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Looking for a quick primer on how to play fantasy basketball this season? You've come to the right place. Wikipedia Commons

Good news, basketball fans—the 2013-14 NBA season is finally underway, and fantasy basketball is one of the best ways to follow your favorite players while simultaneously losing your last shreds of sanity. Interested in getting involved in the world of virtual team ownership? IBTimes has you covered with a quick primer.

First, you’ll need to set up your league. Several websites offer their own take on fantasy basketball, but the two most popular games are offered by ESPN.com and Yahoo.com. Prospective commissioners have the option of customizing several aspects on their league, including number of teams, scoring system, and more.

Fantasy basketball leagues typically consist of 10 to 12 teams, but that number is up to the commissioner’s discretion. Commissioners will also have the option to selecting a live draft template, which allows each owner to select their own players in a “fantasy draft,” or an autopick league, in which players are randomly assigned. Some websites offer an “auction” option, in which each team owner is given a monetary budget and each player has their own “salary,” but that type of league should generally be attempted by more experienced fantasy players.

Next, you’ll need to decide on your league’s scoring system. In many ways, fantasy basketball functions in the same way as regular basketball. The biggest difference lies in which statistics affect the ultimate winner of each week’s matchup. In fantasy basketball, the victor is determined by which team owner records the highest totals in each of the league’s predetermined stat categories. Whomever records the highest (or, in the case of turnovers, lowest) number in each category earns one point, and the player with the most points wins the matchup.

Generally, Yahoo and ESPN’s respective scoring systems do a great job of tracking valuable stats without bogging fantasy players down with too many numbers.

Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues make use of the following categories in their standard scoring format: points, total rebounds, 3-pointers, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers.

ESPN’s leagues use a similar standard system: points, total rebounds, 3-pointers, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage.

That brings us to the next polarizing choice faced by would-be fantasy basketball players: the endless debate of head-to-head leagues versus rotisserie, or “roto” leagues. Head-to-head leagues are exactly what one would expect—each player is assigned a weekly opponent, and earns wins and losses based on their point totals.

Meanwhile, in roto leagues, fantasy team owners don’t have weekly opponents; they earn a point total based on their players’ cumulative statistics in each tracked category. The owner with the highest score at the end of the year wins the league.

Fantasy sports are a worldwide phenomenon for a reason—each league produces an endless amount of questions, obsessive thinking, and hand-wringing among its team owners. Still, this primer should give you a good of idea of the basics of fantasy basketball.

Have any other questions about fantasy basketball? Sound off in the comment section below.

[h/t John Cregan]