Tuesday , Feb , 03 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Burn the Blanket


Burn the Blanket

(First things first: you have fantasy basketball questions. I have answers. Unless you are a fool, you will submit your questions in the comments field below. So the question becomes: are you a fool?)

Everyone has a security blanket. Last year, I won a title with a team that included Mike Miller, whose combination of threes and field-goal percentage more than made up for one of the least flattering hair-and-mustache combinations ever to come out of South Dakota, which is saying something.

This year, I had a team suffering in both categories. Reflex kicked in, my knee jerked, and I picked up Mike Miller. My thinking was simple: “He was awesome last year! And I should really go to the hospital to get this knee taken care of.”

Several days and one hospital visit later, I did my due diligence on Mike Miller’s stats, and those of you who have him can confirm: they’re not very good. In fact, I plugged in my USE(LESS) fantasy rating system and discovered that he’s a piddling 146th in the league—and that doesn’t even factor in the games he missed in December. Last year? He was 44th. In terms of USE(LESS) points, Mike Miller had an astounding 30-point drop from last year to this year, from 73 to 43. (Roughly speaking, 100 points mean a player is excellent, 80 is good, and 60 is the worst player on the best team in your league.)

So who else is underperforming compared to last year? Here are the biggest USE(LESS) drops by ownable players, at least ownable by last year’s standards:

player

07-08

08-09

disparity

ellis,monta

78.07

15.89

-62.18

iverson,allen

84.41

42.80

-41.61

dunleavy,mike

79.36

38.93

-40.43

davis,baron

85.53

48.00

-37.54

stoudemire,amare

124.73

87.34

-37.39

marion,shawn

99.12

64.91

-34.21

anthony,carmelo

79.95

49.02

-30.93

richardson,jason

84.13

56.70

-27.44

artest,ron

75.26

49.15

-26.10

odom,lamar

74.24

48.95

-25.29

butler,caron

91.18

67.13

-24.04

gay,rudy

76.80

53.68

-23.13

smith,josh

85.13

63.55

-21.59

nash,steve

95.39

74.09

-21.31

turkoglu,hedo

74.04

52.76

-21.28


You probably have at least one of these guys. I have four, in various leagues. It’s not easy. Many of them are easily explained by injuries (Ellis, Dunleavy) or team changes (Iverson, Davis). I want to draw your attention to the defensive-standout forwards: Josh Smith, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion. Each derived a lot of fantasy value from blocks and steals in 2007-08—over 59 points in the case of J-Smoove, which is insane—and each is suffering in those categories this year. The takeaway? Blocks and steals fluctuate dramatically from year to year, another reason not to undervalue consistent producers like Dwight Howard.

Also interesting: Amare Stoudemire, according to USE(LESS), was the most valuable player in fantasy last year. This sounds wrong, until you factor in that he shot almost 60% on over 15 attempts from the field per game. This year? 54% on 14 attempts: still awesome, but not punch-your-enemies-in-the-stomach-with-fists-of-titanium-and-flames awesome. He and Steve Nash have also anti-benefitted (non-profited?) by the departure of Mike D’Antoni, whose system means more possessions and more fantasy points.

While we’re at it, here are the season’s most-improved fantasy players, and this list should hold few surprises for you:

player

07-08

08-09

disparity

hilario,nene

15.04

85.46

70.42

andersen,chris

7.18

54.92

47.74

duhon,chris

27.88

66.97

39.09

bonner,matt

19.60

56.34

36.74

wade,dwyane

70.62

105.64

35.02

nelson,jameer

51.58

86.45

34.87

millsap,paul

40.45

74.91

34.46

durant,kevin

55.10

86.79

31.69

green,jeff

25.31

56.92

31.62

west,delonte

35.91

67.05

31.14

bargnani,andrea

27.62

54.88

27.26

villanueva,charl

34.39

57.64

23.25

o’neal,shaquille

48.28

70.96

22.68

robinson,nate

38.75

60.00

21.24

granger,danny

82.94

102.37

19.43


The question is: who will be able to keep this up, and who will flame out? I feel like it’s extremely bad karma to trash-talk Nene after he overcame testicular cancer, but I will point out that he’s shooting 61.7% from the field this year, 7.5 points above his career average; his free-throw percentage this season is 72.5%, versus a career mark of 65.9%. Regression to the mean. That’s all I’m saying. Ditto Jameer Nelson, shooting 4.1 points above his career average from the field and a ridiculous 8.4 from the line. I feel differently about Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson, who are getting a boost not from statistical noise but from the D’Antoni possession machine mentioned above. Kevin Durant, also, will continue to make the leap, and if you want to know why, you have not watched him play this year and also you live in a deep hole in the ground subsisting on worms and the moisture that can be wrung out of the soil.


Finally, here are the USE(LESS) Top 25 over the past ten games:

*rank

Player

Team

PS

*ppg

*rpg

*apg

*spg

*bpg

*3pg

*topg

*fg%

*ft%

*total

1

paul,chris

nor

PG

26.1

11.1

34.9

27.8

4.7

10.3

-23.6

22.8

13.1

127.2

2

durant,kevin

okl

SF

29.8

15.9

13.7

12.4

12.4

16.0

-19.2

20.5

18.2

119.6

3

calderon,jose

tor

PG

15.8

4.0

33.1

16.5

0.0

11.4

-5.5

35.2

3.7

114.3

4

villanueva,charl

mil

PF

22.9

15.7

8.6

8.2

15.6

21.7

-11.0

21.6

9.2

112.6

5

williams,deron

uta

PG

24.1

4.9

37.8

13.4

4.7

18.3

-19.2

17.8

5.3

107.1

6

nelson,jameer

orl

PG

19.1

5.6

24.9

11.3

1.6

30.9

-9.9

13.0

8.9

105.4

7

garnett,kevin

bos

PF

17.7

15.4

11.2

14.9

12.1

0.0

-6.1

33.4

6.3

104.9

8

bynum,andrew

lal

C

19.5

14.9

3.6

2.1

32.7

0.0

-8.8

39.3

0.4

103.7

9

wade,dwyane

mia

SG

26.4

8.6

24.5

19.6

18.7

11.4

-16.5

19.7

-11.2

101.2

10

iguodala,andre

phi

SF

22.2

11.3

18.7

18.5

3.1

21.7

-14.8

24.4

-4.7

100.6

11

redd,michael

mil

SG

22.5

5.2

9.0

12.0

5.2

30.5

-9.1

25.9

-1.1

100.0

12

allen,ray

bos

SG

17.9

5.6

11.5

10.3

4.7

27.5

-10.4

23.8

9.1

100.0

13

howard,dwight

orl

C

21.0

25.9

3.2

15.5

37.3

0.0

-18.6

32.2

-16.8

99.8

14

lewis,rashard

orl

PF

18.5

9.8

11.2

9.3

10.9

33.2

-9.3

13.7

1.2

98.5

15

terry,jason

dal

PG

20.9

4.6

14.0

18.5

1.6

26.3

-9.3

15.4

4.7

96.7

16

williams,mo

cle

PG

23.1

6.9

17.6

8.2

3.1

36.6

-14.3

4.0

10.6

96.0

17

duncan,tim

san

C

20.3

20.4

15.8

7.2

32.7

0.0

-10.4

20.1

-11.0

95.1

18

salmons,john

sac

SG

19.2

10.4

17.3

14.4

4.7

26.3

-12.6

8.9

6.4

95.0

19

jamison,antawn

was

PF

23.4

16.4

6.1

12.4

3.1

16.0

-7.7

20.3

1.0

91.0

20

jefferson,al

min

C

25.4

20.0

3.2

10.3

23.3

0.0

-8.2

20.7

-3.8

91.0

21

nowitzki,dirk

dal

PF

26.6

14.4

3.6

7.2

6.2

4.6

-12.1

16.8

23.1

90.4

22

ginobili,manu

san

SG

17.4

10.4

10.8

18.5

6.2

18.3

-11.5

0.0

16.3

86.5

23

ming,yao

hou

C

18.0

15.9

8.1

5.2

15.6

0.0

-22.6

35.7

7.5

83.4

24

gordon,eric

lac

SG

21.7

6.2

15.5

11.3

6.2

29.7

-14.8

-5.0

12.2

83.1

25

wallace,gerald

cha

SF

15.5

13.9

13.1

20.6

15.6

5.7

-8.2

4.0

2.9

83.0


I know, I know: no LeBron. He’s #26. In other news, trade for Calderon while you still can, or I personally will stab you, perhaps fatally.

In conclusion: let’s see some fantasy questions, below. STAT.