Well, here’s the big reveal! This NBA fantasy piece took longer to write than any other. I hope you enjoy.
A few articles ago, I made my case against considering Serge Ibaka a 1st or 2nd round pick. I do like Serge a little more in the 2013-2014 season, but the fundamental argument remains the same. He receives most of his player rater value from the blocks category. In the 2012-2013 campaign, he ranked #11 in a 9 category league and #101 when blocks were not calculated. What happened when Serge recorded zero blocks in a game last year? You sulked, cursed, and pondered trading him because he didn’t produce in other areas. Specialists are only relevant if they consistently produce in their desired category. If they do not single-handedly carry that category, they hurt you by simply occupying a roster spot. Another example of this phenomenon is Rajon Rondo. He dropped from #55 to #197 when assists were thrown out. Many fantasy owners used their 2nd round picks and dealt legitimate superstars for guys to essentially win one category.
You might be thinking…If it is not advantageous to own players that receive all of their player rater value in one category, it must be beneficial to own players that are more evenly dispersed in all statistical categories. It sounds theoretically correct, but is this idea accurate? I’m not saying that specialists don’t have their place to enhance team production. My hypothesis is a bit bolder. My proposal states that players who contribute in categories outside of their positional norm are more valuable than players that produce in their expected categories. You might want to read that again. Can I back that up with data? It will be hard to concretely prove that statement, but I’m sure going to try. Let’s keep digging.
Like I tried to persuasively state in my philosophical pre-draft article, there is no single formula for success in fantasy basketball or the actual real game. However, it is helpful to accurately compare players of different positions in order to rank them appropriately. We can estimate precise player values based on guys that average median numbers because that is the premise behind the magical player rater formula. In other words, if Serge’s value is skewed by the large number of blocks, his player rater ranking cannot be as precise as a player that contributes in all statistical categories such as Nicholas Batum, Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap. Therefore, these players can act as pillars or measuring gauges when drafting or comparing players. Their values are truer than the players with extreme categorical production. Stay with me.
Everything is easier to understand with a practical example, so let’s take a look at Kevin Love. Love contributes in a few guard-dominated categories. He is averaging 5 assists and 2.5 three’s per game in the 2013-2014 season. Of course, he dominates the glass and kicks in his usual half block per game. It is very unusual to find a player that is completely unproductive from a position that is prone to getting certain statistics, so the average amount of blocks is decent for someone that contributes so heavily in other categories. You can overwhelm your opponent(s) by hitting them with statistics from every position. Although it seems underwhelming from an individual standpoint, addition is addition. Let me ask you a question. Who gets more assists…a combination of Stephen Curry and Paul Pierce or Kevin Love and Tony Parker? If you said Love and Parker, you were correct as of 11-13-13. When your PG and PF can outperform the opposition’s PG and SF in the assists category, you will almost certainly win that category for the week because your other players should carry their weight unless the other team has a center that gets a substantial amount of assists (Duncan 3.8, Horford 3.3, Hawes 3.1, Pachulia 3.0, Marc Gasol 2.9.) I think you get the point.
To sum up this rather complicated explanation, your specialists better come through in their categorical forte in order to warrant playing time. A far more consistent approach would be to target players that contribute in categories outside of their positional norm. Who might these players be? I would be a terrible author if I didn’t supply a useful list. Thanks for reading. Here is your gift.
Power Forwards and Centers…
That Shoot the 3 – Kevin Love 2.5, Spencer Hawes 1.8, Jeff Green 1.6, Josh Smith 1.6, Dirk Nowitzki 1.6, Josh McRoberts 1.6, Andrea Bargnani 1.2, Carmelo Anthony 1.2, Chris Bosh 1.1
That Steal the Rock – Anthony Davis 2.3, DeMarcus Cousins 2.2, DeJuan Blair 2.1, Gerald Wallace 2.0, Al Horford 1.9, Carmelo Anthony 1.8, Andre Drummond 1.7, Paul Millsap 1.7, Joakim Noah 1.7, Markieff Morris 1.7
That Dish the Pill – LeBron James 7.3, Kevin Love 5.0, Josh McRoberts 4.1, Tim Duncan 3.8, Gerald Wallace 3.6, Al Horford 3.3, Carmelo Anthony 3.2, Paul Millsap 3.1, Spencer Hawes 3.1, Zaza Pachulia 3.0, Blake Griffin 3.0, Nene 3.0, Marc Gasol 2.9, David West 2.9
Point Guards and Shooting Guards…
That Swat – Danny Green 1.3, James Harden 0.9, Dwyane Wade 0.9, Jimmy Butler 0.8, Raymond Felton 0.8, Michael Carter-Williams 0.8, Gerald Green 0.7
That Board – Paul George 7.8, Nicholas Batum 7.8, Evan Turner 6.3, Gordon Hayward 6.1, Kawhi Leonard 5.9, Lance Stephenson 5.9, Damian Lillard 5.4, Michael Carter-Williams 5.4, Dwyane Wade 5.0, Arron Afflalo 5.0, Jimmy Butler 4.8
So where do you go from here? I’d suggest targeting a player from these lists to address your statistical needs rather than pursuing a traditional, position specialist. Combining this strategy with the one illustrated here might be your ticket to the trophy. Let me hear from you at [email protected].