• Last week, I tried to reiterate the central theme of this article: NBA popularity doesn’t equal fantasy value. All-Star votes and dollars from shoe deals aren’t fantasy categories. Heck, even elite basketball skills don’t directly translate to great stats. All that matters are those box score numbers. And even those aren’t all created equal!

    This week, we’ll look at another pair of stars that not only get overrated in fantasy because of their popularity, but because they’re triple-double guys. And unless you’re one of a very small contingent with an odd league style, triple-doubles is not a fantasy category.

    I know it’s hard to ignore double-doubles and triple-doubles because of how often they’re mentioned as an example of a great game. And while they do typically translate to a good or great, well-rounded NBA game, a double-double in fantasy pretty much only guarantees that a player had a lot of rebounds or assists. And a triple-double indicates that they had both a lot of rebounds and assists. I leave out points because 10 points is below average for fantasy starters. Since we play in leagues with more than just rebounds and assists, I urge you to resist the urge to overrate these games simply because they hit double figures in a few categories. For example, a 2-three, 2-steal, 2-block combination (a “Jonathan Isaac”, we’ll say) is more valuable than a 10-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist combination (a “Rajon Rondo”).

    Ok. So, you can probably guess right away who I’m going to bring up first. The name brand player in this first couple, as I’m sure you haven’t heard, averaged a triple-double… for three straight seasons. It’s truly a spectacular individual achievement. Whether it’s the most direct route to NBA or fantasy success is another question.

    *Note: I put these numbers together at the same time as those in Part 1, so current season stats here are only through 11/18.

    Of course, this is Russell Westbrook. But can you guess his off-brand substitute? Among avid fantasy players, he’s definitely not a “generic Russell Westbrook”, as their ADPs this preseason were nearly identical (17.0 and 17.8). But among more casual players, I think you’d have been able to get Jrue Holiday for Westbrook at the beginning of the season. I preferred Holiday, especially in 9-cat. However, they both started off slowly this season, so it’s a bit tougher to gauge how they’re valued at the moment. Holiday has picked it up as of late, while Westbrook’s numbers are definitely being affected by James Harden. So, getting Jrue for Russ right now might not be possible.

    The point I wanted to discuss here, though, is that you can’t just assume a player is great because he’s great at points, rebounds and assists. Westbrook, specifically, has been one of the top players at harming your team in three categories (Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Percentage, Turnovers). I definitely expect Holiday’s FG% to rebound, and that’ll leave the main tradeoff for these player two better percentages in exchange for rebounds.

    Next up, we’ve got a star player and a good role player with surprisingly similar points, rebounds and assists. The off-brand player is off to a great start after a chance in scenery, and I think you could acquire him for the name brand player while getting something else of value back as well.

    You’ll probably know the name brand player when I say that he made his first three-point shot shortly after these stats were cobbled together. That’s right, we’ve got Ben Simmons here. Simmons is similar to Westbrook in that he hurts you in FT% and turnovers, but he’s also a detriment in threes, as is widely discussed. Depending on my team build, I think I’d prefer to have Ricky Rubio, shown next to Simmons. He hurts you in FG% and blocks, though most point guards don’t get blocks, so that’s not a big deal. And compared to Simmons, he’ll get those threes and has often been elite at FT%. Aside from his current injury issues, Rubio appears to be back to his Timberwovles self and should be in line for a great season. See if you can get a nice sweetener along with him for the flashy Simmons.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’ll catch you next week with some hopefully surprising and enlightening stats.

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