Hybrid Auction/Draft

Fantasy sports leagues typically use either an auction or a draft to allocate players at the start of the season. Drafts are usually faster and simpler, but especially for the NBA right now, where two players stand out far above the rest, they mean that the draft order determines who can own LeBron James or Kevin Durant. If you get a low draft pick, you may never even get a chance to own your favorite player.
Auctions, where each owner has the same salary cap, puts all owners on a level playing field, giving each a chance to buy whomever they want. I strongly prefer auctions, but they do take longer than drafts. My long-time NBA league, the Ezra Stiles Rotisserie Association, is now in its 25th year, and this time we tried an experiment of a hybrid draft/auction.
We selected 80 players to bid on before the draft, and then after those 80 players were sold we switched to a straight round draft to fill out our rosters, with owners who had more money left getting higher picks in each round. This resulted in a faster draft than doing a full auction, but a slower one than a straight draft. But since the list of 80 players included all the top names, everyone still got a fair at Durant, LeBron or whoever they might want in the draft.
The league uses a $30 salary cap to fill a starting roster of 20 players (4 each at each position), and also a 5 person bench. We score 6 categories: points, rebounds, assists, FG%, FT%, and the sum of steals and blocks.
I generated the list by first computing some projected stats for NBA players, then computing a RotoValue based on those stats. I’ll do a separate post on those projections, but an updated version of them are visible here. I tweaked the list a bit, aiming to get the top 80 players in the league, and shuffled it, but biased so that better players would tend to be near the top.
Here was the list of 80 players we sold at auction, in auction order:

Player Position Team Price Owner
Dwyane Wade SG Heat $4.80 Geoff
Chris Bosh C Heat $3.40 Geoff
Chris Paul PG Clippers $6.40 Chris
David Lee PF Warriors $3.40 Erik
Dwight Howard C Lakers $4.80 Geoff
Kevin Durant SF Thunder $8.70 Tim
Danny Granger SF Pacers $2.70 Chris
Luol Deng SF Bulls $2.50 Lorin
Kevin Love PF Timberwolves $3.50 A.J.
Monta Ellis SG Bucks $2.90 Jeff
Dirk Nowitzki PF Mavericks $1.80 Joe
Kyrie Irving PG Cavaliers $4.70 Chris
Mike Conley PG Grizzlies $3.00 Lorin
Roy Hibbert C Pacers $3.50 Erik
Pau Gasol PF Lakers $4.40 Jeff
LeBron James PF Heat $10.20 Tim
Tyreke Evans SF Kings $3.40 Joe
Michael Beasley SF Suns $1.60 Lorin
Brandon Jennings PG Bucks $2.60 A.J.
Emeka Okafor C Wizards $0.50 Joe
Deron Williams PG Nets $4.80 Joe
Rodney Stuckey SG Pistons $1.40 Jeff
Stephen Curry PG Warriors $3.20 Joe
Landry Fields SG Raptors $0.40 Geoff
Rajon Rondo PG Celtics $4.10 Jeff
Wesley Matthews SG Trailblazers $1.20 Chris
Gerald Wallace SF Nets $2.30 Geoff
Raymond Felton PG Knicks $1.90 Lorin
Ty Lawson PG Nuggets $4.70 Chris
David West PF Pacers $2.00 Jeff
Marcin Gortat C Suns $3.70 Erik
Serge Ibaka PF Thunder $3.80 Jeff
Paul George SG Pacers $2.10 A.J.
Kevin Martin SG Rockets $1.40 Joe
DeMarcus Cousins C Kings $4.30 Tim
Jrue Holiday PG 76ers $2.80 Jeff
Andre Iguodala SG Nuggets $3.20 Geoff
John Wall PG Wizards $3.20 A.J.
Darren Collison PG Mavericks $1.70 Joe
Gordon Hayward SG Jazz $1.90 Joe
Russell Westbrook PG Thunder $5.70 Geoff
Ryan Anderson SF Hornets $1.30 Joe
LaMarcus Aldridge PF Trailblazers $4.50 Chris
Ramon Sessions PG Bobcats $0.40 Geoff
Paul Millsap PF Jazz $3.60 Erik
Blake Griffin PF Clippers $3.90 Joe
Marc Gasol C Grizzlies $4.00 Erik
Josh Smith PF Hawks $4.90 A.J.
Amare Stoudemire PF Knicks $2.90 Lorin
Kobe Bryant SG Lakers $4.00 Joe
Zach Randolph PF Grizzlies $2.30 Lorin
Joakim Noah C Bulls $2.30 A.J.
Shawn Marion SF Mavericks $1.00 Chris
Luis Scola PF Suns $2.00 Lorin
JaVale McGee C Nuggets $1.60 A.J.
Greg Monroe C Pistons $3.70 Jeff
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF Bobcats $0.70 A.J.
Al Jefferson C Jazz $3.80 Lorin
Joe Johnson SG Nets $2.20 Joe
Rudy Gay SF Grizzlies $3.40 Tim
Carmelo Anthony SF Knicks $3.40 Geoff
Samuel Dalembert C Bucks $1.00 Lorin
O.J. Mayo SG Mavericks $0.60 A.J.
Dion Waiters SG Cavaliers $0.30 Chris
Tony Parker PG Spurs $2.40 Erik
Al Horford C Hawks $3.30 Lorin
Kevin Garnett C Celtics $2.30 Erik
Nicolas Batum SF Trailblazers $1.90 Chris
Jeff Teague PG Hawks $1.70 A.J.
Carlos Boozer PF Bulls $2.10 Lorin
James Harden SG Thunder $2.20 Jeff
Andrei Kirilenko SF Timberwolves $1.40 Lorin
Andrew Bynum C 76ers $2.20 A.J.
Tim Duncan PF Spurs $1.20 Erik
Steve Nash PG Lakers $1.30 Erik
Thaddeus Young SF 76ers $1.40 Tim
Paul Pierce SF Celtics $1.30 Erik
Anthony Davis PF Hornets $1.20 Erik
Tyson Chandler C Knicks $1.10 Chris
Bradley Beal SG Wizards $0.20 Geoff

Each owner had $30 to spend on a total of 25 players, with a minimum bid of $0.10 (even for the players selected in the draft phase). So owners had $27.50 to allocate to extra bids. The list was randomized, with a bias so that better players tended to appear closer to the front.
While the 8 teams purchased a total of 80 players at auction, teams did vary in the number of players they bought. Tim won both LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the two highest priced players by far, but only got 3 other players, leaving him 20 to select in the draft phase. Joe and Lorin each bought 12 players.
After the auction phase, the draft order was set in order of decreasing remaining cash, so not spending as much at the auction meant having a better pick in each draft round. If two teams tied in cash remaining, the one needing fewer players got the earlier pick, and if that was tied also, we flipped a coin.
Here’s how the draft phase went:

Player Position Team Owner
Brook Lopez C Nets Jeff
Goran Dragic PG Suns A.J.
Kyle Lowry PG Raptors Lorin
Eric Gordon SG Hornets Joe
Manu Ginobili SG Spurs Erik
Jeremy Lin PG Rockets Tim
Kris Humphries PF Nets Geoff
Ersan Ilyasova PF Bucks Chris
Damian Lillard PG Trailblazers Jeff
Kenneth Faried PF Nuggets A.J.
Nikola Pekovic C Timberwolves Lorin
Danilo Gallinari SF Nuggets Joe
DeAndre Jordan C Clippers Erik
Greivis Vasquez PG Hornets Tim
Elton Brand PF Mavericks Geoff
Arron Afflalo SG Magic Chris
Andrea Bargnani PF Raptors Jeff
Kawhi Leonard SF Spurs A.J.
Anderson Varejao C Cavaliers Lorin
Chris Kaman C Mavericks Joe
DeMar DeRozan SF Raptors Erik
Ricky Rubio PG Timberwolves Tim
Andrew Bogut C Warriors Geoff
Nene Hilario C Wizards Chris
Mo Williams PG Jazz Jeff
Glen Davis PF Magic A.J.
Klay Thompson SG Warriors Lorin
Louis Williams SG Hawks Joe
Andre Miller PG Nuggets Erik
Evan Turner SG 76ers Tim
Isaiah Thomas PG Kings Geoff
Marcus Thornton SG Kings Chris
Jared Dudley SG Suns Jeff
Omer Asik C Rockets A.J.
George Hill PG Pacers Lorin
Derrick Favors PF Jazz Joe
Jameer Nelson PG Magic Erik
Kemba Walker PG Bobcats Tim
Tristan Thompson PF Cavaliers Geoff
Jonas Valanciunas C Raptors Chris
J.J. Hickson C Trailblazers Jeff
Brandon Roy SG Timberwolves A.J.
Jason Terry SG Celtics Lorin
Brandon Knight PG Pistons Joe
Gerald Henderson SG Bobcats Erik
Brandon Bass PF Celtics Tim
Jason Thompson PF Kings Geoff
Spencer Hawes PF 76ers Chris
Dorell Wright SF 76ers Jeff
Courtney Lee SG Celtics A.J.
Tony Allen SG Grizzlies Lorin
Gustavo Ayon C Magic Joe
Trevor Ariza SF Wizards Erik
Tiago Splitter C Spurs Tim
Chandler Parsons SF Rockets Geoff
Jeff Green PF Celtics Chris
Byron Mullens PF Bobcats Jeff
Carl Landry SF Warriors A.J.
J.R. Smith SG Knicks Lorin
Marvin Williams SF Jazz Joe
Hedo Turkoglu SF Magic Erik
Kevin Seraphin PF Wizards Tim
Alonzo Gee SF Cavaliers Geoff
Mario Chalmers PG Heat Chris
Derrick Rose PG Bulls Jeff
Devin Harris PG Hawks A.J.
Tayshaun Prince SF Pistons Lorin
Andray Blatche PF Nets Joe
Danny Green SG Spurs Erik
Robin Lopez C Hornets Tim
Kirk Hinrich PG Bulls Geoff
Zaza Pachulia C Hawks Chris
Harrison Barnes SF Warriors Jeff
DeJuan Blair C Spurs A.J.
Jan Vesely PF Wizards Lorin
Kendrick Perkins C Thunder Joe
Richard Hamilton SG Bulls Erik
Amir Johnson PF Raptors Tim
Bismack Biyombo C Bobcats Geoff
Thomas Robinson PF Kings Chris
Kosta Koufos C Nuggets Jeff
Chase Budinger SF Timberwolves A.J.
Brandon Rush SG Warriors Lorin
Derrick Williams PF Timberwolves Joe
James Johnson SF Kings Erik
Wilson Chandler SG Nuggets Tim
Caron Butler SF Clippers Geoff
Jarrett Jack PG Warriors Chris
Carlos Delfino SF Rockets Jeff
Trevor Booker PF Wizards A.J.
Luke Ridnour PG Timberwolves Lorin
Patrick Patterson PF Rockets Joe
Jose Calderon PG Raptors Erik
Gerald Green SF Pacers Tim
Jason Richardson SG 76ers Geoff
Tobias Harris SF Bucks Chris
Kyle Korver SF Hawks Jeff
Marshon Brooks SG Nets A.J.
Mike Dunleavy SG Bucks Lorin
Lamar Odom SF Clippers Joe
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Hornets Erik
Drew Gooden C Bucks Tim
Boris Diaw C Spurs Geoff
Chauncey Billups SG Clippers Chris
Nikola Vucevic C Magic Jeff
Royce White PF Rockets Joe
Jared Sullinger PF Celtics Erik
Markieff Morris PF Suns Tim
Jason Maxiell PF Pistons Geoff
Ed Davis PF Raptors Chris
Terrence Jones SF Rockets Jeff
Ben Gordon SG Bobcats Tim
J.J. Barea PG Timberwolves Geoff
Nate Robinson PG Bulls Chris
Linas Kleiza SF Raptors Jeff
Jordan Crawford SG Wizards Tim
Ray Allen SG Heat Tim
D.J. Augustin PG Pacers Tim
Ekpe Udoh PF Bucks Tim
Jerryd Bayless PG Grizzlies Tim

This is  a rather deep league, as we draft 200 NBA players, ensuring that almost every NBA starter and 6th man is owned.
Doing a hybrid sped things up quite a bit, as even the draft phase moved along rather nicely. We got the benefit of bidding for the best players, while going faster than a full auction. While I still am partial to a full auction, this was a good compromise to balance the fairness and excitement of an auction for top talent with the speed of a draft.

3 comments

  1. In the end, my extreme stars and scrubs strategy was successful. Some of my value picks delivered and I was very fortunate in my free agent pickup. Like Macklamore, shopping in the thrift store was a happy experience. I was also fortunate in my team health. Durant played 81 games and LeBron 76. Had either missed significant time, I would have been in deep trouble.
    Stars and scrubs is a high risk, high reward strategy, but it is a lot of fun when conditions develop favorably and you can continually upgrade the back end of your roster as the season unfolds. That does not always happen.

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