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The Numbers Game

2014 Rankings in Review

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

With 2014 drawing to a close, it's time to look back at the first third of the NBA season. Rather than a microscopic view of individual performances, I'll be zooming out to consider all those players who have averaged at least 15 minutes and appeared in at least five games (sorry, George Hill).

 

By comparing players' actual 8-cat production with the 'meta-rankings' I projected before the season began, we'll get a good sense of which players are exceeding expectations, and which players have left their fantasy owners regretting their selection on draft day. Note that the original 'qualifying' population included 294 players, but after running the means/standard deviations/z-scores I lopped off the bottom 94 to arrive at an even 200.

 

Players are ranked in descending order beginning with Robert Covington, whose actual 8-cat value most exceeds his pre-season valuation. All players who weren't in the original top-200 column have been assigned '200' as their initial rank. Naturally, it's easier for low-end players to exceed their initial rank than it would be for an early-round pick -- for example, Damian Lillard has been phenomenal all season, returning No. 7 value in 8-cat leagues, but that's only 12 spots higher than his No. 19 pre-season rank. (You can click here to view the spreadsheet with these numbers and more.)

 

Player Original Meta-Rank Actual 8-cat Rank Difference in Ranks
Robert Covington 200 91 109
C.J. Watson 200 103 97
Tony Wroten 180 87 93
Gorgui Dieng 142 54 88
Corey Brewer 152 74 78
Harrison Barnes 191 114 77
Amare Stoudemire 155 79 76
Tyler Zeller 199 123 76
Ben McLemore 200 127 73
Brandon Knight 94 22 72
Courtney Lee 159 89 70
Draymond Green 94 25 69
Danny Green 97 29 68
Jimmy Butler 79 12 67
Pau Gasol 81 19 62
Jodie Meeks 125 64 61
Wilson Chandler 137 78 59
Tyson Chandler 98 41 57
Marreese Speights 198 143 55
Cory Joseph 200 145 55
DeAndre Jordan 92 39 53
Evan Turner 190 138 52
Rasual Butler 200 148 52
Lou Williams 146 95 51
Solomon Hill 199 149 50
Kyle Korver 86 37 49
Wes Johnson 157 108 49
Zach Randolph 116 68 48
Kevin Martin 77 30 47
Darren Collison 81 34 47
K.J. McDaniels 154 107 47
Shawne Williams 200 153 47
Kelly Olynyk 115 69 46
Kyle O'Quinn 152 106 46
Aaron Brooks 200 154 46
Joe Johnson 104 59 45
Nikola Mirotic 200 155 45
Jarrett Jack 153 109 44
Mo Williams 180 136 44
Taj Gibson 142 99 43
Nick Young 147 104 43
Enes Kanter 159 116 43
Jason Terry 200 158 42
Andrew Bogut 89 48 41
Tim Duncan 61 21 40
Tobias Harris 82 42 40
Lavoy Allen 200 160 40
Alec Burks 170 131 40
Jeff Green 97 58 39
Ed Davis 200 161 39
Klay Thompson 52 14 38
Henry Sims 200 163 37
Rudy Gobert 166 130 36
Ronnie Price 200 164 36
Tony Allen 155 120 35
Donatas Motiejunas 200 165 35
Gerald Green 132 98 34
James Johnson 159 125 34
Boris Diaw 185 152 33
Patrick Patterson 141 110 31
Devin Harris 173 142 31
Alex Len 200 169 31
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 200 171 29
Luc Mbah a Moute 200 172 28
Jordan Hill 127 100 27
Pablo Prigioni 200 174 26
Marc Gasol 38 13 25
Rudy Gay 41 16 25
Donald Sloan 200 175 25
Tristan Thompson 200 176 24
Timofey Mozgov 149 126 23
P.J. Tucker 139 117 22
Evan Fournier 195 173 22
Anderson Varejao 143 122 21
Darrell Arthur 200 180 20
Markieff Morris 71 52 19
Jerryd Bayless 200 181 19
Khris Middleton 157 139 18
Dwyane Wade 53 36 17
Luol Deng 89 72 17
Iman Shumpert 173 156 17
Jared Dudley 200 183 17
Anthony Morrow 163 146 17
Jeff Teague 33 17 16
Patrick Beverley 77 63 14
Terrence Ross 143 129 14
Eric Bledsoe 33 20 13
Gordon Hayward 40 27 13
Shabazz Muhammad 200 187 13
Damian Lillard 19 7 12
Jrue Holiday 40 28 12
Kevin Garnett 159 147 12
Reggie Jackson 76 65 11
Brandan Wright 129 119 10
Mike Dunleavy 151 141 10
Wesley Matthews 59 50 9
Shane Larkin 200 191 9
Nikola Vucevic 40 32 8
Bradley Beal 61 53 8
Jamal Crawford 74 66 8
Dwight Howard 98 90 8
DeMarcus Cousins 12 5 7
LaMarcus Aldridge 25 18 7
Luis Scola 193 186 7
Kris Humphries 200 193 7
Jared Sullinger 91 85 6
Dion Waiters 174 168 6
Ryan Anderson 87 82 5
Alexey Shved 200 195 5
Anthony Davis 7 2 5
Kyle Lowry 15 11 4
Isaiah Thomas 84 80 4
James Harden 4 1 3
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 193 190 3
Kyle Singler 200 197 3
Russell Westbrook 6 4 2
Kyrie Irving 17 15 2
DeMarre Carroll 99 97 2
Andre Roberson 200 198 2
Marcin Gortat 61 60 1
Tyreke Evans 74 73 1
Tony Parker 77 76 1
John Wall 10 10 0
Paul Millsap 23 23 0
Derrick Favors 56 56 0
Chris Paul 5 6 -1
Channing Frye 123 124 -1
Stephen Curry 1 3 -2
Chris Bosh 22 24 -2
Monta Ellis 38 40 -2
Jeremy Lamb 160 162 -2
Jameer Nelson 165 167 -2
J.J. Redick 102 105 -3
Marcus Morris 176 179 -3
Omer Asik 182 185 -3
Trevor Ariza 51 55 -4
Mario Chalmers 79 83 -4
LeBron James 3 8 -5
Kevin Durant 3 9 -6
Mike Conley 25 31 -6
Manu Ginobili 109 115 -6
Jonas Valanciunas 81 88 -7
Robin Lopez 85 93 -8
Hollis Thompson 181 189 -8
Kawhi Leonard 17 26 -9
Trey Burke 131 140 -9
Kobe Bryant 33 43 -10
Kemba Walker 36 46 -10
Giannis Antetokounmpo 108 118 -10
Chandler Parsons 49 61 -12
Roy Hibbert 90 102 -12
Goran Dragic 36 51 -15
Paul Pierce 84 101 -17
Gerald Henderson 178 196 -18
Matt Barnes 125 144 -19
Ty Lawson 29 49 -20
Marvin Williams 171 192 -21
Al Horford 25 47 -22
Brook Lopez 53 75 -22
Blake Griffin 21 44 -23
Carmelo Anthony 9 33 -24
Serge Ibaka 14 38 -24
Kevin Love 10 35 -25
Greg Monroe 86 111 -25
Rodney Stuckey 145 170 -25
Dirk Nowitzki 19 45 -26
Brandon Jennings 54 81 -27
David West 69 96 -27
Miles Plumlee 156 184 -28
Deron Williams 28 57 -29
Tiago Splitter 148 178 -30
Shawn Marion 169 199 -30
Jabari Parker 97 128 -31
Rajon Rondo 34 67 -33
Amir Johnson 102 135 -33
Nerlens Noel 77 113 -36
Carlos Boozer 130 166 -36
Nicolas Batum 24 62 -38
Nikola Pekovic 96 134 -38
Mirza Teletovic 138 177 -39
Victor Oladipo 31 71 -40
DeMar DeRozan 46 86 -40
Al Jefferson 27 70 -43
Avery Bradley 115 159 -44
Ricky Rubio 32 77 -45
Andre Drummond 49 94 -45
Joakim Noah 36 84 -48
Jose Calderon 71 121 -50
Josh Smith 81 133 -52
Derrick Rose 36 92 -56
Arron Afflalo 98 157 -59
Jeremy Lin 51 112 -61
Ersan Ilyasova 131 194 -63
Kenneth Faried 71 137 -66
Eric Gordon 116 182 -66
Andre Iguodala 115 188 -73
Larry Sanders 77 151 -74
David Lee 75 150 -75
Danilo Gallinari 123 200 -77
Thaddeus Young 52 132 -80

 

One caveat: I weighted my pre-season 'meta ranks' by each player's projected number of games played, whereas the current rankings rely on a per-game formula. This still gives an accurate picture of boom-or-bust players, and to compensate for the difference would have been more labor-intensive than it was worth. To read about my methodology when compiling the 'meta ranks', click here.

 

The players who wildly exceed their projections are primarily young guys who have stepped into bigger-than-expected roles, though some surprising veterans (Amare Stoudemire, Courtney Lee, Pau Gasol) also make the list. Anyone who picked up Robert Covington should have expected him to top the list, and a meta-rank of 200 is probably being generous, as he wasn't on anyone's fantasy radar when the season began. The Sixers are uniquely capable of turning an obscure player into a fantasy force, underscored by the presence of Covington and Tony Wroten atop this list.

 

C.J. Watson has been a solid late-round value but his role may shrink with George Hill (quad) getting back up to speed, so owners should start looking around for alternatives...Cory Joseph, perhaps? Brandon Knight has arguably been the biggest surprise at PG in fantasy leagues, as he's locked into a reliable, big-minute role despite Jason Kidd's daily lineup tweaks. His top-25 value in 8-cat leagues isn't a fluke, though he drops a few rounds when you factor in his 3.5 turnovers in 9-cat leagues.

 

Gorgui Dieng has been phenomenal all year and I see no reason why he'd fade in the coming months, despite Nikola Pekovic's eventual return from wrist and ankle injuries. Dieng was a reliable option with Pek active early this season and the Wolves will be even more cautious with their veteran's minutes as the clock winds down on a lost season. Keep in mind that Pek is owed $12 million per season through 2017-18.

 

Jodie Meeks has only played in nine games after a long rehab from his back injury, but he's already averaging 13.9 points, 1.9 triples, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals in just 24 minutes off the Pistons' bench. His percentages are flawless and his upside is glaring, especially with Stan Van Gundy well-disposed to 3-point shooting. Meeks has mid-round value and the ability to keep it all season, so he shouldn't be floating on any waiver wires. Yes, I'd take him over other hot FAs like Jared Dudley or even Nikola Mirotic

 

Injuries are a common theme for the most disappointing players. In most cases, injuries are an unforeseeable and fluky element to the season -- Jabari Parker, Robin Lopez, Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks and Terrence Jones are players who looked fine on draft day, but have since fallen prey to the injury bug. On the other hand, we find plenty of players whose injury histories makes their serious ailments less surprising -- this group includes Anderson Varejao, Andrew Bogut, Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and everyone's favorite whipping-boy, Andrea Bargnani. Not all injuries have the same level of unpredictability, in other words, which is worth remembering when contemplating the list above.

 

Keep in mind that the rankings above are per-game, so they don't capture the full impact of these injuries -- Kevin Martin shows up at No. 30 and Terrence Jones would be even higher if he'd qualified by playing in five games. Nevertheless, we find injury-slowed players in abundance with Gallinari, D-Lee, Larry Sanders, Ilyasova, D-Rose, DeRozan, Pekovic and more.

 

In between them are healthy players who have simply underperformed. Kenneth Faried has picked up the pace in Denver's past five games but is still a late-round value in 8-cat and 9-cat leagues this season. He had a torrid finish last season and I anticipate a similar rally in 2015, so consider floating a few trade offers for him before he re-establishes himself as a reliable double-double machine.

 

I'm less confident in Ersan Ilyasova's ability to get back on track, even though Jabari's season-ending injury has opened the door to steady playing time. Jason Kidd's rotations are unpredictable and guys like Khris Middleton and Jared Dudley are playing well enough to shy away from Ilyasova as more than a speculative stash.

 

Avery Bradley hasn't lived up to expectations, though he's at least flirting with top-100 value since Rajon Rondo's departure. In six games without Rondo he's averaging 11.0 points, 1.2 triples, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals, with 40.6% FGs and 87.5% FTs. His 28.7 minutes per game could easily increase as the season progresses, making Bradley a nice low-end target in typical leagues.

 

Al Jefferson's groin strain will shelve him for a minimum of four weeks and it's a brutal blow for his owners, who were already underwhelmed with his production through the Hornets' first 32 games. His numbers have dipped in virtually every category compared to 2013-14, including points (-3.8), FG percentage (-2.1%), rebounds (-2.6) and blocks (-0.4). That's enough to drop him from early-round value to the 60-70 range, which is why he's so low in this comparative rankings chart.

 

The presence of Andre Drummond so low on this list will send his owners into a tizzy, especially since he's crushing it over the past few weeks. The reason is simple -- this is a roto-based ranking which weights FT% as heavily as rebounds, and Drummond's weighted FTs (41.7% on 4.3 attempts) are the second-worst of any player in the league, ahead of only Dwight Howard (50.0% on a whopping 8.6 attempts).

 

Other players who take a beating due to negative Free Throw percentages include the usual suspects and a few less likely players: Josh Smith, DeAndre Jordan, Rajon Rondo, Ed Davis, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten, Omer Asik, Larry Sanders, Derrick Favors, Tristan Thompson, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Paul Millsap.

 

Kobe Bryant suffers the most from Field Goal percentages, understandably, as he's making only 37.5% of his 21.6 shots per game. He's followed by Trevor Ariza, Trey Burke, DeMar DeRozan, Kemba Walker, Josh Smith (again), Brandon Jennings, Deron Williams, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Nick Young, Jameer Nelson, Mo Williams, Donald Sloan, Tony Wroten, Alec Burks and Ty Lawson.

 

Notice that 14 of those 16 players are either PGs or SGs. That makes Josh Smith's presence even more egregious, while highlighting the virtues of guards who actually help your fantasy team in FG%, players like Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, Stephen Curry, Jodie Meeks, Kyle Korver, Courtney Lee and Chris Paul.

 

To view or download my spreadsheet with cumulative stats, z-scores and rankings for both 8-cat and 9-cat formats, click here. There are plenty of other ways to explore the data. Which positions have the most 'boom' or 'bust' players? Which teams have the most players in the top-150? How do the rankings change if you punt one or more categories? Play around with the numbers, and if you find anything interesting please email me or send me a message on Twitter @Knaus_RW. Thanks in advance, and have a terrific New Year!

Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.