NBA Fantasy Category MVPs
Now that we’re basically a month into the new NBA season, we’ve seen enough of players to know who’s probably going to keep up their strong production, and who’s going to be massive disappointments.
Most of us judge these things based on a player’s output in terms of points, rebounds and assists – and maybe steals and blocks. However, in the world of fantasy sports, all categories are created equal. A player with great field goal percentage is just as valuable as an individual who dominates the scoring column. Knocking down several three-pointers a game, for example, carries as much weight as someone who pulls down 10 to 12 rebounds a night.
In fantasy basketball, you want to win as many categories as possible, and that’s the same whether you’re doing eight- or nine-category head-to-head or roto. The following are the MVPs for each of the major categories after the first month of the season. (Note: These aren’t always the player that’s in first place for the category; some of it depends on games played and injuries, too.)
Field Goal Percentage – Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks – And it’s not even close. Chandler is shooting 66.2 percent from the field this year, which tops the second-most accurate shooter (DeAndre Jordan) by over five percent. Granted he’s only attempting 5.7 shots a game, but that’s pretty impressive efficiency 12 games into a season. If you’re looking for a guy that shoots well with a higher volume of shots, Dwight Howard (58.8 percent on 10.9 attempts per game), Serge Ibaka (57.7 percent on 10.6 attempts per game) and Chris Bosh (56 percent on 12.9 attempts per game) are the other top dogs.
Free Throw Percentage – Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder – Houston’s Toney Douglas is the only guy to be perfect from the charity stripe this year (he’s 24-for-24 through 12 games), but Martin is shooting 93.8 percent from the line with 65 attempts, which makes him the better bet in terms of volume. The Clippers’ Jamal Crawford is pretty close with a 93.4 percent clip on 61 attempts, and Chicago’s Richard Hamilton, who’s always good, is shooting 94.3 percent on 35 attempts. New Orleans’ Jason Smith (93.8 percent on 32 attempts) rounds out the top five.
Three-Pointers Made – Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets – Remember when we thought there was no way Ryan Anderson could keep up his great 2.7-three-pointers-per-game pace without a dominant big man like Dwight Howard to spread the floor? Well, it was bologna. Anderson is actually knocking down more three-pointers in Louisiana, easily leading the league with 3.4 threes per game. In second place, surprisingly, is Dallas’s O.J. Mayo, who’s tallying three three-pointers per game.
Points – Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers – While Kobe Bryant’s points per game lead over Kevin Durant is a relatively negligible one, Bryant is essentially scoring the same as last year’s MVP runner-up while playing 3.5 fewer minutes per game. The really odd thing about the scoring race this year, however, is that Bryant is leading the league with a paltry 26.9 points per game, and four other guys (Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and James Harden) are averaging over 25 points per game. This race is far from over, but so far Bryant is at the top of the heap in the points department.
Rebounds – Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers – One of the top overall fantasy players all season, Varejao has been most dominant on the boards, where he leads the league with 13.6 rebounds per game. He opened the season with that monster 23-rebound performance against the Wizards, and he has since grabbed 15 or more rebounds eight times in the 12 games he’s played. Memphis’s Zach Randolph and Houston’s Omer Asik, who round out the top three rebounders in the league, have also been very pleasant surprises early on. Dwight Howard, for what it’s worth, is eighth in this category so far.
Assists – Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics – There is no bigger gap between first and second place in any other category, as Rondo is currently averaging a league-leading 13.7 assists per game and nobody else has even broached a double-digit average in the category. Chris Paul (9.6 assists per game) and Jrue Holiday (9.2 assists per game) are the only other guys up above 9 assists.
Blocks – Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers – But only by a sliver, because Serge Ibaka is right there with him. However, as of Tuesday, Hibbert is the only player in the league averaging over 3 blocks per game, and that’s a huge step for a guy who’s been so disappointing in other categories at times this year. Ibaka is second at 2.9 blocks, though, and Dwight Howard is third with 2.7 blocks.
Steals – Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks – To say that this is a surprise is a bit of an understatement. Jennings has averaged between 1.3 and 1.6 steals per game over the course of his first three full seasons in the league. But now, a month into year four? Jennings is averaging a league-leading 3.5 steals per game, which tops the second-best ball thief (Chris Paul, who’s always good in this category) by 0.8 steals a game. Despite the fact that he’s played two games fewer than Paul, Jennings has three more total steals than him. Kemba Walker, another surprise, rounds out the top three with 2.3 steals per game.
Turnovers – Ronnie Brewer and Steve Novak, New York Knicks – Brewer has played in 13 games so far, and you know how many turnovers he has, despite the fact that he averages over 22 minutes per game? Three. Three turnovers in thirteen games. Equally amazing is that Brewer’s teammate Steve Novak, who averages 21.7 minutes per game, also has only three turnovers on the season. No one else has played that many minutes in that many games and taken care of the ball that well.
Only four weeks into the season, we have to look at some of these early categorical leads as trends. Jennings, for example, probably isn’t going to keep up this pace for steals all season long, but at the same time nobody is going to catch Rondo in assists. Still, it might be early enough to finagle a trade for one of these guys based on where these trends seem to be headed. If you need major help in a specific category, these are the guys to go after.
And if you’ve already got one or more of these players? Congratulations, you’re probably having a pretty solid start to your fantasy season.