NBA Thoughts 11/17/16

Tonight showcases a five-game slate and some huge tournaments across the industry. Instead of going through lineup construction like I do most days, I’ll give some thoughts on projections, minutes, and how to better predict future performances. After yesterday’s results, many asked “Why Conley? Why Teague?” and those are valid questions so I’ll take this time to address these questions. I’ll go through the process I go through when projecting players and what their fantasy output for that day could look like. Let’s dive in!

Minutes and Usage

If you blindly trust any projection system or algorithm, you could fall for traps or fail to identify optimal plays. Many projection systems are averages of a season which then get adjusted for matchups. I’ll use Teague as an example to showcase how projections can be misleading.

Throughout the season, Teague and the Pacers have been involved in numerous blowouts, leading his minutes to be a bit sporadic. Because of this, many projection systems had him projected at just 30 minutes. This is usually an average of the amount of minutes he’s played on the season but obviously that’s misleading. In games where the Pacers haven’t been blown out, Teague has averaged 35 minutes averaging 1 fantasy point per minute. If you also adjust for matchup (a favorable one), you could have projected Teague for about 38-39 fantasy points, which would have put Teague very much in play.

These are things that can go unnoticed by the average player and one way advanced players can gain an edge. It’s tough to go through all players on a big slate, but there is definitely an advantage to doing so. There are some players on today’s slate which could be projected better and I’ll identify some of those below.

Guys that make it happen

I’ll mention a few players here and briefly explain the reasoning behind their projections across the industry. These are also players I’m looking to target in tonight’s slate.

Montrezl Harrell – Even if the game goes small, the Center position will need a big body considering Plumlee or Leonard will be on the floor at all times. Harrell has also been a fantasy point per minute player and should see around 22-23 minutes in this game. Project him a little higher than the average consensus.

Robin Lopez – Because of blowouts (last game again), his minutes have been up and down. Consensus has him at 30 minutes today, but in close games he’s played around 35 minutes and should see the same tonight with Gobert in the mix.

Damian Lillard – You hate to project anyone for 37-38 minutes in any game but that’s where Lillard should be projected at. Blow outs have also skewed his numbers and we often see him approach his limit in close contested games. Do the math with a 37-38 minutes projection, which should lead you to roster more Lillard than you currently have.

James Johnson – With the injury to Winslow, it’s tough to think Miami can continue to roll out their small lineups against Antetokoumpo and company. The projected lineup has Dragic, Richardson, and Waiters all starting but that could be misleading. Project Johnson accordingly and roster him if you think he’s worth a spot.

Hopefully this shines a light on projections and their accuracy. Many blindly assume projections are perfect and that’s a common misconception. Many of these numbers are just averages that don’t account for rest days or blow outs, so be careful. I’ll continue to answer questions on Twitter (@MLora) and in our premium slack chat. As we continue to get news, I’ll confirm them in slack and be open on who I’m playing tonight. Once again, good luck and I hope to see some screenshots tonight. Till next time, party animals!