If you're even a semi-regular listener of the Fantasy Focus Basketball Podcast, you'll know that I sort of make a weekly plug to find whomever you can to start against the Philadelphia 76ers.
When the 76ers are at home? Look for all the 3-point specialists you can find. When the 76ers are on the road? Just start whomever you can.
Why? Because of home/road splits.
At home, the 76ers have the second-best Pace in the NBA at 100.79 possessions per 48 minutes. Which means whatever team visits the Wells Fargo Center is also getting 100.79 possessions per 48 minutes. But on the road, the 76ers just give up all pretenses at slowing down and average a league-leading 104.1 possessions per game. And even more than points per game, Pace is a strong harbinger of volume-based fantasy production.
Now, here's a wrinkle; the 76ers actually give up 0.8 points per game more at home (111.3 points allowed), despite giving nearly four extra possessions.
Why? Because of home/road splits.
They give up more points at home despite fewer possessions because the 76ers have the worst homecourt 3-point defense in the NBA, giving up an ungodly 11.4 per game at a 39.6 percent clip. On the road, they drop to third, but still give up a pleasantly gaudy 9.0 per game at a 34.5 percent clip.
To summarize, the 76ers are a great fantasy guest at home or on the road, but they offer different upsides, depending on the locale. They're a terrible defensive squad; it's just a different brand of terrible when they leave the state of Pennsylvania.
It's worth noting this because I've long believed that home/road splits are one of the great unexploited statistical areas in fantasy hoops.
Once you start seeing how certain players and teams become different numerical animals based on home versus the road, you'll start to apply and exploit these differences when setting your lineups.
To wit: the 76ers host the Miami Heat on Friday night. The Heat are a middle-of-the road, 3-point team (solid percentage, mediocre volume). But if you're in a head-to-head matchup and looking for a player off the waiver wire to boost your 3-point totals, this is a great matchup.
A player such as Norris Cole, who's averaging 1.8 3-pointers per game over his past five games, becomes an attractive add. Ray Allen has been in a slump, shooting a Josh Smith-esque 15 percent from downtown over his past five contests. But he's still launching 4.0 3-point attempts per game. So if Allen was looking to get his Shuttlesworth stoke back, a visit to Wells Fargo Center could represent the cure.
Here are the teams that have the biggest swing in Pace at home:
And the teams that have the biggest swing in Pace on the road:
So shifts in Pace show potential in growth in overall statistical volume, but what about the efficiency part of the equation? To help with this, we turn to the NBA.com stats section.
Let's expand the lists we just looked at to include some other categories that include volume and efficiency metrics. (If you're a regular reader, you should already know what most of these mean.)
• Points Scored per 100 possessions (OffRtg)
• Points Allowed per 100 possessions (DefRtg)
• Net Difference in OffRtg-DefRtg (NetRtg)
• Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
• True Shooting Percentage (TS%)
• Player Impact Estimate (a cousin of PER)
Sorting by team-wide PIE, these are the teams that are demonstrably better at home:
And the teams who are better on the road:
So how can we apply home/road splits to individual players?
Simple. Let's start by looking at PER, the statistic that I find is the best predictor of fantasy potential (once you add it to minutes played and Usage Rate).
I asked the heroes at ESPN Stats & Information to give me a list of home/road splits in PER for every NBA player averaging at least 25 minutes per game. It's 166 names long, so let's parse out some of the key areas.
Here are the players who register the most positive shifts in PER when at home:
Here are the players who register the most positive shifts in PER on the road:
We can apply individual player home/road splits when looking at matchups within our fantasy lineups. If we're in a tight percentage battle in a head-to-head matchup, you might want to start -- or even sit -- certain players later in the week based on his home/road split.
Here's a list of the players who are markedly more effective shooting at home, sorted by True Shooting Percentage (a stat that aggregates free throw percentage, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage, but you know that).
Here are the players who shoot better on the road:
One nice bonus you can find on the NBA.com stats page is an individual player Pace rating. According to NBA.com stats guru John Schuhmann, the individual Pace rating represents the Pace an individual player's team plays at when he is on the court.
So here are two columns that show which players increase their volume of possessions via Pace and Usage Rate when playing at home.
For instance, take a look at how James Johnson increases his Usage Rate by almost 7 percent while increasing his Pace. Conclusion: James Johnson is great platoon player using home/road splits in medium-sized leagues.
Let's flip it for one final list. Here are the players who register the biggest volume-based increases on the road:
See how many 76ers make this list? It's because of their hyperdrive level of Pace on the road. The top six 76ers in fantasy production this season all make this list. Evan Turner, for instance, is James Johnson on the road, notching a near 7 percent increase in Usage Rate while upping the Pace by more than two possessions.