After yesterday’s All Star game, the NBA has reached mid-season. So it’s a good time to see who’s having the best fantasy seasons. I’m computing prices assuming a 10-team league with a starting roster of 3 guards, 3 forwards, and 2 centers, with a 3-person bench. Each team has a $200 salary cap.
It’s a close call for fantasy MVP this year, between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Durant, who won All-Star MVP honors by scoring 36 for the winning West squad, rates just a hair better in RotoValue for both 8 and 9 category formats. Durant is averaging 27.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 1.7 3s per game, while shooting 51.4% and 83.6%, giving him a RotoValue of $79.87. Overall, LeBron’s value is $77.94, just under $2 less. James has nearly identical averages in points and rebounds, at 27.4 and 8.1. He has twice as many assists, 6.8, but just under half as many 3s, 0.8. He steals a bit more (1.8), but has fewer blocks (0.7). And while LeBron is shooting better from the floor at 54.7%, his FT shooting is worse at 77.3%. The differences in assists and 3s mostly offset, as do those in steals and blocks. The overall shooting gives a slight edge to Durant, as does the fact that he’s played in 1 more game, which boosts his overall cumulative totals a bit.
8 Category Rankings
After the top two, there’s a huge gap to Magic center Dwight Howard, who leads the league in rebounding and is among the league’s best in blocks. Howard is of course held back by his atrocious FT%, but his FG% is again very good at 55.4%. Howard gets a boost by qualifying at center, a typically weak position.
Rumors abound that Howard might want to team with Deron Williams next season (or even maybe later this year after a trade). The two have been quite a force, as Williams is the top point guard. Williams is doing it all: scoring 22 points a game, with over 8 assists while hitting 221 3s, 2nd most in the league. His only fantasy weakness is shooting just 41.7% from the floor.
Durant’s real-life teammate Russell Westbrook rounds out the top 5, combining high scoring and solid shooting with nearly 5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
Kevin Love has been the league’s best power forward, averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds a game. Unusual for a big man, much of his scoring has been on the perimeter, as he’s made 49 3s. The 3s depress his FG% (44.6), but Love is also an excellent foul shooter who goes to the line often.
Pau Gasol may be more famous, but little brother Marc has been the better fantasy player this year. Marc is averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists, similar to his brother, but he’s getting an extra block per game and nearly twice as many steals. Add in eligibility at center, and Marc Gasol is a top fantasy player.
Kobe Bryant’s wrist injury scared off lots of owners, but he’s played every game, and played up to his usual standards: lots of points, rebounds, and assists make him the league’s top shooting guard.
Houston’s Kyle Lowry is next, with 7.6 assists and 2 steals per game to go along with 87% from the line.
Greg Monroe is 10th, combining solid scoring, rebounding and shooting at the center position.
9 Category Rankings
Adding turnovers as a 9th category reduces the prices of the top two but keeps Durant ahead by a hair: Durant has 122 in 34 games, and James 121 in 33, leaving Durant ahead $75.62 to $73.59. The bigger shake-up is the rest of the top 10:
Marc Gasol moves up to #3 ahead of Dwight Howard, as Gasol had 43 fewer turnovers. Dropping out of the top 10 are PGs Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook (who share the league lead with 142 TOs), and Kobe Bryant (4th with 133).
Marcin Gortat is the highest ranking newcomer at #5, a center whose scoring and rebounding are similar to Marc Gasols, but who trails Gasol in steals, blocks, assists and FT%. Gortat nearly catches Dwight Howard, as he has only 51 TOs to Howard’s 115.
Tyson Chandler ranks 7th, basically tied with Kevin Love and Ryan Anderson. Chandler rarely shoots (just 11.7 points), but he’s making just over 70% of his shots, both from the floor and the line. And Orlando 3 point specialist Ryan Anderson now ranks #8, boosted by a league-leading 228 3s and just 22 total turnovers in 34 games.
In a 9 category format, centers who produce elsewhere but don’t turn the ball over are quite valuable, while ball-handling guards are less so, because of their turnovers.