Fantasy Basketball Early Season Strategy – Above All Remain Above Average

Dec 14, 2009

Written by Alex Woods

For those of us who play in rotisserie style leagues the early season usually involves the identification of statistical gaps.  After the first month of the NBA season savvy owners will have an idea of which categories their team is lacking and will make the corresponding move or trade to fill the missing gap.  While that is a valid strategy, this article will focus in on two overlooked stats – field goal percentage and free throw percentage.

Percentages are by far the least sexy statistics in fantasy basketball.  They are easy to overlook as players that score and rebound tend to catch our attention.  Dwight Howard is a beast, but the combination of the number of free throws he shoots and his abysmal free throw percentage can really hurt a team.

Volume is a concept that cannot be ignored when it comes to the percentage categories.  Both Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo struggle at the free throw line, but why then is Dwight so much of a larger liability than Rondo?  The answer is volume.  Rondo averages two free throw attempts per game while Dwight comes in near eleven per game.  That is A LOT more missed free throws over the course of the season.  Looking at free  throw attempts per game one can easily see how two players who shoot the same percentage can have drastically different effects on your teams performance in a percentage category.

Another concept to be aware of with percentage categories is that they are extremely difficult to make up ground in once you are past the half way point of the season.  For this reason it is so important to build your team around players that have solid percentages and hope that they get off to a fast start.  Once past the mid-point in the season it is better to just punt the percentage categories if you are already significantly behind.  However, do note it is extremely difficult to win a title by ignoring the percentage categories.  If your team is suffering from a bunch of poor shooters be sure not to make the same mistake during next years draft.  While you can insulate a player like Dwight Howard with good free throw shooters it is best to avoid him altogether on draft day.

The last concept we will discuss is specific to field goal percentage and big men.  It is essentially that your big men shoot a solid field goal percentage.  This is necessary due to the fact that your guards will likely shoot below 45%.  It is therefore absolutely necessary to have efficient big men to offset this deficiency.  Our rule of thumb is to be sure big men that shoot less than 45% are not on our roster.  Following this rule will certainly help keep you competitive in field goal percentage.

In summary, if you are interested in winning your fantasy basketball league it would be prudent not to ignore the percentage categories.  When evaluating a player’s potential in the percentage categories be sure not to ignore the concept of volume.  A point guard that shoots 95% percent from the stripe is not going to help you much if he is averaging 0.5 attempts per game.  Also, be sure to address your percentage categories early, as they are difficult to make up ground in.  When it comes to field goal percentage make sure you do not have inefficient big men in your line up who shoot less than 45% from the field.  These types of players are the surest way to crash your field goal percentage.

Following these rules should ensure that your team is competitive in free throw and field goal percentage.  The extra few points above the league average you will gain following these rules can make the difference between winning and losing your fantasy basketball league.

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