Fantasy Basketball – Basic Overview for Beginners

basketballFantasy basketball, the rules of which bear a strong resemblance to fantasy baseball, became very popular in the nineties, chiefly owing to the Internet and websites such as Yahoo! Fantasy Sports and ESPN Fantasy Sports, to mention just two.

Players of fantasy basketball are also known as general managers (GMs).

Playing fantasy basketball involves drafting real National Basketball Association (NBA) players and earning points based on their real performance on field.

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Rule Variations

Fantasy basketball is not based on a specific set of rules. In fact, there are several variations and some of the most common ones are as follows.

Number of Categories: Fantasy basketball leagues consider anywhere between three and eleven categories. While three-category leagues take into account only three categories—rebounds, assists, and points—five-category leagues take into account steals and blocks too and eight-category leagues include free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, and so on. Some fantasy football leagues permit the commissioner to determine the categories that will be taken into account.

Number of Teams: Public fantasy basketball leagues usually have either ten or twelve teams. But private invitation-only leagues, which are usually created by seasoned fantasy basketball players, can have any number of players.

Draft Types: Fantasy basketball players can use two methods to draft players—the auction draft and the snake draft.

  • Snake Draft – In case of a snake draft, the first round of NBA players is drafted in a particular order, which is reversed in the second round. The GM who had the opportunity to make the last pick in the previous round will be making the first pick in the next round. The order is reversed so that the GM who gets the chance to make the first pick in a certain round will not get this advantage in the next round.
  • Auction Draft – In case of auction drafts, each GM starts with a pre-determined budget, which is the same as that allotted for fantasy baseball. GMs must use this budget to draft the entire roster. GMs auction off players and the GM willing to pay the largest amount for a player gets the chance to draft that player.

One of the biggest advantages of auction drafting over snake drafting is that all GMs have equal access to all players in case of the latter. On the downside, it takes long and may scare off beginners.

How Players Score Points

The following are the various methods through which fantasy basketball players are awarded points.

Rotisserie or ROTO

ROTO scoring uses NBA players’ real statistics to rank teams in a particular fantasy basketball league. Fantasy basketball teams are then awarded points on the basis of these rankings.

For instance, in a 12-twelve team fantasy basketball league, the team with the largest number of rebounds per season would receive 12 fantasy points and the team with the next biggest number of rebounds would receive 11 fantasy points. The team that bags the largest number of fantasy points at the end of the season is declared to be the winner.

Head-to-head Scoring

Fantasy basketball teams compete against other teams over a week and receive points based on NBA players’ one-field performance. The fantasy team that has accumulated the largest number of points after one week is the winner. There are two ways in which this is done.

  • Most Categories: Fantasy basketball teams are given points for each of the categories taken into account, and the team that collects the largest number of points will win the game.
  • One Category: Fantasy basketball teams that have received the largest number of points for a particular category are considered to be winners for that particular category. Weekly results (points) are then totaled to deliver seasonal results.

Fantasy basketball teams that use the head-to-head scoring method usually aim at the playoffs through which losers are eliminated till a champion emerges.

Scoring through Fantasy Points

Fantasy points are awarded for specific statistics and decisions regarding awarding of points are taken by the commissioner alone. For example, the commission may say that a steal will get two fantasy points. In this way, fantasy points are earned every night on the basis of NBA players’ performance on the field, and the team that earns the largest number of fantasy points at the close of the season becomes the winner.

Fantasy Basketball FAQs


Daily fantasy basketball is similar to traditional fantasy basketball. In case of daily fantasy basketball games, players have to build a team of NBA players and earn points based on their performance on field. As mentioned above, a variety of scoring rules and methodologies are used to award points. While traditional basketball lasts throughout the season, daily fantasy basketball games last only for a day.


Yes, there are plenty of free basketball games available. You can learn the various aspects of playing fantasy basketball without taking risks. However, you must note that you will not win any real money prizes if you are playing for free.


Fantasy basketball is 100% safe and legal as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 does not mention fantasy sports in its list of prohibited games. The fantasy websites we recommend are safe and legal as they do not even operate in the handful of US states that consider fantasy sports to be illegal.


You can find fantasy basketball games at any of the fantasy sports websites we recommend. Major sports portals such as,, CBS Sportsline, and Yahoo! also offer free or affordable fantasy basketball.


Yes, you can play fantasy basketball on mobile devices as all fantasy sports sites are mobile friendly.

Fantasy Basketball