One of my favorite fantasy traditions is the "Lazy All-Star Column." It's an erudite sub-genre that has become a hallowed fantasy institution as old as Raef LaFrentz himself.
You know this column. It's the soporific, sub-scintillating column that seems to have spared all effort. Yes, this is the hastily compiled 500-word screed where the author tells you how well LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry have all played. Then said writer checks out for a long weekend.
That's them. This is me.
Every campaign, I try to put a little extra elbow grease into my All-Star column. Due to the break in the NBA schedule, these words have to live for a few extra days than usual, heightening the need to, in a word, care. Personally, I try to feel like I earn my money, mostly because I need it to pursue my three great passions: feeding my family, adding to my record collection, and scoring sweet Cliff Engle sweaters from the 1980s.
Last season, I tried a new format with my ADP All-Stars. In a nutshell, I measured which fantasy producers had been the most successful in outproducing their Average Draft Position by comparing their ADP against their ranking on the ESPN Player Rater. It seemed to be relatively well received, providing a different perspective on how to measure true fantasy worth, by refracting Player Rater production through the lens of value generated per draft position.
This year, I decided to up the ante.
Because I'm a deeply lonely man, I came up with a fantasy basketball version of the NFL draft pick value chart, first created by Jimmy Johnson and the hated Cowboys teams of the 1990s. The NFL's chart assigns a point value to each draft pick. For example, the No. 1 overall pick is worth 3,000 points, the second overall pick nets 2,600 and so on, all the way to the No. 224 pick, worth a grand total of two points.
Johnson's system allows today's real-life NFL GMs to properly evaluate trades involving draft picks in order to make sure that they're getting equivalent value. To trade up into the midfirst round, for example, we know a GM needs to package a high-second-, third- and fifth-rounder. Why? That's what the chart says.
So, I decided to generate my own version of this chart. It was far from an easy process.
First, I added up the total amount of Player Rater points of the top-150 players, which as of Feb. 14 stood at 983 points. This represented the aggregate amount of "available fantasy value."
Then, I figured out what percentage of that total each player's individual Player Rater value represented. For instance, Karl-Anthony Towns is No. 2 overall on the Player Rater with 18.83 points, which translates to 1.9 percent of the total amount of available aggregate value.
Pausing briefly to snack on a pair of peanut butter cookies from a bakery in Altadena, I then took the sum total of draft chart points from the Johnson-based NFL chart (60,647) and then gave each of the top-150 NBA players the corresponding percentage. So, for example, Towns' 1.9 percent becomes 1,162 fantasy chart points (FCP).
After telling my kids to leave me alone and to make their own Valentine's Day cards, I then took the difference between each player's FCP and their expected value, based on their ADP. Again, using Towns as our example: His ADP was 6.4. Based on the numbers of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the current No. 6 on the Player Rater, that draft position has a value of 945 FCP. Subtract that from 1,162 FCP and you get a "generated fantasy value" of 217 points of what I'm calling GFV.
And so, without any further ado, I give you: John Cregan's GFV All-Star team.
In the name of positional purity, multipositional players qualified from by their first listed position on the Player Rater. Williams, a PG/SG, would have qualified no matter what and his 445 GFV is second in the league. Isn't is great that GFV's numerical purity pushed a sixth man into an All-Star starting role?
In the name of injury impact, I used overall Player Rater totals, rather than working with averages. Even though I prefer using averages in terms of what an ambulatory player has to offer right now, it's fairer in the All-Star construct to go with overall impact, hence the reliance on overall totals.
Still, I allowed currently injured players to stay on my imaginary team, so long as they haven't been ruled out for the year. Hence, Collison and his recently scoped knee both get to stay on my All-Star roster. But, even if they had managed to qualify, Kristaps Porzingis and DeMarcus Cousins would not have been eligible for inclusion.
I was rooting for underrated fantasy delicacy Spencer Dinwiddie to crack the top 3, but Holiday just beat him out. Still, fair is fair. The charm of GFV is that it's here to honor pure overproduction and under-recognized players who help deliver fantasy championships.
This is an atypical year, in that there's a deep amount of value to be found at shooting guard. Weighted by position, shooting guard produced more GFV than any other position, including Oladipo, this season's No. 1 to-date. In fact, three starting SGs currently occupy the Player Rater's top 10 -- Oladipo, James Harden and Jimmy Butler. Butler was no slouch, generating a 145 GFV, but he had the misfortune of trying to jump the "velvet rope section" of our All-Star roster, that of shooting guard.
It's also an atypical year in that two rookies made my All-Star roster: Mitchell and Jayson Tatum (see below). Reality-based ROY frontrunner Ben Simmons fell well short with only 69 GFV, but he can still play in my game as a reserve -- if he comes dressed as a Mummer.
Hopefully, Dwyane Wade's return to Miami won't time-share away Richardson's chances to make the year-end All-NBA GFV roster. Richardson has all kinds of wing players breathing down his proverbial neck, including Gary Harris (318 GFV) and Kent Bazemore (259 GFV).
The GFV All-Star Team is all about deep cuts, appreciating the less obvious. Still, it was nice that natural selection managed to spit out LeBron's name as the starting SF, thanks to his heroic "turn back the clock" numerical campaign. LeBron's starting nod actually speaks to the power of GFV. James only beat out his ADP by six slots, but by grading on a curve, his contribution sits neatly alongside mid-round players who outpaced their ADP by around 100 slots.
Even though James is a no-brainer pick for every single All-Star team known to man, it's worth pausing and pondering that he barely beat out the less-heralded Evans by only 26 GFV. All hail the power of pure production!
Welcome to 2018's shallowest fantasy position. Still, fantasy mavens like yourself -- if you've come along this far, you're a maven in my book -- can take comfort in the fact two mid-level names (Gibson and Ingles) dominated the slot. Aldridge duplicates his reality-based All-Star backup status. From 2015-17, I was all over Aldridge for being one of fantasy's more underrated players, but he's been "Popoviched" into numerical respectability.
Knicks exceptionalists rejoice! You may not be sending any players to the actual All-Star game, but in my geeky little corner of the universe, you're sending the starting center.
As with Aldridge, I've been hard on Kanter in previous seasons. Before this campaign, Kanter was the personification of what I call an "Empty Points Player" -- one who is overrated for fantasy purposes due to his overvalued points per game production. Kanter still doesn't provide much in the defensive columns, but his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage have ballooned to the point that he's become borderline elite.
Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Brooklyn Nets: 258 GFV
Gary Harris, SG, Denver Nuggets: 318 GFV
TJ Warren, SF Phoenix Suns: 64 GFV
Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks: 180 GFV
Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets: 170 GFV
If I had gone with pure GFV, regardless of position, you'd be looking at four shooting guards and Dinwiddie. Instead, I decided to break out the accolades by position, which allowed sentimental favorite Nowitzki to wrangle an invite.
Happy All-Star Weekend, everybody!