Except in the Fantlantic, A Fantasy Basketball League that Simulates the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference
To refresh your memories, 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.
When we first looked at the Fantlantic everything was as it should have been. The fantasy standings mirrored the "reality" standings. The Celtics were dominant and had three of the top five fantasy players, the Knicks were bad and didn't have a single player in the top ten and the Nets had the other two players in the top five yet were horrendously underachieving as a team. There were no surpises and, frankly, I was worried that there would be nothing interesting to be gleaned from this league that I spent way too much time constructing.
But, after letting the Fantlantic marinate for a few weeks, some strange things happened. The differences between fantasy and reality basketball began to emerge. And, when we check in today there is true intrigue afoot as the New York Knickerbockers have moved up into SECOND PLACE in the Fantlantic. Perhaps the first step to becoming a better reality basketball team is becoming a better fantasy basketball team? After all, you can’t win over the course of the season if the numbers don’t add up. Now, that the Knicks are filling up a boxscore they need to learn poise down the stretch and all of the intangible things that keep them translating their Fantlantic progress to the officially sanctioned standings.
1. Celtics (53 points): The C' have extended their lead over the pack since we last checked in with the Fantlantic, even though they’ve dropped a few points (and few games) over the past month. Boston is still the best team but the sheen of dominance isn’t quite as lustrous as it once was. Nevertheless, Garnett and co. still lead the fantasy league in FG% and steals and rank second in FTM, FT%, 3PTM, 3PT% and assists.
2. Knicks (46 points): Without pesky things like losses muddying the fantasy ledger, the Knicks have used their recent run of better play to catapult themselves over three teams who remain above them in the actual standings. The hard-numbers used to tabulate these rankings confirm what anyone still left watching this team has seen: the Knicks are getting better. They are scoring more, they are taking higher percentage shots (well except for the Zach-hole), they are turning the ball over less and are racking up far more assists than they used to when everyone figured Marbury would just handle that whole passing-thing by himself. The most dramatic improvement has been in the points category, where the team has risen from last place into second. And, they are on pace to catch the Celtics, who lead this category. The last place slot in points-scored earlier in the season was particularly embarrassing for a team that starts four score-first players, and had started five until Marbury went down 10 games back. The Knicks lead all rebounding categories and are second in made field goals and free throw attempts. They're still last in assists, blocks and turnovers but they are improving everywhere else.
3. Nets (44 points): The emotional turmoil caused by Jason Kidd’s migraine problem has not translated to the Fantasy court just yet as the Nets have remained steadily lackluster in the Fantlantic. They still smelly faintly of tire fires and still hold down the same third place slot they had when we last looked in. The Nets hold, or share, 3 first place ranks (FTA, FT and assists) while being last in three other categories (FGM, FG% and FT%). I would expect these numbers to stay extreme once Kidd gets traded, with the exception of the assists number which should fall off dramatically. The five remaining figures (FTA, FT, FG%, FGM and FT%) are actually all connected. With Kidd becoming less of a factor and ultimately leaving you can figure that Vince will continue to chuck up enough shots to keep the team both first in FTA and FT (since he still gets the star treatment from the refs) and last in field goal percentage and the other efficiency stats.
4. 76ers (43 points): They're bad at most everything with two bright shining execptions. They have maintained their lead in the blocked shot department and somehow made the most field goals. They're last in all the 3PT shooting categories and I would imagine that the absence of Korver will ensure that doesn't change. Like the Celtics, there are no surprises here.
5. Raptors (39 points): Toronto must be the anti-Knicks when it comes to fantasy as their residency in the Fantlantic cellar is as confusing as the Knicks ascension. This is a team that is either the best or the worst on a statistical level. They rank first in more statistical categories than anyone else, leading the Fantlantic in FT%, 3PTM, 3PT% and turnovers. And, while they lead in all of those columns they are last in even more, ranking at the bottom in FTA, FTM, PTS, OReb, DReb and Reb. It would seem like they are a team whose poise and intangibles make them better than their raw production indicates while the Knicks lack of poise and intangibles makes them worse than their raw production indicates.
How did all of this happen you ask? Well, in fantasy basketball a team truly is the sum of parts and those parts have taken their teams only as far as their tangible output. There will be no place for Bruce Bowen on any team gunning for a fantasy league championship.
Top 15 Fantlantic Players (overall NBA rank according to Yahoo):
1. Kevin Garnett (8)
2. Chris Bosh (16) (+)
3. Jose Calderon (17) (+)
4. Andre Iguodala (18) (+)
5. Paul Pierce (29)
6. Jason Kidd (48) (-)
7. Samuel Dalembert (51) (+)
8. Ray Allen (53) (-)
9. Jamal Crawford (57) (+)
10. Anthony Parker (61)
11. Richard Jefferson (63) (-)
12. Vince Carter (64)
13. Jamario Moon (79) (+)
14. David Lee (84) (+)
15. Andre Miller (90) (+)
(+) means the player has moved up the rankings since we last peeked
(-) means the opposite
..other notable players include...
19. Zach Randolph (120) (+)
20. Nate Robinson (124) (+)
21. Sean Williams (130) (+)
23. Louis Williams (169) (-)
28. Quentin Richardson (194) (+)
30. Andrea Bargnani (208) (+)
37. Stephon Marbury (231) (-)
38. Fred Jones (235) (-)
40. Eddy Curry (252) (-)
44. Jared Jeffries (280) (+)
45. Josh Boone (287) (+)
And, still battling for the title of worst fantasy baller in the Fantlantic are two NJ Nets big men: Jason Collins and Jamal Magloire.
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