Sunday , Jan , 24 , 2010 Jesse Andrews

Mo’ Country For Old Men

People of Earth:  I am back in your life.

Specifically, I am back in your life to write a stats/fantasy column every Sunday for HoopsVibe, plus occasional extras like:

Dwight Howard: Savior of the Dunk Contest

– Dwight Howard: Savior of the Shot Where You Fling the Ball Super-Hard Against the Backboard and then Look Confused When It Ricochets into the Backcourt

– Dwight Howard: No “Offense” Taken

– Is It Possible that there are Furry Non-Basketball-Playing Animals with Less Frustrating Shot Selection than Dwight Howard? Yes

(Also, I realize that the placement of the above picture makes it look like I think I am Jason Kidd.  I do not think that I am Jason Kidd.  That would be ridiculous.  I am Shelden Williams.)


Today, Sunday, I’m writing about fantasy basketball.  Those of you who hate math may not enjoy this column.  But know this:  the only sin is hate.

We’ll get this thick-lensed, socially anxious party started by reintroducing a fantasy metric I developed last year named USE(LESS).  This metric determines the value of each statistic relative to points, based on scarcity, and then totals all value-adjusted stats for each player.  For example: blocks are rarer than rebounds; ergo, in fantasy, a block is more valuable to your team than a rebound.  USE(LESS) determines how much more valuable.

This, then, is the USE(LESS) Top 25 of the season so far.  All ratings are per-game: 

*rank

Player

Team

PS

*ppg

*rpg

*apg

*spg

*bpg

*3pg

*topg

*fg%

*ft%

*totalpg

1

james,lebron

cle

SF

29.889

17.17

37.72

21.10

20.03

28.54

-26.22

9.54

1.10

138.87

2

paul,chris

nor

PG

19.857

10.80

53.41

29.88

4.59

18.13

-17.27

5.16

2.35

126.90

3

wade,dwyane

mia

SG

27.023

11.29

29.58

24.01

24.70

15.49

-22.93

0.99

0.19

110.35

4

kidd,jason

dal

PG

8.791

12.79

43.81

23.04

11.18

29.50

-16.07

-2.82

0.10

110.32

5

granger,danny

ind

SF

23.481

13.47

12.04

20.39

19.29

45.23

-20.52

-9.30

3.04

107.12

6

smith,josh

atl

PF

14.929

19.76

18.56

19.67

42.93

0.00

-15.25

5.99

-3.64

102.94

7

camby,marcus

lac

C

8.122

28.29

14.81

17.80

40.54

0.78

-9.12

1.74

-0.52

102.45

8

duncan,tim

san

C

19.949

25.08

14.95

7.41

36.98

0.00

-14.03

11.61

-0.66

101.30

9

howard,dwight

orl

C

17.205

31.59

7.28

16.27

50.08

0.00

-25.51

12.39

-8.35

100.95

10

durant,kevin

okl

SF

29.295

17.34

13.91

18.46

16.39

22.71

-27.31

3.91

6.13

100.84

11

iguodala,andre

phi

SG

17.488

16.41

27.80

26.88

12.58

21.03

-19.24

-5.12

0.61

98.44

12

nowitzki,dirk

dal

PF

25.262

18.97

11.84

13.10

24.32

10.58

-14.22

3.13

4.95

97.93

13

wallace,gerald

cha

SF

18.488

26.55

9.09

22.84

24.92

10.83

-17.38

1.95

0.28

97.57

14

nash,steve

pho

PG

18.444

7.49

52.38

6.43

3.57

25.72

-28.78

8.98

3.14

97.38

15

gasol,pau

lal

PF

16.923

26.13

16.00

5.82

34.67

0.00

-14.12

9.32

1.94

96.69

16

gallinari,danilo

nyk

SF

14.878

11.55

7.58

12.42

17.11

43.32

-9.65

-3.22

1.16

95.15

17

williams,deron

uta

PG

18.923

9.32

45.85

15.18

4.63

19.52

-23.43

4.02

0.54

94.55

18

rondo,rajon

bos

PG

14.125

9.99

46.02

34.07

3.00

2.78

-21.23

7.87

-2.70

93.92

19

evans,tyreke

sac

PG

20.692

11.29

23.29

20.47

9.25

8.53

-20.67

0.00

1.21

93.52

20

bryant,kobe

lal

SG

28.349

12.35

21.68

24.32

5.13

19.92

-20.92

-0.44

2.91

93.30

21

frye,channing

pho

C

11.8

13.82

7.12

11.01

20.91

36.65

-7.04

-1.35

0.07

92.99

22

lopez,brook

njn

C

18.977

22.42

10.56

10.89

39.60

0.00

-17.23

4.98

2.70

92.88

23

billups,chauncey

den

PG

18.886

6.83

27.87

16.52

2.86

34.89

-16.45

-4.41

5.54

92.55

24

davis,baron

lac

PG

16.167

8.26

38.70

23.92

12.40

18.13

-19.88

-7.68

2.08

92.10

25

pierce,paul

bos

SF

18.806

11.56

17.53

17.59

7.79

30.83

-16.79

1.68

2.80

91.80

Again, to the number-averse, it may feel as though I have just barfed all over your screen.  Deep breaths.  Focus only on the first, second, and last columns.  *totalpg is just the player’s average score per game.  Scores above 100 are exemplary; scores above 80 are solid.  LeBron, as always, is The One True Constant.

* * * * *

Today’s analysis is about old people.

Stat-stuffing tends to be a young man’s game.  There’s always some doubt and fear involved in drafting an older gentleman.  Is his back going to hold up, for example?  Is the coach cutting his minutes so he doesn’t aggravate his knees?  Are you going to read tomorrow morning that he’s out 4-6 weeks with the gout?

To paraphrase Kahlil Gibran:  Doubt is the twin of faith.  At the halfway mark, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Tim Duncan are all in the top ten of the table above.  Steve Nash is not far behind, and who’s that peeking over the brawny awkward shoulders of Brook Lopez?  Chauncey Billups, that’s who.

But will these numbers stand all season long?  At the All-Star Break last year, my rankings had Camby at 9th and Duncan at 10th.  They ended the season at 23rd and 34th.  Nash, on the other hand, went from 40th to 19th.  Kidd: 22nd to 8th.  Chauncey Billups:  28th to 16th.  What does this ridiculously small sample size tell us?  It seems intuitive that older posts deteriorate over the course of the season (or have their minutes cut by protective coaches).  Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us, either, that veteran point guards improve as the season progresses.  They get wilier.  They develop a better feel for their team.  They’ve learned wacky, possibly occult secrets to staying fresh in March and April, like yoga, or pomegranate juice, or no longer drinking heavily at strip clubs until 7am.

One final note:  Tyreke Evans and Channing Frye, at 19 and 21, have certainly overachieved in majestic delicious ways.  Having acknowledged that, it is still bizarre and maybe a little sad that Kobe is the meat in their sandwich.  I know the finger is banged up, but is he old yet?  Do we call him old now?  The world is changing.