November 6, 2018, 4:10 pm
In my other non-fantasy basketball life, I work in digital marketing and advertising. This is as boring as it sounds, but it helps pay the bills so I can also write fantasy basketball musings for my fellow Hoop-Ballers.
I don’t tell you this to bore the crap out of you when all you want is for me to piss and moan about NBA players letting me down in some capacity. I’m telling you this because so much of my work in marketing involves identifying trends and determining the right way to process that information.
We all buy things the same way. We identify a need that we have. That need is usually triggered by being aware of our environment and surroundings. We learn and research about what will satisfy the need we’ve just identified. Then ultimately, we make a decision as to whether or not to purchase, satisfy, or even ignore that need altogether. The next time you buy a pair of sneakers, think about all the steps you needed to take in order to get those bad boys on your feet. You needed to be aware of your need for a new pair of comfortable kicks in combination with a general awareness of a new trend of sneaker that has been picking up steam. Then you needed to learn more about that sneaker and figure out how much it costs, does it come in your size, and can you buy in on that cool new site that you’ve heard so much about. Then you come to a decision to either buy the sneakers, or not.
All of our decision-making processes follow roughly the same pattern. We are observers of data and trends and then we use this information to process and ultimately act upon that information. So how is this relevant to you dear fantasy basketball player?
The NBA is experiencing a scoring bonanza. Really, the whole league is basically drunk and swiping right at every pic it sees. Pace of play is at its highest point since the mid-1980s. Offensive Rating is at the highest point since that metric has been tracked. 3-pointers are being attempted at yet another record pace. The fast pace of play and increased 3-pointers have led to more scoring, more field goals, and box scores that you don’t have enough eye-opening emojis to tweet about.
Now when the pendulum swings one way, generally it has to swing back in an opposite fashion. To a degree, this is also true of the NBA season. The increased pace of play hasn’t resulted in increased rebounds or assists. Players are still making shots at the same clip as in years past, they’re just doing it in greater frequency, ergo no real change in other counting stats. What is happening is that free throw attempts have been down. In 2018-2019, free throw attempts are actually up, but last season that metric was the lowest in NBA history. As a matter of fact, the last seven NBA seasons have seen the lowest amount of free throws in the game’s history. The more the game has been played beyond the arc, the less amount of time players have been getting hacked in the lane. Cause and effect my loves.
So this is cool and all, but again, you now are aware of a trend in basketball. I’ve helped you research this information out. Now it’s time to make a decision. What do you do in the face of a changing trend and decisions to make about roster construction moving forward?
Understand that because more 3s are being taken, that there is a greater supply of 3-point shooters at your disposal. The category is less of a priority than it has been in years past given the oversupply. Over 50 players are now averaging 2.0 or more 3-pointers per game. It becomes over 80 if you shrink that number to 1.5 3-pointers per game. 120 players are averaging 1.0 3-pointer per game. That’s practically an entire league. What this means is that yes, having Steph Curry has its advantages, he’s on a planet all to his own. But if you don’t have him, don’t worry, there are plenty of players who can help you in that category and chances are, you’re not that far behind in it to begin with.
More importantly is that FT% is increasingly crucial. Over 50 players are averaging 4.0 FTAs per game. It becomes over 80 if you shrink that number to 3.0 FTAs per game. 120 players are averaging only 2.0 FTAs per game. I think you get the idea. The margin for error in percentages starts to dwindle since players are taking a lesser amount of total free throws. So you may be excited by De’Aaron Fox’s breakout, but you may have a much harder time replacing his 68% FT% on 6.5 attempts per game where there isn’t enough volume to go around beyond that.
Since the NBA game has changed, the way we look at and play our game should change as well. Playing faster and positionless is going to force us to recalibrate which stats and positions we wind up prioritizing. The difference in adapting and making decisions on this information may be what bring you closer to a title or even further away from one.
Editor’s Note: Our In-Season Premium Membership has everything fantasy owners are looking for. Interaction with industry-leading pros on a near constant basis, articles designed to add value and save you time, tools to help you make decisions for your team and projections for owners that want to drill down and work specific angles. And yes, we have Dynasty league content, too. Check for discounts and specials, but the membership is on sale right now for $24.99 (click here) and you can get it for FREE if you sign up with DraftKings as a new user with a $10 deposit.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK WHO HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST ME
Fantasy basketball, unlike football, is a little more forgiving if your first-round pick doesn’t go as planned. There are a lot more games that are played, a bigger player pool, and even if injuries occur, first-rounders tend to play the majority of seasons or else they’re not really classified as first-rounder. It’s very easy in football to lose a premier player to a long-term injury or prolonged holdout and have that crush your football dreams. Despite Kawhi Leonard not getting this particular memo last season, you should feel pretty safe with anyone you pick in the first round of your basketball leagues. Even if you get off to a rocky start having landed anyone from Anthony Davis to Russell Westbrook, you’re more often than not going to see first-round-caliber production from these players on most weeks.
But that concept doesn’t help when it’s three weeks into the season and one of my first rounders has already been missing time. Especially since that player has been someone who’s always ready on gamedays and tends to play through minor issues. So naturally missing games and not even surpassing top-100 in total value to this point of the season has me seeing if I can’t tattoo a cement wall onto my scalp.
SO DAMN YOU JAMES HARDEN! Is this what an MVP is supposed to look like? Are you still hungover from last season? You’re supposed to be this durable and unbreakable fantasy hero and instead you’re making my fantasy teams cry. Get your soft tissue injuries in order and get your hairy face back to challenging Anthony Davis for being the best in filling up box score statistics.
YOU’RE PROBABLY FEELING LIKE PAIN HEALS, CHICKS DIG SCARS AND GLORY LASTS A LIFETIME IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS
Round 1 – Karl-Anthony Towns
Round 2 – Kyrie Irving
Round 3 – DeMar DeRozan
Round 4 – Tobias Harris
Round 5 – Nikola Vucevic
Round 6 – Josh Richardson
Round 7 – Nikola Mirotic
Round 8 – De’Aaron Fox
Round 9 – Buddy Hield
Round 10 – Wendell Carter Jr.
Round 11 – Serge Ibaka
Round 12 – JaVale McGee
Round 13 – Joe Harris
In all seriousness, if you invested in the Kings this year and your leaguemates didn’t make jokes at your expense, then I’d suspect they were either questioning your sobriety or you are in a league with a bunch of humorless pricks. Well look who’s laughing now! You and Vlade are chain smoking your way to the top of your league standings.
YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING THAT YOU’VE SEEN MONKEY SHIT FIGHTS AT THE ZOO MORE ORGANIZED IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS
Round 1 – Anthony Davis
Round 2 – Andre Drummond
Round 3 – Devin Booker
Round 4 – Eric Bledsoe
Round 5 – Otto Porter Jr.
Round 6 – Jeff Teague
Round 7 – Enes Kanter
Round 8 – Taurean Prince
Round 9 – Dario Saric
Round 10 – Jonathan Isaac
Round 11 – Rajon Rondo
Round 12 – Markieff Morris
Round 13 – Reggie Bullock
There’s an inherent risk in picking players on lousy teams no matter how good we believe these players should be on an even playing field. So when the poop meets the fan for these teams, things tend to trickle down to the players. Porter has been a disaster on a Wizards team that is aching to be blown apart, Kanter was frustrated after losing his starting job before busting out this week against Chicago, and Taurean Prince is again dealing with shooting issues that we hoped he had overcome last season despite playing in a much faster offense. Mix in injuries to Brow and Booker and this is a lineup where all you can do is hope that you can stop your opponents from shaking their ass for two minutes.
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
I’ll be looking at some mid to late-tier players who I’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the season on a week to week basis. Based on how their past few and upcoming few games go, I’ll decide whether or not I will be confidently holding and feeling strongly about (rock), or feeling a little bit flimsy or unsure of (paper) or will just be cutting altogether like a movie director who has gone a little power mad with the top of the Clapperboard (scissors, obviously). These are the players we drafted who can make or break our seasons and will be dissected most when we try to make moves to the top of the standings. Here are some more players in my thought process.
Jeremy Lin – Dan and I talked about Lin on Thursday and my thoughts are the same. There are only so many decent point guards out there and Lin can put together some solid nights in this offense if his health cooperates. So far it has and his minutes have been slowly increasing. Lin is someone we should be rooting for and pairing him with Trae Young could make for some real exciting games.
Jeremy Lamb – The prophet Barney Stinson laid out his Hot to Crazy Scale in Season 3 of How I Met Your Mother, the premise being that there needs to be a balance in how attractive you find a woman with how crazy they are. In fantasy basketball, the sexy picks can often times be the most unstable. Jeremy Lamb isn’t sexy, but you may never see any major breakdowns from him and sometimes your team just needs a little bit of stability.
Kelly Oubre Jr. – The Wizards are an absolute mess and a lot of things are going to have to change on that team. One thing that won’t is that Oubre is one of the younger and possibly the only remaining promising player they have. The rest are a mess of bickering and underachieving veterans. Change is coming and Oubre could be the beneficiary.
Tyreke Evans – I said it during the preseason that I was really concerned about Tyreke Evans and his role on the Pacers. Unfortunately, that prediction has been coming true. Reke remains a very skilled player but barring an unforeseen injury to one of the Pacers starters, it’s going to be hard for him to bring back the value you were looking for.
Boban Marjanovic – Nothing gets #NBATwitter whipped up into a frenzy more than a Boban sighting and praise the basketball Gods that it’s been happening with increasing frequency. It’s going to be hard to trust him in weekly lineups, but if you’re in daily leagues and if you know the Clips are up against bigger lineups, then Boban could get out there and doesn’t need a lot of minutes to mash.
Anyone in Miami not named Josh Richardson – Yes, that includes Hassan Whiteside, who seems to always be dealing with minor injuries and who gave up a ton of minutes to Bam Adebayo in a very appetizing matchup against the Hawks. I have no idea who to trust on a night to night basis with their depth. Sometimes it’ll be Wade, or McGruder, or Winslow, sometimes it’ll be none of the above. There are only two constants in South Florida right now. Insane news stories that being with the words “Florida Man” and Josh Richardson.
Josh Hart – There are going to be better times ahead for the Lakers, but it’s going to be tough sledding for Hart moving forward. The reason is that given their early season struggles, LeBron and Luke Walton are going to do everything in their power to right the ship and that means changing lineups pretty frequently. It could mean more KCP and less Hart in the very near future.
TJ Warren – Warren was mostly a one-trick pony last season playing on a team going nowhere, but that one trick lead to some pretty big nights. The Suns are still going nowhere but are at least have direction while remaining largely inert. They also have more capable bodies so his one trick is far less valuable this season. There are far better cheap scoring options available if you desperately need them.
Jabari Parker – I don’t know if it’s Parker or his fit on the team, but he just isn’t right. His shooting has been lousy and has been all but invisible everywhere else for a guy seeing well over 30 minutes a night. This offense runs through Zach LaVine and all you’re doing is hoping Parker can do anything before Lauri Markannen and Bobby Portis return. You’re better off pouncing on someone else now rather than waiting.
CAREER LEAGUE UPDATE
Yes, we finally have one! Here are the standings at the start of the Career League season.
Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk TOTAL Erik Ong 5 12 9 4 4 4 9 8 55 Zach Feldman 12 8 12 11 10 11 12 10 86 Mike Passador 3 2 10 3 6 10 4 7 45 Zach Bodhane 10 6 11 5 9 7 8 9 65 Mike Apotria 8 10 8 9 7 6 7 11 66 Dan Besbris 9 9 4 7 11 8 11 12 71 Chef Ali 2 1 2 6 3 3 2 2 21 Tell Me How My Ass Taste 4 7 6 2 2 5 5 3 34 Nathan/Ryan 6 5 3 8 8 2 3 5 40 Souriyo Dishak 11 3 7 10 12 12 10 4 69 Dio Nikiforos 7 11 1 12 5 9 6 6 57 Aaron Bruski 1 4 5 1 1 1 1 1 15
Team Pts FG% FT% Reb Ast 3PT Stl Blk Erik Ong 257491 0.4906552159 0.7773309989 89877 54788 9938 18462 11955 Zach Feldman 313224 0.4793658034 0.8065537053 109951 65629 11558 20035 12144 Mike Passador 249531 0.4684583837 0.7825974461 87396 57956 11466 16284 11219 Zach Bodhane 269889 0.4778149824 0.7969902799 100198 59925 10815 17051 12003 Mike Apotria 261380 0.4872609273 0.774793694 105872 57961 10782 16856 12559 Dan Besbris 262605 0.4799311898 0.764337431 105197 65994 10850 19167 15357 Chef Ali 239749 0.4654387993 0.7618633 100935 54451 9564 13679 9965 Tell Me How My Ass Taste 255085 0.4784897164 0.7675107097 83014 53207 10104 16685 10086 Nathan/Ryan 258056 0.4749765698 0.764336182 105466 59508 8678 14552 10735 Souriyo Dishak 288231 0.4725028698 0.7739150484 109494 69144 12123 19050 10312 Dio Nikiforos 259971 0.4898481827 0.6946923375 113942 57608 11035 16755 10821 Aaron Bruski 169359 0.4729177181 0.7669975246 69289 36863 8137 13100 8747
Z-Score Zach Feldman is starting out in a dominant position having landed LeBron at No. 2 overall and rounding his team out with veteran active players like Dwyane Wade and LaMarcus Aldridge. I’m not sure how anyone catches him, but Besbris, Souriyo, Apotria and Bodhane could all make runs if LeBron gets hit by a bus at some point this season.
The combo of Shaq and Kobe may have worked for the early 2000s Lakers, but for me it’s leaving me irrelevant and potentially hunting for upside. Problem is Kawhi is only playing what feels like every other day and Kevin Love is again out for some time. I can’t even win at leagues I invented and could tweak the rules with no one noticing.
I’ll update stats again in the coming weeks as the season progresses. It’s too early in the season for there to be any meaningful change in the standings given the total amount of stats that are being accumulated per team. Stay tuned everyone.
ADVENTURES IN DFS
I’ve come to two conclusions in my Adventures in DFS. One is that I am continuously terrible at it. The other is that the FanDuel drop a single score option is still a flawed solution to late lineup scratches.
I had a plan all figured our Wednesday of last week. Jimmy Butler was going to sit, so was Jeff Teague. This meant that I was going to feast on either Tyus Jones or Derrick Rose. There was only one small issue, Tyus Jones was also questionable with an injury and the Wolves wouldn’t be playing until later on. No matter, I would just keep my eyes and ears on the news and I had a solution ready to go with Rose and a swap of centers. Of course, I miss the news by exactly one minute that Jones was out. Rosters are locked, Jones gets a big dumb zero.
The problem is that if you don’t nail a near perfect lineup after a late scratch, then you’re automatically losing money. When my other value play of Allen Crabbe put up a stinker, my money went into a cyberspace black hole of despair never to be seen again. It didn’t matter that I had nailed all of the high-priced performers, Jones’s late scratch meant everything else had to go exactly right to see any return at all.
Editor’s Note: Speaking of DFS, we’ll be hosting a Beat the Expert contest through our partnership with DraftKings and see if you can beat our own Mike Apotria! Top 10 slots pay out, top finisher gets a Hoop Ball T-Shirt. Free entry with a first deposit of $5 or more, so keep an eye out for that!
As I’ve written before, I am in five leagues right now. I had been killing it in all of them this week. Key words here being ‘had been.’
I had to get on a flight to Atlanta in the evening for non-Hawks related reasons and here were my records once I boarded. 7-2 (10-team auction), 7-2 (HB Staff league), 7-2 (24-team dynasty) 6-3 (10-team friends league dynasty) 5-2-2 (12-team cash). These were my records in the exact same order of leagues once I landed. 7-1-1 (woohoo!), 7-2 (phew), 6-3 (turds), 4-5 (double turds), 4-5 (RAT FART!). The two losses aside, it was another solid week all around, but I’m still really struggling to close some of the close ones, especially in the last couple of leagues that are weekly lineups and have zero control over in the final day of games. Hopefully that evens out because I’d like to be able to not end each of my weekends drunk and screaming at the large men on my television.
Anytime you’ve got a good Bloody Sunday story. Reach out to me on Twitter @JoshMillman and I’ll happily, and not so happily, commiserate with you.
Enjoy the rest of the week people!