Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One 2009 Fantasy Tidbit

With the season still a month off there isn’t all that much action going on for NBA fans. Unless of course you’re one of those fans that plans on participating in a fantasy league this year. In that case now is the time to start thinking about your fantasy draft.

My first fantasy draft was for a football league back in the mid-90s. To date myself, the stats were done by hand, and there was no web page for the league. In fact I was the only person in the league that used the web at that time. There was one building on campus that had computers with internet access, and I’m pretty sure the other guys in the league never set foot into the Math/Physics building. Well except maybe on those cold and windy days to cut across campus.

As most people in their first fantasy league, I didn’t do very well. Today I have many fantasy rules that I adhere to, most of which I broke that first year. For instance don’t let home team biases affect your draft (especially if you’re a Jets fan). Also don’t let video games warp your judgment (especially if you’re kicking butt in an old version of Madden with Randall Cunningham). And remember that a player’s real value is not equal to their fantasy value.

For years after I joined fantasy leagues of all types. I remember walking into my first baseball draft with a laptop and being laughed at by everyone in the room. Today most drafts are done online with people sitting at their PC. Anyone walking into a draft only with a magazine they picked up along the way is probably in for a losing season.

Being that I’m at a unique position to have a basketball database at my hands, I usually take the time to put together a nice excel sheet for my draft, ranking players based on z-scores customized for my league. I also add a column for the player’s Yahoo rank, so I know approximately where each player should be drafted. Because my draft isn’t until the end of October and some of my opponents might be readers, I can’t reveal too much about my sheet or rankings.

However I’ll throw out one tidbit for my faithful KnickerBlogger readers in 9 category leagues (FG%, FT%, 3PTM, PTS, REB, AST, ST, BLK, TO). There’s a top 10 player whose ranking in my system is considerably worse: Dwyane Wade. In Yahoo’s ranking Wade is #9, and that does seem reasonable considering he’s one of the best players in the game. Wade averaged just under 25 points, 7 assists, 4 boards, 2 steals, and a block last year. So why should you avoid him in your league’s draft this year?

Wade averaged 4.4 turnovers per game last year, by far the worst in that category. To put this in perspective, Wade committed double the amount of turnovers as Chauncey Billups (Yahoo ranking #15). The closest person to Wade’s 4.4 in the top 100 is Steve Nash with 3.6, but the differences between the two punctuates Wade’s other weaknesses. Nash is fantastic in regards to FG%, FT%, and 3PM, while Wade is poor in all three categories. Wade is not a three point shooter, as his 0.4 3PM/G shows. His FT% (75.8%) and FG% (46.9%) were their lowest since his rookie season. Because of these four categories, Wade drops to 89th in my rankings.

A legitimate question to ask might be: what would Wade be ranked if he bounces back to his career averages? I plugged in his career per game averages for FG%, FT%, and TO, and Wade’s ranking only went up to 57. You may have high hopes for Dwyane because with the additions of Marion and Beasley to the offense Wade might be able to cut down on his turnovers. However you have to consider that he has missed a total of 62 games over the last 2 seasons.

Like most category killers (Dwight Howard, Okafor, Shaq), there is a special strategy to using them. You can treat them like a hot potato, closely monitoring the stat they kill (FT%, TO, FG%, etc.) and trading them at the right moment. Or you can punt that category and trade for players with the same weaknesses. Once you’ve given up on free throw percentage, players like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady become more valuable to your team.

Category killers worthy of a fantasy team usually offer something of great value to your team. For instance Howard will help your team with FG%, REB, and BLK. Steve Nash will give you FG%, FT%, 3PM, and is second in the league in AST. LeBron James will help in just about every category other than FT% and TO. Unfortunately Wade will hurt your team in turnovers, without offering any great help. You can make up PTS, AST, and STL elsewhere. Caron Butler (Yahoo #10), Baron Davis (Yahoo #12), and Allen Iverson (Yahoo #14) are comparable in those categories, and better overall. Wade is one of those players where his fantasy value differs greatly from his true value, and there’s no reason to grab him in as early as Yahoo suggests.

22 comments on “One 2009 Fantasy Tidbit

  1. Thomas B.

    Mike K.,

    What are your thoughts on high profile players on a rebuilding team? Some fantasy players swear that is the bread and butter of fanatsy. I have a buddy who is talking up Vince Carter because he thinks the Nets will be terrible this year and Vince will be the focus of the offense. I’m not buying. VC has never been great with FG%, and he seems more disinterested with getting to the line with each passing year, so bye to FTs. He does not rebound or rack many assists. No steals or blocks. He will put up a hollow 24 ppg this season, but give it all back in FG% and turnovers, reminds me of Crawford actually. Thoughts?

    I laughed at your recollection of your first fantasy teams. I made similar mistakes. I still do some fantasy ball, but just for fun. A few of my rules:

    Stay away from high shot volume pgs and sgs, instead look for players that have a high number of FTs taken per game. I’ve done ok with Tony Parker and CP3 in that area.

    Be wary of otherwise productive players off an injury. I find that they get off the slow starts and you have a aherd time catching up. I’m worried about Elton Brand this year.

    After drafting a stat stuffing big (Howard, Duncan, KG), the next order of business is an all around SF like Butler. If he could stay on the court, I would consider Jefferson as well. Deng could be a nice pick too.

    Compile a good list of efficient players even if they dont have wow stats. If your league is large, the top players go quickly. You will do well to have a nice depth chart at your disposal.

    I am curious to see how I do this year now that I am armed with (plug alert) “A layman’s guide to advanced NBA Statistics.” I have a better understanding of a players value, instead of just the wow stats.

  2. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Mike K.,

    What are your thoughts on high profile players on a rebuilding team? Some fantasy players swear that is the bread and butter of fanatsy. I have a buddy who is talking up Vince Carter because he thinks the Nets will be terrible this year and Vince will be the focus of the offense. I’m not buying. VC has never been great with FG%, and he seems more disinterested with getting to the line with each passing year, so bye to FTs. He does not rebound or rack many assists. No steals or blocks. He will put up a hollow 24 ppg this season, but give it all back in FG% and turnovers, reminds me of Crawford actually. Thoughts?

    Since fantasy stats are aggregate, per game stats and minutes played become a part of that equation. While I agree that stats don’t vary much in a player from year to year, there are reasons for a player’s stats to change. Playing time is a big one, but environment also comes into play. Rebounding does correspond to the team – look at Kaman & the Clippers last year. Replace Brand with Thornton & Tim Thomas, give Kaman 8 more minutes a game – and bingo! Also you have to look at the position the player might be playing (PF shifting to SF might see a decrease in rebounding, PG -> SG may see their assists decrease).

    I would agree in principle that this is one way to get a leg up on the competition – avoiding players in bad situations & finding players in good ones. However I’m not sold on Vince Carter being a good example this year. He tends to sulk when unhappy (2004), and his points/min dropped last year.

    One of my favorite rules for fantasy draft is to avoid guys you’re not sure about. There’s no reason to take Vince Carter in the late second/third round, watch him sulk in the swamp, and hate yourself for doing it. I tend to go safe early, and reach later on.

    I laughed at your recollection of your first fantasy teams. I made similar mistakes. I still do some fantasy ball, but just for fun. A few of my rules:

    Stay away from high shot volume pgs and sgs, instead look for players that have a high number of FTs taken per game. I’ve done ok with Tony Parker and CP3 in that area.

    Be wary of otherwise productive players off an injury. I find that they get off the slow starts and you have a aherd time catching up. I’m worried about Elton Brand this year.

    After drafting a stat stuffing big (Howard, Duncan, KG), the next order of business is an all around SF like Butler. If he could stay on the court, I would consider Jefferson as well. Deng could be a nice pick too.

    I would disagree. I think when you draft your early picks should always be the best guy available irregardless of position. I know I’ve had drafts where I’ve taken PG-SG-SG with my top 3 picks. The reason is that you usually have a few UTIL spots in league and you don’t want to reach down. Most fantasy basketball leagues have a lot of trading, so you can get a center after a month or two for one of your stud guards.

    Compile a good list of efficient players even if they dont have wow stats. If your league is large, the top players go quickly. You will do well to have a nice depth chart at your disposal.

    I am curious to see how I do this year now that I am armed with (plug alert) “A layman’s guide to advanced NBA Statistics.” I have a better understanding of a players value, instead of just the wow stats.

    Yeah – an easy way to do this is sort a list of players by something like PER and add that to your excel sheet. Look at players with less than 25 minutes. Then manually find guys that might see an increase in minutes this year. There’s your quick & dirty sleeper list.

  3. MattinDC

    Hey Mike K., I love fantasy more than real basketball these days (the only good thing Isiah did was give us reasons to play Crawford at either PG or SG).

    Question: Where do you envision drafting Oden this year? I have him first among my third tier centers, ahead of Okafor and Nick Collinson (about #7 overall for centers). Is that too high or low?

  4. Thomas B.

    Thanks. I think this may help me get to the front of my league.

    And to be clear, I would not pass up two great backcourt players just to get the SF I want. You should always take the best player available. Good point about the trading, which I do need to do more of. I never seem to keep that in mind when I am drafting or managing, at least not until I am contacted about a deal.

    Thanks for the input. Good luck with your draft.

  5. Owen

    I think I am going to subsume myself in fantasy and my league pass this year. Things are just too dire with the Knicks.

    Interesting analysis of Wade. Some poor sucker paid 13 million for him in my fantasy league last year.

    Absent injuries, I think he is a top five player. Entering his prime, He is a dominant player in steals, scoring, and assists. If he shoots over 80% from the ft line, that is a huge help, because he shoots a ton of free throws. And he has averaged nearly five rebounds per game, which is pretty amazing from a combo guard. He doesn’t help you with threes much, and the turnovers hurt, but you can either surround him with low usage players, or go high usage and sacrifice that one category.

    I don’t know, I see big things from Wade this year. I think this is the year everyone finally realizes that he is better than Kobe when healthy.

    My pick for a player who is due for a big dropoff is Shawn Marion. He played horribly last year after arriving from Phoenix. I am always a believer that players are what they are, but I think the combo of Nash and Marion may have been an exception to the rule. His fg% may drop off a lot, his ft% was way down last year. And with Beasley and Haslem out there he may struggle for boards. And he is on the wrong side of 30. I don’t think I see him the top ten this year, which is saying something given his track record in fantasy over the last four years.

  6. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Right now I don’t have Oden ranked anywhere. I’m still going through last year’s stats and slightly tweaking them.

    In the NBA, I usually stay clear of rookies. They don’t usually perform well off the bat, and I find them to be taken too early. Someone took Durant in the 3rd round last year, and let’s just say that guy finished in last place. I took Horford, but in the 10th round. I think I got the better rookie/value.

    The real steals in the draft are the 2nd & 3rd year players ready that have shown signs of improvement.

  7. TDM

    I saw a couple of interesting articles on the Knicks’ Media Day. First, apparently Marbury isn’t the only one that showed up in great shape — Q reported approximately 20 pounds lighter. Second, Jeffries continues to receive high accolades from Mike D. Third, and my personal favorite, when asked whether he thought he could fit into D’Antoni’s style of play, Zbo had this to say:

    “I can gun and I can shoot. I could post and do it all.”

    Hmmm. Perhaps a better choice of words was in order, Zach. We already know you can ‘gun’ and that you can ‘shoot.’ That’s why we couldn’t trade you in the first place.

  8. Italian Stallion

    Can’t we get some kind medical exception for Marbury given that he is some combination of mentally ill and barely functional moron?

  9. Italian Stallion

    I blame the press for a lot of these Marbury stories and distractions. The man is borderline mentally ill, has little or no real education or intellect, but he has an evil streak that enjoys the disease he is to all those around him. The public doesn’t care what he has to say or what he does! Many of us aren’t even sure we are happy he’s a living breathing member of the same species, let alone on our favorite team. If members of the press had the best interests of the team in mind, they would just ignore him. Everytime I read one of his quotes I sink to the depressing level of hoping he would just get knocked off by some gang members or something. It disgusts me just to see his face.

  10. Thomas B.

    Here is an excellent post from Free Darko, analogizing the current credit crisis, the NBA, Hank Paulson and the Isiah Thomas…
    http://freedarko.blogspot.com/2008/09/fd-guest-lecture-dribble-down-economics.html

    That was great. That is exactly what Isiah has done for teams, he gave them a bailout. In fact, I can think of few teams that have dealt with Isiah that did not come out better for the deal.

    He bailed out the Bulls with two lottery picks-though they seemed to squander them.

    He bailed out the Blazers, who made the most of the help.

    He bailed out the Suns by taking Marbury, Hardaway, AND giving them the room to sign Nash.

    He bailed out the Suns again by eating Q Rich’s contract for the relatively small price of Nate Robinson in return.

    While not a bailout, the Spurs won two titles shortly after Malik Rose came to NY. All we have to show for it is David Lee. I like Lee but would rather have the title.

    Two things that should have been addressed: 1) Isiah did not give Allan Houston that contract. 2) Time fixes all mistakes. The Knicks can get way under the cap again in just three years. Randolph, Crawford, and Curry all expire in three years. Just do your time and not let yourself get further into debt. July 1 2011 marks the end of the Knicks’ four worst contracts. Just let them go, build through the draft over the next three years and start with a clean slate of young talent and wise free agent spending. Dont just buy a player because you have the cap room. Find the player that fits in with the talent you already have. If you need a point and there isnt one worthy of the money, dont just sign one to a bad contract just to fill the need (mo williams). Ditto with a center (eddy curry, Jerome James).

    It is painful but we should just wait it out. If we build a team that can contend for 5-7 years it will be worth it.

  11. Z-man

    Mike,

    How about a new thread on training camp?

    Based on Hahn’s column, some cause for optimism….my thoughts on camp thus far:

    1. Jerome James lives! Imagine if he can actually contribute this year? Funny how he is the only one on the roster to have even an outside chance of filling a gaping void on this roster (interior defensive presence).

    2. If D’Antoni is only going to play 9-10 guys, lots of players are going to ride the pine, especially if Steph is in the mix. Mardy looked good in Vegas, but the only guy he can possibly beat out on paper is Duhon and D’Antoni probably won’t let that happen. So, as it stands:

    Lee, Zach, Jamal, Q, Wilson, and Nate are guaranteed to be in rotation. That’s 6.

    Steph, Curry, Duhon and Jefferies are probable.

    Gallinari will probably be phased in as Steph is phased out?

    That leaves Houston, James, Mardy, PEJ, Grunfeld, and Rose on the outside looking in.

    Two people need to be cut or traded to get to 15. I would hope they wuld initially be Rose and Grunfeld, unless James gets hurt or otherwise reverts back to form, in which case I would keep Rose and eat James’ contract. If Houston can give 5-10 minutes a game of spot duty every other game, he’s worth keeping around, as he also fills a void as a 3-point specialist. I don’t see the void that either Rose (what has his supposed locker room leadership meant since he’s been here? Zero.) or Grunfeld fills this year; PEJ has athleticism and could develop into a defensive presence, his presence as a 15th man could help chandler and gallinari develop their offensive games during practice. Mardy is worth keeping as insurance against injuries to Duhon and to take Steph’s roster spot when that time comes.

  12. Z-man

    My guess is that he won’t make the team unless he is able to realistically contribute. If he can, I don’t view that as sad. In fact, I would enjoy seeing him take 4-5 shots a game rather than whoever those shots would go to.

    To me, having a stiff like the current version of Malik Rose on the team instead of even 75% of what Allan was would be sad. He stinks even at his best, and I have yet to see the fruits of his supposed leadership abilities do anything for this team.

  13. jon abbey

    he’s a 37 year old who’s been out of the league for close to four full seasons and who was a sieve on D even then. him even being in camp is sad.

  14. scogg25

    I’ve always found that the fantasy basketball teams that I’ve been successful with were always the worst in the league in turnovers and pretty bad at free throws. If you’re willing to sacrifice a couple stats things usually work out better. I won both of the leagues I was in last year.

Comments are closed.