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Nerd Alert: Advanced Stats and Fantasy Hoops

Carson Cistulli

Carson Cistulli writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

In last week's edition of the Alert, we gave a long and nerdy look both at steals and blocks -- looking, in particular, at how advanced metrics might help fantasy owners identify players who, while possessing the ability to help in one or the other of those categories, might not yet have the opportunity.

We learned a couple things from the research, including that (a) like rebounds, blocks per 36 minutes (BLK36) correlate very strongly year to year, and that (b) steals per 36 (STL36), while demonstrating quite a bit of year-to-year correlation, do not correlate so strongly as either rebounds or blocks.

What we didn't do last week was look at specific players, and that's the goal of this post.

In what follows, I examine ten players who have posted excellent BLK36 so far this season. With a view towards targeting players who might possess some kind of future value, I've selected players who are both (a) currently averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game and (b) less than 30 years old. The reason for the latter of these critera is to isolate players who might have some chance of improving upon their current playing time -- and so's to exclude players like Jermaine O'Neal, Nazr Mohammed, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, all of whom have terrific BLK36 numbers, but are each in the decline phase of their respective careers.

Here are the players now, in order of blockiness:

Player: Larry Sanders, MIL
BLK36 (Season / Career) 3.3 / 3.3
Comments: Here's the complete list of players averaging more blocks per 36 than Sanders: JaVale McGee (3.4). That's it. Not Serge Ibaka, not Andrew Bogut, not DeAndre Jordan. He doesn't have much of an offensive game, but he's also only 22, meaning he's got time to improve. Performances like his 15-point, eight-rebound outing at Orlando on January 5th certainly seem to hint at potential.

Player: Joel Anthony, MIA
BLK36 (Season / Career) 2.7 / 2.9
Comments: On January 9th, Anthony played 29 minutes and had no blocks. He also had no points, shots, rebounds, or steals. He had a turnover and four fouls. That's uninspiring.

Player: Ronny Turiaf, NYK
BLK36 (Season / Career) 2.6 / 2.8
Comments: Turiaf's always been pretty excellent on a per-minute basis. Not a star, but better than you might think. The problem with him is twofold: injuries and, when he is healthy, minutes. Has never averaged more than 21.5 minutes per game, and is unlikely to start.

Player: Omer Asik, CHI
BLK36 (Season / Career) 2.4 / 2.4
Comments: With injuries to both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah this season, Asik has gotten more time than the Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau likely expected he would. Even so, has only managed 12.1 minutes per game. With Taj Gibson also around, Asik might find it difficult to get anything close to relevant minutes.

Player: Ed Davis, TOR
BLK36 (Season / Career) 2.0 / 2.0
Comments: Like a couple other guys on this list, Davis has gotten an opportunity due to some injuries around him. In this case, injuries to Raptor big men Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani, and Amir Johnson compelled Toronto to recall Davis from the D-League. In 20 games hence, he's averaged 20.4 minutes per game, which has made him close to relevant in standard formats. With Toronto still in contention for a playoff spot, and with a weak offensive game, he may be pushed aside for more experienced players.

Player: Marcin Gortat, PHO
BLK36 (Season / Career) 1.9 / 2.2
Comments: On the one hand, Gortat's move to Phoenix greatly improves his playing time -- now around 25 since his debut in the Southwest. On the other, his BLK36 is moving in a strange direction over the last three years. Starting with 2008-09, here are those numbers: 2.4, 2.3, 1.9. He has an underwhelming offensive game, but is probably the best rebounder on this list.

Player: Jordan Hill, HOU
BLK36 (Season / Career) 1.7 / 1.4
Comments: Has started last seven games with both Yao Ming and, now, Chuck Hayes out, and was playing intermittently until Monday night, when, in 35 minutes, he recorded 12 points, eight rebounds, and a block. That's a roster-worthy line. Also, in re Hill, he has a better shot than other guys on this list, with a career free-throw rate above 70%.

Player: Patrick Patterson, HOU
BLK36 (Season / Career) 1.6 / 1.6
Comments: Same thing as with Hill -- so far as Brad Miller goes, I mean -- which continues to be crazy. Furthermore, Patterson's not really able to man the five, so he has to contend more directly with Luis Scola. In other news, though, Patterson has managed a 68.6% field-goal percentage in his limited time (10 games, 15 minutes each). Only 21.

Player: Semih Erden, BOS
BLK36 (Season / Career) 1.6 / 1.6
Comments: With Kendrick Perkins about to return -- and the O'Neals also getting minutes at the five -- now probably isn't the time to pick up Erden. If you play in a league with some kind of "D-League" option, though, he may not be a bad guy to pick up in next year's drafts.

Player: Hilton Armstrong, WAS
BLK36 (Season / Career) 1.6 / 1.5
Comments: Armstrong's is in his fifth season and has yet to average as much as 16 mpg. It's unlikely that such a trend portends anything promising in the near future.

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