First of all – the obligatory – great day – great group – great fun – yada… yada.. yada. 2nd best day of the year – and I don’t mean 2nd Place – I mean – the OTHER BEST DAY.
I have waited two years for this second CHIBA auction after I completely and miserably failed in the first go around. In addition to making a few mistaken assumptions about the rules – I completely whiffed on understanding the impact of the nomination list mechanic.
I can still remember the awful panicked, helpless feeling like it was yesterday.
Well – that was NOT going to happen again.
Step 1 – PARANOIA
I pretty much e-mailed Miles every day in the week leading up with a different scenario that I had a nightmare about the previous day in order to make sure that no single unexpected thing could surprise me on auction day.
It’s success was double edged as the constant barrage of ignorant questions about tiny minutiae may have had the bonus effect of distracting as well as annoying the commish from his prep.
Step 2 – IF YOU BUILD IT…
With knowledge in hand – take the aborted spreadsheet from last year – and MAKE sure that this time it serves as a manageable and useful tool to make my auction day easier. That meant making the interface for player assignment easier – and creating a quick dashboard of easily ingestable data that would help me make real time auction decisions.
Was that a success? Well – not completely. I had to scrap a system I tried to code and interface within Excel to make assigning players to teams easier and elegant b/c I just couldn’t get it to work properly. (next year) And though I toyed with lugging a monitor to the draft so as to take in more information at a glance – I deemed it unlikely that we would have enough space at Brother Jimmys.
So I opted to scale things down – keep them simple – and though it was a little frantic in the beginning – my work paid off later in the auction – when I was able to keep track of every team’s MAX bid, average per slot, positions filled and needed – and projected statistical production.
Step 3 – THE PRICE IS RIGHT
I assumed that MOST of the league would be working off of Monster values. They’re just too good in general – though flaws in the database exist in overvaluation of injured and injury prone players (b/c of per game weights), rookies, and a general valuation tendency that I think weighs a little too top heavy. I wanted to make sure my valuations were distinct – and that they clearly took into account players I liked and disliked. Thanks to the ability to enter custom per game projection data I was able to create distinct values within the Monster interface and import them into my tool.
I also ingested every team blog, YouTube video, tweet, and preseason statistic that I could. In addition sites like VORPed provided some incredible and easy to digest breakdowns useful for understanding FG% and 3PT shooting tendencies.
Step 4 – “VISION WITHOUT EXECUTION IS HALLUCINATION” – Thomas Edison
Finally I spent a good deal of time thinking about how the auction would flow – and what strategy teams might employ with the nomination process. I projected a mix of teams both pushing out value and holding back key players. I did make the ASSUMPTION that as soon as team’s spent their money – they would release their top players into the pool (as is rational) – but was thrown off when some teams (Agnello) held back assets even when there was no reason to do so (that benefited them). I correctly projected that Lloyd (specifically) and a few others would hold back $$$ in an attempt to add a key piece(s) at the end of the draft for great value. So my intention was to hold back the key asset at my disposal – LBJ – and operate under the assumption I would try to hold money to get him at value until there was no chance I could roster him. Doing so – affected other team’s in-auction decisions in ways which helped create value for me.
Having to nominate first was a definite problem with the plan – and I would like to submit that in future auctions the teams with the top 3 players should always have to be the first 3 teams to nominate. If I had Lebron and the was able to make him the LAST nominated player – it would have been tough for someone to hold out long enough to stop me (assuming I practiced auction discipline).
In general I planned to not even get involved in bidding on players I didn’t REALLY like unless the price was at a substantial discount (20%+) – and to let values go if the player wasn’t one of my targets.
I also modeled a few roster constructions with salary slots around some players I really liked – for example if you roster LBJ – you want to make sure you allocate your money to bigs – and b/c of his assist production – you can probably slot a cheap 2 guard that shoots 3’s in lieu of an expensive point.
JEREMY LIN – TWO WRONGS = RIGHT
Yes – I was dead set on obtaining him. In order to set some limits on myself in case the bidding got irrational – I modeled out my projection for his best case scenario – which was 18pts, 1 Trey, 4 REB, 7.8 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.4 BLK, and 44% FG. I’m almost positive he won’t hit ALL those numbers (especially the FG%) – but at least it allowed me a number that I could safely use as a limit to keep me from blowing up my entire auction. That number by the way was $35 – though I might’ve passed a few dollars under if my team was already capped out. The worst case scenario would be if Leon had thrown him out early with too many $$$ for everyone to play around with. I successfully used triple reverse psychology to ensure that didn’t happen (haha!).
“I know you don’t smoke weed, I know this; but I’m gonna get you high today, ’cause it’s (SUNDAY); you ain’t got no job… and you ain’t got shit to do.”
At the start I can only recall the feeling of pure panic as players were drafted left and right at values WAY over my projections. Were my values completely off base? I watched player after player go for 2 rounds with nary a discount to be had. I took it out on Tom – though I’m not sure what the business about attaching my name to bids and no one else.. (make that panic AND paranoia..)
Also the lack of discipline about teams clearly announcing who won a player at what price and the position they were assigning was totally fucking up my ability to keep track of what was going on while still staying on the subsequent bid. (umm.. next year – we improve this?)
I broke my first rule of many on the day in my acquisition of Nene – $20 was a good price if he were healthy to start the season – but concern over my valuation being out of wack made me temporarily insane. Don’t get me wrong – I love a healthy Nene. But I hate the words “Plantar Fascitis”.
I waited a long time for my second player – and I was getting really concerned about all the talent coming off the board. So when Iguodala came up – I got mixed up in a bidding war with Miles – and ended up deciding within the second that I wanted him. No value there – but a player that apparently my subconscious really wanted. $39 is $5 more that I should’ve been still bidding – but I did feel more comfortable securing what I considered a productive and safe asset.
My next two players were where I started getting happy. Bogut at $14 and Asik at $13 I feel are steep discounts. One b/c of injury and the other b/c of track record (or the lack thereof).
At that point $120+ $$ left – 3 big men secured and and all arounder in Iggy – I was in good shape. The question I was thinking was – could I get Lin AND hold out for Lebron? That was answered pretty quickly when I couldn’t pass up Ginobili at $15 and Steve threw out Damien Lillard – who I could NOT resist.
When Lin finally rolled out – I was still holding out the possibility of waiting it out for LeBron (though my nominating order of 1st was a definite disadvantage) – and rostering him at $27 sealed my chances of pulling out the Lloyd gambit on the biggest prize of all. (which in retrospect I realize I had 0 chance of pulling off).
I was very happy to fill my forward slots out with Ilyasova and Pierce at good prices – though i do wish I passed on one of them to have more $$$ for the end game shopping. Instead I had to take my last $26 and grab Kyle Lowry at close to value to ensure that I didn’t get frozen out. I liked the player – but I didn’t love how I executed the end game. Clearly there is still much to learn.
In the reserve draft – I was very happy to get Jared Dudley who has G/F flexibility and solid production to contribute. I sweated out Andre Drummond as I believe he may be a monster later in the season when DET let’s him loose. Jeff Green was Paul Pierce insurance – though I think he may have a bigger role in the Celtic rotation than many project – and Steve Novak is always a useful piece – or a throwaway that I will replace with another stash and hope FA that potentially fills a need.
“I LIKE MY SQUAD!!!” – anonymous 20th Century philosopher/poet
Overall – I’ll say it – I like my squad. I was super high on rooks Lillard and Drummond. I got my Nugget in Andre Iguodala. All 4 of my guards dime. I’ve got a pair of quality bigs if Bogut and Nene get (and stay) healthy. I regret not having a Heat/Laker or Net (for TV purposes) – but who am I kidding – I’ll be watching Rocket games this season anyway.
Injuries are a clear risk – Gino is already hurt, Nene and Bogut have no timetable (wtf does that mean?). Pierce could break down any season now – Lin still has lingering knee issues. Also – this team may not shoot well – and is dependent on better than expected scoring from Asik, Lillard, and Iggy. But I can’t complain – if I go down – it’ll be in players that I believe in.
“Crazy Eddie, his prices are IN-SA-A-A-A-A-ANE!”
Deandre Jordan $2 – absolutely insane – and one of my targets based on the supposed addition of some low post moves…
Deron Williams $21 – Lloyd strikes again! But his actual value is $49 based on money left on the table…
Nikola Pekovic $8 – then again this was a $10+ steal by Lloyd so let’s call it a minor win.
Varejao $6 – Yeah I’d like to exchange Nene for him right now and I paid 3x the price…
GWall $9 – Man I really wanted a Net. And then Deron Williams had to hate on Lin – and now I’m thinking – F the Nets..
Kaman $4 – THIS was the guy I traded to Leon for Anthony F@$^-ing Morrow last year. And he was damn good in the 2nd half!
Thaddeus Young $2 – I was PRAYing he fell to the reserve draft. Dosh deserves him for believing in him a long time ago – but this year – he PAYS off.
Dion Waiters $14 – I like him… as a reserve round pick. $14? notsomuch
Brandon Knight $14 – I have him penciled in here as a PG to pick up for a $1…
Josh Smith $63 – I love Josh Smith – but assuming he stays away from the 3 PT line (where he doesn’t belong) where’s the upside at this price? (answer – there is none)
Derrick Rose $15 – yeah uh this one’s a head scratcher. Although here’s a little something to make you feel better Mikey:
Lou Williams $12 – was there a funnier moment than when Andy realized that he had bought the wrong Williams and it wasn’t Deron???
Rondo – I think I listened to too many SportsGuy podcasts about Rondo winning the MVP. I was high on him…
Gallinari – totally underrated – a bizarre 2011-2 for him – and an anomalous 3PT% that he will definitely improve. Good things happening in Denver and Gallo will be a big part
Anthony Davis/Ibaka – wanted 1 of the 2 sooo bad – but couldna afford either
Bargnani – 3pt production from Center? If I had taken Duncan/Boozer/Millsap/Faried types at F – I would’ve paid up for Bargs. Also – a perfect guy to pair with Rondo. AND – I think is set for a very good year in TOR.
Greivis Vazquez – been a fan since the Maryland days. Was sad that it looked like he wasn’t getting a shot in the NBA. But then he DID get a shot – and he didn’t disappoint. Has some work to do – but turning into a solid NBA PG.