In 2016, Daryl Morey hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach. It was a match made in heaven, as Morey believed that three-pointers, layups, and free throws were the most efficient shots to take. D’Antoni? Did someone say three-pointers? Three-coooooola. The Rockets improved from 41-41 in 2015 to 55-27 with D’Antonio at the helm. They blitzed the league with 115.3 points per game, just 0.6 fewer than the vaunted Golden State Warriors. They hoisted up an absurd 40.3 three-pointers a game and made a league-high 14.4. Then the playoffs happened. After disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, D’Antoni and Morey were bested by Greg Popovich. Pop did not figure out the magic formula to shut down the Rockets O. What he did do was disrupt the rhythm and force the Rockets to do what they were most uncomfortable doing: shoot the midrange. Pop would use Kawhi Leonard to chase James Harden all over the court and plant Pau Gasol in the middle of the lane. The other three players would be paparrazi and follow their subjects wherever they went. As a result, three-pointers, layups, and free throws were defended. Everything in the midrange was conceded. Result? Spurs 4. Rockets 2. There was only one option to pursue. Better Call Paul, as in
For most things in life, more is better. More digits and commas in your bank account is good. When walking down a dark alley, more companions by your side is beneficial. Having more points than an opponent in any competition is usually optimal. For E’Twaun Moore of the New Orleans Pelicans, though, less has been Moore. In November, Moore was averaging 29.4 minutes per game. So far in December, he’s averaging 37.5 minutes per game. But Son! You said that less is Moore. Patience my grasshoppers. In November, Alvin Gentry had a pretty deep rotation. Nine players were playing over 15 mpg. In December, that number has dropped to seven. See? Less is Moore. Now, what happens when AD can’t play due to injury (shocker)? Three players get 40+ minutes, with another one at 39. Last night against the Houston Rockets, Moore played 42 minutes and went:
The 36 points were a career-high and he’s not going to shoot 75% from the field every night. With that said, he’s scored in double digits in seven of the last eight games and, as mentioned above, he’s been playing a ton of minutes. With teams focused on Boogie, Rondo, Holiday, and AD (when he plays), Moore is going to get a ton of open looks. Translation: LESS defensive attention equals MOORE points.
I’ve got a punt free throw percentage dynasty team that I love so much that I practically cheer for missed free throws. Logically, I know this is silly, but bricked freebies are my brand, I guess you’d say. For those of you punters that can relate, today I’ll give you some adjusted player rankings for the season. And if you haven’t tried a punt strategy, or haven’t been successful with one, maybe this’ll pique your interest for next season.
Last week, I listed the top 20 players in each category as well as the relevant bottom 20. This week, we’ll kinda do the opposite. I’ll remove some categories that you might benefit from ignoring, whether it was part of your plan or you just found yourself uncompetitive in a category that’s not worth trying to catch up in by patching it together at the expense of other categories.
First, free throw punters. I’ll give you the top 20 in per-game value (and others that make big leaps) for 8-category and 9-category with free throw percentage removed (through 12/5). All of today’s lists come from Basketball Monster stat ratings. Keep in mind that you’re not just looking for the worst free throw shooters. Those are the guys that benefit the most from removing this category, but it doesn’t mean they’re the most valuable to your team. They ARE, however, significantly more valuable to a free throw punter than anyone else. So, if you’re at the bottom of your roto league in FT% (or if you never compete in head-2-head), don’t try to just add a couple good FT shooters to fix it. Maybe that gets you a roto point or two at most. Go all in, and trade off some good FT shooters for the guys below, especially those that are cheaper since they benefit the most from punting (in bold) and watch your team gain in FG%, rebounds, and blocks.
If you had a time machine, when/where would you travel to? Use the space below to write down your answers, then print, and finally frame it.
You never know. A philanthropic time traveller could visit one day and offer to take you on three trips. On the condition that you can name the destinations in five seconds or less. Since you already have it printed and framed, you good to go. My first destination would be 25 years into the future Biff Tannen-style. The Sports Almanac from 2017 to 2042 would be the most logical thing to get. Then, I’d go back to the time of Jesus. I have to know. Finally, I’d want to see Wilt Chamberlain play. Since 1963, there had been 152 instances in which a player scored at least 40 points with 20 rebounds in a game. Wilt had 74 of those. The crazy thing is the query on basketballreference.com only went back to 1963. Wilt started his NBA career in 1959. I could go into the game logs for those years, but I’m lazy and we are not here to talk about Wilt. We are here to talk about DeMarcus Cousins aka Boogie.
Make that 153 times a player has gone 40/20. Boogie now has two two of them, with the other one back in October of this year. Now, we know that Anthony Davis is out for a while. In the games that he’s missed, Cousins’ usage rate has been 46.4, 30.1, and 44.0 last night. If you’re a Cousins owner, dance with the boogie get high ’cause boogie nights are always the best in town.
The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player using a single number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but is useful to help improve and evaluate your team.
In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.
If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.
I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.
We all have “our” places. The doughnuts taste better at Primo’s, so I’ll always go there instead of Winchell’s. The barber at the place down the street knew when to talk and when to just chill. Plus, the trim and and after-cut wash were fantastic.
When I saw Will Barton‘s line from last night (37/2/3/3/0/3), I immediately knew that he would be the lede for this post. It didn’t take me long to get to Will I Am, then to the song T.H.E, then….I watched the video on YouTube and listened to the lyrics, then thought to myself, “This is terrible.
For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).
Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.
So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.
Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.
Another Wednesday, another Buy/Sell column for you good folks. As established in the last post, I will start by briefly assessing the performances of the players I included last week. Will Barton has not yet taken off with two underwhelming games to end the week, but I still believe he is the one to benefit the most from the Millsap injury. Bojan Bogdanovic is on a THRAGNOFy streak for the ages and, in the past three games, is averaging 17.0/1.0/1.7/0/0.3/0/0.7. I can’t believe that a player averaging 36 minutes in those games has so little peripheral stats, but he is the wing scorer Indiana needs and trusts. Denzel Valentine is filling up the stat sheet and has been more than useful. Kris Dunn had his breakout performance yesterday with a career-high 24 points and as Son says, “the PG competition in Chicago in Dunn.” Finally, Lord Covington’s shot started to fail him as predicted (35% in his last five games), so I hope you capitalized on the sell high opportunity. Without further ado, let’s look at this week’s candidates…
Hey y’all. We’re back again, like we never left, with another Saturday Special. Today we’re kicking it off with none other than the Tall Baller From the G himself, Dirk Nowitzki. He had a nice little vintage performance, as he led the Mavericks to a win over the Thunder, going for 19/5/4/2 on 7-for-10 shooting with four threes. Dirk’s no longer a fantasy stud, but it’s nice to be able to show love to one of the greats when they deserve it. Dirk might get sporadic rest days as the season goes on, but he’ll generally be given free reign to do as he pleases while the Mavericks happily tank for a pick. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball: