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Fantasy Basketball Offseason Extra: League tweaks worth considering

Fantasy Writer
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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
Suns' Goran Dragic picks up 20 points on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:19 am ET) Suns guard Goran Dragic picked up 20 points on Wednesday against the Wizards. 

Dragic shot 8-15 from the field, including 2-4 from beyond the arc. He sunk two of his free throws during the contest. Dragic also finished with three rebounds and two assists. 


Kris Humphries doubles up on the Suns on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:16 am ET) Wizards forward Kris Humphries posted a double-double against the Suns on Wednesday.

Humphries shot 4-8 from the field. He sunk three of his four free throws, finishing with 11 points. Humphries proved to be active on the boards, pulling down 15 rebounds. Six of those came on the offensive side of the court. Humphries also had one assist during the contest. 


Report: Knicks to sign Lance Thomas for the rest of the season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) The Knicks will sign forward Lance Thomas for the rest of the season, according to ESPN.

Thomas has signed two 10-day contracts with the club this season. His second 10-day contract is set to expire on Friday, and the Knicks have decided to bring him back for the remainder of the season. Thomas is averaging 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. 


Thunder's Brooks: Lance Thomas will 'play another 10 years'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) Thunder coach Scott Brooks praised Knicks small forward Lance Thomas after New York's 100-92 win Wednesday, in which Thomas scored 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting.

''Lance plays hard. He plays every possession like it's Game 7 of a championship series.'' Brooks said after the game, per the Associated Press. ''That's why he's in the league and that's why he's going to play another 10 years. When you have guys like that, you win.''

Thomas, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Knicks last week, has scored 49 points in his last three games combined, making 23 of his 37 shots during that stretch. He played 22 games (13 starts) with the Thunder before joining the Knicks, averaging just 5.1 points on 35.7 percent shooting.


Rockets C Dwight Howard dealing with edema in knee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) An MRI on the injured knee of Rockets center Dwight Howard has revealed edema, the team announced.

The team didn't specify whether Howard is dealing with swelling within a bone or in the soft tissue of the knee, but the center will be "evaluated further in the coming days." He missed his second straight game Wednesday, and the Rockets have two more games scheduled for Friday and Saturday before receiving a three-day break. Howard will not travel with the team for the two-game road trip, the Houston Chronicle reports.


76ers SG JaKarr Sampson scores 13 in rare start Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) 76ers shooting guard JaKarr Sampson started for the first time since Dec. 30 Wednesday and scored a season-high 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds in his team's 89-69 win over the Pistons.

''His energy, his toughness and athleticism really complemented the starting group,'' coach Brett Brown said after the game, per the Associated Press.

Sampson, who also recorded two steals in 24 minutes, entered the game averaging just 4.8 points and 12.7 minutes in January, but the team was able to lean on him for a season-best scoring performance on an efficient shooting night. He'll square off with the Timberwolves Friday.


Knicks SF Carmelo Anthony questionable to play Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony said after Wednesday's win that he's unsure whether he'll play Thursday against the Pacers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Anthony was rested Saturday before coming back strong Wednesday night, scoring 31 points on 12 of 28 shooting and hauling in 10 rebounds. However, he may get to rest his knee yet again Thursday after seeing 38 minutes of action Wednesday night.

The Knicks are 9-point underdogs in Indiana Thursday.


Jazz C Enes Kanter delivers 21-11 line vs. Clippers Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Jazz center Enes Kanter scored a team-high 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting while hauling in 11 rebounds in his team's 94-89 loss to the Clippers Wednesday.

It's the fourth 20-point performance and third double-double in Kanter's last five games despite averaging just 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds heading into Wednesday's action. The center also managed to record one assist and one block in 36 minutes of action. He'll square off with the Warriors Friday.


Clippers SG Jamal Crawford scores 21 points vs. Jazz
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford shared the team scoring lead with 21 points on 5 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 7 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 94-89 win over the Jazz Wednesday.

Crawford played a season-high 40 minutes in Wednesday's win, and he's delivered back-to-back 20-point efforts for the first time this month. He also kicked in three rebounds and two assists in the victory. Crawford will square off with the Pelicans Friday.


Clippers PG Chris Paul scores 21 points vs. Jazz
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Clippers point guard Chris Paul shared the team scoring lead Wednesday, tallying 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting in his team's 94-89 win over the Jazz in Utah.

Paul played 35 minutes as the Clippers won their sixth straight game, but he managed just six assists to go with five rebounds and one steal. The Clippers will look to keep rolling Friday in New Orleans against a Pelicans team that may be without Anthony Davis (groin).


 
 
 
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