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Euroleague Fantasy Challenge Preview
by: Dimitris Ritsonis - Greek Correspondent
October 23, 2006
The Euroleague is kicking off its third edition of the Euroleague Fantasy Challenge, and DraftExpress would like to invite you to join our league. The website for the Fantasy league is http://fantasychallenge.euroleague.net/. The league name is DraftExpress and the password is draftexpress

Like in most NBA fantasy leagues, the goal is to build a team and select actual players from the competition under a salary cap. Playing requires a certain knowledge of European basketball, but hope we to provide some tips to help if you aren’t 100% familiar with all the players in the Euroleague.

Intro: First, you will notice that each user (each email in this case) is allowed to have a maximum of 5 teams. Each team consists of 10 players, 2 PGs, 4 swingmen and 4 big men. After the 1st week and until the end of the 14 weeks of the regular season, the weekly changes per team should not exceed three. Every team with less than 10 players is considered insufficient and cannot compete. Once you register a username and password, you will be asked to create a team. After your team is registered and created, you will be able to join the DraftExpress private league through the “private leagues” sidebar on the left.

The Player Value and Weekly Score: This is one of the most important things that a person needs to know before they get started. The value of a player is set at the start of the season, and then rises and falls accordingly depending on his weekly score. Therefore, the goal is to not overpay initially for players who will underachieve in the first few weeks, and if possible, find undervalued players whose score will rise as they exceed expectations and then can be sold off to upgrade your other positions.

Copying from the site of Euroleague: “The price of players may rise or fall after the season begins, depending on their average index ratings in Euroleague games and the success of their teams. Index rating points will be applied to each player's price in credits at a rate of one to four (1 index rating point = 4 credits). The same rate will be applied to the 10% bonus for players with positive index ratings in weeks when their teams win official Euroleague games. A player's price may not go up or down more than 15% from one week to the next, although his average index rating may keep his price rising or falling. No player's price can fall below 5 credits. There is no maximum price in credits for a player.”

But what is the weekly score? Contrary to most NBA fantasy games, the weekly score is an efficiency ranking, made off the total of: (Points+ Rebs+ Asts+Steals+Blocks+Made FGs+Made FTs+ Fouls Drawn -Missed FGs-Missed FTs-Fouls-Blocks received). For every game a player wins, his score will get a 10% boost.

For reference, here are the top 15 fantasy players in the Euroleague in the regular season last year:

1 MILOJEVIC, DEJAN Partizan 23.58
2 PARKER, ANTHONY Maccabi 20.50
3 SCOLA, LUIS TAU 19.28
4 LAVRINOVIC, DARJUS Zalgiris 18.92
5 GARBAJOSA, JORGE Unicaja 18.78
6 ANDERSEN, DAVID CSKA Moscow 17.91
7 TURKCAN, MIRSAD Ulker 17.50
8 NICHOLAS, DREW Benetton 17.42
9 LAKOVIC, JAKA Panathinaikos 17.00
10 BATISTE, MICHAEL Panathinaikos 16.85
11 VUJCIC, NIKOLA Maccabi 16.53
12 REYES, FELIPE Real Madrid 16.38
13 GREER, RICARDO Strasbourg 16.35
14 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIOS Panathinaikos 16.07
15 BASTON, MACEO Maccabi 15.57

As you will see based off the top 7 players in the league last year (except for swingman ultra-versatile swingman Anthony Parker), big men are usually the best investments, particularly ones that rebound well and draw plenty of fouls. Guys that play for a winning team and will get their 10% boost more often than not aren’t bad choices either. The bad news here is that these are usually the most expensive guys and we have 500 credits to spend on 10 players, which we have to discover from among around 300 players in the league.

Great scorers aren’t always necessarily great fantasy scorers, especially if they aren’t extremely efficient players. The #1 scorer in the regular season last year, Drew Nicholas, was only the 8th best fantasy player. The #2 scorer, Will Solomon, wasn’t even among the top 15. Versatile players who do a bit of everything and shoot at a solid percentage without committing too many turnovers are usually the safest bet.

Getting Started/First Traps: Go to the “Player Market” link and try to check the values of the players. If you are a person familiar with the players you may have already decided on some names, but, knowing that a guy is good doesn’t necessarily make him a good fantasy pick. Same goes to the fact that we don’t pick only players that we like. Theo Papaloukas at 89 points, for example, might not be the safest bet. Not because he isn’t good, but because he needs a weekly average of 20+ and CSKA going undefeated in order for his value to just stay at 89. You can check the history of every player by clicking on his name. Papaloukas is barely a 15-value players, since he usually comes off the bench and has a tendency to not put up great numbers in games that aren’t of the utmost importance.

The bad news for star players is that they play less in the less significant games, because of rest and playing time reasons, as well as for a chance to give young players a look. But, the good news here is that expensive players like Papaloukas, Bodiroga etc. will have their value dipping and then they can be bought much cheaper in the future later on in the season when it really matters (the big games are when they usually step up) and their price is more reasonable.

Another thing we need to check on are the weekly games. Tiago Splitter is right now at #1 of the most bought players, because Luis Scola is injured and he seems to be an attractive pick at 60…But, wait a minute... The guy has missed the last couple ACB games and doesn’t seem to be in the best form now that he’s finally back. Plus the first week Tau plays on the road versus Olympiakos, an incredibly tough game. Splitter will likely guard Big Sofo, which makes this pick slightly risky. If you go to the International Blog on the main page of Draftexpress, you will find on your right all the links to the European domestic leagues, in order to follow the players during the weekends and make wiser decisions too.

Steals and Stability: If this isn’t obvious, the point here is to pick up some “steals” early on, but also to discover some guys whom you can trust to produce consistently from the first week. Why? Because after the first week, you can only make 3 changes a week, so there are 7 guys who will be there and they better produce.

If we are looking for cheap guys from good teams who will see guaranteed PT but, for different reasons, are cheaper than expected, like Nikos Zisis, whose value is at 52, because he missed 4 months of action last season, breaking his hand. Bojan Popovic is down at 48, because Mire Chatman was the star at Dynamo, but now he’s out of the picture. Davor Kus, who plays 30 minutes per game, is really cheap at 41.

We are also looking for guys from average/thin/newcoming teams, who will again see playing time and have been very good in local games so far, like Eric Campbell of LeMans, Jerimiah Massey of Aris and Charles Gaines of Joventut. All these are Americans leading thin frontcourts, showing nice stability so far. They will likely not receive the 10% so often, but they will be producing more steadily and will be receiving more fouls than overrated guys in strong teams, who will not be playing that much either.

Additionally, we will need to mention guys who are proven good in the past, but are yet to be the leaders of their teams and thus they are a bit underrated, like the always steady youngster Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris, who had a superb beginning last year, before Tanoka Beard returned from injury, or guys stuck in a thick frontcourt, like newcomer youngster Mirza Teletovic of Tau (Luis Scola is injured and Splitter missed 2 straight games, which helped him shine), or returning to high and stable numbers in Partizan’s Peja Drobnjak and many more.

A player like Aaron Miles might be someone to look out for, as he will absolutely have to shine for Pau-Orthez to have any chance of success and he most certainly has the talent to do so despite his low price (47) in this competition. Alex Acker is both a Euroleague rookie and is just making his first strides as he adjusts to European basketball, but his outstanding all-around numbers in the Greek league cannot be ignored for his low 41 price

At the end, there are the other steals, the ultra-cheap ones. I don’t usually purchase those guys, like Ricky Rubio, or Anton Ponkrashov, because their value can rise by a maximum of 15% per week. What is 15% to 12 or 7, when you have it guaranteed by a guy double or triple that value? As soon as a player is around or over 20-25, then he is a steal, otherwise, he is a long-term project that will grow as time goes by, but not for immediate winners. In my eyes, the only reason to purchase this very limited number of low-price guys is the fact that, in case they get a high score one week, they won’t be stopped by the 15%, but they are keeping the extra score for the next week too and will rise regardless what they do. So, if Rubio, who is at 12, rises more than 2, then he keeps the extra rise for the next week and on and on. This was a success trick that young guys like Tiago Splitter, Andrea Bargnani and Sofoklis Schortsanitis gave to users last year, who saw those guys’ value explode late in regular season, after having dropped significantly (from around 50 to almost 30) in the first 10 games.

Overall, let’s conclude by saying that in order to be competitive we need to know that the 1st week of the season is the most important one, due to the limited trade number from then onwards. Note the match-ups, note the injuries, note the transfers and check on the overall stats of each guy in league games (here we care about evaluation and playing time), before making any decisions. Remember that the value of a player has a certain weekly rise/fall limit and try to find at least 7 players/team who will be producing stabaly.

The 1st week is the tough one, that’s why you want to be a bit conservative, but also, try to save some cash for the 2nd week, in case of the worst possible outcome. The user who will make a score around 190 should likely be winning the 1st week (last year it was around 180, but every year the competition gets stiffer), but then, you will need a 220+, sometimes even more than 250+ to win the weekly prize. Play focused and always complete your team a few hours before the games, because injuries are a dirty thing.

Please note that while the Euroleague games always take place on Wednesday and Thursday, the first gameday is always beginning with a Tuesday "season opening" match-up, this time between newcomers Joventut and crown contenders Panathinaikos. All the writers of DX who will participate in the game will show here one of their teams and will also give some tips, while, we will try to keep the interest high by adding weekly news and advice.

Enjoy!
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to dritsonis@draftexpress.com .

 

Anthony Parker
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 215 lbs.
Birthday: 06/19/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Naperville Central
Previous Team: Bradley , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #21 in 1997 Draft
by the Nets
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: SG/SF,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
9.5 Pts, 3.5 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Drew Nicholas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Birthday: 05/17/1981
33 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Long Island Lutheran
Previous Team: Maryland , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: PG/SG
Quick Stats:
0.5 Pts, 0.5 Rebs, 0.8 Asts


Will Solomon
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 172 lbs.
Birthday: 07/20/1978
36 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Hartford East
Previous Team: Clemson , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #4 in 2001 Draft
by the Grizzlies
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG/SG
Quick Stats:
13.6 Pts, 2.5 Rebs, 3.2 Asts


Tiago Splitter
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 7' 0"
Weight: 233 lbs.
Birthday: 01/01/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Vitoria , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #28 in 2007 Draft
by the Spurs
Positions:
Current: PF/C,
NBA: C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
8.2 Pts, 6.2 Rebs, 1.5 Asts


Luis Scola
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 245 lbs.
Birthday: 04/30/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Vitoria , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #27 in 2002 Draft
by the Spurs
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
7.6 Pts, 4.8 Rebs, 1.0 Asts


Andrea Bargnani
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 7' 1"
Weight: 249 lbs.
Birthday: 10/27/1985
28 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Treviso , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #1 in 2006 Draft
by the Raptors
Positions:
Current: PF/C,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
13.3 Pts, 5.3 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


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