Pace is an underrated aspect in daily fantasy basketball. A team’s pace of play measures how many possessions they average per 48 minutes. Pace is important to fantasy production because the more possessions that a team sees, the more chances there are for points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Those five statistics are what drive fantasy production in daily fantasy basketball.
The average team in the NBA averages just over 96 possessions per 48 minutes, with the slowest team averaging around 93 possessions and the fastest team averaging around 101 possessions. The difference between the slowest and fastest paced teams in the NBA is around eight possessions per game.
While that may not seem like an extraordinarily big difference, it can impact the total of the game, as well as the individual production of the players. Remember, the quicker the pace of play, the more fantasy points are available in any given game.
When analyzing the pace in daily fantasy basketball, we need to factor in the pace of both teams: The team that each player is on and the team that he is facing. Theoretically, the expected pace of the game is the average pace of the two teams that are facing one another. If a fast-paced team faces a slow-paced team, the expected pace of the game would fall somewhere between the two. In daily fantasy, we refer to this as being a pace-up or pace-down game for teams, as teams will either be expected to have more or fewer possessions than their season average.
Offensive and defensive efficiency go hand-in-hand with the pace of play. The three combine to give us the total points per game that a team either scores or allows. For instance, say Team A plays at the fastest pace of any team in the NBA, yet they are ranked right around the league average in points allowed per game. This is due to the fact that they are ranked number one in defensive efficiency.
The ideal situation in daily fantasy basketball is to target players that are facing a team that both plays at a fast pace and struggles with efficiency on the defensive end of the floor. Not only will teams see a lot of possessions against these opponents, but they will also find success against a defense that is not particularly efficient.
Pace and efficiency aren’t the only factors to consider in daily fantasy basketball, but they can help you narrow down the games that you want to have a lot of exposure to on any given night. Looking at the projected totals is typically a shortcut for this process, but the total may not always tell the whole story. When two bad offenses meet up, they may not score a ton of points, but the pace of the game could create more opportunities for the peripheral stats such as rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Notorious) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.