After I file this column? I am done.
Outski. The Ghost of Christmas Present.
Haven't had a vacation in a calendar year. Not hyperbole. You may be unaware, but this is not my primary vocation. THIS IS HOW I UNWIND.
For the next 11 days, I will be available via carrier pigeon and Grubhub. I am going to walk into my garage and barricade the door. I am going to watch basketball, gamble on basketball, listen to records, buy Ebbets Field clothing, put Diner on eternal loop, set up a couple of guitars, and probably end up paying a handyman at the last minute to build this LOL Chalet.
But before I disappear? I want to give you a special holiday gift: the gift of hidden value.
Okay. You got me. My aim is to deliver that to you regardless of season.
But I've been saving this particular method for this particular moment.
Because I also am going to spend the next 11 days making some fake basketball trades. And I think you should join me.
You know what else is about to end? Fantasy football. Ah, my old compadre Matthew Berry is about to settle down for his long winter's nap. Fantasy basketball is due for its annual burst of fresh existential oxygen.
Managers will take an extended gander at what their drafts hath wrought. And they're going to want to fix some stuff.
The imaginary hoops trade market is set to percolate. Yuletide downtime = my hot stove time -- an ideal period to shore up squads for the second half of the season.
By now, you should be aware of your fake franchise's very real statistical shortcomings. Maybe you crave blocks, assists, a boost in free throw percentage.
My advice: when trying to boost specific categories, don't fall back on the expected. Because the expected is overpriced. Don't chase obvious solutions.
If you need assists? Don't target the league leaders. Don't just go after LeBron James or Luka Doncic. Don't chase big name point guards. Ricky Rubio, Trae Young, Ben Simmons... they're all going to come with some hidden service fees.
Because everyone's trying to do the same deals. Everyone wants stars. Sizzle. When everyone targets sizzle? Prices overinflate. You end up with Arby's at Ruth's Chris prices. Upside disappears.
When everyone tries to differentiate in the same way? Differentiation becomes an oxymoron.
Let's apply some sensible, achievable real-world trade strategy. Let's look for some means of actual differentiation.
Let's bob for atypical production. Atypical production: enhanced categorical production that arrives via unexpected sources. Specifically... out-of-position production.
Think point guards that get blocks. Centers that can 3s. Shooting guards that clock a high effective field goal percentage. Power forwards that convert their free throws at 80 percent and above. (Don't think small forwards. Small forwards are Fantasyland's Swiss Army Knives. All over the statistical map. Roto's categorical crossroads.)
Want to goose your assists on the down-low? Find a PF or C that averages three-plus dimes per tilt.
Getting outhustled on the boards? Deal for a PG that averages four-plus rebounds per night.
Out-of-position production is sneaky. It flies under the radar. Because the per-game averages are lower. The positives are less obvious. But numbers are numbers. And atypical production is just as impactful. Sometimes... even more impactful.
I'll elaborate -- enhanced production is relative. I'm getting into a little bit of categorical scarcity here. Think of it this way: every position generates a finite amount of production per individual category.
Example: fantasy's top 20 point guards, in aggregate, generate about eight blocks per game. That averages out to about 0.4 blocks per player per game.
But Jrue Holiday averages 0.8 blocks per game. He delivers twice the amount of blocks as your average top-20 PG. So when you roster Holiday, you are hoarding a disproportionately high amount of the available blocks at point guard. Meaning: you are cornering the market on blocks at that position.
Getting an extra 0.4 blocks per game, regardless of position? It's big. At point guard, it's epic.
Say you need to up your team's assists average by 2.0 dimes a night. Say you have Rudy Gobert at center. Instead of chasing one of the obvious names in assists, why not offer Gobert for Bam Adebayo? If you can absorb the hit in rebounds and blocks, swapping Gobert for Adebayo jacks up your assists by 3.0 per game.
On the surface, that has the same categorical impact as dealing Kyle Lowry for LeBron.
But when you fold in the principle of scarcity? The fact that Adebayo is distributing twice the average amount of per-game assists at center? That trade becomes more impactful.
Let's boil this down.
It's the holidays. I don't want to just give you lists of players that outproduce their position in individual categories. I want to give you something special. Thoughtful.
I want to give you targets that deliver large, aggregate swaths of atypical production. Players that overproduce across multiple out-of-position categories.
Some players that will be tough to acquire. Some may even be on your wire.
(And no one that qualifies at SF. Sorry, Jrue. We'll generate more differentiation that way.)
Ten power forwards and centers that excel in 3s, assists and free throw percentage
(and I'm considering volume of free throw attempts along with raw FT%)
Pascal Siakam (2.5 3PG, 3.6 APG, 81.3 FT%)
Joel Embiid (1.1 3PG, 3.3 APG, 81.6 FT%
Nikola Jokic (1.1 3PG, 6.7 APG, 78.6 FT%)
Blake Griffin (1.6 3PG, 3.3 APG, 78.3 FT%)
Kevin Love (2.1 3PG, 2.9 APG, 85.7 FT%)
Davis Bertans (4.0 3PG, 1.6 APG, 88.1 FT%)
Nikola Vucevic (1.2 3PG, 3.5 APG, 85.7 FT%)
Jaren Jackson Jr. (1.4 3PG, 1.5 APG, 77.2 FT%)
Lauri Markkanen (2.0 3PG, 1.7 APG, 82.0 FT
Nemanja Bjelica (1.9 3PG, 2.8 APG, 91.3 FT%)
Ten point guards and shooting guards that excel in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage
(and with FG%, I'm also considering shot volume and 3-point percentage, which is why some of the FG%s look a little low)
Devin Booker (3.9 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 50.6 FG%)
CJ McCollum (4.5 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 45.5 FG%)
Russell Westbrook (8.1 RPG, 0.4 BLK, 42.6 FG%)
Eric Bledsoe (5.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 47.7 FG%)
Dennis Schroder (3.7 RPG, 0.4 BPG, 46.8 FG%)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (5.1 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 43.4 FG%)
Patrick Beverley (6.2 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 40.8 FG%)
Dejounte Murray (6.1 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 46.8 FG%)
Josh Hart (6.0 RPG, 0.3 BLK, 42.8 FG%)
Bruce Brown (4.4 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 44.5 FG%)
And like that...poof.