Top of Key: Draft Day Thoughts

Originally Published: September 28, 2004
By Vincent Hui | ESPN Games Fantasy Edge
The NBA season kicks off on Tuesday, Nov. 2, which means it's time to draft your squad of ballers. Hopefully, you'll have better luck than Team USA; if you had the Olympic team as your fantasy team, you would still lose since you'd be dead last in assists, threes and field goal percentage, no? Some things to remember before you draft are to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each player and not to overrate the rookie and sophomore class. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade made a lot of noise last season, but while James was 19th on the Average Player Rater, Anthony and Wade finished out of the top 50. You seriously don't want Emeka Okafor as your starting center as well unless you're in a keeper league.

Rookies aside, this offseason has been tumultuous with lots of new faces in new places, including Tracy McGrady in Houston, Shaquille O'Neal in Miami, Antawn Jamison in Washington and Carlos Boozer in Utah. There are plenty of guys with upside as well as LeBron, Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich look to avoid the sophomore slump, Willie Green steps in as Allen Iverson's new sidekick, Al Harrington gets a full-time job in Atlanta, and Dwight Howard tries to rejuvenate the Magic franchise. Don't overlook some guys who came on strong late last season either; Samuel Dalembert, Mark Blount, Marquis Daniels and Bob Sura all could boom like Zach Randolph last season or bust a la Eddy Curry.

Since basketball has fewer season-ending injuries than football and no minor league system like baseball, every round in the draft means a player that is a key cog in the system. Last season showed us that when a fifth or sixth round pick like Curry fails and he was your starting center, the waiver wire can only offer you Adonal Foyle or Aaron Williams. Like the real NBA, try to go for size early since swingmen are a dime a dozen. Passing point guards are just as rare as fly-swatting centers so try to load up on them since blocks and assists are difficult categories to catch up in. Choke off these two stat categories and your opponents will be hard pressed to find help for them on the wire later in the season.