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The Vortex League: NBA Analysis

With the coronavirus suspending the NBA season through 19 weeks and change, a picture of the Vortex’s Fantasy Basketball season was nearly complete. Yet, even with the season cut short, a clear winner can be acknowledged. Led by 4 of the top 9 average point scorers in the league, Brendan’s NBA squad destroyed the competition (standings below). Currently sitting at a record of 18 and 1, Brendan’s only loss occurred in Week 6 to Dan. There are a handful of interesting facets to the NBA portion of our league which will be introduced and examined in the following piece. Let’s start with a dive into each team’s draft and season.

Below is the results of our Vortex League draft, hiding all but NBA players. To analyze the value of each draft pick, we created the draft analysis score. Taking the average total points per team in the league (summing all teams’ total points for and dividing it by the number of teams), we see what percentage of total points a player would contribute to the average team in the league. Basically, how efficient was your pick?
For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo has produced 3,614 total points so far in this fantasy basketball season. The average of points scored in our league is 20,725 per team, so if Giannis were on this hypothetical average team, he is directly responsible for 17.44% of that fantasy team’s points scored. 

Here’s the standings with average draft analysis score as well as average NBA player draft position in the overall Vortex League draft:

 

Brendan (18-1): Not drafting an NBA player until the seventh round and 25th overall certainly paid off for Brendan. Anthony Davis, Brendan’s first pick, is currently the 8th highest average point scorer at 51.1 points per game (ppg). Davis received a 13.55% on our draft analysis score, effectively meaning that this was a smart and efficient pick for the selection, as Davis was the 7th NBA player taken off the board. Brendan then waited until the 13th round and the 49th overall pick to select his second NBA player, Damian Lilliard. The All-Star point guard finished right behind Davis with the 9th highest ppg in the league at 49.7. Lilliard earned a 13.92% draft analysis score, another solid selection by Brendan. Brendan’s next pick, Jimmy Butler in the 25th round and 97th overall, may not have been as successful as his first two, but Butler still averaged 41.8 ppg. In the 26th and 27th round Brendan broke his mold of prioritizing other leagues and drafted back-to-back NBA guards in Jrue Holiday and then Devin Booker. Holiday averaged 40.8 ppg and Booker averaged 42.4 ppg, with Holiday earning a score of 10.84% and Booker at 12.70%. Nikola Vucevic added more solid production to Brendan’s team, as he did not miss with his pick in the 28th round. 

The real kicker for Brendan was the selection of Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Both of these young players took a gigantic leap in their sophomore year seasons, each earning a starting spot in this year’s All-Star Game. Doncic, drafted in the 30th round, currently averages 57 ppg, and boasts a great score of 14.85% in the draft analysis. His 57 ppg is good for the third highest among any player, which in a redraft of this year’s Vortex League, would have probably catapulted him into the first two or three rounds. Trae Young went in the 32nd round, yet is currently the sixth highest points per game scorer in the NBA. Young received an even greater score than Doncic at 14.90%. To put those numbers in perspective, Young was only behind Antetokounmpo, Harden, and James in draft analysis score, as Doncic trailed Young by only .05% points as Jokic fell in between the two. This is what allowed Brendan to have so much success, even though he had the third highest average draft position for an NBA player.

 

Daniel’s All-Stars (8-11): Dan took an even more extreme route when prioritizing NBA players. His average draft position for NBA players was down at 123.7, by far the lowest in the league. Dan’s total points for this season are last in the league, which one would expect from such a low average draft position for the NBA, and yet he sits in second place. While Dan’s team’s average draft analysis score was the lowest, his squad certainly found a way to win despite the odds. Notably, 4 of Dan’s 8 team wins are by 50 points or fewer.

It took Dan until the 13th round to draft his first NBA player, Bradley Beal, who averaged 48.3 points per game which was good for 11th best in the league. Beal received a 13.28% score, as this was a solid first, but late pick for Dan. He then followed up his Beal selection with Ben Simmons, who has a 11.37% score, with the 17th highest ppg across the league. Dan was most hurt by his next two selections, Andre Drummond and Zion Williamson, in the 24th and 25th rounds, respectively. Neither produced a score over 5%. 

Dan was aided by the surprising seasons from the likes of Pascal Siakam, Jayson Tatum, and Brandon Ingram. While Dan worked to just fill out his roster, he stumbled upon some of the league’s next great players having breakout years. Each one of these young stars averaged around 42 points per game, and added great production from the bottom half of the draft. Tatum has to be considered one of the greatest value picks of this draft, with only four NBA players being picked below him. Those players were Love, Lowry, Bledsoe, and Aldridge and none of these players were within 1 percentage point in our draft analysis score. With Dan punting on attempting to compete in the NBA at the draft, I am sure he is more than satisfied with his results. 

 

Greenie’s Geico Geckos (Ryan) (7-12): Sitting just behind Dan’s record of 8-11, I am fairly disappointed with my NBA performance thus far. Especially, considering that my average draft position was 82.9, 40.8 positions lower than Dan’s. My team does contain the top two players in points per game, who were also the top two NBA players drafted, Giannis Antetokounmpo at 60.1 ppg and James Harden at 59.2 ppg. These two top players received very high draft analysis scores at 17.44% and 16.52%, respectively. My team had a major drop off following these two players. Steph Curry’s injury put him as the second worst player drafted in any sport on the draft analysis score, only behind Antonio Brown. Keep in mind that I also drafted Curry in the 4th round and 13th overall. Furthermore, Joel Embiid was my next NBA pick, yet he only played 44 out of the 64 eligible 76ers’ games. Another major injury for me was Kyrie Irving, who I drafted in the 24th round, did produce major numbers when he did play, but he only appeared in 20 games. In sum, three of my first five NBA players drafted missed significant time this season thus far, which ruined my chances at competing with Brendan.

 

The Contract Holdouts (Connor) (5-14): The worst team in the league, yet the team that prioritized the NBA the highest in drafting, as shown by his league low 78.2 average draft position. As he drafted a NBA player in 3 of the first 6 rounds, Connor’s results were truly a shame and a waste of such valuable draft spots. To start, Kawhai Leonard, Connor’s second pick of the draft, comes in with a 11.91% draft analysis score, the lowest of any player in the first three rounds. What hurt Connor even more was his next selection of Paul George. George averaged just 37.9 points per game, a strikingly low number for such a high pick. To put this in comparison, free-agents in our league such as Clint Capela and Julius Randle averaged more ppg than George. Connor’s fourth round pick earned a draft analysis score of just 7.69%, which besides Steph Curry and Antonio Brown, was the lowest rated player until Drummond was selected in the 24th round. 

Connor’s next two picks were two well-known veterans who had great seasons, Lebron James and Russell Westbrook. James is currently at 4th in ppg with 55.8 ppg and Russell sits at 7th with 51.3 ppg. Lebron currently has a 16.15% draft analysis score, while Westbrook has a 13.11% score. Connor continued to prioritize the NBA and this gave him a great value pick with Nikola Jokic averaging 47.4 ppg and a draft analysis score of 14.86% from his 18th round selection. He received the fifth highest draft analysis score of any NBA player selected. However, the successful picks of Connor were weighed down by a handful of misses. These include Karl Anthony-Towns in the 13th round, Kemba Walker in the 22nd round, and then pure misses in later rounds like Mike Conley in the 44th round and LaMarcus Aldridge. Taking a deeper look at Karl Anthony-Towns, one can see how critical of a pick this was for Connor. Anthony-Towns currently has a draft analysis score of 8.76%. The NBA pick before Anthony-Towns was Damian Lillard who has notched a 13.92% score. Maybe more intriguing in this kind of draft is who was picked behind a player. In this case, the two picks behind Karl Anthony-Towns were his own pick Jokic and Bradley Beal. Jokic has a 14.28% score and Beal has a 13.28% score. There is a bit of a (un)luck factor that also contributes to Connor’s poor record. He is second in points for, with a sizable lead ahead of both Dan and Ryan. He leads the league, however, in points against, leaving him with a number of unlucky losses, including 7 losses by 50 or fewer points (Ryan has 4 such losses, and Dan and Brendan both have 0 losses by 50 or fewer points). That’s the difference of just one top player per matchup. Connor’s struggle can be summed up with a combination of successful players and underachievers. 

 

The NBA season is still on pause due to the coronavirus global pandemic. Our league’s regular season included 20 matchups, and we were about halfway through the 20th and final regular season matchup before the league suspended games. The most important implication of that 20th and final matchup is the standings placement of Ryan and Dan (Dan has a one game advantage over Ryan at the moment). Our overall Vortex League standings are dependent on a weighted winning percentage basis, however, so while bragging rights for a specific sport are important, we value how a team does in each game more than their placement in the standings. For a general overview of the Vortex League read our introduction article here.

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Ryan Green
Co-founder of First and Fan