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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
Report: Spurs PG Tony Parker to play in France this summer
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:26 pm ET) Spurs point guard Tony Parker said during his French radio show that he will play for Team France at Eurobasket 2015, ProjectSpurs.com reports.

"I am not thinking about that for now since I’m focused on the Spurs, and making a good season to finish in style. Then I will focus on the Blues. But I have said… I will be with Team France this summer," Parker said Monday.

Parker took last summer off to rest and prepare for the 2014-15 NBA season. He will be attempting to help the team qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Eurobasket this summer.


Bulls' Jimmy Butler (elbow) hopeful he can return this season
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said he was devastated to learn the news that he'd miss at least three weeks with an elbow sprain, reports ESPN Chicago.

However, Butler was hopeful he could return before the regular season ends. Butler will be out three-to-six weeks with the injury and he said he wasn't sure if he'd out closer to three weeks or six, reports Comcast SportsNet Chicago.


Lakes rule Nick Young a game-time decision Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:07 pm ET) Lakers guard Nick Young was not able to participate in Tuesday's shootaround and is considered a game-time decision for Tuesday's game at Charlotte, the team announced.

Young has been dealing with a knee issue, which has kept him out of the last three games. Guard Wayne Ellington will receive the start.

The Lakers are 8-point underdogs.


Report: Thunder's Russell Westbrook will likely return Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:51 am ET) After undergoing facial surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone which caused him to miss Sunday's contest, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will likely return to the court for Wednesday's game against the 76ers, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The final decision will be made Wednesday, but Westbrook is expected to play as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks. He will wear a protective mask upon his return.


Cavs' Kevin Love listed as probable Tuesday with illness
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:40 am ET) An illness prevented Cavaliers forward Kevin Love from participating in Tuesday's shootaround, but he is listed as probable for Tuesday's game against the Celtics, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

Love was told to stay home to help recover from the illness. In 58 games, Love is averaging 17.0 points and 10.2 rebounds.

The Cavaliers are 11-point favorites.


Kings' DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is questionable for Tuesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game at New York, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Cousins is dealing with a sprained ankle, which has kept him out of the last two games. Center Ryan Hollins has seen his role increase while Cousins has been out.

The Kings are 2 1/2-point underdogs.


Cavs' Kyrie Irving will be game-time decision Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was able to participate in Tuesday's shootaround and will be a game-time decision for Tuesday's game against the Celtics, reports ESPN.

A shoulder strain has kept Irving out of the last two games. In 56 games, Irving is averaging 21.7 points and 5.2 assists. Guard Matthew Dellavedova has seen his role increase during Irving's absence.

The Cavaliers are 11-point favorites.


Celtics center Kelly Olynyk unsure if he'll play Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Celtics center Kelly Olynyk will test his injured ankle during Tuesday's shootaround to determine if he'll play in Tuesday's game at Cleveland, the team announced.

Olynyk is suffering from an ankle injury, which has kept him sidelined since Jan. 22. In 40 games, Olynyk is averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.

The Celtics are 11-point underdogs.


Lakers' Scott: I'm really happy with Jeremy Lin's consistent effort
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) Lakers coach Byron Scott told reporters he's impressed with point guard Jeremy Lin's effort on the floor as of late, according to the Orange County Register on Tuesday.

"I am really happy with the way he’s starting to show that consistent effort for every single night," Scott said. "He's playing the way I think he’s capable of playing."

Lin, who scored 20 points against the Thunder on Sunday, has averaged 17.0 points and 5.0 assists in five games, while shooting 50 percent from the field since the All-Star break. He's logged 27.8 minutes over that span.

"I'm being given the minutes and the spacing and the style of play," Lin said.


Report: Hornets benched Hairston due to missed weight-training session
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Hornets guard P.J. Hairston was inactive Sunday against Orlando because he missed a weight-training session, the Charlotte Observer reports Tuesday. Hairston has had some issues with the organization after Charlotte traded for his draft rights on draft night in a prearranged deal with the Heat. Coach Steve Clifford also made Hairston inactive for a December game against Boston due to an unexcused absence from practice.

The rookie guard is averaging 5.6 points on 32.1 percent shooting through his first 35 games this season.


 
 
 
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