A comprehensive guide to Fantasy Basketball


Fantasy Basketball is incredibly easy to set up as well. All you need is a group of friends and a computer.

Kevin Zhu, Senior Staff Writer

As the NBA season finally kicks off, fantasy basketball leagues are starting to spring up. Whether it’s one among your friends, or one you joined on your own, here’s a comprehensive guide to making sure you secure the big win for your team.

“Fantasy basketball has a lot of ups and downs that make it interesting, skill-based, and really fun,” says Terrence Moore (‘23).


#1- Rules

Fantasy sports are based on the idea of statistical tracking for real-time athletics. For any sport, extensive data is kept on every team and every player based on their performance and histories. For basketball, the stats are mainly player centered, not team centered, and is based on an individual player’s performance. These statistics will go into an online basketball team, also known as a fantasy basketball team.

“Fantasy basketball is a really great way to keep in touch with the league and the games, and also to play with friends. It’s also a lot of fun to draft your team and update it with new strategies,” said Paul Maasrani (‘22). 

Each individual’s live performance in the game adds up to a final fantasy score. Points scored, rebounds, assists, free throws, blocks, and steals are all accounted for in the final sum. Each player will bring in a total amount of points by the end of the season, and contribute to the fantasy team’s total in the league.

“Fantasy scores are different from actual points. There’s a whole lot of other stuff to it. It’s what makes it so fun. You can have a low-scoring player in the real league who is actually really good in fantasy,” said Joshua Yu (‘23).

Players do not have to be on the same real life teams to be drafted onto the same fantasy team. The best fantasy team should be one that scores the most fantasy points consistently by the end of the actual league season. One fantasy league usually consists of 8 to 20 players with varying sizes of rosters, and will take the whole NBA season to finish.

“The league lasts as long as the real season, which can be pretty long. The length of it can be really fun as it’s something interesting that lasts a long time and not just a fad that comes and goes,” said Maasrani


#2 Strategies

 Fantasy points are not just equated with real-life points. Many factors play a role in determining a player’s fantasy points-from assists, rebounds, minutes played, attempted shots, percentage of made shots, and so much more. Each league has slightly different criteria for what counts as fantasy points, but the same general categories apply through most leagues. 

“Generally, people like to just count points, assists, rebounds. There are other categories you can count for points but that can make the game a lot more complicated,” said Yu.

Because of this, picking the best player can be a strategy, but oftentimes they will be taken by other players in the draft. The draft is usually done live, with all players of the league taking turns on picking players one by one. When the best players are taken, it’s best to default to “trash” players- the term refers to mediocre or lesser-known players who are on teams with poor performance. Rather than taking an average player on a superteam, it’s much better to take a starter player on a poor team. 

“A really good example of [that] is how Russell Westbrook is normally a great player, but this season it’s not too great to take him for fantasy, since he’s on a team with Lebron and doesn’t score many points since he’s a supporting player”, says Yu.

This is because of how fantasy points work, since wins and losses only count for part of the points. An average player on a poor team will get many points per game and minutes played even if their team loses and performs poorly in the league overall, while a solid but not superstar player on a superteam will often get few minutes played and even less stats. 

 “I knew almost nothing about basketball, but I went online to search for tips and asked for some help from friends with drafting my team. It was really easy, and now I’m doing pretty well in our friends’ league,” said Moore.


#3: Injury Lists and Political Scandal

Injury lists and miscellaneous categories are such examples of how politics and news can interfere greatly with fantasy sports. Injury lists exist in order to keep injured players on your roster without taking extra space for your normal roster. Superstar players such as Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard are often prone to injuries all throughout the season, so this makes drafting such players less of a risk, and a drafter’s IL, or injury list can greatly swing an entire league.

“Great injured players to draft for your injured list could be Ben Simmons or Klay Thompson. They’re both technically out this season but Klay is coming in around December, and Simmons has a good chance of returning too,” said Bhavik Singhal (‘23).

Political tides can swing a league as well by involving major players in drama and controversy. For example, Kyrie Irving’s decision to refuse the vaccine results in him being unable to play any games at all this season. Normally Irving is one of the top performing players in the entire league. Paul George’s scandal in 2014 with strip clubs also dropped him from one of the top picks of the league to a player with nearly a 0 percent rostered rate because of his libelous reputation.

“Kyrie’s a good player, but the problem is that he’s anti-vax and can’t play because of it. He’s not injured, so you can’t even draft him on the injured list,” said Singhal.

Fantasy basketball originally was born out of the early days of the internet in the 1990s, at a time when the NBA was picking up its heat. Today it is one of the most popular fantasy sports, and offers many a chance for fans to bond over their favorite sport, and connect social groups together.

“My friends and I are totally hyped for this fantasy season. We’re doing ESPN, and we have bets and dares placed on the losers and winners of our league,” said Moore.

ESPN Fantasy Basketball and Yahoo Fantasy Basketball are the most popular leagues as of now. Get together a group of friends and draft today! (Kevin Zhu)