HumorNovember 3, 2005

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The Misunderstood Art of Spectacular Drafting
Drafting with your eyes closed...

By Rob Donald

There are two ways to define the phrase “Drafting with your eyes closed”. Number 1: Flushed with confidence, you breeze through every round, knowing that whoever you pick will turn out just magical, like a new-millennium, high-definition version of the original Dream Team, but with sexier shorts. And number 2: Slightly out of sorts following a party the night before that lasted until 5 am, you fall asleep at your laptop and miss the first three rounds of the most important draft of your career.

What follows is an account of my evening of fantasy hoops and how it rapidly turned into a big pile of number 2.

With a little luck you all read my previous article about how this league means everything to me. If you didn’t, I suggest you go back and breathe deeply the fumes of my passion. Then come back here and I’ll explain, in a frank and sober fashion, how I managed to screw the whole thing up. My fantasy Sunday started well enough … a brief chat with a long-term fantasy cohort of mine led to a practise draft. We often sign up to the same league as it’s always amusing to see how many calamitous picks he’ll manage to squeeze into one team. A couple of years ago, it was his incredible first-round selection of Brent Barry that sent American tongues wagging, perhaps actually establishing the theory that English guys just don’t get fantasy basketball. My friend, let’s call him “John” except without the inverted commas because that’s actually his name, has always been exceptional at picking sportsmen and sports-beasts. For years he successfully managed to pick not the winner in the annual Grand National horse race, but the few horses that would trip over a fence halfway round and end up being shot.

My practise draft actually went very well indeed. I especially enjoyed setting the cat amongst the pigeons with the last pick of the first round and first of the second when I called out, in one breath, “Ming Miller,” which is actually a wonderful name in itself…

Beautiful Lady: “Hey, what name do you go by, you unfeasibly tall man?
Ming Miller: “They call me Ming Miller, want to party?
Beautiful Lady: “You don’t need to ask me twice, you slightly awkward-looking, seven-foot stick of tattooed bamboo!

So I went through the rest of that draft with confidence, knowing that I’d left centre pickings very light on the ground, sending everyone else scrabbling in the second round for scraps and leaving me with some nice shooting guard sugar daddies to pick up in the third. I was having so much fun that I started to wish that this was my real draft. But I have to admit that there were things wrong with this one that just took away its edge. Watching people draft here was kind of like seeing two cats in the Matrix, except in this case the glitch in the fabric of reality was made apparent by some mug selecting the Shaq Daddy with the third pick in the draft. It was then I knew that my winner’s league would be tougher. I also started to swagger through the rest of the draft knowing I was superior to everyone else there (save from my Dr Death friend, of course, who you really don’t want to mess with in case he inadvertently sentences you to death by suggesting you buy a lottery card this week as he reckons you might be lucky).

It was when I got back home that things started to unravel. I don’t know if the gods of fate were after me or whether the perfect fantasy sports day is just something that can never be achieved, but events began to take a turn for the worse. One hour before my winner’s league was due to kick off, my Internet connection failed. There is clearly no reason for me to mention my Internet provider here because is something like 92% American and you’ll have never heard of the company. So instead I’ll just assure you that they are a collection of incompetent morons who seemingly have attempted to put together a complex communications network using paperclips and an enormous supply of microwavable noodles.

Sadly, the lack of an Internet connection, whilst a major hurdle, was by no means the biggest disaster of the evening. Maybe it was the ineptitude of my Internet Service Provider gradually sending me into a state of mind-numbing dispair, or perhaps it was the very late night I had on Saturday (we’ll leave that one to the philosophers), but I’m afraid to say, with less that 30 minutes to go before the most important draft of my life, not only was my Internet connection not working, but my eyes were beginning to feel … heavy.


I woke up with a start feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Instead of deliberating on who to pick with the fourth pick I was slumped, drooling slightly, over my laptop which still refused to work. I threw on a pair of shoes and ran down to the local Internet Café. By the time I’d arrived, a quarter of an hour late, the arrow was heading back my way and I had three players on my team already.

Now normally I don’t consider myself a lucky guy, but in this case I’m happy to say I was treated kindly. I slept my way through the always incompetent computer selecting my first three picks of Shawn Marion, Baron Davis and Ray Allen. I figured that was a pretty good mix. I have since done everything I can to get rid of Baron Davis, for as far as I can see, when it comes to shooting percentages, he’ll kill your team so bad you might as well have put Sarin in the Gatorade. So far I haven’t been successful. But after a calamitous start things actually started to improve. Obviously I had to balance out the squad and get a few big men in there. Sadly my team lacks the power of super-stud Ming Miller, the man who makes women swoon, but I could have a great deal of luck with Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. Now I know that everyone’s reaction to Marcus Camby is “whatever you do, don’t give him something to stub his toe on.” Yes, the guy is an unbelievable injury machine, but he can also produce when given the chance. I am man enough to give him that chance. I’m also convinced by the Nuggets this year and I reckon that playing for a winning team will keep Namby-Pamby Camby out of the plaster and on the hardwood for at least 70 games. You can stick that one in the back of the book now and I’ll collect at the end of the season, thank you very much.

I was also pretty happy with my later picks, nabbing a few sleepers, I’m sure. Rounding out my starting five with Antawn Jamison was a pleasure, and picking up “back-up” point guard TJ Ford was an absolute stormer, leaving the way clear for me to shop Baron “Von Brick-a-Lot” Davis for a bigger big man. With Antonio Daniels, Chris Kaman, Al Harrington, Mike Dunleavy, and big Mike Sweetney all poised for breakout seasons, I’m feeling confident. All in all I think you’d agree that having spent the first three rounds of the draft dribbling over my keyboard, the team I eventually ended up with has the legs to last the season and the potential further down the roster to really make some noise.

Even if you don’t like my team, I can still say one thing. I spent the most valuable part of my draft day spectacular five minutes from the nearest Internet connection, dreaming about giant spiders laughing at me because they were currently dating my ex-girlfriend…

… and I still didn’t manage to pick Brent Barry in the first round.

Rob’s sure-fire winning team “Muck Throwers” can be found in Yahoo Winners League 15144

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• Other articles by Rob Donald
Risky Business – Drafting Troy Murphy by Adam Laforet (posted on 10/18/2009 in Articles)
Drafting in the Latter Rounds by Michael Woods (posted on 10/20/2006 in Articles)
Differences in Drafting for Roto and Head-to-Head Leagues by David Vauthrin (posted on 08/26/2008 in Articles)