Fantasy hoops awards for 2013-14
Which players deserve extra honors in Fantasy? Our Joe Polito dishes out some end-of-season awards from a Fantasy perspective.
Another NBA season has come and gone, so now it's time to take a look back at the most notable performers in Fantasy. Our award list includes adopted versions of real-life accolades as well as some made-up honors that only apply to our beloved made-up game. This is just one man's opinion, and, as you've seen with the NBA's awards, their meanings are open to interpretation. If you want to dispute or recognize any of my choices, feel free to comment and maybe even make up your own award. Thanks for reading and playing with us this season.
Honorable mention: Kevin Durant
See what I did there? That's because this one is so obvious. He finished with almost 402 more Fantasy points than second-place Kevin Love . He's the only player in the league to eclipse 100 Fantasy points every week -- even in Week 17 when the Thunder only played twice. Chris Towers made a good point on our podcast (click here for the audio version of this column), pointing out that there was a smaller gap between second-place Kevin Love and seventh-place Carmelo Anthony than from top-dog Durant to Love -- that's how all alone he was at the top. Not much else needs to be said.
Defensive player of the year:
Honorable mentions: Anthony Davis , Andre Drummond , Serge Ibaka
Fantasy is about stats, so you can get out of here with your "hedges on pick and rolls" and your "anchors the defense with his communication." We don't get points for great closeouts -- just blocks, steals and defensive rebounds, if you want to get technical. Had he played a full season, Anthony Davis would have one this by a landslide. If you combine total blocks with total steals, he finished just five short of DeAndre Jordan despite playing in 15 fewer games. But Fantasy is a marathon -- not a sprint. That's why you've got to give it to the Clippers' iron man. If you wanted a tiebreaker, throw Jordan's league-leading 783 defensive rebounds in the mix. Pretty awesome that Jordan finished a top 10 Fantasy center with just about half of his production coming on the defensive end.
But here's a peculiar stat that illustrates why I'm not factoring real-life basketball stuff into the equation: Jordan is tied for third in the NBA in opponent field goals made at the rim with 5.1 per game. Your Fantasy DPOY is in a group that includes Spencer Hawes , Pau Gasol and Kevin Love -- the four worst rim protectors according to NBA.com Player Tracking Data. Maybe his teammates on the perimeter are allowing easy access to the rim, or maybe he's one of those "goes for the block every time" kind of guys. Either way, we'll take the ball contact over the body contact as Fantasy owners.
Coach of the Year: Jeff Hornacek
Honorable mentions: Mike D'Antoni, Brett Brown
The fact that the Suns had so many Fantasy relevant players while still being competitive in a tough Western Conference makes this one a no-brainer. Sure, D'Antoni's band of misfits provided for great plug-and-play options, and Brett Brown had four must-start Fantasy options up until the trade deadline, but Hornacek's guys actually had staying power. Who would have guessed that by the end of the year Markieff Morris and Gerald Green would both be owned in 85 percent of leagues?
Hornacek made an Eric Bledsoe / Goran Dragic backcourt flourish, and when Bledsoe went down, he gave Dragic the offensive freedom to become an elite Fantasy option at a deep position -- not to mention a borderline-MVP candidate. Miles Plumlee went from trade throw-in to must-add Fantasy free agent after just a week of playing for Hornacek. Even Channing Frye , Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker all had moments of Fantasy relevance as streaming options. Most of all, I love what he did with Green. He just let him be himself -- which is a trigger-happy power dunker, whose elevation on jump shots makes him impossible to guard. Both he and Dragic will be candidates for the NBA's Most Improved Player award, and rightly so. Bravo, coach.
Honorable mentions: Markieff Morris , Jose Calderon
This one's open to interpretation. I decided to give it to a guy who's technically a starter for his team, but severed chiefly as an injury replacement in Fantasy. McBob never broke into the 70-percent owned range, and I think that's an injustice when you look at his consistency. First of all, he played a steady part in the Bobcats most successful season to date, starting all 78 games he was active for. He finished just behind LeBron James and Kevin Love among forwards with 4.3 assists per game.
His ability to stay healthy and maintain his role allowed him to finish better than Kawhi Leonard , Luol Deng and Amir Johnson in total Fantasy points. Plain and simple, he's the guy on my bench that I never thought about dropping. Having a sure-thing at forward to fill in for hobbled starters is a rare commodity in Fantasy hoops. So while guys like Terrence Jones and Paul Pierce might have more upside, they were behind McBob when it was all said and done because he did what was expected pretty much every night.
Honorable Mentions: Isaiah Thomas , Lance Stephenson
I called Rudy Gay the "Fantasy black hole" of the Raptors early in the season because his immense gravity was sucking down the values of everyone around him. So once he was traded, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry really started to show their true colors. DeRozan was great from that point on, becoming a more selfless ball handler/playmaker. But Lowry's jump was even more meteoric. He finished with 202 more Fantasy points than DeRozan in the same number of games -- good for fourth among guards behind Stephen Curry , John Wall and James Harden and ahead of Paul George . That's pretty amazing company he's keeping.
Lowry went from a modest 28.5 Fantasy points per game last season to the monstrous 39.7 he dropped on a nightly basis this year. He led all guards in Weekly scoring three times and was the hottest player in Fantasy for a significant stretch of the season. He dished out more assists than LeBron James , grabbed more steals than Mike Conley and finished just behind Kevin Durant but tied with Kevin Love in three pointers. Other guys like Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Thomas made similar leaps, but not to the top tier of guards like Lowry.
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Bogut , John Henson
Now we're in to our made up awards. This one goes to an underappreciated categories player. Lopez Finished seventh overall in field goal shooting (55 percent), eighth in blocks per game (1.7), 25th in rebounding (8.5) and was one of only four active centers to shoot better than 80 percent from the free throw line. He also had the lowest turnover rate of centers scoring more than 10 points per game (1.0).
So he was good, but here's why he gets the award. On average he got drafted in the 11th round in 12-team drafts and he played in all 82 games -- a feat only accomplished by 28 guys this season. Andrew Bogut and John Henson were also considered for this award for their fantastic blocks and efficiency, but their horrendous free-throw shooting and inconsistent roles (Bogut's health and Henson's minute fluctuation) forced me to go with the almost perfectly well-rounded big in Lopez.
Honorable Mentions: Zach Randolph , Nicolas Batum
I didn't think Nowitzki would play in more than 65 games much less all
82 of them. And it's not like he was only playing in spurts. Nowitzki
logged 30-plus minutes in 66 of those games. He only scored in single
digits twice this season and finished 19th overall in average weekly
scoring (111.1 Fantasy points per week). Had also had a string of
eight-straight 100-plus Fantasy point. He finished 12th in points per
game at 21.7 while making 50 percent of his field goals and 90 percent
of his free throws. There's no one older than 30 among the top 25
scorers in the league other than him, and Nowitzki will be 36 in June.
To give you an idea how hard this is at his age, only 18 times in the
history of the league has a player 35-years or older scored more than 20
points per game. So Nowitzki joins the likes of Kareem Abdul Jabbar,
Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. Wow.
Least Valuable Player:
Dishonorable mention: J.R. Smith
This one was easy. Here's your classic case of a guy having a great run
deep into the playoffs only to be overvalued in Fantasy a few months
later. On average Hibbert was drafted in the middle of the third round,
meaning it's not farfetched to imagine someone passing on
to draft a hopeful breakout in Hibbert. But then he went
ahead and finished as the 21st ranked center.
played 22 fewer games and still finished with more
Fantasy points than Hibbert.
all beat him in total Fantasy points.
Roto leagues were Hibbert's saving grace -- a place where his 2.2 blocks per game were a premium. But even still, he was the league's most inefficient starting center, shooting 44 percent from the field. Also, his rebounding was absolutely dreadful. In the second half of the season (40 games) Hibbert only grabbed double-digit boards five times. Maybe it was crazy Lance Stephenson fault for stealing all the rebounds, but still, Hibbert's end-of-season value compared to where he was drafted cannot be ignored. Even to the bitter end, he was owned in 96 percent of leagues.