Does that length of the game impact the fantasy performances? Or is it the other way around? Or do you need an explanation of what I mean by “length of the game”? Aren’t all games the same length?
Well, last night the Bulls beat Atlanta by 33 while Portland tore down Washington by 35. Both of those games were essentially over after the second quarter. The losing teams were down by enough that the ending of the game was never in question. But even something like the fact that the Blazers were only up by 15 at halftime before really pulling away in the 3rd quarter versus the Bulls leading by 29 at the half, means that the starters in the Blazers-Wizards game get a few extra minutes to put up fantasy stats while their team makes sure the other guys are not just playing possum. The only Bull who played more than 30 minutes was Luol Deng, and the only Hawk with more than 30 was Joe Johnson.
Meanwhile, the Lakers took 63 minutes to get a W against Phoenix, and none of the starters on those teams played less than 44 minutes (no, I’m not counting Robin Lopez as a starter, because if your backup plays 53 minutes in a triple overtime game and you only get 10 as the starter, guess what? You’re not really the starter.) And when you see that 5 of the top 10 fantasy lines came from that LAL-Phoenix game (when it should be on average 3-4 of them since there were 3 games last night), you can see that clearly, the length of the game affects the guys who bulk up their stats by playing more minutes. But that much is one of the more obvious parts of fantasy basketball. After all, efficiency only gets you so far when trying to get in the Player Rater’s pants. So, let’s run through the top lines and then get back to the fantasy basketball shoe gazing.
Line of the Night:Lamar Odom (2.22) had 29 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists. Pretty tame, really, when you consider this was from a game with 3 overtimes. His line should have been sweeter than a cake of 3 milks.
Honorable Mentions: Kobe Bryant (2.21) dropped 42 points (3 threes), 12 rebounds, and 9 assists. I’m sure he pissed he didn’t get the triple-double, but he’s probably equally as happy that the Lakers won. Cause Kobe’s all about wining. Derrick Rose (2.02) was efficient like a hybrid car with his 30 points (6 threes), and 10 assists. Not bad for 28 minutes of action. When was the last time you saw 28 minutes of action? Nicolas Batum (1.80) was a big part of the Blazer Blowout and 22 points (9-15 from the field), 12 rebounds, and 3 steals only confuse things more for Blazerd next season (especially for fantasy purposes). Playing a large role in the Blowout and also in the Confusion is Gerald Wallace (1.79) who had 28 points (10-14 from the field), 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. Then we go back to the Lakers where Pau Gasol (1.73) scored 24 points (6-6 from the line) to go with 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Channing Frye (1.62) has held up well since ramping up to fantasy relevance midway through the season. Especially compared to teammate Robin Lopez who seemed like he might be a double-double kind of guy at one point. Frye was the star for the Suns (see what I did there?) with 32 points (5 threes, 5-5 from the line), and 14 rebounds. Not far behind was Marcin Gortat (1.53) 24 points (9-15 from the field), 16 rebounds, and 2 blocks. If Gortat stays with the Suns next year, he’s looking like a potential C1 (as we say in the industry), or a C2 at worst. Finally, Luol Deng (1.43) came through for the Bulls with 27 points on 10-15 from the field, and 6-6 from the line.
Waiver Wire Line of the Night: Now we can get back to that discussion of length as it relates to fantasy basketball. Jeff Teague (1.55) got some extra time in one of the short games and was actually up just before Gortat in the Top 10 with 20 points (4 threes, 6-9 from the field, 4-4 from the line), and 2 blocks (6% owned). JT was the only Hawk who played close to decent and he should get a lot more time if the Hawks know what’s good for them. This is an example of how a 24 minute game can make a mediocre to poor fantasy player look like a viable candidate – at least for one game. It’s also a good example of why we have The 3 Game Rule.
Pick Up Lines: Who’s left? Well, there’s Taj Gibson (0.42) who got more playing time than he probably would have otherwise and ended up with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Last night represented the polar ends of the length spectrum, and the trio of Matt Barnes (0.40) with his 13 points (6-9 from the field), and 5 rebounds (6% owned) Derek Fisher (0.37) and his 2 points and 4 steals (11% owned) and Mickael Pietrus (0.36) with 11 points (4% owned) demonstrate that in a triple overtime game even when the starters play 44-plus minutes, the scrubs still have time to get some stats.the scrubs still have time to get some stats.
Then we bounce back to Kyle Korver (0.24) who has actually been making enough threes to be a decent source for that category, but a bit of that is due to the fact that the Bulls have been pulling out some large margins of victory recently. Last night Korver had 9 points with 1 three (14% owned).
In summary: We know that overtime games raise the tide for all boats, and we can ignore the little dinghies that pop up amongst the yachts, but we must recognize the corollary when scanning the waiver wire that a blowout game will not surface the cream of the crop, rather it is more like a separation of oil and water. And when was the last time you drank oil?
A single lucky game combined with a couple blowouts can make a marginal pick up like Korver look like someone you would actually consider as a viable fantasy option. If you’ve made it this far – in this post and in the fantasy season – then you probably already know that this sort of thing is how fantasy mirages are created, and you recognize how important length is.
Biggest Loser: Surprise, surprise: Jamal Crawford (-0.96) tops the list here for his contribution to the Hawks decimation with 2 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist.
Daily rankings and stats come from the GMTR H2H Player Rater (beta version).
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