I have a dirty secret: I love Steve Novak.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Kevin Durant and LeBron James, too, and they’re an absolute joy to play with in NBA2K13, but the developers weren’t kidding when they said that Signature Skills would do a lot to highlight the end of your bench. And there’s humble little Steve Novak, a 53 overall, draining corner 3s for me and bailing me out. In addition to making role players better at, well, playing a role, Sig Skills have also made it possible to build a team more distinctly. The game hasn’t been out very long, so it’s still a little early to tell exactly how all the new Sig Skills are going to mesh with each other, but it should suffice to say that building your Association team from the ground up in a fantasy draft is a much different thing this year.
Just like in the real NBA, there are essentially two ways to draft: for need and for best player available. If you turn on Trade Override, BPA is a no-brainer. Essentially, any trade where the dollars work can be done. If you want to keep it legit, though, Sig Skills have made it a little easier. Now, instead of simply drafting the best player at each position, you can put together players who can take advantage of each other’s skills. Pair a slashing guard with the Acrobat or Finisher skill with a center with the Brick Wall skill for devastating pick and roll ball handler scoring. Or pair a point guard with the Dimer or Alley-ooper skill with a power forward with the Posterizer or Finisher skill for brutal pick and roll dunks.
If you prefer drive and kick action, combine that PG with the Dimer skill with wings who are Spot-Up Shooters or Corner Specialists. Or if isolations are more your thing, get a shooting guard or small forward with Deadeye and Shot Creator. The new dribble controls will be your best friend with this type of player as stepbacks and the assortment of ripover and momentum jumpers you can now pull off go down smoothly.
The bottom line is that if you have a vision of what you want your team to be — uptempo fast breaking, pick-and-roll based, post-oriented — you can realize that vision more clearly now with players who have skills that make them more effective in specific situations. This is perhaps even more true of bench players.
No longer are those picks in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds of your fantasy draft just to fill up roster spots. There are reams of guys with overall ratings under 75 who have valuable skills off the bench. The most obvious one to shoot for is the combo of Spot-Up Shooter and Corner Specialist. A number of players have this combo and, when combined with a PG who has the Dimer skill, your shooting percentage on corner threes can really skyrocket. A couple players who fit this bill are Courtney Lee, Anthony Morrow, Ryan Anderson, my hero Steve Novak and Chase Budinger.
Likewise, having a guy come off the bench who has the Defensive Anchor skill can help shore up the defense of lesser bench players by boosting their abilities. Udonis Haslem or Kendrick Perkins are great options for this role. There are also a few Lockdown Defenders like Mbah A Moute to be had in the later rounds, plus plenty of guys who count as Bruisers and Brick Walls. Bruisers can help your starters by tiring out the opposing team and Brick Walls can help make scoring easier for lesser guards (Perkins and Dexter Pittman both have these skills).
There’s also one especially fascinating pick to make in the late rounds: Royce White. He plays both PF and SF and has an odd combination of skills: Dimer and Bruiser. With him on the roster, you might be able to get by with a scoring guard at the point who drops it off to White in the high post, with White functioning as a point forward who can also bang a bit.
Once you’ve made decisions in the first couple rounds about who the keys are to your team, here are three players likely to be hanging around the draft board who are sort of like Swiss army knives at the point, the wing, and the pivot due to their signature skills and their lower overall rating.
Andre Miller / PG / Alley-Ooper + Dimer + Floor General / 75
• Miller’s combo of skills make him tremendously useful for an offense focused on athleticism from the wings or the post. His Floor General skill will make everyone on the team better while the Dimer skill will maximize your other players’ shooting abilities. Throw in the Alley-Ooper skill and you’ve got a player who will work well with dunking big men and wings who might not be knockdown shooters.
Luol Deng / SF / Spot Up + Anti-Freeze + Lockdown / 83
• Deng provides excellent defense from the small forward position, plus functions as a great outlet option because of his Spot-Up Shooter and Anti-Freeze Skills. If your team is built around penetration by the guards, there’s a good chance they’re not very good defenders, so Deng can make up for that some, plus his reliable shooting is a welcome addition to almost any configuration of team.
Tyson Chandler / C / Hustle + Eraser + Defensive Anchor / 77
• Chandler — last year’s Defensive Player of the Year and a near All-Star — seems vastly underrated with an overall rating of 77 (I won’t be surprised if this changes with roster updates). But this means he’s often available after you’ve picked your top two or three players, so scoop him up for the way he makes your whole team better defensively, plus his emphatic blocks and ability to get at loose balls and rebounds.
Once you get past your starting five, there’s a buffet of player options with useful Signature Skills choose from. Many of them are listed here with their name, position, skills, and overall rating.
Nick Young / SG / Microwave + Corner Specialist / 72
Courtney Lee / SG / Scrapper + Interceptor + Spot Up + Corner / 72
Anthony Morrow / SG / Spot Up + Microwave + Corner / 66
Steve Novak / SF/PF / Spot Up + Corner / 53
Luc Mbah A Moute / SF/PF / Scrapper + Lockdown Defender / 68
Ryan Anderson / PF/SF / Spot Up + Hustle + Corner / 69
Royce White / PF/SF / Dimer + Bruiser / 68
Chase Budinger / SF/SG / Spot Up + Corner / 70
Derrick Williams / PF/SF / Posterizer + Hustle Points / 69
Matt Bonner / C / Spot Up / 51
Udonis Haslem / PF/C / Scrapper + Defensive Anchor + Charge Card / 70
Dexter Pittman / C / Brick Wall + Bruiser / 53
Kendrick Perkins / C / Bruiser + Brick Wall + Defensive Anchor / 72
Who are some of your favorite sleepers who bring a critical Signature Skill to the table?