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NBA Draft Kit: Out-of-Position Stats

Josh Lloyd

Josh Lloyd

Josh writes about fantasy basketball for RotoWire as well as the site he founded, redrockbasketball.com. He also is the host of the Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Podcast and loves analysing trends to help fantasy players in seasonal and daily fantasy leagues.

When approaching a fantasy basketball draft, you know you need two things stats from big men and stats from guards. You have to find production in every position slot, and you legitimately can get production out of every position.

That's one of the beauties of playing fantasy hoops. The categories are split nicely so that all players, no matter what position they play, can contribute to your team's fortunes. It's not like fantasy football where your quarterback and running backs do most of the work.

Guards, in general, will give your team three-pointers, assists, steals, and a positive contribution to your team's free throw percentage. Big men add to your rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and a positive impact in turnovers. The only category that isn't overtly unique to a position is points.

The small forward position is the odd man out in defining a position that provides unique production, as small forwards tend to be able to contribute a little in all categories and don't usually have stark categorical slants as you'd see in comparing guards and big men.

Now, as with any general observation, there are always exceptions. By recognizing the exceptions and grabbing guys who produce numbers in unconventional categories for their position, you can take advantage of reinforcing one category while filling a positional need as well.

Selecting a guard who can rebound or block shots, or a center who hits three-pointers, can be key to building a well-rounded roster with positional flexibility. These hidden skills can give players added value and can really help flesh out your team as well as allow you to focus your investment when punting categories.

For example, if you're punting assists, you wouldn't want pay a premium for most guards, but in order to make sure you're still accumulating the other common guard stats of steals and three-pointers, you'd want to look for players at who help pad the stats you are investing in. That's why finding a big man to help in those categories can help strengthen your team's position.

With that in mind, let's review the players that provided unconventional stats for their position last season.

*All stats are from the 2013-14 season.

Power Forwards and Centers

Assists

Player

Assists Per Game

LeBron James

6.3

Joakim Noah

5.4

Kevin Love

4.4

Josh McRoberts

4.3

Blake Griffin

3.9

Marc Gasol

3.6

Pau Gasol

3.4

Josh Smith

3.3

Carmelo Anthony

3.1

Paul Millsap

3.1


Steals

Player

Steals Per Game

Thaddeus Young

2.1

Paul Millsap

1.7

LeBron James

1.6

DeMarcus Cousins

1.5

Josh Smith

1.4

Anthony Davis

1.3

Andre Drummond

1.2

Carmelo Anthony

1.2

Joakim Noah

1.2

Nene

1.2


Three-Pointers Made

Player

Three-Pointers Per Game

Ryan Anderson

3.0

Kevin Love

2.5

Carmelo Anthony

2.2

Channing Frye

2.0

Jeff Green

1.6

Dirk Nowitzki

1.6

Spencer Hawes

1.6

LeBron James

1.5

Josh McRoberts

1.3

Marvin Williams

1.3


Free Throw Percentage

Player

Free Throw Percentage

Free Throw Attempts

Dirk Nowitzki

89.9%

4.7

Carmelo Anthony

84.8%

7.0

Ryan Anderson

95.2%

2.8

Kevin Love

82.1%

8.2

Brook Lopez

81.7%

6.8

LaMarcus Aldridge

82.2%

5.2

Brandon Bass

85.8%

2.9

Zaza Pachulia

84.6%

2.5

Chris Bosh

82.0%

3.4

Tobias Harris

80.7%

4.0


You can see in the tables above, a lot of the same names are appear in more than one table. Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Love, for instance, all appear in more than one table. But, for fantasy purposes, these guys are the best of the best. They're not going to be available when you're settling into the draft and figuring out exactly how your team is panning out.

The guys to look at above are the lesser known players who will be available to help you fill out the identity of your team after the first couple rounds.

Josh McRoberts, who appears in the assists and three-pointers tables, was a guy who was available in a lot of leagues for a good portion of last season. If you needed assists, he was the best player available on most waiver wires, and he gave you the added bonus of hitting threes, all without filling up a guard slot. Players like McRoberts who get discounted and disregarded due to subpar contributions in points or other stats are players who should be considered more for what they give you than for what they don't give you. A lot of owners can't see the forest for the trees, and those average owners will look past players like McRoberts, which should allow you to get them at a bit of discount.



These are good players you can look at to fill out your roster.

Guards

Rebounds

Player

Rebounds Per Game

Nicolas Batum

7.5

Lance Stephenson

7.2

Paul George

6.8

P.J. Tucker

6.5

Michael Carter-Williams

6.2

Kawhi Leonard

6.2

Russell Westbrook

5.7

Rajon Rondo

5.5

Gordon Hayward

5.1

Evan Turner

5.0


Blocks

Player

Blocks Per Game

Wes Johnson

1.0

Danny Green

0.9

Kawhi Leonard

0.8

Nicolas Batum

0.7

Michael Carter-Williams

0.6

Mike Dunleavy

0.6

Dwyane Wade

0.5

Jimmy Butler

0.5

Gordon Hayward

0.5

Gerald Green

0.5


Field Goal Percentage

Player

Field Goal Percentage

Field Goal Attempts

Dwyane Wade

54.5%

14.1

Goran Dragic

50.5%

14.4

Kawhi Leonard

52.2%

9.8

Tony Parker

49.9%

13.4

Lance Stephenson

49.1%

11.2

Tony Allen

49.4%

7.5

Marco Belinelli

48.5%

8.7

Eric Bledsoe

47.7%

12.9

Courtney Lee

48.0%

7.8

Shaun Livingston

48.3%

6.4


It's important to note that, with both of the percentage categories, the raw percentage isn't the be-all and end-all of that category. The volume of attempts they take makes an impact as well, so that's why you'll see Kawhi Leonard sitting behind Goran Dragic on the field goal percentage table, despite Dragic shooting 1.7 percent less than Leonard. Dragic had an additional 4.6 attempts per game, and that volume is more valuable and impactful, making him a better contributor in that category.

What should be pointed out about Leonard is that he appears in the top 10 of all of each category above, providing big man stats while eligible at shooting guard. That sort of production can prove invaluable, and it's one of the reasons Leonard is blossoming into an elite fantasy talent.



You can also see both Gordon Hayward and Nicolas Batum appear on the rebounds and blocks tables. Both guys will play mainly at small forward this season, but in ESPN leagues last season, they were eligible at shooting guard, and that dual eligibility can be a huge bonus.

Rookie Contributions

Although we don't have NBA stats from last season to look at, there are a few rookie guards who may appear on these lists in the next few years and will make interesting dynasty targets for that reason.

The Orlando Magic's Elfrid Payton, the Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart, and the Philadelphia 76ers' K.J. McDaniels are three rookies who stand out. Both Payton and Smart are aggressive rebounders for point guards, and Payton shoots the majority of his shots at the rim, giving him a high field goal percentage, as we saw in summer league action when he shot 59 percent from the field.



McDaniels, who is in competition for the shooting guard spot in Philadelphia, averaged 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game last season for Clemson and could epitomize the unconventional stats thought process in the next few seasons.

It goes back to one of the main tenets of fantasy basketball know your league.

More specifically: Know your league's settings. Know which categories you're playing for. Know your league depth. Know the players' eligibility.

Eligibility differs depending on the site where your league is hosted, so make sure you search through and find which guys can be exploited. It can be the difference between winning and losing.

When drafting, knowing these specific limitations can be invaluable in helping you grab a bargain player and can help fill up your categories with out-of-position stats.

Take note of the guys we've covered here, especially the ones appearing on more than one list.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow me on Twitter (@redrock_bball), and let me know if any of the players above helped you bring home the title last season. Good luck and happy drafting.