Monday, December 10, 2007

The Fantlantic

Or, A Fantasy Basketball League that Simulates the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference

One of the many (legitimate) knocks against Isiah Thomas and the current incarnation of the New York Knickerbockers is that they've been built like a fantasy team rather than like an actual team. The team starts five scorers and has no defensive-minded role players in that first unit. The team has no chemistry and is chock-full of me-first fellows. Every single player in the starting lineup could put up thirty points on any given night. And, they all want to every single night. Yep, that does sound like a fantasy team to me.

And, perhaps if the NBA somehow bent the rules and allowed the Knicks to start Balkman and Lee every night along with the other five guys in some sort of "Utility" positions then, just maybe, the team would be able to compete like they were truly intended.

Scouring the world for such illogical means for hope and burdened with an overabundance of free time when not at work I set about creating the Fantlantic. The Fantlantic is the Fantasy Atlantic Division and it includes all five teams from the Atlantic Division (Boston, NY, NJ, Philly and Toronto) of the NBA's Eastern Conference. Each team is composed of the players currently on their roster and all players are active nightly so that all stats count.

The Fantlantic lives on the Yahoo Fantasy Sports website and is a rotisserie league, meaning that rankings are tabulated by comparing the stats accumulated by each competing team in a variety of categories. The categories being scored in this league are field goals made, field goal percentage, free throws attempted, free throws made, free throw percentage, three-point shots made, three-point shooting percentage, points, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers. This is the maximum number of categories that Yahoo allows.

The Fantlantic has been accumulating and compiling stats since the season tipped off last month. I waited until now to share this with the home-viewer because the "conference season" for the Atlantic didn't really kick off until this past week. The Knicks played at NJ last Wednesday and then had the double-dip with Philly this weekend. Meanwhile Boston also played Toronto on Friday. We've now got enough of a sample-size to see what this all looks like.

1. Celtics (55.5 points): The C's lead the fantasy league in FG%, DReb and steals. They are second in FTM, FT%, 3PTM, 3PT%, points, and assists. They are not last in any category and are the most balanced and consistently dominant team.

2. Raptors (48 points): Toronto ranks first in more statistical categories than anyone else, leading the Fantlantic in FGM, FT%, 3PTM, 3PT%, points, assists and turnovers. However, they show weaknesses in the other stat categories with last place rankings for FTA, FTM, OReb, Reb and blocks. They actually have fewer blocked shots than the Knicks. Impressive.

3. Nets (45.5 points): Oh, mediocrity. Thy home is the Meadowlands. Thy smell is tire fires. The Nets hold, or share, 4 first place ranks (FTA, FT, DReb and Reb) while being last in four other categories (FGM, FG%, steals and turnovers). And, not surprisingly, they rank right in the middle (3rd) in every other category.

4. 76ers (39 points): They're bad at most everything. They have a safe lead in the blocked shot department and that's about it. They're also last in all the 3PT shooting categories showing that offensively and defensively their strength is closer to the rim.

5. Knicks (37 points): The Knicks aren't much worse off than the Sixers from a fantasy standpoint, no matter what happened this past weekend. However, they are currently at the bottom of the Fantlantic. Most embarrassingly they rank last in points scored. For a team that starts five score-first players with offensive (in both terms of the word) reputations this must be particularly galling. The only bright spot is their top ranking in offensive rebounding. However, the fact that they miss so many shots (2nd worst FG%) probably helps make this possible.

Thus far, everything has played to form. The Celtics are good. The Knicks are bad. No surprises yet.

Therefore, the most interesting aspect of the league has been the ability to see the rankings of the individual players and how they compare to one another from a fantasy perspective. The Celtics have three of the top four fantasy ballers in the Fantlantic and their entire starting lineup figures in the Top 25. Conversely, the Knicks don't have anyone ranked in the top ten. Jamal Crawford is the highest rated Knick at 13 and David Lee isn't too far behind him. Meanwhile the Nets have two players in the top five and they still are an awful underachieving team.

Top 15 Fantlantic Players (overall NBA rank according to Yahoo):
1. Kevin Garnett (3)
2. Richard Jefferson (21)
3. Paul Pierce (31)
4. Ray Allen (34)
5. Jason Kidd (41)
6. Andre Iguodola (44)
7. Jose Calderon (50)
8. Carlos Delfino (56)
9. Chris Bosh (57)
10. Anthony Parker (66)
11. Samuel Dalembert (69)
12. Vince Carter (71)
13. Jamal Crawford (93)
14. Jamario Moon (94)
15. David Lee (99)

..and other notable players include...
18. Louis Williams (118)
20. Andre Miller (126)
23. Stephon Marbury (146)
29. Quentin Richardson (186)
30. Eddy Curry (190)
33. Nate Robinson (213)
35. Zach Randolph
36. Fred Jones (220)
48. Jared Jeffries (318)
52. Mardy Collins (362)

The battle for the worst fantasy baller in the Fantlantic is currently being waged between two NJ Nets big men: Jason Collins and Jamal Magloire.

Each week I'll give an update on the latest standings in The Fantlantic to see how much of a correlation there is between fantasy sports and reality sports. We'll find out if Isiah Thomas is any better as a fantasy sports manager than he is a reality sports manager. So far, it doesn't look like it.

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