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Nerd Alert: Advanced Stats and Hidden Values

Carson Cistulli

Carson Cistulli writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Over the last two weeks (boom and boom) in this space we've looked at how we might use True Shooting Percentage (TS%) and Secondary Shooting Percentage (Sec% -- that is, simply FG%-TS%) as a shorthand means to approximating the three fantasy categories most relevant to those stats: field-goal percentage (FG%), free-throw percentage (FT%), and three-pointers made (3Pt).

In this post, I'd like to use that work to look at some under-the-radar-ish (i.e. < 25 years old, < 25mpg) players on both sides of the Sec% spectrum.

As you'd expect, the group that fares well by this measure is populated mostly by swingmen, while the latter group is mostly big men whose value, if there is any, is coming from other categories.

This list is probably most valuable for people in keeper leagues or who those are generally looking to broaden their familiarity with the total pool of available talent.

The Good

Player: Jodie Meeks, PHI, 23
Stats: (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 40.1%/58.4%/18.3%
Comments: Meeks is two-dimensional player. If fantasy basketball were just a three-dimensional world, that'd be excellent. Unfortunately, there are generally eight or nine dimensions (read: categories) to which a fantasy owner must tend. For those owners in need either of three-point or free-throw help, though, will benefit greatly (and quite cheaply, I'd assume) from Meeks. Again, he's more of a complementary player -- and likely will continue to be -- but his skills are well defined.

Player: Daequan Cook, OKC, 23
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 39.2%/56.1%/16.9%
Comments: Though it's only 19 games, and only an average of 13.4 minutes per each of those games, Cook's three-pointing resume is pretty impressive: for every 36 minutes this season he's taking 9.4 shots from behind the arc and connecting on about 3.5 of those. As of this post, he's averaging 21 minutes in each of his last three games -- over which time he's gone 9-of-21 on three-pointers.

Player: James Anderson, SAS, 21
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 42.9%/58.8%/15.9%
Comments: Anderson has the potential to be a real clever keeper pick-up or late-round pick in drafts next season. The 20th-overall pick by the Spurs in the most recent draft, Anderson has played 34 minutes over the last two games for the Spurs -- and could see more time if (a) Gregg Popovich elects to sit his starters ahead of the playoffs and/or (b) Richard Jefferson gets hurt. Even the recent injuries to Tony Parker and Gary Neal could help. Anyway, it's a pretty small sample, but not entirely out of line with his numbers at Oklahoma State.

Player: Ryan Anderson, ORL, 22
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 43.5%/58.9%/15.4%
Comments: Literally as I'm writing this, I'm trying to trade away Anderson in the RotoWire Staff League. It's not because I think he'd bad -- actually, sort of the opposite: I think he's pretty excellent; he just doesn't have a great role right now with Brandon Bass ahead of him at the four, and I'm trying to win right now (an effort that's greatly aided by the fact that I'm currently in first place). Shannon McKeown is concerned about Anderson's role next year. That's a valid concern, but that doesn't make Shannon any less of a diarrhea face.

Player: Mario Chalmers, MIA, 24
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 41.5%/56.1%/14.6%
Comments: As I believe I've noted elsewhere in these pages, Chalmers' role has change pretty conspicuously these last three years. Over that time, his assists per 36 minutes have dropped, from 5.5 to 4.9 to 3.6 this year. At the same time, his three-point attempts per 36 have increased, from 4.3 to 4.7 to 5.5. He doesn't score in volume at all, but a player who can average between 1.5-2.0 threes and steals -- a feat of which Chalmers is totally capable -- offers all manner of unseen value.

The Bad

Player: Kyrylo Fesenko, UTA, 24
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 44.3%/43.7%/-0.6%
Comments: So, you probably weren't clamoring after Fesenko anyway. Now in his fourth NBA season, the big man has yet to average as many as nine minutes or three points or three blocks per contest. I don't know: maybe you saw his per-minute block numbers and decided to stash him away as a keeper. Well, maybe stop doing that. In addition to his other shortcomings, he's a superbad free-throw shooter. And not "superbad" in the cool way.

Player: Ed Davis, TOR, 21
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 59.4%/59.6%/0.2%
Comments: Unlike Fesenko, Davis is player who's probably piqued your interest at one point or another throughout the season. Given that he was the 13th-overal pick in the 2010 draft, you wouldn't say that he "came out of nowhere" exactly, but his season is unique in that he made his debut on December 1st -- i.e. the Raptors' 18th game of the season -- played 24 minutes that night, and has basically been part of the rotation since then. One thing Davis doesn't do well is shoot free throws. He's shooting 54.1% from the free-throw line -- a number that basically agrees with his college numbers. In terms of value, his poor free-throw shooting is actually worth more negatively than his shot-block is worth positively.

Player: Kosta Koufos, DEN, 21
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 43.5%/44.7%/1.2%
Comments: Per 36 minutes in his career, Koufos averages 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Between that and his age, there's enough to be excited about. The reason he's on this side of the list, though, is that he's a poor enough free-throw shooter (50.0% this year, 63.3% career). A question about Koufos now concerns his playing time. As part of the three-team trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York, he now plays for the Nuggets. He's unlikely to play much of a role for the rest of this season, but could see that change next year if Nene departs from Denver.

Player: DeJuan Blair, SAS, 21
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 49.9%/51.8%/1.9%
Comments: Blair has appeared previously in the pages of the Nerd Alert. He's an excellent rebounder (averaging 12.3 per 36 on his young career) and gets a lot of steals (2.0 per 36) for a big man. Like the other players on this side of the list, though, he's a poor free-throw shooter (65.9% for the season and 58.5% career). He makes up for this somewhat by generally steering clear of the free-throw line, but one imagines that, in the event that his role increases, so will the defensive focus on him. With Tim Duncan a year older next season, expect Blair's role to increase even more.

Player: Larry Sanders, MIL, 22
Stats (FG%/TS%/Sec%): 42.1%/44.3%/2.2%
Comments: Besides having hosted his own fake talk show in the mid-90s, Larry Sanders is also excellent at blocking basketball shots in the NBA. In fact, his 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes puts him alongside JaVale McGee and Darko Milicic in that category -- which, that's pretty good company. Like teammate Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Sanders almost entirely lacks an offensive game -- both in terms of volume and percentage.