• Below is a list of the top 24 players ranked in order of 2016-2017 season 9-category cumulative value, according to Basketball Monster.  The first parentheses represents the average draft position (ADP) of the player in Yahoo leagues.  The second parentheses represents the difference between ’16-’17 value and ADP this season.  Negative numbers in second parenthesis mean the player is being drafted below his finish last year, while a positive number indicates the opposite.

    1. Stephen Curry (4) (-3)
    2. Anthony Davis (7) (-5)
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns (6) (-3)
    4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (5) (-1)
    5. James Harden (3) (+2)
    6. Russell Westbrook (2) (+4)
    7. Kawhi Leonard (9) (-2)
    8. Kevin Durant (1) (+7)
    9. Jimmy Butler (17) (-8)
    10. Isaiah Thomas
    11. Rudy Gobert (15) (-4)
    12. Paul George (18) (-6)
    13. John Wall (10) (-3)
    14. LeBron James (8) (+6)
    15. Otto Porter (42) (-27)
    16. Myles Turner (24) (-8)
    17. Damian Lillard (16) (1)
    18. DeMarcus Cousins (14) (4)
    19. Draymond Green (22) (-3)
    20. CJ McCollum (25) (-5)
    21. Hassan Whiteside (19) (-2)
    22. Kyrie Irving (12) (+10)
    23. Kemba Walker (21) (+2)
    24. Nikola Jokic (11) (+13)

    I didn’t have to bold Otto Porter for you to realize there is something strange going on with his ADP relative to his final ranking from last season.  In fact, if we take a closer look at the other players who possess a large differential, Porter’s situation becomes even more curious.

    The largest non-Otto discrepancies are Jokic (+13), Irving (+10), Turner (-8), Butler (-8) and Durant (+7).   Most of these differentials are easy to explain and understand.  Jokic’s season long value was suppressed by his slow start when he was playing backup minutes for Denver.  If you calculate season long value after that first month, Jokic’s number 12 overall finish last year almost mirrors his number 11 ADP.  Irving, of course, has left his role as Cleveland’s number two option and is now the unquestioned focal point of the Celtics offense.  Unsurprisingly, this led fantasy owners to expect him to improve his production from last year.  Turner’s discrepancy will provide more fuel for the gist of this piece, and I will get back to him, but if any readers out there have a different opinion please share below!  Butler is essentially pulling a reverse Kyrie by going from the unquestioned number one offensive option to a team where he becomes the second option in an offense with three potent weapons.  Continuing his reverse Kyrie trend, Butler’s ADP is eight spots below his finish from last season.  Writing about Durant is almost a waste of space, but his season long rank is depressed by the missed games from his late season injury.  He was the top player on a per game basis last year, and clearly, fantasy owners expect that trend to continue.

    Going back to Porter, we ask:

    Do any of these factors apply to him?  No.
    Is Porter on a new team? No.
    Did the Wizards add new players to cut into his role?  No.
    New coaching staff? No.
    Does Porter have a disconcerting injury history? No.
    Did Porter come from nowhere to post massive value (think Whiteside circa 2015)? No.

    There are undoubtedly many reasons why Porter was so undervalued entering the season, but probably the single biggest factor is that Porter’s “best category” is turnovers.  Year after year, turnovers continues to be the most underrated category in 9-cat fantasy basketball.  Fantasy owners tend to dismiss turnovers “the worst teams are the best in turnovers” or “I can be good in turnovers and suck at everything else, or be good at everything and suck at turnovers.”  Even those that understand the concept of efficient players, like a certain Editor-In-Chief, still scoff at the notion that turnovers should be a category – “why punish the best players for handling the ball?”  These are two distinctly different emotions, one is ignorance while the other is disdain.  However, either one of these mentalities could lead a fantasy owner to undervalue the turnover category when assembling a team.

    In addition to these internal factors that make turnovers the most undervalued category, there is also an external factor at play.  Many fantasy basketball rankings are not written for 9-cat.  In fact, if you are drafting in a 9-cat Yahoo league, what ranking is likely to be used the most when drafting other than the Yahoo preset? the ESPN 8-cat ranking!  How many times have you been in a Yahoo draft, and someone justifies a pick with “ESPN had him 30 spots higher!”?  In addition to the ESPN ranking, there are many other rankings that are not created based on a 9-cat format and as a result many fantasy owners are looking at rankings that don’t factor turnovers at all.

    Let’s get back to the list at the top, and Myles Turner specifically.  Turner was drafted an average of 8 spots lower than his finish last year.  This is striking enough on its own given that Turner is an ascending player entering his third year in the Association.  However, it is even more notable when considering the former number one offensive option of his team was traded in the offseason.   There may be a few reasons why Turner was drafted well below his ’16-17 season finish, but consider that from the top-24 above Turner finished second only to Porter in turnover value.

    For a different perspective on the same issue, look at the two players with the most turnovers; Harden and Westbrook.  They are both being drafted above their finish from last year, and while there isn’t much room to be overdrafted from a top six finish, they were taken, respectively, at an average of second and third overall.  Considering that both players are likely to produce less compared to last season due to offseason player acquisitions, it is especially notable that these two players’ ADPs remained as high as they did.

    The turnover category counts for just as many points in a 9-cat league as any other category.  If others are ignoring it, use the opportunity to snatch an easy category win.

    As for Porter, we will further examine other causes for his ADP next week.

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