensely talented but seriously injury prone McGrady. Last year Yao was my 2nd rnd pick, this year McGrady is my 8th round pick. Call it a lesson learned. McGrady has all the tools to win the scoring title but is hurt more often than Michael Nylander. In the 8th round though I think he could be an awesome value. In retrospect I may have preferred Josh 'Reefer Madness' Howard here as my small forward pick, but the truth is McGrady has way more upside to go with his risk.

9. Jermaine O'Neal-C/PF Raptors

Last year I was shut out of the Raptors largely because everybody I was in the pool against was Canadian - so there was some homer action going on. This year even with weighting my lists heavily to favour them I only managed to land O'Neal - a guy who hasn't had a healthy season in his last five. That said, he's dropped weight, worked out like a fiend in the off-season, and has been playing sparing but effective minutes for the Raptors in the preseason. If he can stay healthy this pick is a total winner. If not, I wasted a 9th rounder.

10. Kevin Love-PF Minnesota

I moved him way (I mean WAY) up my draft rankings after seeing him play some college ball and a drooling over his scouting report. A gym-rat, Love is known for making absurdly difficult shots (like from behind his own net into the opposing basket), and wicked no-look passes. I knew everybody would load up on Beasley (the top forward pick from this years draft) but Love was the guy I wanted all along to fill out my roster. In Minny alonside Jefferson he could get the playing time necessary to post ROY numbers.

11. Marvin Williams-SF Atlanta

A pure scorer he brings little else to the table aside from some anemic rebounding and assist numbers. That said, a slight uptick in either and he would be a starter.

12. Thadeus Young-SF Philadelphia

He's on all the top prognosticators 'sleeper' lists as his per 40 minute stats from last year were very impressivew. Unfortunately he has to displace the absurdly gifted Andre Iguodala to get starting minutes at the SF in Philladelphia.

13. Russell Westbrook-PG Oklahoma City

A decent enough pick to fill out the bench and another rookie, but that isn't the problem. The problem was that Westbrook is my FIRST POINT GUARD, which means I have to play him in my starting lineup!

So in reviewing my team my team looked like this;

PG Westbrook (!)
SG Wade, Roy
SF Johnson, McGrady, Williams, Young,
PF Garnett, O'Neal, Love
C Jefferson, Chandler, Oden

Seeing the obvious (I have way too many decent quality Small Forwards and what amounts to a black hole at Point Guard) I dealt Marvin Williams to the 'Rampage' for his backup PG Boston's Rajon Rondo.

Now Rondo was a guy I became familiar with last year. He was a mid-season pickup (thanks to injuries) who produced steady average production in assists, gave me weak offense, and excellent rebounding for the PG spot. However, after watching him in the playoffs with Boston it became pretty clear to me that Rondo - and not Ray Allen, was the third best player on the Celtics championship team. So dealing the one dimmensional Williams for him was a blessing.

All in all this trade infused me with real hope. If Rondo can be average or better at PG, I think I have the makings of a top end team. Jefferson is a top 3 center, Wade is a top 3 SG, Johnson is a top 5 SF, and Garnett is a top 3 PF, giving me a dominant starting four, and way above average starting five.

I've also made inquiries into whether or not Jose Calderon might be available, but so far the asking price is Al Jefferson and that doesn't make sense to me. As it stands I am hoping to see Gilbert Arenas hit the waiver wire so I can scoop the injured one up for nothing and stash him on my bench till the 2nd half of the season rolls around, where I will unveil him as my secret weapon for the stretch drive.

Last years mistakes (Yao, Kirilenko, Artest, Stephen Jackson) have all been avoided, with only Wade making another appearance on the team - and he does so only after we pick KG ahead of him, so if nothing else we seem to be improving at the GM level.

Go Skywalkers!


Quote of the Day

"Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male". - Alfred Kinsey


Andrew Sullivan's Live blog of the Presedential Debates.

9.57 pm. Some readers seem to think my description of Obama as boring is meant as a criticism. Subjectively, maybe it doesn't give me a Lowry. But objectively, it's brilliant. The first black president will only get there by boring a lot of white people. And haven't we had enough drama in the last eight years? Boring is fucking awesome after Bush. " - Andrew Sullivan

(timeline starts at the bottom)


Quote of the Day

Discovered over at Marginal Revolution;

R: "I'm quite pessimistic about the current financial system. I've been buying gold."

A: "Gold? That's not pessimistic enough. I've been buying rice."

Picture of the Day