NBA Consistency & Volatility

Ryan Knaus
Ryan Knaus analyzes the top-200 most (and least) consistent players this season, with Steven Adams, Tobias Harris and Luka Doncic leading the way

When you think of consistent fantasy players, who comes to mind? Superstars such as LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant? Each of them is in the top-25 for game-to-game consistency, but the three most-consistent fantasy players this season might surprise you -- Tobias Harris, Steven Adams and rookie star Luka Doncic.

These are the fantasy metronomes, players who produce night in, night out, seemingly oblivious to changing circumstances. Road games vs. away games. Playing with two days' rest vs. a back-to-back set. Elite defenses vs. cupcake matchups. It's all the same to certain players.

Then there are the 'boom-or-bust' players whose value tends to swing wildly each game. These can be guys who thrive in garbage time, suffer against small-ball lineups, get in foul trouble, depend wholly on their coach's chaotic rotations, or have expanded roles when teammates get hurt, but who otherwise fade into the background. Jaren Jackson Jr., Trey Burke, Kent Bazemore, Nemanja Bjelica and Kelly Oubre all fit the mold.

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Which other players fall in the first category, and which in the latter? Rather than trust anecdotal examples or a 'sense' of players who are consistent, I'll be using standard deviations as a stand-in metric for consistency. Here's my methodology:

1) Take each player's boxscores for the entire season, eliminate DNPs (due to injury or coach's decision) and convert them into fantasy-point totals using the NBA's official fantasy scoring, as seen on Yahoo, DRAFT, FanDuel and other sites

2) Determine the standard deviation of each player's box-score totals, and divide that into their average fantasy points per game to determine their consistency or volatility

If this topic strikes a chord with you, be sure to check out Wednesday's Rotoworld NBA podcast. Matt Stroup and I discuss 'headache' players whose inconsistency threatens to ruin their fantasy value -- you'll see plenty of them below.

You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW.

  Consistency Rank Consistency Index NBA Official Fantasy Points (per game)
Anthony Davis 4 85.30% 61.35
Giannis Antetokounmpo 11 82.00% 56.71
James Harden 9 82.10% 53.2
Joel Embiid 12 81.00% 52.55
Kevin Durant 21 77.90% 51.26
Russell Westbrook 5 84.40% 51.15
LeBron James 23 77.20% 49.95
Andre Drummond 64 70.50% 46.38
Paul George 6 83.50% 45.11
Kawhi Leonard 14 80.30% 44.73
Stephen Curry 17 79.40% 44.54
Nikola Vucevic 27 76.10% 44.52
Damian Lillard 35 74.90% 43.69
Kemba Walker 28 75.90% 43.52
Blake Griffin 57 71.80% 43.28
Jrue Holiday 7 82.80% 43.07
Nikola Jokic 79 67.70% 42.87
Karl-Anthony Towns 53 72.40% 42.56
Marc Gasol 25 76.70% 42.55
John Wall 19 78.80% 42.44
DeMar DeRozan 52 72.50% 41.58
Kyrie Irving 87 66.00% 41.55
Clint Capela 34 75.10% 41.1
Rudy Gobert 24 76.90% 40.87
Ben Simmons 45 73.50% 40.77
Victor Oladipo 110 60.80% 40.36
Hassan Whiteside 115 60.30% 40.1
Zach LaVine 10 82.00% 39.04
Chris Paul 16 79.70% 38.56
Kyle Lowry 29 75.80% 38.27
Jimmy Butler 92 64.90% 38.24
Bradley Beal 15 80.00% 37.78
Devin Booker 30 75.80% 37.64
Mike Conley 54 72.30% 37.45
LaMarcus Aldridge 80 67.70% 37.23
Tobias Harris 3 86.80% 36.28
Nikola Mirotic 8 82.60% 35.99
Steven Adams 1 89.20% 35.79
De'Aaron Fox 49 73.20% 35.73
Jusuf Nurkic 51 73.10% 34.97
Deandre Ayton 33 75.40% 34.46
Julius Randle 119 59.20% 34.09
Donovan Mitchell 107 61.00% 34.03
Montrezl Harrell 97 63.70% 33.93
DeAndre Jordan 56 72.00% 33.92
D'Angelo Russell 104 61.20% 33.84
Eric Bledsoe 32 75.50% 33.5
Josh Richardson 40 74.60% 33.44
Luka Doncic 2 88.90% 33.37
Klay Thompson 55 72.30% 33.22
Aaron Gordon 86 66.50% 33.16
Khris Middleton 13 80.80% 33.06
Enes Kanter 108 61.00% 32.86
Domantas Sabonis 39 74.60% 32.7
Tim Hardaway Jr. 95 64.30% 31.88
Caris LeVert 102 61.40% 31.64
Danilo Gallinari 22 77.60% 31.6
Draymond Green 128 57.30% 31.35
C.J. McCollum 58 71.50% 31.02
Dennis Schroder 66 70.10% 31.01
Willie Cauley-Stein 44 73.70% 31.01
Jamal Murray 81 67.30% 30.84
Robert Covington 65 70.20% 30.82
Tristan Thompson 124 58.20% 30.8
Serge Ibaka 36 74.90% 30.77
Paul Millsap 117 60.10% 30.72
JaVale McGee 67 69.80% 30.63
Al Horford 18 79.20% 30.59
Jayson Tatum 38 74.70% 30.26
Pascal Siakam 48 73.30% 30.02
Myles Turner 84 66.70% 29.53
Jabari Parker 82 67.10% 29.45
Trae Young 136 55.50% 29.37
Derrick Rose 147 51.20% 29.31
Buddy Hield 89 65.50% 29.27
Jeff Teague 60 71.30% 29.17
Jarrett Allen 103 61.40% 29.06
Jaren Jackson Jr. 169 45.80% 28.77
T.J. Warren 145 51.30% 28.72
Ricky Rubio 118 59.60% 28.62
Jeremy Lamb 37 74.80% 28.51
Wendell Carter Jr. 114 60.40% 28.47
Gary Harris 99 63.50% 28.4
Kyle Kuzma 47 73.30% 27.7
Justin Holiday 85 66.60% 27.6
Rudy Gay 68 69.40% 27.55
Goran Dragic 143 52.10% 27.5
Lou Williams 31 75.60% 27.39
Andrew Wiggins 149 50.80% 27.27
Harrison Barnes 127 57.50% 27.26
Otto Porter 137 54.50% 27.05
Joe Ingles 83 67.10% 26.96
Spencer Dinwiddie 75 67.90% 26.68
Malcolm Brogdon 46 73.40% 26.55
Brandon Ingram 41 74.50% 26.24
Evan Fournier 134 55.60% 26.17
Gordon Hayward 111 60.70% 25.99
Kent Bazemore 167 46.60% 25.78
Dwyane Wade 101 63.10% 25.68
Marvin Bagley III 150 50.80% 25.62
Derrick Favors 20 78.40% 25.39
Reggie Jackson 71 69.00% 25.34
J.J. Redick 59 71.50% 25.14
Dennis Smith Jr. 125 58.00% 25.11
Taurean Prince 62 70.70% 25.08
Trevor Ariza 113 60.50% 25
Jonas Valanciunas 116 60.10% 24.96
Taj Gibson 96 64.00% 24.95
Rodney McGruder 43 73.90% 24.65
Bogdan Bogdanovic 78 67.80% 24.61
Rajon Rondo 154 50.40% 24.59
Nemanja Bjelica 177 43.40% 24.47
Darren Collison 156 50.10% 24.23
Jerami Grant 63 70.60% 24.22
Noah Vonleh 162 47.60% 24.16
Marcus Morris 106 61.20% 24.07
Jordan Clarkson 74 68.00% 24.04
Eric Gordon 94 64.70% 23.89
Markieff Morris 187 37.40% 23.7
Wesley Matthews 26 76.50% 23.69
Lonzo Ball 120 59.00% 23.6
Jae Crowder 109 60.90% 23.52
Terrence Ross 88 65.80% 23.45
J.J. Barea 122 58.50% 23.37
Bojan Bogdanovic 77 67.80% 23.27
Brook Lopez 131 56.60% 23.26
Larry Nance Jr. 155 50.20% 22.96
Al-Farouq Aminu 91 65.00% 22.96
Emmanuel Mudiay 179 42.80% 22.89
Nicolas Batum 73 68.10% 22.82
Kyle Anderson 72 68.70% 22.75
E'Twaun Moore 164 47.20% 22.59
Dewayne Dedmon 126 58.00% 22.49
Evan Turner 70 69.00% 22.37
Thaddeus Young 105 61.20% 22.27
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 160 48.50% 22.16
Kelly Oubre 171 44.70% 22.12
Cody Zeller 50 73.10% 21.99
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 90 65.00% 21.75
Collin Sexton 141 53.00% 21.69
DeAndre Bembry 135 55.50% 21.64
D.J. Augustin 69 69.30% 21.62
Tyler Johnson 93 64.70% 21.59
Damyean Dotson 161 47.60% 21.44
P.J. Tucker 76 67.90% 21.42
Alex Len 173 44.00% 21.39
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 112 60.60% 21.19
Trey Burke 197 19.30% 21.14
Joe Harris 42 74.20% 21.14
Bam Adebayo 163 47.30% 21.13
Rodney Hood 98 63.50% 21.02
Dario Saric 138 54.20% 20.77
Danny Green 121 58.80% 20.63
Cory Joseph 140 53.80% 20.53
Tyreke Evans 148 51.00% 20.5
Marcus Smart 130 56.70% 20.44
Jaylen Brown 61 71.10% 20.35
Jonathan Isaac 157 49.80% 20.31
Fred VanVleet 146 51.20% 20.24
Garrett Temple 139 53.90% 20.22
George Hill 181 41.50% 20.04
Jeremy Lin 196 21.30% 20
Monte Morris 151 50.80% 19.88
Iman Shumpert 175 43.60% 19.83
Jeff Green 170 45.40% 19.78
Marvin Williams 168 46.50% 19.74
Shelvin Mack 158 49.30% 19.7
Markelle Fultz 123 58.40% 19.49
Josh Hart 166 46.60% 19.43
Nerlens Noel 189 35.30% 19.42
Stanley Johnson 185 40.90% 19.29
Wayne Ellington 180 42.60% 19.2
Dorian Finney-Smith 133 56.00% 19.03
Juancho Hernangomez 182 41.40% 19.01
Tony Parker 183 41.10% 18.87
Trey Lyles 152 50.50% 18.74
Allonzo Trier 193 31.90% 18.72
Ryan Arcidiacono 186 38.90% 18.72
Patty Mills 132 56.00% 18.56
Josh Okogie 178 42.90% 18.48
Dwight Powell 144 52.00% 18.44
Ed Davis 100 63.50% 18.2
Terry Rozier 153 50.40% 18.1
Miles Bridges 142 52.30% 18.01
Boban Marjanovic 198 15.90% 17.94
Mohamed Bamba 159 49.00% 17.57
Mitchell Robinson 195 23.90% 17.51
Maxi Kleber 165 47.10% 17.14
Malik Monk 172 44.30% 16.87
Josh Jackson 176 43.50% 16.63
James Ennis 174 43.90% 15.82
Mikal Bridges 194 27.10% 15.79
DeMarre Carroll 192 32.80% 15.75
Marcin Gortat 129 56.80% 15.67
Avery Bradley 190 35.00% 15.53
Allen Crabbe 184 41.10% 15.17
Kevin Knox 199 12.50% 15.04
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 191 34.50% 13.66
Antonio Blakeney 188 36.80% 13.39

As mentioned above, raw standard deviations can be misleading. Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic have standard deviations above 11.0, which is comparable to Tim Hardaway Jr. and De'Aaron Fox. This means that each player will (roughly) be within 11.0 fantasy points of their average 68.4% of the time. However, because Embiid and Vuc average considerably more fantasy points overall, their actual volatility is much lower. 

To account for the disparity, I've included the more accurate column 'Consistency Index' (SD as % of fantasy points). The higher the percentage, the less that player veered from their personal average (i.e. the more consistent that player has been). On the other hand, players with low percentages have veered widely from their personal means so far this season.

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Among elite fantasy producers, the least consistent have been Andre Drummond (70.5%), Blake Griffin (71.8%), Nikola Jokic (67.7%) and Kyrie Irving (66.0%). You can add Hassan Whiteside, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge and Victor Oladipo to the list, which raises a good point -- I'm not discriminating based on injuries. The fact that Oladipo played five minutes during the game when he got hurt skews his 'consistency index' but that's the harsh reality...and he'd look even worse if I were to include the DNPs.

Daily owners will love to note that Anthony Davis has been the king of DFS consistency -- in addition to being the top per-game producer (61.4 fantasy points), his 85.3% consistency is the best among any elite producer until you reach Tobias Harris. Russell Westbrook isn't far behind, and neither are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, James Harden or Joel Embiid. There's a bit more risk on a game-by-game basis when deploying LeBron James, Damian Lillard or Kemba Walker, though, in addition to the guys mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

This analysis is a labor of love, and I went 200 players deep to highlight low-end fantasy options who still produce consistently. Derrick Favors, for instance, is an extremely reliable player...but I would never have guessed it. Rodney McGruder, Jeremy Lamb and Joe Harris also attain 70+ percent consistency. Perhaps most surprising was the inclusion of some players I've mentioned as disappointments in recent weeks -- Jaylen Brown, Kyle Kuzma, Lou Williams and Brandon Ingram. They may not be hitting the value owners expected, but at least they're not hitting that value consistently? Faint praise, indeed.

In a column on Oct. 25, Small Sample Size Statistics, I wrote about Boban Marjanovic: "[He is] doomed to inconsistency. Boban's two-game surge was fun and it will happen again. He'll feast against certain lineups, but to think Boban can routinely match up vs. today's fast, athletic, court-stretching bigs is unrealistic." Based on this week's analysis he's not only doomed to inconsistency but has embodied the very concept. His ridiculous 35.9% variance does not include seven healthy DNP-CDs this season. If we added those, he'd approach 100% boom-or-bust status. Doc Rivers has guided the post-CP3/Blake/DJ Clippers to a 16-7 record, tied for the best in the West, and in the process he's unraveled the 'Free Boban' movement.

Kevin Knox is the actual epitome of inconsistency this season, and plenty of rookies are toward the bottom including Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, Jaren Jackson Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mo Mamba. Veterans aren't exempt, of course, with Andrew Wiggins, Darren Collison, Marvin Williams, Tony Parker and Tyreke Evans all struggling to help fantasy owners on a daily basis.

This column isn't addressing the 'why' about each player's struggles. You could analyze each player and explain why their value is unreliable, or extremely reliable, on a case-by-case basis. I hope that fantasy owners can use this information to cull the chaos from their lineups, build reliable rosters, err toward consistent DFS value, and at a minimum get some catharsis -- yes, that player who drives you crazy is indeed extremely inconsistent. My final note is that there are only 199 players on the list because I had to eliminate Aaron Holiday. He was so incredibly inconsistent, with a standard deviation (10.17) nearly as large as his fantasy points average (11.18), that he was skewing the formatting. So, I ditched him. Good luck this week!