Age: 16 - 18

I analyzed the past two championship teams who won it all in the last two years, and here is what I discovered about the types of players they drafted:

1. Last year's team:
First Round pick: Quick explosive ball handler
Second Round pick: Big man
Third Round pick: Big man
Fourth Round pick: Big man

From there on out, the team drafted mostly all-around role players and ball handlers.

2. Champions from two years ago:
First Round pick: Strong big man
Second Round pick: Strong big man
Third Round pick: Ball handler / Three point shooter
Fourth Round pick: Big man / Ball handler

From there on out, the team drafted all-around role players.

The obvious pattern here is that in order to build a good team, you should draft big men early. But Team 1 drafted the best player available (which wasn't a big man) and then proceeded to use the next three picks to draft big men. Team 2 made sure it drafted big men early and then went on to draft ball handlers, role players etc.

Looking at this, what would be a good strategy to build a strong team that doesn't solely rely on perimeter (jump shooting team) but also isn't a slow big team that has good big men but very average ball-handlers?

  • 1
    I'd think the best draft strategy matches the one we see in fantasy sports, since it's a similar situation of information lack (we don't get the opportunity to personall know the guys being drafted, we just may know a few things about them). So I'd say your job is to focus on the rarest skills first, particularly if they are the skills you desire most. And attempt to take players who should have already been drafted rather than reach for people who the other teams won't take. Honestly, it's probably 75% luck in such a information-lacking situation. Feb 25 '14 at 6:52
  • I think this is a very tricky question to answer; IMHO it all depends on how much better the best PG is compared to the next best PG, and so on. Bottom line is that you need to find a compromise you are comfortable with
    – posdef
    Aug 22 '14 at 10:43

Recreational basketball is an extremely tricky field. After playing on multiple teams over the years, here are some lessons that I've learned which affect drafting strategies:

  • You win games when you hustle.
    • Invariably, the most successful teams I've played on were comprised of a bunch of guys who were willing to hustle. Loose balls, boxing out, tenacious defense... the hustle factor is an often-overlooked element during draft day
  • Big guys are important
    • When you have a big guy, you immediately have presence in the lane. This pays off on offense and defense, and IMHO is the biggest factor for rec ball
  • Build a team of shooters - don't single out one guy to take most of the shots
    • You can ride along with one good shooter, but even the best guys have bad games. I've lost to worse teams because we depended too much on one guy to shoot.
    • This doesn't really affect the draft (pick a great shooter if you can)... but if your great shooter isn't willing to give the ball up - watch out
  • You need a designated PG
    • Don't draft two guys who both think they can play PG. Your PG is your offensive leader and he needs to know that from the start

With that in mind, here's my draft strategy:

1. Big man who plays solid defense

2. PG

3. Best defender/hustle player out there, not a PG

4. Fill your positions with the best players left.


At that age group you pick the best players available. Being the best is not only ability but willingness to play hard all the time (and do some dirty work). Also defense should count for more than offense at that level. Even good rec league players aren't GREAT scorers, so defense is more important. You can get lucky and make shots, you can't get lucky (consistently) and make jump shots with a guy in your face.

Also for that age range I would think big men would be less coveted (most tall young rec league players can't finish). I played in a league a few years ago with a lot of college teams (out of season). What is funny is that most of the teams were just the bigs. So we are facing a team whose PG is 6'5". Well the first game we lost by 40. The second game we pressed the entire time... didn't lose another game.

Just by putting guys into buckets you are disabling your team. You can start 3 "PG"s and 2 "SF"s in a rec league and be dominant. If the two best players are both centers then get those two guys first. I would do the exact opposite of what Matt said. I would go best players for first 3 rounds for sure. After that I might bump a guy up or down a little based on need. And when I say need it would have to be a really drastic need.

Example of the need flaw: So you are in round 3 and have no PG. The 4 best available players are bigs. You take the next best PG. Well now you have your team ran by a middling PG who will look to dominate ball since he has best ball skills, but he really isn't a good player. You would be better off getting the big and creating a mismatch. Understanding that you might have a few more turnovers but easier scoring once you get the ball up.


I believe there is no perfect strategy. Every coach is different and will implement their own gameplan for their strengths and weaknesses.

That being said, overall talent is king butttt you do need a ball handler of some sort or you could be in for a long season.

Defense can be taught easily. Well at least for me. ha But ball handling takes time (as well as confidence) to develop.

A key strategy to not KEEP IN MIND is not so much in your first couple picks as it is in your last couple that will change your season.

If you end up coasting in your draft and picking 2 or three of the bottom 10 players it can negate your early round picks almost completely.

Let me explain...

If you have horrible talent, the last thing you want is them with the ball in their hand in key situations.

That equals turnovers for days. Which brings the entire team morale down severely and team morale is huge.

I can easily double team a stud player and drive him crazy all game. Easy pickens...

I always have my do not picks and my lower steals that give me an advantage.

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