2011 NBA Fantasy Basketball Year In Review


It may be a couple weeks post due, but we’re wrapping up the basketball season by handing out some fantasy awards. Erik and I went over most of our lists in the last podcast, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to elaborate more on my picks and get Nels to participate as well. At this point, Nels and I are like and old married couple that just agrees about everything, it’s disgusting… Erik’s picks from the podcast are included for some diversity; and you can always listen to the pod if you want to hear him elaborate on his choices.

Fantasy MVP

Nels: Kevin Durant. I finished 3rd place in both of the leagues where I was able to get KD. I’m sure people who drafted LeBron in more than one league can probably say the same thing, but as I always do with fantasy basketball, I look at the numbers. And the Player Rater doesn’t lie. KD just edges out LeBron and even if they came out exactly even with respect to WARP, my vote would go to KD for his real life performance. Put that guy on Miami instead of LeBron and I bet they win more than 58 games.

Patrick: Kevin Durant. As I said in the last podcast, I think you can make a reasonable fantasy MVP argument for any one of five guys: Durant, LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul. My vote is for Durant since he finished at the top of our player rater on the season (the player rater that I created, so it holds some sway). I love the fact that you can draft KD and build just about type of team you want around him. I love that he’s durable. I love that he led the league in points per game, but most of all I love that he’s the league’s best free throw shooter.

Erik: Kevin Durant

Rookie of The Year

Patrick: Blake Griffin. With all due respect to John Wall, this is not even close. After missing all of last season after fracturing his knee, Griffin came back with a vengeance this season and attacked everything on the court like I attack an all you can eat buffet. Griffin played in all 82 games, averaging 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and most importantly, 2.6 dunks per game. The only negative aspect to his game from a fantasy perspective is his 64% shooting from the free throw line. Well that, and dunks don’t count as a category in your average league.

Nels: Just as in real life, it’s Blake Griffin. Anyone who has him in a keeper league is probably overjoyed right now. As with any big man, if he can improve his free throw shooting, he’ll be a fantasy All Star for years to come. I suppose he will be even if he sticks at 62%.

Erik: Blake Griffin


Comeback Player

Nels: Elton Brand. I forget where he ended up in 2009-10, but I don’t think it was as high as #28, and for someone who I had pretty much written off, that’s a pretty big improvement. Brand will probably never try to flirt with the Top Twenty again, she’s just too young and sexy and surrounded by a pack of guys led by Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, and Russell Westbrook. Brand can’t compete with that, but he can get on the dance floor with Top Thirty and shake his tail feather.

Patrick: Elton Brand. Back in February, I broke down Brand’s improved 2010-11 season in detail. Basically, Brand benefited this season from a perfect storm of events; from an increase in minutes to Samuel Dalembert being traded to the arrival of Doug Collins (and the departure of Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense). It all came together to give Brand his best season since his Clipper days. He’s is only 32 years old, so he might just be able to keep up the act next season as well.

Erik: Al Jefferson

Breakout Player

Patrick: Dorell Wright. I figured that Wright would be in for a breakout season at the beginning of the year: he was heading to the Warriors and it seemed like he was going to get the opportunity to start. But I’d be lying if I thought Wright would ever be this good. He did benefit from Golden State’s lack of depth (Reggie Williams was MIA all season), but Wright made the most of his 38 minutes a game by averaging 16.4 points, 5.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.4 threes a game. The only blemish on his game was his field goal percentage, which hovered around 40% for most of the season.

Nels: Dorell Wright. I’m not sure if he’s more appropriate for the one-year wonder category, but according to the player rater, Wright was #16 for the season. And that’s with some pretty good competition on that Golden State team. I don’t know if I’m drafting him that high next year, but he definitely caught the attention of a lot of fantasy owners this season.

Erik: Kevin Love


Nels: I’m going to with a tie on this one: David Lee and Chris Bosh. I knew that both of them were going to drop in the ranks, but if not for a late rallies by both players (both shot over 50% from the field in March and April, while Lee got back to averaging a double-double in the last two months after dropping from that level seven games into November). At 44 and 46, these guys are at least 15 spots further down than I expected, and while there are probably other players who fell further, I took both Lee and Bosh in the second round this year. In a close third place is Brook Lopez who I took at the beginning of the 3rd round in one league. Never trust anyone within the sphere of influence of a Kardashian. The Lakers would do well to heed my warning. Also, Tyreke Evans. But I was smart enough to stay away from that one. Gracias a Dios.

Patrick: The hype machine was in full effect for Tyreke Evans going into the season after he averaged better than a 20/5/5 his rookie year. In the leagues that I was in, Evans was consistently off the board by the end of the 3rd round. Unfortunately for those who gambled, Evans was limited to 57 games this season thanks to a plantar fasciitis injury that lingered all year. His stats also fell off a cliff like they were Christina Aguilera’s career – especially his shooting which dipped to 41% on the season.

Also, Anthony Randolph’s big trade to the Knicks was a disaster. After being pegged as a breakout player yet again going into the season, he averaged 7.5 minutes a game with the Knicks this season. He was traded to the Timberwolves mid-season and was slightly better for them, averaging 11 points and 5 boards a game. And of course, he crushed it to end the season (averaging about 20 ppg over his last 5 games) ensuring that someone will mention him next season as a breakout candidate.

Erik: Brook Lopez

Injury of the Year

Patrick: Game 4 heroics against the Mavs aside, it’s been a rough year for Brandon Roy. Roy slogged through 47 games for the Blazers this season due to some serious knee issues and ended up being one of one the worst draft picks I ever made. Not only have we seen the last of Roy playing at an all-star caliber level, but his career appears to be on borrowed time at this point.

Nels: There were a lot of deserving players for this award in 2010-11, but I have to give it to Brandon Roy. The fact that he was able to come back is admirable, but it’s sad to see him playing barely 20 minutes a game. I’m not sure if I would have respected him more if he’d sat out the rest of the season, but at least I wouldn’t have had to see him suffer through the torment of such a terrific fall from grace.

Erik: Aaron Brooks

One Year Wonder

Nels: Ryan Anderson. He may have ended up at #76, but at the end of the season, he was being swapped in and out of the line-up like one of half of a tag team that I don’t know the name of, but I bet Erik does. Anderson had a good run in January and part of February that got him his place on the rater, but when a guy can play 34 minutes one game and then 19 the next, there is no way I’m going to invest in his start-up company.

Patrick: D.J. Augustin was great for the Bobcats over the first half of the season and quickly went from waiver wire fodder to a guy you could plug in as you’re starting PG. But teams were on to Augustin by midseason: over the last three months of the year, Augustin’s FG% dropped from 44% to 39%, his threes from 1.6 to 1.0, and his assists from 6.4 to 5.6. While the Bobcats’ seem like they are going to keep him as their starting PG next season, it could be an ugly start for Augustin next season unless he makes some improvements to his game.

Erik: Raymond Felton

Player to Watch for Next Season

Patrick: Greg Monroe. He became the Pistons starting center halfway through the year thanks to an injury to Ben Wallace, but really heated up in March and April when he averaged 13.1 points and 9.4 boards on 58% shooting. While Ben Wallace may or may not return next season for the final year of his contract, Monroe has clearly taken over as the team’s starting center and is a likely double-double machine next season.

Nels: John Wall. I don’t know how other people feel about Waller Baller, since he did end up at #67, but I felt like his season was a bit of a disappointment. Of course, the whole Wizards team – and most former members of the team – was a disappointment, so it’s hard to go from having your own dance to trying to be the rose growing through concrete. Luckily, the Wizards have another high draft pick, and while this year seems pretty weak as far as draft prospects go, they could score someone to help solidify the young core they’ve got and raise them to a level where Wall can develop his talents and pick his game up.

Erik: Wilson Chandler

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