It was the Best of Teams, It was the Worst of Teams
One of the axioms of fantasy basketball is that the worst teams often have some of the best fantasy value. Golden State, for example, averages 97.9 possessions per 48 minutes, tops in the league: that’s a veritable goldmine of scoring/rebounds/assists/etc. per game. Golden State also has lost two-thirds of its games, and if you talk to any of their fans right now, you have inadvertently signed up for a vaguely defensive two-hour lecture entitled The Thing Is, They’re In A Really Good Position For Next Year.
However, let’s take a closer look at the idea that the worst teams have the most fantasy value. My method, as always, was easy like Sunday morning. I simply added up the USE(LESS) value for every game played by every player on each team and compared the totals. Here are all 30 teams, ranked by total fantasy value created:
|rank||team||total fantasy value|
Fascinating, no? The fast-paced teams certainly get a bump, but it also helps to be, frankly, a good team. The Celtics are 18th in the league w/r/t pace, but they’re in the #2 spot. Remember that USE(LESS), like any good fantasy rating system, values high-percentage shooting; Boston’s team FG% of 48.56 is second in the league. Conversely, the fast-paced Thunder are 22nd—because they’re taking more shots per game, too, their low percentage hurts them especially much. In general, the order here has a lot of correlation to basketball-reference.com’s Offensive Rating—only two of our top ten teams (Indiana and Denver) aren’t in the ORtg top ten. And yes, I recognize that casually dropping ORtg gives me a pointy, pointy head. Know that I am wearing suspenders and a hideous bowtie as I write this.
While we’re looking at fantasy standouts by team, there are seven teams with three players in the USE(LESS) Top 50 on the season (remember that USE(LESS) is a per-game metric):
Boston: Kevin Garnett (ranked #14), Ray Allen (17), Paul Pierce (50)
Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki (12), Jason Kidd (16), Jason Terry (24)
Los Angeles: Kobe Bryant (5), Pau Gasol (10), Andrew Bynum (32)
New Jersey: Devin Harris (35), Vince Carter (40), Brook Lopez (43)
Orlando: Dwight Howard (8), Jameer Nelson (18), Rashard Lewis (23)
Phoenix: Amare Stoudemire (11), Steve Nash (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34)
Utah: Mehmet Okur (22), Deron Williams (28), Paul Millsap (49)
All seven are teams with playoff potential. Yes, even New Jersey. It goes to show that fantasy value does, indeed, have a real-world implications. Note also that the above list contains five point guards; Boston’s Rajon Rondo is also valuable at #63, and L.A.’s triangle offense makes it the exception to the rule. The moral? Good fantasy point guards tend not only to be good point guards in real basketball, they also tend to create plenty of fantasy value for other players—by spreading the floor, creating high-percentage looks for their teammates, igniting the fast break with steals, etc.
That said, terrible teams have some fantasy gold, too. More on this next week. In the meantime, Ryan Gomes is begging you to pick him up. Begging you. In three-quarters of ESPN leagues, he’s just sitting there. Also, Washington’s Dominic McGuire wants to block some shots for Team Whatever The Hell Your Team Is Called.
Finally, here’s the USE(LESS) Top 25 for the past ten games:
Ron Artest! How refreshing. It’s also a pleasure to see Ronny and Kelenna. Not only did I tab them for fantasy success recently, but without their last names, they sound like the hosts of a free-wheeling women’s-issues talk show that goes on after 106 & Park. Like: Girl Don’t Go There with Ronny and Kelenna. I’d listen in!
Below: the comments box. It is hungry for fantasy questions. Feed it or it will eat your stuff.
*Can Oklahoma City get a mulligan on their name? I mean, seriously. The Thunder. It’s just impossible to imagine anyone actually saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, your world champion Thunder.” It makes everyone think of flatulence. Permit me to be the 10,000th person to suggest that they be called the Bombers. At least it’s relevant to basketball.