November 11, 2017, 5:04 pm
After points, the next two categories that tend to catch owners’ attention are assists and blocks. Unlike the previous two parts of this series, fantasy owners should be credited for this focus as these are the two most scarcely available categories. In Porter’s case, points is his third worst category while assists and blocks are his worst and second worst, respectively. Yet, despite not being a major contributor in points or blocks, assists in the only category where Porter is truly subpar. Porter’s overall contributions landed him squarely in the top 20 last season, and his lack of production in the sexiest categories did not stop him from getting there. It may be tough to see when you are looking at his box scores, but Porter is providing high end production on a consistent basis. So while it does make sense to pay extra attention to assists and blocks, don’t let it blind you to the total package.
A related issue to assists and blocks scarcity is fantasy owners looking to secure point guards and centers early in the draft. This year’s top 24 in Yahoo ADP consisted of only four players that did not have either PG or C eligibility: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. Kawhi and Butler were both underdrafted players for several seasons, with their ADP finally catching up to their value in recent seasons. Very few of us would have had the stones to take Porter over a Kemba Walker type, but when it gets to the Mike Conley/Brook Lopez tier, it should be an easy decision to take Porter.
In addition to not being a major contributor in the scarcest categories, Porter’s averages from last season do not show dominance in any one category either. Like an item priced at $9.99, Porter’s 1.9 3s allows his contribution in this category to be overlooked as compared to if his average was over 2.0. Additionally, his blocks average of 0.5 and steals average of 1.5 don’t scream category winner. Finally, his second best category, FG%, will often be dismissed as insignificant because “he doesn’t score.” Porter is providing value in almost every category, yet manages to do so in a manner that does not stand out.
Aside from Porter’s low points total affecting the perception of his value in the percentages, percentages tend to generally be overlooked unless they are at the extreme. Therefore, a Howard-esque FG% or FT% will absolutely catch an owners eye, however someone performing like John Wall this season, 72% on 8.6 attempts, will not be thought of as the fourth worst fantasy player for FT%. (I fully expect Wall’s FT% to regress upward. I am only using him as an example of sneaky bad FT% that may not look that bad on the surface, but is due to the quantity of attempts.)
I briefly mentioned All Star Value last week, let me expand on that. All Star Value is essentially hype and past success, combining both real world and fantasy. All Star Value comes from championships, league MVPs, scoring titles, draft position (both real life and fantasy), NCAA success, endorsements and anything else that goes into the sports media industrial complex. All Star Value will usually come with production in at least one of the sexier categories and will lead to over the hill, injury prone types (think Derrick Rose) or young players, with major holes (think Lonzo Ball) to get overdrafted year after year.
As if on cue, Porter dropped this line on November 7th: 13 Points (5-8 FG, 2-2 FT), one 3-pointer, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and zero turnovers. This is a top 30 line, not to mention he was the number seven player on the season, yet it was a buy low opportunity on Porter. Absolutely incredible. In case you are wondering, I did pull a trade for him after this game in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and TJ Warren. It may not seem like a particularly great trade at first, but if you look at the remaining players in the top 12 (AD, LeBron, Steph, Giannis, Durant, Cousins, Harden, Porzingis, Jokic, Towns and Lillard) there is no way I am getting any of those guys for that package. Porter may be the most likely to regress backward of the bunch, but he’s also likely to at least match his finish from last year if not beat it. After scoring 20 in his last game, the buy low window is probably closed for now but he may string a few games of 12 or 13 points and crack that window back open. Try to pounce if he does.
To sum this series up, keep the following points in mind when drafting and trading. Points will be the most overrated category and turnovers the most underrated. Owners will be sensitive to assists and blocks (alternatively, point guards and centers) so those players will be harder to trade for and easier to trade away. Rebounds, 3s and steals will often be overlooked unless they hit big round numbers (in this case 10, 2 or 2). Percentages will regularly be ignored unless they really stand out. Therefore, if you wanted to create a perfect fantasy line for everyone in your league to overlook it would go something like this:
13.4 ppg, 1.9 3pg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg, .5 bpg, 51.5 FG%, 83.2 FT% and 0.5 topg. Sounds familiar.