RotoWire Partners

Hoops Lab: Hoops Lab-Week 9

Andre' Snellings

Andre' Snellings is a Neural Engineer by day, and RotoWire's senior basketball columnist by night. He's a two-time winner of the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Be Careful of the Player Rater

One of the best parts of fantasy sports is making trades, and in a lot of ways Yahoo! makes trades easy by posting the players' raw numbers within the trade proposal window and even giving us a rough rating of how much those raw numbers are worth. In a roto league it can be difficult to decide which categories are most important and how much impact to assign to different degrees of impact in each category. The Y! ranking is one way to make that judgment.

The only problem is that the Y! ranking, like most player raters out there, is based on a formula that plugs in numbers without always looking at context. As such, you can get some screwy results. For instance, if you rank all players in the last week by average today you''ll see that Jared Jeffries ranks out as the #33 overall player in that stretch. That sounds like somebody you might consider picking up, right? Wrong. Because the raw numbers for that period say that Jeffries averaged 4.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and shot 33.3 percent from the field. So, why does he rank so high? Because he had 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks while shooting 100 percent from the line, and the Y! ranker gives higher value to steals and blocks and doesn't take into account that Jeffries' "100-percent FT" was really just 2-for-2. In other words, Jeffries fooled the system into ranking him much too high for a very pedestrian stat line.

This is important because in my trade experience far too many people use the player rater as gospel and can thus over or undervalue players the rater might not rank accurately. Don't be one of those people. Use the player rankings for what they are, rough guidelines to help you gauge whether your already formed intuition of a player's value is in the right ballpark. Be just as critical of the player rater as you would be of anyone else that told you something that didn't make sense. Look into WHY the judgment was made, and decide whether to change your previous notions or throw out the result based on sound logic. Just because the player rater says that Nene has been the 12th overall player this year by total, don't try to value him in trade talk above Chris Paul (15th overall), Dwyane Wade (26th overall) or Deron Williams (28th overall).

Don't get me wrong, Nene's rating being so high is still useful information because it tells us that double-double guys with solid defensive stats and good shooting percentages are very useful players in roto leagues even if they aren't big volume producers. It even suggests that they could be more valuable than super-producers with major flaws, as we discussed a couple weeks ago when comparing Dwight Howard to Kevin Garnett. Just keep common sense in the equation, and don't send me any more trade offers of Mo Williams for Steve Nash with the rationale that their player rankings are about the same. You know who you are.

Situations to Watch and Quick Hits

  • Kobe breaks finger - again: Kobe Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture near the tip of his right index finger last week, his second broken finger in the last two years. For most players this might be a concern, but Kobe played through the broken finger in '08 well enough to win the NBA MVP. He struggled in his first game after breaking the finger (7-for-24 FG, 16 points) but he was also having trouble with an illness at the time. Keep an eye on him, but expect his production to remain near his normal levels once the illness passes.

  • Wade will attack more if he can stay healthy: Dwyane Wade has had a slightly slower start than expected this year with numbers down from his MVP-worthy season of a year ago, but last week he said that his conditioning had improved and that he would be attacking the basket more going forward. This would be great news for his owners, but the game after he made the statement Wade sprained his right wrist in a fall. He is playing through the injury, but the improved conditioning might not help if nagging injuries slow him down.

  • As the Pistons backcourt turns: The Pistons backcourt has seen a lot of turnover thus far due to injury, and that cycle continues this week. Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup on Saturday after missing 21 games due to an ankle injury, and he was able to score 18 points in 37 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum have each missed the last couple of games with ankle injuries. Both practiced on Monday and could return this week. It will be interesting to see how all of this affects Rodney Stuckey, who has been absolutely on fire of late with four straight games of at least 25 points on at least 50 percent shooting from the field. Once everyone's healthy, someone's minutes are going to get cut, most likely ending Bynum's fantasy significance and lowering the production of everyone else.

  • Redd back in limited minutes... again: Michael Redd returned to the court for the Bucks on Saturday night, scoring 11 points in 29 minutes off the bench. He has had trouble all season with his sore knees, but says that he feels great this time. In the meantime he will continue to come off the bench for the Bucks until his knee proves to be stable, but if he's able to resume his starting role it would send Carlos Delfino back to the bench.

  • Jefferson and Love working well: Al Jefferson and Kevin Love both started the season battling injuries, with Jefferson putting up lesser numbers while continuing to play and Love sitting on the sidelines watching. Love returned to action seven games ago, though, and since then both of them are putting up great numbers. Love has grabbed double-digit boards in every game but one and is averaging 12 boards on the season despite only starting the last three games. Jefferson has caught fire in this stretch as well, grabbing double-digit boards in every game while also starting score the way we expected him to. Jefferson has three straight 20-10 games and is averaging 24.3 points with 12 boards in those games.

  • Calderon's hip sidelines him: Jose Calderon missed two games last week due to a hip injury, returned on Friday only to aggravate it and miss Sunday's game. Calderon is not expected to travel on the Raptors' upcoming two-game road trip, and it's unknown how long he will be sidelined overall. In his absence, Jarrett Jack will start and makes a solid short-term play.

  • The Nash barometer set to 11: The Phoenix Suns are easy to figure out this year. When Steve Nash dishes 11 assists they win, when he has to score and thus dishes fewer than 11 dimes they struggle. It's that simple. The Suns are 10 – 0 when Nash has 11 or more assists, but have fallen to 5 – 7 in the games where he has 10 or fewer. They are 0 – 3 in the games where Nash has three or fewer assists.

  • Iron man Ellis: Monta Ellis has been logging ridiculous minutes for the Warriors of late, playing 43 or more minutes in six of his last seven games including three games where he played all 48. The added wear and tear could be starting to catch up with him as he scored only eight points on 3-for-13 shooting in 29 minutes of action on Monday against Philadelphia. Even if Ellis bounces back quickly, though, his owners should keep a close eye on those minutes because eventually playing 45 minutes/game would cause anyone to crash.

  • Dalembert barometer set at 29: In 12 games this season when Samuel Dalembert played at least 29 minutes he has averaged 11.1 boards and 3.2 blocks. In his other 12 games he has averaged 5.8 boards and 0.9 blocks. The math is simple. Dalembert is starting and getting consistent minutes again right now, so he is again a daily starter. But Philly Coach Eddie Jordan changes the line-up on an almost weekly basis, so keep an eye out in case Dalembert goes back to the bench.

    New Additions

    Beno Udrih (51% owned): Udrih is no longer starting in Sacramento, but he is still getting 30 minutes per game off the bench and is consistently scoring in the mid-teens with around five assists and a couple of combined treys and steals.

    Eric Dampier (41% owned): Dampier has never been accused of consistency, but he has four double-digit rebound games thus far in December and has averaged 11 boards and 10.5 points through four games this week.

    Joel Przybilla (38% owned): Przybilla was in this space last week after Greg Oden went down for the season, but he is still available in almost two-thirds of all leagues. He has a track record as a double-digit rebounder with strong defensive stats when he gets the minutes, and he is starting to show it already. In his last two games Przybilla has 21 boards and 10 combined blocks/steals, and should be owned in most formats.

    Tyler Hansbrough (12% owned): Hansbrough is being used as a scorer off the bench for the Pacers as he has double-digit shot attempts in each of the last four games. Over that stretch he's averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 boards and 1.3 steals per game. His field-goal percentage is low, but his per-minute production is good, and if it continues he could be in line for more minutes on a thin Pacers team.

    Jose Juan Barea (9% owned): Barea has been getting almost 30 minutes per game off the bench for the last week, and he's been putting them to good use with averages of 14.8 Points, 5.5 assists and 2.0 treys in that stretch. He scored in double-digits with at least one trey made in all four games this week, and has had five or more assists in three of the four games.

    Maurice Evans (5% owned): Evans has seen increased playing time over the last week, and even got the start in the last game after Marvin Williams couldn't go due to a stomach illness. He has averaged 18.3 points, 5.0 boards and 3.7 treys over that week but should only be considered in deep leagues since Evans' track record doesn't suggest this production level will continue for very long.

    Article first appeared 12/15/09