Timing is everything and that’s certainly the case in fantasy basketball. Under most circumstances, these factors are out of our control like when Marcin Gortat suffered a Lisfranc injury on Wednesday night. On the other hand, there are some things that fantasy owners can do to help make sure they’re going to be set up for success for the stretch run.
It’s hard to believe, but there are just 5.5 weeks left in the NBA season and some leagues have started their playoffs. Owners need to stay abreast of every issue they can to make sure they have an edge over their competition and the schedule is definitely as issue that can be the difference from getting knocked out and winning a title. It’s with that idea in mind that I spent hours on end researching some key aspects of the schedule to rank the teams from 1-30 the rest of the way starting on Monday. There were four factors to help determine this ranking:
Numbers of games remaining
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know the more games that are left on the schedule, the more stats a player can produce. The two teams that play 22 games the rest of the way will have 29.4 percent more stats than those three teams that play 17. For example, Ricky Rubio is averaging 9.7 assists per game over his last 10, so compared to CP3’s 17 games remaining, Rubio’s stats could be more like 12.5 dimes. Obviously, there are only three teams playing 17 games, but Rubio has an excellent chance to lead the NBA in total dimes and steals from this point forward. The number of games left trumps all other factors since it translates to any format.
Games coming in the last two weeks
Every league is different, but most will have the finals and/or semifinals on the weeks starting on April 1 and 8. Those weeks will be against the better owners and have a lot on the line, so NBA teams that have four games in those two aforementioned weeks, get a little more of a boost compared to their three-game counterparts. Unfortunately for Greg Monroe, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and Nikola Vucevic owners, their teams play just twice on the week of April 8.
Playing on nights with seven or less NBA games
Daily league owners are often put in a jam every Wednesday and Friday with a double-digit number of games on the NBA docket. This means in leagues where there is any sort of depth on the bench, an owner will have to make a decision on which players to start. This situation can be avoided when guys aren’t playing on those hectic nights. A perfect example was Denver this week. The Nuggets had four games and all four were on nights with seven or less games. So picking up guys like Wilson Chandler or Kosta Koufos would likely have given an owner an advantage, especially if owners’ lineups were going to be full on Wednesday and Friday. The number of these games will appear in parenthesis to the right of that corresponding week.
Those of you that play fantasy football know that matchups can go a long way. While it’s not that big of a deal in hoops, it’s something that is worth mentioning. The Bobcats in particular are a fantastic matchup. Against frontcourt players, Charlotte allows the most points and blocks on the highest field goal percentage. Conversely, Indiana allows the least amount of points and lowest field goal percentage to frontcourt guys.
There is also a little extra weight added to home and road games. Only the Bulls, Raptors, Suns and Timberwolves shoot better from the field on the road, but teams like the Thunder shoot 3.2 percent better from the field at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Also, players generally shoot worse from the line when they’re away from home. Each team below will have a list of favorable and unfavorable matchups for the rest of the season. A favorable matchup will be teams that allow the highest player efficiency ratings. All of the teams that rank in the top six will be included, but the teams ranking seventh and eighth will be considered as favorable on that team’s home floor. The opposite goes for the unfavorable matchups.
You can follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for analysis as it happens and some relevant stats.
Knicks- 4(2), 4(1), 4(2), 4(1), 4(1), 2(0)- The Knicks have the best schedule left in the NBA. Not only do they tie the Wolves for the most games left, they are tied for an NBA-high seven games on nights with seven or less games. If you’re on the fence on players like Jason Kidd in standards or Iman Shumpert in deep leagues, their schedules might be enough to push them over the top vs. other players you’re considering.
Favorable (3): ORL (3/20), @CLE (4/12), @CHA (4/15)
Unfavorable (6): @LAC (3/17), MEM (3/27), @MIA (4/2), @OKC(4/7), @CHI (4/11), IND (4/14)
Timberwolves- 4(0), 4(1), 4(1), 4(1), 4(1), 2(0)- Like the Knicks, the Wolves have a perfect schedule the rest of the way. This piece of information makes the stash of Kevin Love all that much more important and players like J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved could be assets in deeper formats. Andrei Kirilenko should also be owned by anyone looking for an edge down the stretch.
Favorable (3): @HOU (3/15), @SAC (3/21), LAL (3/27)
Unfavorable(6): @IND (3/13), @MEM (3/18), CHI (3/24), MEM (3/30), @LAC (4/10), @SA (4/17)