How Does Fantasy Basketball Work? Before Your First Draft, Start Here

Written by - Team Sentitrac

With the end of the NFL season rapidly approaching, fantasy basketball is an exciting way for NBA fans to immerse themselves even deeper into the world of basketball. In this guide, we'll explore the fundamentals of fantasy basketball, from understanding the basics to preparing for a successful draft.

What Is Fantasy Basketball?

Fantasy basketball is an immersive way for NBA fans to more actively participate in the sport they already love. At its core, fantasy basketball allows fans to become virtual team owners and managers.

But unlike traditional sports fandom, where you're limited to cheering for your favorite team, fantasy basketball lets you assemble your dream squad by selecting real-life NBA players to compete on your behalf.

In a fantasy basketball league, you and a group of friends, colleagues, or fellow fans form teams, each consisting of a roster of NBA players. These players' real-world performances directly impact your fantasy team's success. As the NBA season unfolds, your players earn points based on their on-court achievements, such as scoring points, grabbing rebounds, making assists, blocking shots, and more.

The goal is to accumulate more fantasy points than your opponents' teams. This is achieved by making strategic decisions regarding which players to draft, start, bench, or trade throughout the season.

Fantasy basketball transforms you into a shrewd manager as you navigate the dynamic world of the NBA to lead your fantasy team to victory.

How Does Fantasy Basketball Scoring Work?


Fantasy basketball scoring is the mechanism through which your virtual team gains or loses points based on your players' real-world performances. While scoring systems may vary slightly from one fantasy league to another, they typically encompass a range of statistical categories.

These categories, also known as fantasy stats, reflect different aspects of a player's performance on the court. Common fantasy stats include points scored, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, and field goal percentage, among others.

Each of these stats is assigned a specific point value, and your players accumulate points based on their achievements in these categories during real NBA games.

For example, if you have a player who scores 25 points, grabs 10 rebounds, dishes out five assists, and records two steals in a game, you would earn points in all these categories according to your league's scoring rules. The accumulation of points from all your players determines your weekly or seasonal score.

The diversity of statistical categories means that fantasy basketball requires a keen understanding of player abilities and game dynamics. Managers need to strike a balance between accumulating points across various categories and mitigating potential weaknesses in their team's performance.

What Formats Are Available in Fantasy Basketball?

Fantasy basketball offers a versatile range of formats to suit different preferences and play styles. These formats are designed to cater to various strategies and emphasize different aspects of the NBA game.

Here are some of the most popular formats:

  • Rotisserie (Roto) Leagues: Roto leagues are all about accumulating the most points across a set of statistical categories throughout the season. The team with the highest cumulative score in each category wins. Roto leagues reward well-rounded teams that excel in multiple areas.
  • Head-to-Head (H2H) Leagues: H2H leagues pit teams against each other in weekly matchups. Each week, teams compete in head-to-head contests, with the team that outperforms its opponent in more categories winning the matchup. H2H leagues introduce an element of strategy as you tailor your team for specific weekly matchups.
  • Points Leagues: Points leagues simplify scoring by assigning fixed point values to player achievements, such as points scored, rebounds, assists, etc. Managers focus on accumulating the highest point total each week or season. This format is straightforward and accessible for beginners.
  • Dynasty Leagues: In dynasty leagues, managers build teams for the long term. Players are typically kept from season to season, allowing for in-depth team management and strategic planning beyond the current season.

The format you choose can significantly impact your drafting and in-season management strategies, so it’s essential to understand the nuances of each format before jumping into a league.

How Should I Prepare for a Fantasy Basketball Draft?

Effective preparation for a fantasy basketball draft is essential for success. Here's a streamlined approach to get ready:

  • Player rankings and projections: Study preseason player rankings and projections to identify valuable players, sleepers, and potential busts based on your league's scoring system.
  • Mock drafts: Participate in mock drafts to practice your drafting strategy, understand player selection flow, and adapt to different scenarios.
  • Injury updates: Stay updated on player injuries, as they can impact performance and availability during the season.
  • Sleepers and breakout candidates: Identify undervalued sleepers and breakout candidates who can provide excellent value.
  • Positional scarcity and team balance: Balance your team across positions and categories to compete in all statistical areas.
  • Draft strategy (auction vs. snake): Choose your draft strategy based on your league's format (auction or snake) and adjust your approach accordingly.
  • Current information: Monitor player performance, injuries, trade rumors, and waiver wire opportunities throughout the season to make timely roster adjustments.

Hit the Fantasy Hardwood and Pile up Those Points

If you’re a big NBA fan, fantasy basketball will come easily to you. For those players looking for a new diversion now that the NFL season is nearly over, fantasy basketball will be a bit of an adjustment. Fantasy basketball requires you to look at all aspects of the game and find talent that covers all statistical categories. You’ll have to know a deeper universe of players and consider their value in different ways. It’s not just touchdowns here.

Spend the rest of the winter applying yourself to fantasy basketball, and before you know it, it’ll be spring and you’ll be ready to try your hand at fantasy baseball. ‍