Using Fantasy Football Strategy to Draft Your Fantasy Basketball Team: Shooting Guards
A week ago I talked about how we can use fantasy football strategy to draft fantasy basketball squads and applied some general principles to the point guard edition. If you missed it, give it a read before continuing as I will be referencing that article in comparing and contrasting point guards and shooting guards.
If you don't have time though, or if you already checked it out, let me recap for you.
The purpose of this five-part series is to show you how we can use fantasy football draft strategy to draft each position in our fantasy basketball drafts. The fantasy strategy I am referring to is referred to as Value Based Drafting (VBD).
Each position's value will be determined based on the strategy of VBD just as it is in the fantasy football universe. In place of valuing a player on points alone, the principles of VBD value how much a player outscores others at his position.
If you're not all too familiar with fantasy basketball, however, it's not about simply outscoring your opponent -- it's about winning more statistical categories than your opponent. Those categories, in a standard nine-category league, consist of the following: points, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, blocks, three-point makes, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
So, value is determined by how much better a player performs in those nine categories than do his positional peers. In fantasy football, running backs hold the most value, while wide receivers, quarterbacks, and tight ends follow in that order.
How do I come up with comparisons? I first look at how each position (by its position-eligible players, not in a strict sense) is currently being drafted, with the help of Yahoo's average draft position, or ADP, rankings. I then look at each player's value in comparison to the rest of the positional pack.
Based on this process, point guards are being drafted much like running backs. Many of them come off the board super early and are valued highest as a whole by drafters. However, maybe we should be drafting them like quarterbacks. Much like quarterbacks, point guards have the ball a lot over the course of a game. They have a very high usage rate and contribute in many areas while on the floor. And based on last year's numbers, many of them can provide great value late in drafts.
That's the gist of how the point guard conversation went down, but what about shooting guards? How differently are they being drafted? Most importantly, how should we be drafting them, according to value-based principles?
Trends By Round
(Picks based on Yahoo ADP as of 9/8/2015)
Simply taking a look at the chart above would be misleading. There is only one pure two-guard -- James Harden -- currently going in the first round of fantasy basketball drafts.
The other three players are shooting guard-eligible but aren't primarily slotted at that position on the floor. Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving primarily run the point while Kawhi Leonard is a natural forward on the wing. I know that's pretty irrelevant when it comes to deciding where to put them in your lineup. (It is relevant in another way; I'll touch on that in a second.)
I'm saying all this in order to tell you exactly what the rest of the chart indicates; as a whole, shooting guards just aren't that valuable. When you put shooting guard-eligible players up against point guard-eligible players, you can see the difference.
In rounds one through four, 14 point guard-eligible players and 11 shooting guard-eligible players are being selected. Outside of Harden, only four of the other 10 are primarily shooting guards. The chart also notes the low and even declining picks devoted to shooting guards in those rounds.
The same cannot be said for rounds five and six. A total of 13 shooting guard-eligible players are going in these two rounds alone, which accounts for 26.5% of the position's selections going in a standard, 12-team draft. In comparison, just over 16% of point guard-eligible players are going in those two rounds.
The common selections in rounds five and six include: aging stars Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade; three point specialists Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Danny Green; and dynamic scorers Monta Ellis, Khris Middleton and DeMar DeRozan.
After the two-guard boom, the numbers drop back off with no more than three eligible players being selected in Rounds 7 through 11. Then players seem to be scrambling to fill a void in the last two rounds as five shooting guard-eligible hoopers are currently being picked in each of those rounds. It's notable that five are going in the 13th since just a single point guard-eligible player is being selected in the same round.
From what we see here, shooting guards aren't directly being drafted like any certain fantasy football position. But if we had to draw a very similar comparison, it would be to the tight end position. According to MyFantasyLeague.com's 2015 ADP results, only the Patriots Rob Gronkowski got off the board anywhere near the first round, going with the number one pick in Round 2. A la James Harden, Gronk is the clear number one at his position. We project him to tally over 20 more fantasy points than any other tight end over the course of the season.
As for the rest of the tight end position, Jimmy Graham's ADP pins him as the second pick in the third round while the next tight end doesn't come off the board until the second pick in Round 5, Greg Olsen. After Olsen, there's Travis Kelce and the rest. A spattering of tight ends go in the ninth to eleventh rounds somewhat like the run of two-guards in rounds five and six.
So, shooting guards are being drafted closest to how NFL tight ends are being drafted, roughly. With that being said is this how they should be drafted?
Just as I did with the point guards a week ago, I am using BasketballMonster.com (BM) and their player per game values (this is a system of assigning a value to each fantasy basketball category, where the standard-league average is represented by 0.0) to come up with shooting guard values in comparison to the rest of their fellow wingmen. In doing so, we see that shooting guards do in fact draw the biggest comparison to NFL tight ends in terms of fantasy principles.
Keep in mind that, in the NFL, there are primarily 32 relevant tight ends playing at a time and they are only eligible for that position. For our purposes, there are a lot more shooting guard-eligible players, which includes point guard/shooting guard and small forward/shooting guard combos. With that flexibility we must draw the comparisons accordingly.
Steph Curry is an NBA point guard, but he is an eligible shooting guard for your fantasy basketball team. As I alluded to above, that's an incredible luxury to have if you have a pick within the top three to five. Last season, Curry earned a BM value of 1.00 and finished first in our very own fantasy basketball rankings. Without a doubt, he and Harden are the 1A and 1B shooting guards in fantasy basketball.
Harden's BM value of .86 is the closest to Curry and is 1.6 times the value of the next best primary shooting guard, Jimmy Butler (.53). The aforementioned Kawhi Leonard slides between the two with a BM of .58 from his valued small forward/shooting guard flexibility. Klay Thompson (.46) and Kyrie Irving (.44) round out the cream of the crop, but where does the drop off come in?
It starts with Danny Green (.24) and works its way down the line of players from values of .19 (George Hill) to .01 (Goran Dragic). For perspective, Hill is going in the sixth round while Dragic is being selected in the fourth.
In fact, there are 10 other players of positive BM values going between Round 3 and Round 7. J.J. Redick and his BM value of .2 is the last positive player with an ADP in the middle of the seventh round.
So much like NFL tight ends, you either make a selection early that will give you a leg up on the competition at that position or you wait it out for a while after the first five shooting guard-eligible players go off your draft board. It's all in how you look at it. Some people love picking a Gronk early to have a stud tight end but others find more value in picking a top running back while others would rather wait on a positive value tight end with upside, like a Tyler Eifert.
If the first week of the NFL season is any indication, both can work. If Eifert can sustain his productivity, he'll be a huge value pick for someone who elected to pick a top running back or wide receiver early. The same can be said for someone who takes a George Hill-type player late and benefits from picking a Kevin Durant, LeBron James or LaMarcus Aldridge early.
You'll just have to decide which type of strategy you most closely subscribe to. As for me, I'll take the value at shooting guard and punt my elite advantage at that position in favor of others.