Tag Archives: DeAndre Jordan

BULLet Points: Clippers embarrass Bulls with huge game from bench

The Bulls hung tough the first 24 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers and headed into halftime down just four. But leaky defense and turnovers turned the second half into a rout.

  • Doc Rivers has taken a lot of grief for his inability to build a half-decent reserve unit in his tenure as Clippers coach and general manager. That narrative has continued this season as the team’s biggest acquisitions have been either shipped off or glued to the pine. But for one glorious Sunday afternoon, the Clippers bench  carried their team to victory.
  • Jamal Crawford, who until recently had been the last Bull to score 50 points in a game, led all scorers in this game with 26 points in 26 minutes. Crawford was an efficient 11/15 from the field and 2/3 from three. He only attempted two free throws, but both came on back to back and-1 opportunities to blow the game open in the third quarter.
  • The bench accounted for 11 of the Clippers 17 three pointers made. Austin Rivers and Wes Johnson combined to shoot 8/11 from deep on mostly wide open attempts.
  • Derrick Rose was explosive with the ball. His shot chart is packed with attempts in the paint, many of which he finished while absorbing contact. Rose did not attempt a free throw, but that was due to a few blown calls rather than any lack of aggression. Rose finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, and his graceful flashes to the hoop were the few enjoyable parts of watching this game.

  • Jimmy Butler was just not feeling it. He managed to score a team high 23 points, but needed 25 shooting possessions to get there. Butler shot 8/22 from the field, missing several of the leaning mid range shots he typically drills home. Butler spent all afternoon trying to shoot himself out of the bad day instead of trying to create scoring chances for his teammates. Jimmy is averaging  4.3 assists per game and lends a hand in 19% of the Bulls baskets when he’s on the court, both career highs. This zero assist outing is an outlier for the two time All-Star.
  • The Bulls played with no energy in the second half. The Clippers hung 69 points on the Bulls the final two quarters. The Bulls perimeter defense was especially poor in this game. Clippers guards sliced past the first line of defense at will, forcing the Bulls into sloppy rotations. Los Angeles played unselfish basketball, knowing that two quick passes after a drive was all it took to find a wide open teammate.
  • The challenge of finding a Mike Dunleavy replacement drags on after E’Twaun Moore struggled Sunday. Moore scored 10 points on 4/7 shooting, but passed on a couple of wide open threes that could have opened up some space for the decrepit offense. Moore was also unable to slow down JJ Redick in this game. Redick was a perfect 4/4 from three and scored 21 points.
  • I love Hubie Brown. At one point he compared Crawford’s ability to use the glass to Sam Jones of the ’60s Celtics. But for some reason, he kept pronouncing Redick “Riddick.” This bothered me immensely.
  • Chris Paul is already the best pick and roll point guard in the NBA, so when the Clippers do quirky things to change the geometry of the play, defenses don’t have a chance. On one play, DeAndre Jordan set a hard pick on Derrick Rose just a few steps inside half court. Paul quickly swerved around the pick, forcing Pau Gasol into an uncomfortable switch. Because the pick happened so far from the basket, Paul put an unusually long distance between him and Gasol, who quickly went into full deer-in-the-headlights mode. The result of the play was predictable.

  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Utah tomorrow night to take on the Jazz.

Reverse Engineering an NBA FanDuel Winner

If you’re like me, you spend hours on DFS nearly every day. Truthfully, there are countless ways you can build a winning lineup, and even more countless ways you can spend your time researching and digging through stats to build it. One commonly overlooked aspect of building a winning lineup has nothing to do with the day you’re actually building that lineup. I’m talking about really sitting down and taking 10 minutes to look over the previous day’s winner of the GPP you played in. More so, look at the top 10 on the leaderboard of your GPP and analyze each and every pick and try to reverse engineer what that person was thinking and why. How did this person make sense of the market today, and take advantage of weaknesses and strengths. Let’s take a look at February 11th’s 13 game slate so I can give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

First, I’ll show you what I had…

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I won’t spend much time here because I really had a crappy lineup. Somehow it managed to cash in all three of my 50/50s and I made $12 on the night. James Johnson was dubbed the starter again about an hour before tipoff and his salary was rock bottom so I thought I was getting a lot of value there. That was really my first mistake, as I should’ve spent up more there and gone with a mid-tier option like Middleton, Parsons, or Ariza. Truthfully, I got lucky because Johnson was one of the most owned SFs of the night, so it didn’t sink me. The other mistake I made was going for Tyreke and I suppose Asik. That game should’ve played a lot closer, but the Pelicans just did nothing and the pacers were great. It probably made more sense to go with Oladipo or a Lou Williams/Crawford there and take my 30-35 points and upgrade elsewhere.

Now, let’s take a look at the winner of the Wednesday 150K NBA Shot tournament. On a night like Wednesday where there were 13 games, I wouldn’t worry about making contrarian picks, except in the case of James Harden, so I really won’t include much talk about being contrarian in this article.

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Point Guards

This guy went after a lot of players I really like on Wednesday. Barea was an excellent option, especially as Monta Ellis was a GTD. I used him in my DK lineup, but not on FD. There’s really not much analysis that needs to be done here. That pick made a lot of sense. Barea had been playing really well with Rondo out and had a great matchup against the Jazz. The other PG pick is the more unique pick, which helped propel him up the leaderboards. George Hill was owned in just 7.2% of entries, and was certainly on my radar, but it felt riskier, which is why I went Payton who was supposed to see an uptick in usage with Harris out. Anyway, Hill was coming off bad games against San Antonio and Charlotte. Neither are particularly good defensive teams, but before that he had a small stretch of 30+ FP games. The Pelicans were giving up the most FPPG to opposing PGs over their last five games (thanks Russell), and had played in a number of tough games recently giving Hill a reasonable opportunity for another 30+ FP night. On a night where PG scoring was relatively low, Hill was the greatest value.

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The strategy of going cheap at PG on Wednesday was really what you needed to do. There was so much value with guys like Rubio, Hill, Parker, Barea, Clarkson, Chalmers and Payton, that you really didn’t need to spend up for a Steph Curry, Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook although you could have done fine with either Curry or Westbrook (more so for Curry). The main lesson you can take away from Wednesday night here is that on large slates the position with the most viable plays is where you need to save your money, as you can get much more overall value out of cheaper guys than the high priced studs.

Shooting Guard

jklein didn’t blow anyone away at the SG spot, but most importantly he faded Harden, Tyreke, Thompson, and Monta (obviously). The Harden and Monta fades were easy, but the Tyreke and Thompson ones were a little harder to make. DeRozan was a quick lock in my lineup and I bet jklein’s. He just plays too big of a role in the Raptor offense for his price of $6,900, and the Wizards were going to be without Beal in a seemingly close game. I was surprised to see him owned at just 13.3% in this GPP. He made another very safe play with Crawford at his second SG spot. The LA/Houston game was a game that I was planning to go after hard (as you can see by my Paul, Barnes, and Smith plays), and jklein had a similar strategy while nabbing Crawford, Ariza, Smith, and Jordan.

Again, on a big slate it can pay to take certainties over wildcards. Crawford at $5200 was almost a lock for 25 FPs, and facing Houston on a back to back left room for upside if Houston fell behind (which they did in the fourth quarter).

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Small Forward

Small Forward was a position where you could’ve gone in a million different directions Wednesday. There were attractive options everywhere and at all tiers of salary. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the position can be somewhat of a crapshoot at times. Going with the “safe” theme, he took KD at home against the Grizzlies. Not an ideal matchup, but you know in all likelihood Durant will get you a minimum of 40 FPs. It worked out well in his favor as Durant was the top scoring SF on the night, and was only owned in 9.1% of entries. If you’re paying up for Durant, it makes sense to go cheap at the other SF spot, especially with aspirations of getting DeAndre Jordan as your Center. Thus, he went for Ariza in a game that had the highest O/U of the night and a close spread. Smart! Personally I liked Barnes more, and he was the better value but hey, he won.

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Power Forward

Josh Smith was another guy I knew I had to have Wednesday as he had a great matchup against the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and had been on a roll without Dwight Howard around. Super easy pick to make. Going with Sullinger was quite a bit ballsier, but the spread was surprisingly small for that game if I remember correctly (maybe 7.5), and he had been playing really well since he was taken out of the starting lineup for being late for a walkthrough a couple weeks back. Anyone who finished in the top ten Wednesday had Sullinger, West, Josh Smith, or Jason Smith. There was really not much else you could do there with the exception of Dirk.

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That being said, PF was definitely one of the weakest positions Wednesday loaded with a lot of iffy matchups and poor punt options. Instead of paying up for picks like Favors, Millsap, Bosh, or Aldridge, he took Sully, who was sure to be a huge part of the Celtics win if they were going to keep the game close, and it held true. Honestly, the Sullinger pick was probably the riskiest pick outside of maybe George Hill this guy made, but more importantly it allowed him to spend money on guys like Durant and Jordan, who were in much better positions to produce solid numbers in weak position groups.

Center

Finally, the pick you almost had to make to finish high on Wednesday was DeAndre Jordan. I toyed with throwing him in my lineups, but decided against it because I thought the value with Asik was too good to pass up while AD was out, and it was contrarian. Well I was wrong about that, and he went for 59 FPs while only being owned in 17% of entries, which was nearly 8% less than Josh Smith. I partly shied away from Jordan because I thought the market would go really hard on him, and there was a chance of getting in foul trouble against the white hot Harden. The important takeaway from that is don’t bother trying to be contrarian on giant slates. Let the market do its crazy things, and take guys you know will perform at or above expectation (Smith, Jordan, Durant, Barea, Hill, Sullinger).

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Conclusion

Looking at the top entries from Wednesday tells us a few things. First, on big slates like this it’s important to remember to not try to be overly contrarian. Let the market do its crazy things, and just pick who you like to have a nice game. Josh Smith only being owned in 25% of entries is insane. The odds of him going for 5 or 6x value was likely the highest of any PF.

Another thing that’s important, but difficult to do on a big slate, is make sure you’re spending your big money wisely. It was all too easy to fall into a trap of spending big on Curry or Paul Wednesday who had good scenarios for big production, but that would’ve left you with significant holes elsewhere. The PG market was very strong, and he took advantage of that by playing Barea and Hill who were both criminally undervalued by both the market and salary. SG was also very strong with a lot of good mid-tier plays, so he attacked the strength of that spot as well landing two high usage players in DeRozan and Crawford and avoided spending big on Harden, Thompson or Evans, which were all riskier than DeRozan and Crawford. Nothing crazy, but both would keep him in the running to cash a GPP.

Then, he spent big on Durant and snuck a great value play in Ariza into his lineup. Durant was one of the top scorers of the day, and had a very good floor for production Wednesday, which made sense in the always unpredictable SF group. However, there were a number of solid value plays that day, so you could’ve done fine with two of those and spending on Curry instead, but the top four entries all had Durant.

Josh Smith was then an easy decision for a lot of people, but Sullinger was a sneaky good pick. The Hawks had been struggling against PFs, and had played a lot of tough games recently. I don’t love the pick, and would rather have David West, but Sullinger won him this GPP. More importantly though, he avoided falling into a trap of just spending up at a position when you’re not sure who to pick there, and landed two guys in Smith and Sully who play big roles for their respective teams when they’re in the game.

Finally, he went with another safe, but extremely high upside pick in Jordan, who had scored 60 FPs in his previous game without Griffin. Again, an easy pick to make in retrospect, but this is why we’re reverse engineering this lineup and understanding the strategy. To get back to my main point, on big slates it’s important to not make very unusual picks for players with high upside. The market will do that for you, and you’ll be able to take advantage of knowing that and landing a big number of great value plays. However, on smaller slates it makes more sense to go contrarian as you need picks to differentiate yourself from others if there are only four or five games that day.

I hope this analysis proves useful to you, and please don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter (@thoreosnmilk) or by email at thor.akerley@gmail.com for DFS or fantasy sports related questions!

 

The Blueprint to Gaming your Fantasy Basketball League: Relative Value

Hey Guys,

I hope you are surviving your week. If you find yourself needing a bit of a break from your 9 to 5 and you happen to play fantasy basketball, it’s time to push your work off your desk and pay attention to what I’m about to tell you.

Today, I’m going to teach you how to take your team to the next level.  How will we do that? Of course, by masterfully crafting and then subsequently executing trades.

Before we start conjuring up trades, we need to make sure we understand the intricacies of the fantasy marketplace. Today- this will be our main focus and we will transition into constructing trades later this week.

Particularly important to our analysis, the relationship between excess supply and excess demand needs to be properly explained.  Excess supply represents a scenario where a manager has a variety of options and will look to sell an asset into any spike in value.  An example of this type of situation would be that an owner of Goran Dragic (concerned about the glut of point guards in Phoenix) might look to trade him after his solid performance in Boston two nights ago. While his performance was great, his value is still down relative to projections before the season. The spike in his value is merely a lower high, a potential sign of sellers dominating buyers in the future.

Excess demand, on the contrary, exists when buyers step in and buy an asset on any type of weakness. When these buyers step in to buy the pullback in an asset, they are essentially raising its floor value. An example of this situation taking place would be if the owner of Kelly Olynyk received an influx of trade rumors even after his 13 minutes/four board/three turnover dud for the Gonzaga alum. Here, the market could be betting on the fact that Kelly O. has shown enough early this season that this game could have been a blip on the radar. If buyers do appear in on Olynyk’s value, their purchase would conversely form a higher low.  A higher low has a high probability of foreshadowing a trend of higher demand (and prices) in the future.

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Once we’ve established pockets of excess supply and demand in the marketplace, it’s essential that we couple this knowledge with a thorough understanding of your league’s scoring settings. This is where a shrewd owner understands the importance of players like James Harden and Kyrie Irving who contribute most of their points in FTMs and 3PM or the downfalls of guys like DeAndre Jordan and Michael Carter Williams who struggle in FT% and FG%, respectively.

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With many fantasy owners operating in many leagues at the same time, they often lose sight in the scoring discrepancies that exist in between leagues. This is where an owner forms a bias about a player that may impede his or her ability to properly value the asset they either possess or want to acquire. An example of this is analyzing a guy like Al Jefferson. Often thought to be one of the best centers in the game and a high round draft pick (went for $54/$230 budget in my league), the big man only averages 2.5 FTMs out of his 20 PPG. For fantasy purposes, he is a very inefficient scorer, but an asset his owners would ask an arm and a leg for. In reality, Jefferson more accurately depicts one of these pockets of excess supply. Understanding valuable insights presents crafty owners with enticing opportunities down the road.

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Our last aspect of analysis today revolves around the mantra of understanding the relationship between acquisition limits and the strength (or weakness) of the league’s waiver wire. In smaller leagues (10-12 teams) with lenient acquisition rules, roster flexibility is an asset that most owners overlook. The ability to add extra games to your fantasy lineup is analogous to taking walks in baseball.  Why not take the free base runners if given the opportunity to do so? (Sorry for mixing up sports). When it comes to making trades, it is so important to remember this concept.  In shallow leagues, trading in two good talents for one elite talent is the way to go. The marginal utility between the elite and good player supersedes the discrepancy between the additional good player and the waiver wire replacement that can be added and dropped at moments notice.  This is where a guy with Derrick Favors who might play 3.5 games per week loses out to the guy who gets 5.5 games out of the Chris Kaman-Brandan Wright revolving door.

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers     arrows  NBA: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks

While I know you guys were hoping I would jump right into the trading, laying out the foundation of knowledge is essential for consistent success in trading.  Hopefully, these three concepts provide you with enough insight to start exploring enticing, yet realistic, trade opportunities that will take your team to the top.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Go Big Or Go Home: Why The Clippers Are Not Contenders

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Lets do an exercise where everyone says a list of teams they think have a realistic shot at winning the title next season.

(wait 45 seconds)

I’m assuming your list looks fairly similar to mine: Heat, Bulls, Pacers, Nets, Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Clippers.

Of those 8 teams, I personally think the Clippers have the smallest chance of making a serious run at the finals next season, and the reason for that is a lack of players on the roster who are good at defense. Defense, as you may recall, is what teams spend half of the game doing. It happens when the other team has the ball. The goal of defense is to prevent the other team from scoring.

The backbone of any great defense is a big man who can patrol the paint and make players think twice before trying to force up an inside shot. An agile, smart big man is also a valuable resource in guarding pick and rolls, the most frequently ran play in the NBA by a lot. Depending on the scheme, an able bodied center can either hedge the pick to force the ball handler to change direction or can effectively hang back to prevent the roll man from receiving a pass.

Right now the players on the roster who can defend power forwards and centers are:

Blake Griffin

Deandre Jordan

Ryan Hollins

Byron Mullins

Matt Barnes (maybe if you’re really desperate)

The team is also apparently interested in bringing back Lamar Odom, much to the delight of candy distributors in the city of angels.

Looking up and down that list, there does not seem to be a lot of inside presence on this Clippers roster. Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, the two stars of Lob City, have not developed defensively the last two seasons the way the team would have liked. In March, Grantland’s Zach Lowe chronicled the defensive issues that had plagued the Clippers for much of the season. His main point was that there were frequent communication issues between Griffin and Jordan that led to teams getting open looks near the rim. Griffin and Jordan get all the credit in the world for being incredible athletes, and they deserve it. No big man tandom is more terrifying in transition. Just ask Brandon Knight.

But in the NBA, being a freak athlete is simply not enough. To be a truly great team player and defender, a player must not only think about himself and his own man. He needs to be cognizant of the other nine guys on the floor, what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are, and what the rules of his teams’ defensive scheme require him to do in any given situation. All those rim rattling slams Griffin and Jordan have thrown down are worth only two points each, and unless they start to mature and buy into a defensive system, they can get used to five more years of second round exits.

In all fairness, Blake and DeAndre have played the last few seasons for Vinnie Del Negro. Del Negro has developed a reputation as a “let em play” type coach, which is a nice way of saying he has no idea what he’s doing out there. I don’t know how much time he puts into making sure his hair looks so fucking perfect every damn day, but he probably should have diverted some of that energy to coaching. It would not be crazy to suggest the lack of defensive development shown by Griffin and Jordan has simply been due to a lack of direction.\

So now in comes Doc Rivers the coach, who formed a reputation as being a defensive schemer thanks in large part to former assistant and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Even after Thibs left for Chicago, Boston remained top defensive team. The reason? Kevin Garnett. While the principals of Thibideau’s overload scheme are still practiced by the Celtics (and a bunch of other teams as coaches start to adopt this strategy that works to eliminate corner threes and anything going to the rim), Rivers has relied heavily on Garnett to be the anchor of the defense. With Garnett on the floor last season, in which the Big Ticket turned 37, the Celtics held opponents to an offensive rating of 99.3. With Garnett on the bench, the Celtics oppenents ORtg soared to 108.3. While Rivers is certainly an excellent coach, it is worth asking if his status as a defensive guru is a little unworthy.

The Clippers have made a lot of noise this off season, bringing on Doc to coach, resigning Chris Paul, and swinging a trade that landed JJ Redick and Jared Dudley. But it has been the more quiet moves that should be the most unsettling to Clippers fans. They resigned Ryan Hollins, who is just does not possess any skill that would make him an effective basketball player other than being seven feet tall. They also brought in Byron Mullens, a player who averaged nearly four 3pt attempts per game despite shooting a lowly 31% on those attempts. They also gave up Caron Butler in the three team deal that brought in Redick and Dudley. Butler is a capable defender and above average three point shooter who will certainly be missed on this team next year. While Matt Barnes seems ready to take a larger role on the team, his success has always come in limited minutes.

The Clips could trot out an interesting super small lineup of Paul-Redick-Dudley-Barnes-Blake for short stretches, a lineup that would be a nightmare for opposing defenses. But it will also require Griffin to step up his game on defense or else they will get torched with a group that small. Blake certainly has the pedigree to be a game changing defender. We all know how athletic he is and how high he can jump. If he can channel that athleticism towards the other side of the ball he will morph into an MVP candidate.

But in a league where small is sexy, the Clippers will likely have to go through Memphis or San Antonio during the course of a deep playoff run. After getting beat up and out worked by the Grizzlies in the first round this year, nothing the Clippers have done this summer makes me think that they aren’t in for another beat down should the teams meet in the post season again.

For the first time in the history of humanity, there’s a lot of title talk in tinsel town that doesn’t have to do with the guys in purple and gold. But unless Doc Rivers is able to completely revamp the defensive culture on this team, the talk about championship contention will remain nothing but talk, a cheap commodity in life and especially in the NBA. I have no doubt that the Clippers will be a top four team in the West when the regular season comes to a close. But without polished interior defenders, Blake Griffin and company will be spending June on the couch.