Because Many GMs can’t Conceptualize Little Numbers

The most underrated player this season, Gorgui Dieng, is a big man and so is the most overrated fantasy player, Blake Griffin. Other than that, the two players are almost complete opposites. This article will highlight why Blake Griffin is constantly overrated.

Fantasy noobs tend to be drawn to real life superstars, regardless of whether their game translates to fantasy, and Griffin is on as many highlight reels as any other. Fantasy noobs generally can’t help but be blinded by big numbers and Blake Griffin offers those in spades. His success in the big number categories: points, assists, and rebounds (which I will call POSSREB) is first round worthy. In his first 30 healthy games last season he averaged an impressive line of: 23.2 PPG/8.7 RPG/5.0 APG while shooting 50.8% from the field at a high volume. He’s one of the best FG% anchors in the game. Couple him with James Harden, for example, and enjoy high percentages on huge volume in both percentage categories as well as incredible scoring and assists out-of-position. What’s not to love?!

Apr 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) reacts to a foul call in the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Clippers won 115-104. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The problem is that Griffin is garbage in the little number categories, which many people call ST3CKS or STOCKS and 3s. For fantasy purposes, the little number categories are as equally valuable as the big number categories. Therein lies the rub. A good number for combined ST3CKs is 3, provided that at least some of those comes from STOCKS. As a general rule, I don’t value three point shooting very much in fantasy because shooting guards who score in the teens and get 2+ threes per game are abundant toward the tail end of drafts, or even off the waiver wire. Threes is perhaps the least scarce statistic in fantasy. But I digress. When I speak of little numbers for big men I refer primarily to defensive stats, STOCKs. Dieng projects to get a combined 3 STOCKs per game. Conversely, Griffin averaged a measly .8 SPG and .5 BPG last season, for a measly combined 1.3 STOCKs per game. That means Dieng projects to get more than double the STOCKs that Griffin gets. To put that into perspective Dieng projects to average somewhere around 25 POSSREB, so in order for Griffin to double Dieng’s output in the big number categories he would need a whopping 50 POSSREB. It’s unlikely that anyone in fantasy will produce those numbers in the big number categories. Based on this alone, Dieng could rate higher in the player rater than Griffin.

There’s even more that makes me hesitate on Griffin. Griffin is a poor free throw shooter. Last season he shot 72.7% and in his best shooting season he shot 72.8%. He has improved at the line enough to not warrant a complete punt, but make no mistake-his FT% will hurt you. Conversely, Dieng shot over 80% from the line last season.

Additionally, off the court issues have plagued Griffin. He is recovering from a significant injury. He could be traded. His fantasy value is a house built on a pillar of sand. Conversely, Dieng is still on an upward trajectory, and bears little injury risk. Offensively, he has great footwork in the post and has range to his shot. Defensively, his build is a better fit for the modern NBA. He’s quick on his feet and lanky, which allows him to simultaneously guard stretch fours, yet also be a deterrent in the paint. I believe Dieng will continue to improve and perhaps will develop a three point shot, while Griffin has already seen his best days.

This is not to say that Griffin has no value, he simply doesn’t have 2nd round value. He has more value in H2H than roto. In H2H, I am willing to take on a player’s warts provided that they provide some production that I am unlikely to get later in the draft. In Griffin’s case, this is high volume/high percentage scoring and out-of-position assists. If I was in a H2H league, I might be willing to draft him, and punt STOCKs. He also might be a good fit as the PF on a punt FT% paired with Andre Drummond, for example. Drummond’s rebounds and STOCKs should make up for Griffin’s lack thereof, while Griffin’s scoring should make up for Drummond’s relative lack thereof. They both are excellent field throw anchors, Griffin on high volume. Finally, Griffin would help win assists by getting 5 APG out-of-position. That being said, this is as much due to Drummond’s dominance on punt builds as it is due to Griffin’s.

Comparing Griffin to Dieng produces an interesting result, Griffin looks like a much better player at first blush, but he falls short upon future analysis. His poor free throw shooting and almost complete lack of STOCKs drags an otherwise potential first round player to the middle rounds. It’s interesting that Griffin is projected to go in the second round, and Dieng in the fifth round, because I think those two draft positions should be reversed.

Posted in Strategy