By Brian Spencer
We’re up again as hosts of the weekly fantasy hoops roundtable, which runs throughout the NBA season and along with us features the writers below. A little over a month ago we discussed the fantasy (ir)relevance of Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, and this time around the topic is:
Which NBA team is the least fantasy hoops friendly?
Joining Me at the Fantasy Hoops Roundtable:
It’s a close call between the Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets, two craptacular offensive powder puffs at the bottom of the league in team scoring, field-goal percentage, and assists, but the difference between them is that the Pistons actually have some established, proven firepower; they just haven’t gotten it done so far. Attribute it to lingering injuries (Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Will Bynum) or to disappointing play (Charlie Villanueva, at times Rodney Stuckey), but either way this team, whose strength was supposed to be on the offensive end, has given fantasy owners very little to cheer about. Never would have thought that 35-year-old Ben Wallace would be the most valuable fantasy contributor.
Still, at least the Pistons have guys who should, theoretically, pull it together at some point: outside of emerging stud Brook Lopez, the Nets’ likely fantasy assets have been shockingly inadequate. It starts at the point with Devin Harris, who’s taken a sizable step back in his second full season in Jersey in addition missing games, as usual. His shooting (38%), points (15.9), free throws (78%), boards (3.2), assists (6), and steals (1.6) are all down–in some cases way down–compared to last season.
Beyond that, at 27 years old next month, Harris is suddenly anything but a slam dunk as the team’s PG of the future. There have been whispers that he’s readily available on the trade block, which makes sense if the team is angling for standout Kentucky PG John Wall in this June’s NBA draft. They’ll certainly have the most ping-pong balls in the hopper.
Add to Harris’ fantasy misery that of Courtney Lee (39% FG, 27% 3PT), Yi Jianlian (points and boards only), the steady fade of Chris Douglas-Roberts, and… that’s where the fantasy prospects stop. Ugly.
Nels, Give Me The Rock
With a little bit of fancy statistical analysis using the GMTR Player Rater, Patrick and I came to the conclusion that the Detroit Pistons are easily the least fantasy-friendly team in the league. If I had to hypothesize without looking at any stats, I probably would have said San Antonio, since they’re so slow and their players aren’t doing all that great this season; looking at the stats, though, they’re actually doing better than I thought they were.
We came up with Detroit by taking the top 156 players from the Player Rater (156 is the number of players in a 12 player x 13 team league), and then comparing on two stats. First, we took the average of rank of the players on each team, and second, we counted the number of players in the Top 156 from each team.
The worst team in the league for average ranking was the Detroit Pistons with 111.50. Compound that lackluster performance by placing only four players in the Top 156, and all of a sudden, you’ve found yourself with the least fantasy-friendly team in the league.
The only teams with less players in the Top 156 are the Cavs and the Pacers, who both have three players in the Top 156, but they ended up at 2nd and 8th in average player ranking, and adding one more guy to get them to the four that Detroit has is not going to sink anyone’s battleship. The Magic are actually close with their average player ranking of 101.80, and five players in the Top 156, but again, if you add another player to Detroit to match them up with Orlando’s five, then their average ranking is only going to torpedo their submarine.
HOOPSWORLD, Lester’s Legends, and BleacherCreatureRotoTalk after the break…
Tommy Beer, HoopsWorld
There are a few different ways to answer this question: The Nets are not exactly fantasy friendly, because besides being the worst team in the NBA, they are also the lowest scoring team (90.2 PPG) and shoot the worst percentage from the floor (42%). But I still would love to have Brook Lopez on my team and Devin Harris will turn it around.
So, I’ll go with the Golden State Warriors, due solely to the fact that inmate Don Nelson is running the asylum over there. Nellie’s senseless and insane substitution patterns and unpredictable rotation patterns earn my vote for “least fantasy-friendly squad.”
Ryan Lester, Lester’s Legends
The team I feel is the least conducive to fantasy success is the Cleveland Cavaliers. I know they have LeBron James, but his rebounding ability steals from their bigs and his passing ability steals from their guards. After King James, the pickings are slim.
Mo Williams is solid, but he’s probably in the bottom third of NBA #2 men. They have a trio of big men in Shaq, Big Z, and Varejao that somewhat cancel each other out. They don’t have a true point guard and their wing players are below average.
It gets even worse when you look at the other side of the ball. As of Friday, January 15th, they are third in scoring defense, allowing just 94.3 points per game. They allowed 100+ points in just 11 of their first 41 games (26.8 percent). They also lead the league with lowest field-goal percentage allowed at .434. Plus, they are eighth in the league with three-point percentage allowed at .338.
Alex Woods, BleacherCreatureRotoTalk
There’s a very close three-way tie in the NBA for the worst fantasy-friendly team in the league between the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and Minnesota Timberwolves. My answer is based on the number of “rosterable” players I could quickly identify for each team.
The Detroit Pistons have four players who clearly belong on fantasy basketball rosters: Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Wallace. A rough estimate of the league average for what we are calling “rosterable” is between 6-7 players, so the Pistons are clearly below that mark. Furthermore, the players that do make the cut are hardly spectacular performers from a fantasy basketball perspective.
The Miami Heat have three “rosterable” players: Michael Beasley, Dwyane Wade, Jermaine O’Neal. While there number is limited to three players the fact that Dwyane “Flash” Wade is a top-five player in the NBA kind of makes it hard to crown the Heat the worst NBA team.
Then there is the Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, and Johnny Flynn are really the only players we see making the cut. While Love and Jefferson are monsters on the low blocks, Flynn is a questionable contributor at this point in his career. In fact, one could argue that he should be left off this list and the real “rosterable” number for the T-Wolves is just two.
The answer to this week’s question, however, requires the selection of one team. Given their low number of “rosterable” fantasy basketball players, that would have to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. With only two players really contributing it’s hard to call Minnesota a fantasy basketball friendly environment.
As a side note, we found the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and recently the Philadelphia 76ers of interest. While these three teams have deep talent and implement systems conducive to offensive output, their coaching is very erratic. If players are consistently getting minutes on these teams they are almost guaranteed to produce. However, all three coaches (Don Nelson, Vinny Del Negro, and Eddie Jordan) tend to change their rotations daily. We thought it was worth noting these three enigmatic fantasy basketball situations as they are boom or bust depending on the coach’s mood.