LeBron James Continues to Struggle

December 30, 2006
LeBron James

LeBron’s owners are disappointed.

You might not realize it unless you had the #1 pick in a league this year (and I did), but LeBron James is one of the biggest busts of the year so far (and we can prove it).

Bron-Bron had another disappointing game last night. It looks good on the surface, as he broke 30 points again, but he only had 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and his achilles heel, his free throw shooting, continues to rear its ugly head (he was 8/13 last night).

I still tend to think LeBron will pick it up down the stretch, but if we re-drafted today, I’d probably take Gilbert Arenas first.


Lebron owners are feeling the pain

December 23, 2006

Yikes. As if it weren’t bad enough that my team saw Danny Granger, Ricky Davis, and Damien Wilkins combine for 11 points on Saturday night, my #1 guy, my rock, my Lebron James, put up a stinker too. As a fantasy owner, you don’t really care that he “took over the fourth quarter” and led his team to a win, what you care about are his numbers. And they seem ok on the surface: 32 points, 7 rebounds — but that’s it. No D, and what’s worse, a frightening 4/10 from the stripe. The foul shooting continues to plgue King James this year, putting a serious buzzkill on his fantasy value.

So Lebron’s 32 and 7, which might look good to the uneducated eye, is in reality only good for a rank of 111th in 8-category leagues, not quite what most of us were hoping out of a #1 pick. (Oh yeah, he also had 7 turnovers.)

So Lebron, kiss your wrists or whatever you’ve gotta do, and let’s start making those free throws.


Free Throws: How Important Are They?

December 19, 2006

When I started diving into the first batches of RotoPoll rankings, I was amazed by the influence of free throw shooting on a player’s value (perhaps this is why my teams always rank near the bottom in free throw percentage). I saw that a player like Allen Iverson (currently #1 in FT value, by a mile) contributes incredible value from his FT shooting alone. I always knew he was a good shooter, but I figured his poor FG% kind of canceled out his good FT%.

Wrong.

While his FG% is pretty poor (-1.67), his FT% score (2.58) is nearly double it in the positive direction.

For perhaps a better illustration, let’s consult the RotoPoll “Rater Creator” (I’m struggling to find a good name for this feature).

Let’s plug in some fairly modest numbers for a game: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, a block, a three, 5/11 field goal shooting, and 2/2 from the line. (We’ll call this hypothetical player “Shane Battier”.) The Rater tells us that this game is good for a RotoPoll score of -1.08, good enough to be the 62nd-best player in 8-category leagues. Not too bad.

Now what happens if our hero Shane misses two measly free throws, and ends up 2/4 from the line? You’d guess he drops a little, right? But the rest of the line is the same–still 12 points, a block, and so on–so it can’t affect him too much. Well, guess again. He drops all the way down to a -3.80 score, which would rank 131st. All for missing two free throws!

See for yourself:
The 2/2 FT game (rank: 62)
The 2/4 FT game (rank: 131)

I guess it makes sense, if you think about it. 100% FT shooting would be the all-time best, and 50% would be near the all-time worst. And four free throws is a fair number to shoot in a game, slightly above average.

As a final illustration, take the 2/4 FT game and let’s add two blocks to it. Guess what the rank is? 62nd, just like when Shane had only one block but was 2/2 from the line. So every time one of your players misses a free throw, it’s like taking one of your precious blocks off the board.

Think about that next time you see Lebron brick an opportunity for a three-point play.