Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Looking for Stats in All the Wrong Places

We’re starting to get to the point in fantasy basketball seasons where you look at the standings and realize you need a LOT of help in certain categories. And depending on the category, you generally know where to go for that help. Need blocks? Look to the big men. Need assists or steals? You need a guard. Right?

Wrong.

Really, what you need is to look for players who excel in a category relative to others at their same position. A center who shoots 85% from the line is more valuable than a guard who shoots 85% from the line, because you’re getting help in an area that you wouldn’t be expecting it in. So with that in mind, let’s look at some categories in which this strategy might be useful.

Blocks

Dwayne Wade, PG (MIA)
When you look at Wade’s stats, it’s easy to overlook the fact that he gets 1 block a game. I mean, 23.8 points, 7.5 assists, 49.5% from the field … he’s got other categories that draw your attention. But for a point guard, his 1 block per game is outstanding. Of all the point guards in the league, only LeBron James (0.8), Mike Bibby (0.4) and Marko Jaric (0.4) get more than 0.3 blocks per game. And considering James isn’t necessarily a point guard, Wade basically more than doubles every other point guard when it comes to blocks. If he averages 1 block per game, and the average for a top-15 PG is about 0.25, that’s about 60 blocks over the course of the season that you’re getting from you PG position that everyone else isn’t. In most leagues, 60 points is good for at least 4-6 points at the end of the year.

Three’s

Raef Lafrentz, C (BOS)
Depending on who qualifies at center in your league, only 4 centers hit three pointers with any sort of regularity. Dirk Nowitzki (1.4), Clifford Robinson (1.0), Rasheed Wallace (0.8), and Raef Lafrentz (0.7) are the only ones to play regularly that hit more than one 3 pointer every 2 games. Of those, Dirk and Sheed don’t always qualify at center, and Clifford Robinson is so horrendous on the boards that we’re going to have to go with LaFrentz as our man here. His 0.7 3’s per game are pretty much 0.7 more than any other Center you could have on your team, good for about 57 3’s over the course of the year. That could make a big difference in the standings come April.

Free Throw %

Mehmet Okur, C (UTH)
Generally, when you’re looking at your team, your free throw percentage starts out real nice at the top of your screen with the guards, then slowly deteriorates and hits rock bottom by the time you get to your big men. From Shaq to Ben Wallace to Emeka Okafor, most of the worst free throw shooters in the league are centers. That’s why a player like Mehmet is such a gem. His 87% from the stripe is far and away the best of any center. He’s already one of the top FT shooters in the league – the fact that he’s a center is just icing on the cake.

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