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The Numbers Game

Captains of Consistency

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Today's edition of the Numbers Game examines the top 50 players (8-cat) to determine how consistent they are from game to game. By doing so, we can answer specific questions such as, how reliable is Jimmy Butler as a FT shooter? Are steals a more or less volatile category than blocks? Which elite player is the most consistent rebounder?

 

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Fantasy owners know the value of consistent production, with a premium placed on players whose statistics are more or less 'matchup proof', particularly in specific categories. This is just as important in head-to-head or roto leagues as it is in DFS leagues, and arguably moreso in keeper/dynasty leagues -- nobody wants to be tethered to an unreliable player for multiple years.

 

By looking at gamelogs for the season-long top-50 players, my goal is to objectively determine which elite players are the most consistent with their production. I'll use the word 'reliability' interchangeably, as well as their opposite, 'volatility'.

 

Here's my method for analyzing each player:

1) Aggregate gamelogs from Rotoworld's player page

2) Determine means and standard deviations (aka the amount of deviation from the mean) for each player's nine primary fantasy categories (points, 3s, FG%, FT%, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers)

3) Divide the standard deviation into the mean to arrive at individual 'volatility', then compile the top-50 players into a single chart

 

This levels the playing field by gauging each player's consistency via their own production, not a league-wide metric or theoretical ideal. Looking only at standard deviations would be misleading -- John Wall's SD for assists would likely be higher than Anthony Davis', for instance, due to the sheer volume of assists Wall hands out. By incorporating each players' assist averages we see that Wall (25.1%), to nobody's surprise, is the most consistent dime-dropper among the top-50 players. Davis (70.4%), meanwhile, shows the most volatility of any top-15 player.

 

The lower the percentage, the lower the player's volatility is for that category, and vice versa. This is perhaps most obvious in 3-pointers, where guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and Blake Griffin have ridiculously high volatility due to the fluky nature of their occasional 3-point makes.

 

Name PTS 3PT FG% FT% REB AST STL BLK TO
LeBron James 25.0% 76.9% 17.5% 22.8% 36.6% 36.6% 71.1% 130.7% 55.1%
DeMarcus Cousins 27.0% 547.7% 22.6% 18.0% 38.0% 53.8% 74.8% 74.6% 50.2%
Greg Monroe 28.4% n/a 22.5% 36.4% 33.0% 63.7% 78.8% 109.0% 63.9%
Blake Griffin 28.7% 435.9% 23.8% 39.5% 37.1% 38.4% 75.4% 173.2% 76.1%
Marc Gasol 29.2% 591.6% 24.3% 29.1% 33.5% 51.7% 103.0% 66.2% 70.4%
LaMarcus Aldridge 29.4% 150.3% 20.4% 32.6% 30.8% 83.3% 108.1% 114.1% 70.1%
Paul Millsap 30.3% 98.3% 28.0% 50.4% 39.8% 61.7% 72.9% 103.9% 52.2%
Derrick Favors 30.7% n/a 21.2% 42.9% 37.2% 85.6% 101.5% 75.5% 62.6%
Kevin Durant 30.7% 70.6% 34.4% 18.1% 32.0% 58.8% 97.0% 99.6% 53.4%
Zach Randolph 31.3% 259.8% 27.5% 49.2% 34.3% 61.2% 101.6% 168.6% 66.7%
Kevin Martin 31.3% 67.6% 29.7% 37.7% 54.1% 63.0% 97.2% n/a 71.5%
Rudy Gay 31.4% 65.7% 26.3% 51.4% 29.1% 53.2% 101.8% 103.1% 63.9%
Victor Oladipo 32.2% 90.3% 25.6% 31.6% 61.4% 43.2% 61.2% 249.4% 65.1%
Tyreke Evans 32.4% 80.9% 24.0% 61.3% 47.0% 45.6% 68.2% 146.6% 48.6%
Nikola Vucevic 32.5% n/a 20.5% 39.4% 33.8% 73.0% 113.4% 117.1% 75.2%
Al Horford 32.6% 236.6% 33.1% 74.8% 40.1% 52.6% 101.8% 87.0% 72.7%
Gordon Hayward 33.5% 76.5% 27.2% 26.5% 59.2% 39.4% 77.7% 153.9% 63.6%
Jeff Teague 33.6% 83.5% 26.5% 39.5% 73.6% 34.6% 64.2% 143.4% 49.3%
John Wall 33.8% 114.9% 28.5% 47.3% 57.0% 25.1% 71.5% 128.6% 48.5%
Eric Bledsoe 34.1% 66.6% 21.9% 41.9% 46.9% 46.7% 68.9% 176.1% 60.2%
Damian Lillard 34.7% 63.1% 33.0% 33.1% 64.9% 32.1% 97.0% 159.9% 62.0%
Kawhi Leonard 35.7% 109.3% 34.3% 33.7% 43.6% 83.5% 61.0% 90.5% 84.8%
Al Jefferson 35.9% 331.7% 23.6% 84.0% 39.3% 77.0% 95.8% 97.0% 95.9%
Stephen Curry 36.1% 49.3% 24.8% 33.0% 48.4% 39.4% 41.9% 213.4% 54.7%
James Harden 36.3% 65.2% 26.7% 12.7% 47.1% 34.8% 56.1% 172.0% 29.4%
Russell Westbrook 37.0% 79.3% 26.1% 17.2% 42.1% 39.2% 66.9% 176.8% 48.2%
Goran Dragic 37.4% 93.7% 30.7% 66.5% 74.3% 51.0% 74.8% 247.2% 63.2%
Khris Middleton 37.8% 83.8% 30.8% 85.7% 42.5% 60.6% 63.1% 273.9% 84.2%
Isaiah Thomas 38.1% 56.3% 33.0% 23.5% 73.6% 45.6% 136.8% 300.0% 77.7%
Pau Gasol 39.0% 200.0% 26.3% 32.5% 25.9% 60.6% 170.0% 89.5% 55.9%
Chris Paul 39.2% 77.9% 26.1% 55.2% 39.5% 28.4% 64.8% 429.5% 56.1%
Dwyane Wade 39.3% 189.5% 28.6% 28.8% 69.8% 52.0% 89.5% 270.8% 44.9%
Klay Thompson 39.6% 55.8% 24.2% 61.3% 65.0% 61.0% 124.0% 131.2% 68.0%
Ricky Rubio 40.4% 110.6% 31.5% 50.4% 56.1% 40.2% 68.5% 387.3% 40.8%
Anthony Davis 40.4% 479.6% 27.9% 24.6% 23.2% 70.4% 118.9% 70.0% 81.4%
Kyle Lowry 41.0% 76.6% 32.2% 54.5% 49.3% 43.5% 83.5% 232.4% 56.8%
Jimmy Butler 41.8% 88.2% 26.7% 15.9% 47.4% 65.7% 84.5% 144.9% 74.7%
Kevin Love 42.4% 82.5% 30.9% 47.9% 36.8% 46.0% 121.2% 125.6% 89.2%
Kyle Korver 42.5% 52.7% 39.4% 107.1% 44.6% 72.9% 119.7% 128.5% 83.1%
Serge Ibaka 42.6% 150.0% 29.9% 87.0% 53.2% 112.1% 108.0% 63.0% 79.1%
Mike Conley 42.9% 78.8% 35.9% 59.1% 68.2% 57.7% 80.2% 208.0% 68.3%
Tobias Harris 43.7% 80.5% 31.4% 52.8% 52.6% 87.1% 87.3% 127.1% 65.1%
Monta Ellis 45.2% 116.7% 39.1% 57.5% 64.8% 60.9% 79.8% 155.0% 54.9%
Tyson Chandler 46.2% n/a 41.6% 48.4% 39.5% 113.1% 124.5% 105.3% 91.0%
Draymond Green 46.6% 87.0% 37.0% 82.5% 43.9% 60.0% 82.4% 81.7% 63.1%
Tim Duncan 47.0% 556.8% 36.1% 61.3% 34.7% 62.5% 99.2% 78.1% 78.3%
Trevor Ariza 47.6% 72.8% 36.9% 107.8% 40.1% 54.6% 78.8% 239.8% 64.2%
Danny Green 47.7% 63.7% 39.2% 93.2% 52.1% 81.6% 89.4% 89.6% 97.0%
Kyrie Irving 48.1% 92.1% 31.5% 41.2% 43.3% 42.9% 84.4% 207.7% 61.4%
Ty Lawson 54.3% 105.6% 36.2% 57.6% 58.7% 29.2% 83.9% 331.7% 65.2%
                   
  PTS 3PT FG% FT% REB AST STL BLK TO
Means: 37.3% 149.2% 29.1% 48.1% 46.8% 56.7% 88.9% 160.2% 65.6%
                   

 

(Note: I eliminated some top-50 players who are done for the season, such as Carmelo and Chris Bosh). This was rather painstaking to compile so there wasn't much time left for analysis -- I'll discuss some highlights of the data below, but anyone with a question or insight is encouraged to send me a message on Twitter or an email, if you're so inclined. And if you aren't yet familiar with it, this link to Google Drive includes a rest-of-season schedule grid, a breakdown of how important each category is for the top-150 players' overall values, some week-old rankings, and more.

 

Brief Interlude: Mike Gallagher and Aaron Bruski have both touched on the chaos of random DNPs in recent weeks (here and here), a problem which will only intensify as non-playoff teams focus on the draft lottery and playoff teams focus on staying healthy. Consider yourself fortunate if you have studs from any teams on the bubble, including the Pelicans, Thunder, Hornets, Celtics, Heat and Pacers. If you’re navigating the minefield of DNPs in your fantasy playoffs, definitely check out those columns.

 

Points

LeBron James proves to be the most reliable scorer with a meager volatility of 25%. He's followed closely by DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Blake Griffin and, somewhat surprisingly, Marc Gasol. This is a reminder that volume is merely one factor in the equation. The most unreliable scorers among this elite group are Ty Lawson, Kyrie Irving, Danny Green, Trevor Ariza, Tim Duncan and Draymond Green. If you own those guys, expect relatively wild swings in their scoring output from night to night.

 

As a whole, the scoring category proves to have low volatility at 37.3%, with only FG% proving to be more reliable. This is assuredly influenced by the high-scoring group of players we're examining, and the volatility would trend upward the more players we included. Maybe I'll have time to do a league-wide analysis this offseason.

 

3-pointers

Unsurprisingly, 3-pointers are a very volatile category due to the handful of players (almost entirely big men) who make a random trey every so often. On an individual basis, however, we find a predictable group of players who are extremely reliable from the perimeter -- the top-10 includes Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, Damian Lillard, Danny Green, James Harden, Rudy Gay, Eric Bledsoe and Kevin Martin. The guards with the greatest volatility are Dwyane Wade, Monta Ellis, John Wall and Ricky Rubio.

 

 

FG%

Note: This refers to unweighted FG% numbers. Field goal percentage is the most reliable category, as mentioned above, with a very low volatility of 29.1%. Guards and forwards are typically the least reliable in this category, but interestingly it's Tyson Chandler whose 41.6% volatility leads the pack. LeBron James is uber-reliable at a ridiculous 17.5%, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge, Nikola Vucevic, Derrick Favors, Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins and Al Jefferson. You know what FG% those guys are going to give you when they step on the court.

 

 

FT%

Note: This refers to unweighted FT% numbers. They are generally fine but occasional problems arise, such as Kyle Korver looking like an unreliable FT shooter -- he only takes 2.5 freebies per game, so occasional 0-of-1 lines are weighted the same as a 5-of-5 line, hence the distortion. It would have taken way too much time to fix this, so take it for what it's worth. The player who hovers closest to his averages game after game is James Harden, whose miniscule 12.7% volatility is the lowest number of any player in any category. He's followed by Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant.

 

 

Rebounds

The most-reliable rebounders among the top-50 are Anthony Davis, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol, Nikola Vucevic, Zach Randolph and Tim Duncan. The least-reliable players are all guards like Goran Dragic, Jeff Teague and Isaiah Thomas. Gordon Hayward is also in the bottom-10, and Serge Ibaka surprisingly comes in as the 15th least-reliable player with a volatility of 53.2%. A look at his boxscore confirms the result -- in early February, for instance, he had single-digit boards in six straight games before busting out for 22 boards and 12 boards in his next two games. Unfortunately his knee surgery means he'll be a very consistent '0' for the rest of the regular season.

 

Assists

Assists break down cleanly by positions, with guards packing the 'most-reliable' category while big men are rife among the 'least-reliable'. The steadiest non-guard is LeBron James, but Blake Griffin isn't far behind, and both Kevin Love and Marc Gasol make the top-20 for reliability. Among non-PF/Cs, Danny Green fares poorly in this volatility assessment at 81.6%, followed closely by Kyle Korver, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Mar2tin.

 

Steals

Steals as a category prove to be highly volatile. That's especially true if you're Pau Gasol, whose 170% volatility is far higher than anyone else -- next up are Isaiah Thomas (at 136%), Tyson Chandler, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver. Players who will reliably swipe the ball include league-leaders Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Victor Oladipo and Khris Middleton.

 

Blocks

Blocks are the single most volatile category. Serge Ibaka bucks the trend with consistent blocks, as do Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors. Danny Green sneaks into the top-12 for reliability, too, highlighting one of the reasons for his quiet top-50 value this season.

 

If you're interested in the volatility (or lack thereof) for these players' minutes, FG attempts, FT attempts and more, click here to view an expanded version of the chart above. 

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.