The NBA season is almost over, but there is plenty of fantasy action left, plenty of time to keep coming up with new strategies, and you don’t ever want to stop improving. Plus, as the season starts to wind down, it is a good time to reflect on anything playing daily fantasy hoops might have taught you this year, whether to apply lessons learned to other sports, to finish strong in your DFS hoops contests straight through the playoffs, or just because you want to do better next season than you did in this one – all admirable goals.
In my NBA Positional Strategy article from last week, I wrote about how, for most casual DFS players, they want to try to figure out how to make good player choices armed with nothing but their knowledge of the game and the info presented to them as they scrolled through the list of options: price, scoring average, as well as seasonal averages and a ten-game game log just a single click away.
This article is aimed at refining that strategy just one level further. You do already know about these sports, so how can you take that knowledge and apply it to the stats and info you have at hand to improve your decisions?
Eastern vs. Western Conferences
You already know the Western Conference is better, obviously. But do you think about that when looking at the defensive ranks of teams versus certain positions?
It would make sense that the defensive rank of virtually every Eastern Conference team would be inflated due to inferior competition, and, usually that doesn’t matter. Why? Because usually Eastern Conference teams are playing Eastern Conference teams, and vice-versa. But not always.
So when you see that Miami is the #1 ranked defender of Power Forwards in the league, remember that they only play Anthony Davis twice a year. Maybe that rank means you REALL Y don’t want to trust any Celtics big men when the Heat come to town. But if you consider that just not having Davis on their schedule is helping that ranking, you might want to think twice before allowing yourself to be scared off by what looks like a “bad matchup” on paper. Davis is a bad matchup for the Heat, not the other way around.
Some teams are good against big men because they have really good big men playing defense (think Milwaukee). And some are good because they have perfected the small-ball game to the point that their opponents can’t keep their bigs on the floor (think Phoenix, or Golden State).
Knowing the difference can be the secret to discerning whether a matchup is actually bad, or just looks that way at first glance. I was disappointed that Draymond Green didn’t play against Phoenix this week, because he was the perfect example to illustrate this point. The Suns are #2 in the league against Power Forwards, thanks in large part to their ability to neutralize big men with their schemes. But Green matches up perfectly with Phoenix. In three previous games this year, against the #2 team in the league against his position in terms of fantasy points allowed, he averaged a double-double with a total of a dozen blocks and steals. I’ll take it.
Next Level Stats
You already study stats. You have room in your head to know, at least roughly, which teams lead the league in scoring, and which are the best rebounding squads, etc. Which point guards are tops in assists – the obvious stuff. But what if you could train yourself to just notice not only which team scores the most points, but which teams take the most shots? Surprisingly, the answer is the Celtics. A team that shoots a lot but doesn’t score? Maybe the efficiency stats for their guards aren’t quite so important. Maybe that just means there are going to be extra rebounds up for grabs, if you’re considering a guy who relies on that sort of thing.
Did you know the Hawks were one of only five teams hitting more than 10 three pointers per game on average this season? Or that the Kings and the Timberwolves are one and two in free throw attempts? Were you aware that the Sixers are top five in both blocks and steals?
These are the kinds of stats that aren’t hard to know. You don’t need a math degree – you don’t even need to memorize them. Just a general gist, like you have for those top scoring squads, might help you sort through the rankings, and the prices, and the fantasy averages and decide for yourself how a particular game is going to go, and how a particular player is going to play… because that is, after all, the point.