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The Numbers Game

NBA 'Official' & DFS Values

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Today's column breaks down player values, both individually and by positions, in the NBA's new "official" scoring system. FanDuel and Yahoo are among the major fantasy sites which have adopted the system, which makes it easy to quantify and analyze fantasy values – for instance, we'll see below that small forwards are by far the weakest position, accounting for just 15.3% of total value this season.


Before going any further, here are the details of the NBA's 'official' scoring system:


Points: 1

Rebounds: 1.2

Assists: 1.5

Steals: 3

Blocks: 3

Turnovers: -1


This scoring system intentionally strips much of the nuance out of fantasy sports. "We felt like it really needed to be simple and easy to understand," said Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA's associate VP of fantasy sports. "Pretty much every major provider has a different scoring system for basketball. We thought having a consistent scoring system would go a long way to help everybody start speaking the same fantasy language."


Personally, I love fantasy sports for the sheer variety and nuance -- a 14-team roto league with standard 9-cat is vastly different than, say, a 10-team H2H with double-doubles and FTs made instead of FT%. That's part of what makes it endlessly entertaining. That said, the new 'official' scoring definitely has its place, lowering the bar of entry for new players, while standardizing scoring across FanDuel, Yahoo Daily, and many other sites.


If you're in a points league with different settings, consider the findings below to be a conversation starter -- how would the charts and graphs look different in your league, and why? If you want a clearer picture of player values in a specific system, head to the RW Season Pass for customized scoring, player rankings, team reports, and a whole lot more (including weekly live chats with both myself and Jared Johnson).


Now that the table's set, let's dig in. This first graph shows the percentage of total value contributed by each category this season, among the top-175 players:



I've done this analysis a few times in the past, and the numbers haven't changed by a lot, but there is one meaningful difference -- this scoring system now awards three points for each defensive stat (steals and blocks), as opposed to two points in previous years. As a result, those categories have gained in importance with a corresponding dip in points (52.4% of total value in 2016, 53.3% in 2017), rebounds and assists. If you're interested in the comparison, check out my DFS column from March 2017.


Despite that shift in values, points are still the dominant theme in the NBA's official scoring system, accounting for half of all fantasy value. From a broad-based perspective, points are twice as impactful as rebounds and nearly 10 times as impactful as steals. Rebounds amount to nearly a quarter of all value, and assists are at 16.1%, so the three typical triple-double categories (points, boards, assists) provide the overwhelming majority of value -- this isn't a format that's kind to specialists, to put it lightly.


In a roto league, or a category-based H2H, you'd be thrilled if a player gets two steals and two blocks in a game. That's useful here, too, but it adds up to just 12 'fantasy points'...the exact same amount as 10 rebounds. This emphasis on scoring and boards helps explain why so many PFs are in the top-175 players. Here's the breakdown by position:



Shooting guards, power forwards and point guards are well represented in the top-175, but there's a huge drop-off for small forwards and centers. The average center's overall value is robust at 32.35 fantasy points per game, however, and we can flesh out the picture even more with this chart:



Just a glance makes it clear that small forwards are underperforming. Not only are they relatively scarce, with only 27 appearing in the top-175...they also drop off dramatically. Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Paul George admirably lead the way, but the SF group is littered with inconsistent (to date) options like Dillon Brooks, Josh Richardson, Wilson Chandler and Jonathon Simmons. The eighth-most valuable SF this season has been Tobias Harris at 30.1 points. For comparison's sake, consider the eighth-most valuable players at other positions -- Dennis Schroder (34.2), Khris Middleton (33.4), Draymond Green (33.7) and Rudy Gobert (35.6).


Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.


Mike Gallagher has bored into DFS lineups for years, and as mentioned in today's podcast, SF tends to have a lot of 'punt plays'. That's the inevitable result of what we've seen above -- if you don't lock down an expensive stud, the odds are good you'll quickly find yourself betting on a guy like Trevor Ariza.


Other points to make related to the chart above...centers in the mid-range have been out-performing comparable players at other positions (e.g. the 14th-best center has been Dwight Howard at 33.4 fantasy points, who is well ahead of the 14th-best PG, SG, etc.). This is all contingent upon player's prices, matchups, injuries, and many other factors, of course...but knowing where to look for value is half the battle.


Here's one final meta-view look at values by position:


2017-18 season, through Nov. 14


To nobody's surprise, small forwards are dead last in total value. Centers aren't far behind on a cumulative basis, owing to the small number represented in the top-175, but in a league like FanDuel (with only one center required), that means there are tons more options than you'll get at SF. The sheer volume and qualify of the SG group this year was a big surprise to me...compare the chart above to the same exact chart from last March, when SGs were at the bottom of the heap.


(from March 2017)


I'll conclude with a simple list of the top players, per game, in the NBA's official scoring system (through Nov. 14). If you have any questions or insights, feel free to email me or send a message on Twitter! Good luck this week.




NBA 'Official', FanDuel/Yahoo DFS Points
DeMarcus Cousins 58.09
Giannis Antetokounmpo 57.22
Anthony Davis 53.73
James Harden 53.01
LeBron James 52.95
Kevin Durant 46.53
Russell Westbrook 45.98
Kristaps Porzingis 45.58
Stephen Curry 44.09
Ben Simmons 43.69
Damian Lillard 43.32
John Wall 43.21
Andre Drummond 43.00
Joel Embiid 41.66
Nikola Jokic 41.60
Karl-Anthony Towns 41.59
LaMarcus Aldridge 40.27
Blake Griffin 40.21
Hassan Whiteside 40.10
Paul George 39.80
Marc Gasol 37.84
Bradley Beal 36.80
Kyrie Irving 36.62
Victor Oladipo 36.61
Chris Paul 36.60
Kemba Walker 36.39
DeMar DeRozan 36.20
Rudy Gobert 35.56
Clint Capela 35.51
Devin Booker 35.18
Nikola Vucevic 34.79
Aaron Gordon 34.58
D'Angelo Russell 34.52
Otto Porter 34.36
Al Horford 34.32
Dennis Schroder 34.20
Kevin Love 34.19
Myles Turner 33.91
Bobby Portis 33.83
Draymond Green 33.71
Carmelo Anthony 33.44
Dwight Howard 33.41
C.J. McCollum 33.40
Khris Middleton 33.38
Lonzo Ball 32.65
Goran Dragic 32.52
Jimmy Butler 32.47
Paul Millsap 32.38
Evan Fournier 32.29
Klay Thompson 31.95
Jeff Teague 31.61
Robert Covington 31.52
Jrue Holiday 31.19
Tyreke Evans 30.83
Steven Adams 30.81
T.J. Warren 30.80
Eric Gordon 30.75
Andrew Wiggins 30.68
Reggie Jackson 30.68
Enes Kanter 30.24
Harrison Barnes 30.20
Tobias Harris 30.08
DeAndre Jordan 30.02
Kent Bazemore 29.91
Pau Gasol 29.87
James Johnson 29.75
Kyle Lowry 29.36
Jusuf Nurkic 29.32
Will Barton 29.14
Jeremy Lamb 28.81
Tim Hardaway Jr. 28.73
Ricky Rubio 28.69
Domantas Sabonis 28.58
DeMarre Carroll 28.47
Brook Lopez 28.31
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 28.26
Lauri Markkanen 28.20
Mike Conley 28.16
Thaddeus Young 27.77
Marcus Smart 27.70
Dennis Smith Jr. 27.39
Al-Farouq Aminu 27.38
Robin Lopez 27.12
Lou Williams 27.03
Darren Collison 26.89
Jaylen Brown 26.71
Justin Holiday 26.62
Patrick Beverley 26.58
Malcolm Brogdon 26.56
Avery Bradley 26.03
Brandon Ingram 26.01
Taurean Prince 25.81
Dion Waiters 25.75
Jayson Tatum 25.62
Marcin Gortat 25.57
Rudy Gay 25.50
Kris Dunn 25.29
Larry Nance 25.19
Eric Bledsoe 25.17
Kyle Kuzma 25.11
Taj Gibson 24.95
Elfrid Payton 24.84
Donovan Mitchell 24.82
Joe Ingles 24.81
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 24.78
J.J. Redick 24.73
Gary Harris 24.62
Jerian Grant 24.21
Danilo Gallinari 24.08
Trevor Ariza 24.03
Kyle Anderson 23.95
Kelly Oubre 23.91
Serge Ibaka 23.81
Terry Rozier 23.71
Julius Randle 23.68
Zach Randolph 23.48
De'Aaron Fox 23.32
Austin Rivers 23.28
Buddy Hield 23.04
John Collins 23.01
Jordan Clarkson 22.84
Mike James 22.80
Dewayne Dedmon 22.68
Jonathon Simmons 22.66
Courtney Lee 22.40
Evan Turner 22.39
Danny Green 22.36
Willie Cauley-Stein 22.35
Spencer Dinwiddie 22.29
Derrick Favors 22.16
Alex Len 22.06
Josh Richardson 21.86
Trevor Booker 21.81
DeAndre' Bembry 21.70
John Henson 21.64
Wesley Matthews 21.64
E'Twaun Moore 21.54
Caris LeVert 21.46
J.J. Barea 21.46
Jonas Valanciunas 21.38
Ryan Anderson 21.37
Dejounte Murray 21.28
Dwyane Wade 21.22
D.J. Augustin 21.21
Marcus Morris 21.06
Jeremy Lin 21.00
Marco Belinelli 20.99
T.J. McConnell 20.96
Rodney Hood 20.93
Cody Zeller 20.93
Tyson Chandler 20.70
Jamal Murray 20.59
Denzel Valentine 20.55
Kelly Olynyk 20.46
Bojan Bogdanovic 20.31
Jerami Grant 20.13
Emmanuel Mudiay 20.02
Kyle O'Quinn 19.67
Dillon Brooks 19.65
Tyler Johnson 19.62
Marquese Chriss 19.59
Ish Smith 19.57
P.J. Tucker 19.54
Yogi Ferrell 19.39
Dirk Nowitzki 19.28
Allen Crabbe 19.27
Ed Davis 19.25
Cory Joseph 19.16
Frank Kaminsky 19.14
Terrence Ross 19.12
Luc Mbah a Moute 19.05
Jerryd Bayless 19.00
David Nwaba 18.98
Dario Saric 18.74
Wilson Chandler 18.64
Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.