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Fantasy Writer

Fantasy Basketball Offseason Extra: League tweaks worth considering

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Getting through a basketball season can be a long, arduous process. You've probably run into the same problem I have -- your league is relatively active for a while, but slowly, owners start to lose interest as the months drag on and their team's playoff hopes grow dim.

While football is over in a relatively breezy 15 or 16 weeks (if you're smart), the NBA season is a marathon that drags out for nearly seven full months. The monotony of the season certainly doesn't help keep interest up for a dozen owners at a time.

So I'm here to offer some suggestions that might help you keep your leaguemates involved for the long haul, even if their first-round pick blows out a knee in November and torpodoes their season. At the very least, these should provide you with a new perspective and some possible ideas to tweak your existing league.

(Note: Not all Fantasy providers offer the same options, so make sure your league is customizable enough to allow for the fun that follows.)

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short, Stupid)

The easiest solution is to mimic the football schedule, and limit the length of your league. While the actual league goes on until Week 25, you can do whatever you want with your league's schedule. Sure, you might miss out on Tobias Harris carrying you to a championship as his team tanked late last season, but you also won't have to deal with veterans being rested in April -- deep into your playoffs.

You also carry the added incentive of making sure each week matters just a bit more, a key to increasing competitiveness and interest in general. If your buddies have short attention spans, start your playoffs in March. Who knows, you may even be able to watch your real team's stretch run without having to secretly root for their opponent's point guard to drop 30.

Dynasty league w/ rookie drafts

This one is going to require a higher level of dedication from everyone involved, but it has the added upside of weeding out the disinterested at the start and making sure nobody wants to abandon their team in January. If you're already out of it, you still have the chance to pick up young players and build for the future. If you're one piece away from a championship, you can risk your future by trading for a stud now.

If you're worried about tanking, you can even put together a variation of Bill Simmons' "Entertaining As Hell" tournament, wherein the non-playoff teams take part in a tournament at the end of the year to determine seeding for next year's draft. This can run concurrent with the actual postseason, thus keeping teams interested, while giving an incentive not to let your team fall to disarray, lest you lose out in the tournament.

The downside to this is most people aren't willing to put the time or effort into making a long-term league work. If you've got a good group of knowledgeable players who are willing to put in some research year-round, a Dynasty league really is the only way to go.

Salary Cap League

The first two suggestions are a bit vanilla, I'll admit. But it gets better from here, I think. A salary cap league is essentially a dynasty league on steroids, requiring even more from the owners, but with a potentially bigger reward in terms of owner interest.

Here, you'll base your team on players' actual salaries, while making sure you don't go over the NBA's actual salary cap limit for the year. The fun of this league is you're going to go deeper than ever before to look for value, even at the top of the draft. While LeBron James and Kevin Durant are still first-round values, their nearly $20 million salaries make them look a lot less enticing when you see Stephen Curry available for 60 percent of the cost.

You'll probably have to do your draft via email to make sure everyone's pick falls in line with the cap, and a diligent commissioner who will stay on top of transactions is a must. But there's something undeniably attractive about the prospect of further blurring the line between reality and Fantasy, especially for those nerds among us who have Larry Coon's CBAF FAQ bookmarked and check ShamSports.com daily.

"Fantasy Fallacy" or "Wack Fantasy"

When I took to Twitter to ask for suggestions for this column, two different people immediately replied with two different names for the same concept. Here, you're eschewing traditional norms of good play and competitiveness, and instead rewarding those NBA players who screw up the most.

Instead of two points for an assist and one point for a blocked shot, say, you're rewarding points for all of the bad things a player might do on the court. If you get creative and offer 10 points for ejections, you might as well put DeMarcus Cousins at the top of your draft board.

The fun in this league comes from more than just reminding yourself how hapless Sasha Pavlovic can be -- there's also real strategy involved. You have to strike a delicate balance between a player who is so lost he can't even stay on the floor (think Larry Sanders' first two seasons) as opposed to one who is just intriguing enough to his coaches to remain a rotation fixture despite being useless on a box score (think, the last six or so vintages of Derek Fisher).

Another variant of this I have tried in the past is to turn it into a bench-only league. Award Fantasy points as you normally would in a Head-to-Head league, but create a penalty for games started that is so severe, even LeBron James ends up in the negative. This league obviously ends up putting more value on a player like Jamal Crawford, who ends up playing starter's minutes or something close, despite being a reserve.

One player, one team

This was one of my favorite ideas brought about via Twitter. I love it because of its elegance, as it is exceedingly simple -- no new scoring formats or in-depth roster research is involved. And it doesn't ask much from owners at all.

Each team must come away from the draft with 30 players, one each from each NBA franchise. Sure, you'll prioritize, focusing on the Miamis and Brooklyns of the NBA world in the early goings. But, at some point, you're going to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel. That means, if you're playing in a 10-team league, you very well may end up with the Bobcats' 10th man (And that would be ... Ben Gordon? Uh ... Maybe you will have to do some research).

From that point on, you don't touch the league. Just set the stakes at the beginning of the season and let it go. This takes care of the problem of uninvolved owners, by taking the power out of their hands as the season goes on. This format requires little more than a monthly reminder to check out your progress, almost like a survivor pool in football.

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Player News
Celtics coach Stevens: I don't know when Vitor Faverani will return
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:30 am ET) Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters that he's not sure when center Vitor Faverani will return to the lineup. Faverani has missed the first 12 games of the season after undergoing surgery on his injured knee in October. He remains without a timetable for return, per the Boston Globe.

"I don't know, to be honest," Stevens said. "When he initially had that surgery, I heard six to eight weeks, just like you did, and I've been told it's going to go longer than that."


Report: Dwight Howard a 'potential go' for Monday's game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:45 am ET) Rockets center Dwight Howard is a "potential go" for Monday's game against the Knicks, a league source told Yahoo Sports. Howard has missed the last two games due to a knee injury.

If Howard suits up Monday, he will be facing a New York team yielding 99.6 points per game. Howard is averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds in 32 career games against the Knicks.


Lakers SG Kobe Bryant scores 27 points in loss vs. Nuggets
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:09 am ET) Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant scored a team-high 27 points on 10 of 24 shooting in his team's 101-94 overtime loss to the Nuggets Sunday.

Bryant endured an off shooting night Friday, sinking just 27.3 percent of his shots en route to 17 points in a loss to the Mavericks, but was able to come back with his fourth performance of at least 27 points in his last five games Sunday. He also chipped in six rebounds and four assists in 44 minutes in the loss. The Lakers will square off with the Grizzlies Wednesday.


Nuggets C Timofey Mozgov doubles up vs. Lakers Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov scored 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting while grabbing 13 rebounds in his team's 101-94 overtime win over the Lakers Sunday.

Mozgov delivered his third double-double of the season one game after tallying just five points and four rebounds against the Pelicans. He also managed one block and one steal in 30 minutes of action Sunday. Mozgov will look to build on his performance in Tuesday's game against the Bulls.


Nuggets G Ty Lawson posts 18-16 line vs. Lakers Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Nuggets guard Ty Lawson scored 18 points on 5 of 10 shooting while dishing out a season-high 16 assists in his team's 101-94 overtime win over the Lakers Sunday.

Lawson has turned in double-doubles in four of his last six games, with the other two coming just one assist short of continuing the streak. He played a season-high 43 minutes in the overtime victory, which was his team's fourth straight win. They'll look to keep rolling Tuesday against the Bulls.


Thunder PG Reggie Jackson delivers 22-11-8 line Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/23/2014) Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson scored a team-high 22 points on 10 of 26 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists in his team's 91-86 loss to the Warriors Sunday.

Jackson came closer to a triple-double than he has all season despite picking up five personal fouls in the game. The double-double was his fourth of the season, but the Thunder were unable to avoid their sixth straight loss. They'll look to get back on track Wednesday against the Jazz.


Warriors PF Marreese Speights scores season-high 28 Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/23/2014) Warriors power forward Marreese Speights scored a season-high 28 points on 11 of 18 shooting in his team's 91-86 win over the Thunder Sunday.

Speights caught fire for the second time in three games, following up a 24-point, 8-of-11 shooting night last Sunday with another excellent performance one week later. He also delivered seven rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes in his team's fifth straight win. The Warriors will look to keep rolling Tuesday in Miami.


Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa suffers injuries in Sunday's win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/23/2014) Warriors center Andrew Bogut suffered an orbital contusion and shooting guard Leandro Barbosa was felled by a right knee sprain in Sunday's 91-86 win over the Thunder.

Both player saw extremely limited action due to their injuries and neither was able to return to the game. Bogut scored two points on 1 of 3 shooting in eight minutes while tallying two blocks, one rebound, one assist and one steal. A CT scan on his head came back negative, leaving him questionable for Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Barbosa managed one point on 0 of 2 shooting in six minutes with one rebound and one steal. The Warriors hit the road to play the Heat Tuesday.


Celtics PG Rajon Rondo scores 13 points in loss vs. Blazers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/23/2014) Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo scored 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting in 35 minutes in his team's 94-88 loss to the Blazers Sunday.

Rondo scored in double digits for just the fifth time in 11 games but also tallied eight assists, six rebounds and two steals in Sunday's loss. The Celtics have dropped five of their last six games going into Friday's matchup with the Bulls.


Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge doubles up vs. Celtics Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/23/2014) Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 20 points on 7 of 21 shooting while hauling in 14 rebounds in his team's 94-88 win in Boston Sunday.

Aldridge's 14 rebounds matched a season high and gave him his fourth double-double of the season. He also kicked in two assists and one steal as the Blazers racked up their seventh straight win. They'll look to keep rolling Monday in Philadelphia.


 
 
 
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