Monday, October 24, 2005

Reading Preseason Box Scores

So here at FBB HQ, we were discussing what to talk about this week, now that we’ve finished off ranking just about everything there is to be ranked. Here’s a quote from DM: “We could do some preseason stuff (as in DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO PRESEASON STATS).” To which I say: “really?”

Sure, the majority of preseason stats are of little to no value. Players aren’t getting the minutes they normally would, they’re not playing full speed in a lot of cases, and they’re often on the floor against future CBA-ers. But there’s still some important stuff going on. I mean, come on – it’s been like 4 months since we’ve had a box score to look at. So what should you be looking for when checking out the numbers? How 'bout this:

Rookie Projections
Before you roll your eyes, I’m not trying to tell you that what a rookie does in the preseason is what he’ll do ion the regular season. Because it’s not. But a lot of rookies will change their games when they enter the NBA. One thing to look for is any sort of unexpected stats from rookies. For example, Chris Paul grabbed ten rebounds last night against Denver. And two games before that, he pulled down seven against Atlanta. This is a guy who averaged 4.5 rpg last year in college – good, but not great - so it’s safe to say that those kind of numbers are a bit unexpected. All you have to do is look at Jason Kidd to know how much strong rebounding numbers can help a PG’s fantasy value.

Here’s another example. Last year with Connecticut, Charlie Villanueva took a total of twelve 3-pointers all year long – making six of them. Over the last five preseason games with Toronto, Villanueva has gone five for twelve from the arc. Where did this come from? Who knows, and who cares. The important thing is that if Villanueva keeps shooting the long ball, he’s going to have more value than many thought.

Position Battles
Here in Washington, we’ve got a nice little position battle between Chucky Atkins and Antonio Daniels, who are fighting to be the new backcourt mate of Gilbert Arenas. Last night in Houston, each got over 34 minutes, and Atkins way out-performed Daniels, as has been the case throughout most of the preseason. Should Atkins end up winning the battle and getting 30+ mpg for the Wiz, he’ll be worth a late round draft pick.

Similarly, there are battles to be won in Atlanta (three of them, really), New York (PT at center), and a number of other spots across the league.

Injury Watches
Nagging injuries in the preseason generally will turn into non-issues during the regular season. But sometimes, there’s truth to them. Shaun Livingston, for example, probably shouldn’t be drafted any more. Quentin Richardson should be sliding down the draft board. Brevin Knight’s elbow could be something to watch. It’s not a terrible idea to spend a late round pick on a guy who’s doing some injury fill-in work, and knowing who’s injured, obviously, is a good way to do that.

So as you can see, preseason games aren’t totally useless. If you know what to look for, there can be some useful information in them. I mean, it’s a basketball box score – it’s gotta be good for something.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last season, I relied heavily on pre-season stats for evaluating the rookie class and found it quite useful.

I noticed, for example, that Dwight Howard seemed to be getting heavy minutes and putting up double-doubles on a nightly basis, so I targeted him in my draft and picked him up in the very late rounds. As it turned out, his preseason season numbers weren't too far off from what he posted in the regular season.

In particular, I keep an eye out for guys that are putting up decent numbers and getting heavy minutes on crappy teams that don't have a strong cast of established veterans(But I steer clear of those rooks on crappy teams run by rookie-averse coaches like Larry Brown).

This year, the two players that you mention in your post would qualify. Chris Paul, even before last night's eye-poppin' line, was averaging nearly six dimes while playing close to 30 m/gm. There's absolutley no reason to think that he won't duplicate those numbers this season. He should also be a good source of steals and threes and if he also happens to be a point guard that averages 4.5 boards a game, well I'll just about twist my arm off patting myself on the back for drafting him in the tenth round.

Villanueva certainly meets my qualifications too but he seems less certain than Paul to get the requisite PT this season. How is Toronto going to use him? As a starting 4, with Bosh at center? As a backup to Bosh? Or even as a center? He went undrafted in my league, but based on his pre-season showing, he's definitely worth keeping an eye on.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous nightkid said...

Another interesting thing is the situation in PHX. James Jones and Raja Bell had been lighting it up from beyond the arc. Raja Bell is going to be good this year, but what about James Jones? A lot of people are saying that Jim Jackson will cut into his minutes. But is it really going to happen? I haven't yet seen 1 game where James Jones play very few minutes.

We'll see about that after the season begins.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I picked up Charlie Villanueva, Eddie Griffin, and TJ Ford in the later rounds of my draft yesterday.

Based on preseason, they all looked like pretty good gambles in terms of performance and playing time.

What do you expect from these three?

11:30 AM  
Blogger bv said...

i actually am a huge fan of both villanueva and griffin this year. I think they're great risk/reward picks late in the draft. As for Ford, I'm optimistic - but you have to wonder what his ceiling is? Still, spending a late round pick on him makes sense.

1:09 PM  

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