Rankings: 8-cat, 9-cat and Points

Ryan Knaus

This week we're talking about rankings. James Harden leads the NBA in 8-category value by a wide margin. Damian Lillard has been second, and he's first if you include turnovers for 9-cat value (and exclude Deandre Ayton, who only played one game). We know this because fantasy sports are, as my column propounds each week, simply a numbers game. There's so much subjectivity about who might be shut down after the All-Star break, or which rookie has the most breakout potential. Sometimes it's nice to look at cold, hard statistics. We can say with certainty that no player has scored more DFS points (based on FanDuel and NBA.com) than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

To determine these rankings, I take league-wide data and assign values for each category with standard scores for 8-cat and 9-cat. As usual, I've weighted FG% and FT% by volume of attempts. It's great that Kendrick Nunn is shooting 84% at the line, but he's taking 1.9 attempts per game. Meanwhile, Luka Doncic is shooting 84% on 7.7 attempts, which is top-10 in the league. Doncic is having a far bigger impact on your FT%, so I've baked that into the rankings. Steve Alexander drafted Doncic in basically every league, partly because he was confident his FT% would improve and the counting stats would come in bunches, so he's looking smart right now. Averages of 28.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 2.8 triples, 1.1 steals and 48.5% FGs, 84.4% FTs? Wild.

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Because we're so early in the season, I haven't disqualified anyone based on games played -- that's why Deandre Ayton appears, even though he only played one (magnificent) game prior to his suspension. There's also no minute cutoff, which lets us see that Robert Williams is top-100 for 9-cat value in a mere 16 minutes per game. Williams already looks like one of those per-minute monsters that I fall for in fantasy. We saw, for instance, a guy like Kyle O'Quinn close out the 2017-18 season with top-50 value in 20 minutes per game. The question now is whether Williams can get enough playing time to take the next leap into early-round territory. He's the TimeLord, so that shouldn't be hard even in a busy frontcourt, right? I'm holding onto him in the hopes that Enes Kanter doesn't completely ruin the fun.

Let's get to the rankings. After this list, which I limited to the top-200 players based on 8-cat value, I'll talk about some of the innumerable fantasy implications.

 

Name 8-cat 9-cat NBA Official Points
James Harden 1 5 2
Damian Lillard 2 1 9
Anthony Davis 3 4 3
Karl-Anthony Towns 4 3 5
Luka Doncic 5 8 4
Giannis Antetokounmpo 6 7 1
Kawhi Leonard 7 9 8
Andre Drummond 8 10 6
Kyrie Irving 9 6 10
Deandre Ayton 10 2 13
Trae Young 11 15 14
Joel Embiid 12 13 11
Kyle Lowry 13 16 31
Kemba Walker 14 12 23
LeBron James 15 17 7
Jimmy Butler 16 11 15
Malcolm Brogdon 17 20 21
Pascal Siakam 18 19 16
Brandon Ingram 19 21 18
Devin Booker 20 28 38
Jonathan Isaac 21 14 49
Stephen Curry 22 31 34
Russell Westbrook 23 43 12
Kevin Love 24 23 28
Domantas Sabonis 25 22 17
John Collins 26 18 33
D'Angelo Russell 27 26 20
Donovan Mitchell 28 27 25
Ricky Rubio 29 24 30
Bradley Beal 30 56 19
Nikola Jokic 31 35 22
Ben Simmons 32 58 37
Fred VanVleet 33 42 45
Gordon Hayward 34 33 47
Nikola Vucevic 35 25 24
Jayson Tatum 36 37 35
Thomas Bryant 37 39 46
Clint Capela 38 29 32
Andrew Wiggins 39 34 26
Devonte' Graham 40 49 50
Chris Paul 41 50 69
Bam Adebayo 42 54 29
Will Barton 43 36 53
Jrue Holiday 44 61 36
Al Horford 45 32 39
Tristan Thompson 46 30 27
Hassan Whiteside 47 46 41
Jeremy Lamb 48 38 58
Zach LaVine 49 82 57
Tobias Harris 50 52 44
Bojan Bogdanovic 51 67 78
LaMarcus Aldridge 52 57 54
Derrick Rose 53 84 63
O.G. Anunoby 54 40 92
Aron Baynes 55 41 71
Robert Covington 56 51 102
Khris Middleton 57 66 72
Jamal Murray 58 71 59
Montrezl Harrell 59 62 42
Kristaps Porzingis 60 59 40
Rudy Gobert 61 68 43
Marcus Morris 62 70 70
Danilo Gallinari 63 44 83
Jaylen Brown 64 45 51
P.J. Tucker 65 47 108
Lonzo Ball 66 76 77
Dejounte Murray 67 92 68
Myles Turner 68 64 97
Luke Kennard 69 60 75
PJ Washington 70 63 91
Jeff Teague 71 81 93
Josh Hart 72 55 100
Kendrick Nunn 73 80 95
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 74 77 52
Danuel House 75 48 123
Josh Richardson 76 93 84
Lou Williams 77 100 48
Jabari Parker 78 79 73
Brandon Clarke 79 53 101
Taurean Prince 80 85 110
DeMar DeRozan 81 124 55
Eric Bledsoe 82 86 64
Goran Dragic 83 99 81
T.J. Warren 84 72 80
Marcus Smart 85 65 106
Lauri Markkanen 86 95 76
Brook Lopez 87 73 111
Buddy Hield 88 116 104
Elfrid Payton 89 87 133
De'Aaron Fox 90 161 56
Terry Rozier 91 140 85
Paul Millsap 92 74 109
Serge Ibaka 93 103 103
Harrison Barnes 94 75 87
Dennis Schroder 95 130 82
Kelly Oubre Jr. 96 89 89
Mitchell Robinson 97 69 117
Nemanja Bjelica 98 78 135
Blake Griffin 99 167 60
Evan Fournier 100 104 112
Ja Morant 101 176 74
Alec Burks 102 88 118
Richaun Holmes 103 83 107
Bogdan Bogdanovic 104 98 114
Jae Crowder 105 94 113
Moritz Wagner 106 131 157
Jonas Valanciunas 107 121 98
DeAndre Jordan 108 96 88
Joe Harris 109 115 150
Isaiah Thomas 110 149 122
Spencer Dinwiddie 111 147 96
Eric Paschall 112 97 116
Jaren Jackson Jr. 113 144 115
Maxi Kleber 114 90 131
C.J. McCollum 115 146 66
Tomas Satoransky 116 129 143
Dario Saric 117 113 129
Robert Williams 118 91 144
Cody Zeller 119 112 86
Jordan Clarkson 120 106 126
Draymond Green 121 110 94
Nerlens Noel 122 107 160
Aaron Gordon 123 122 99
Patrick Beverley 124 132 120
Dillon Brooks 125 111 124
Shabazz Napier 126 141 145
Kris Dunn 127 102 154
Justise Winslow 128 181 61
Julius Randle 129 195 62
Larry Nance Jr. 130 114 138
Wendell Carter Jr. 131 120 79
Troy Brown Jr./td> 132 117 155
Ivica Zubac 133 109 137
Davis Bertans 134 101 172
Collin Sexton 135 142 105
Tyler Herro 136 145 132
Delon Wright 137 108 148
Dwight Howard 138 123 134
George Hill 139 105 158
Willie Cauley-Stein 140 118 139
Danny Green 141 125 176
Miles Bridges 142 168 128
Rudy Gay 143 143 127
Glenn Robinson III 144 128 141
Mike Conley 145 183 125
Langston Galloway 146 119 170
Patty Mills 147 139 187
Derrick White 148 126 147
Caris LeVert 149 198 90
Rodney Hood 150 135 173
J.J. Barea 151 164 199
Kent Bazemore 152 159 159
Derrick Favors 153 160 142
Rui Hachimura 154 148 121
Kelly Olynyk 155 154 167
Otto Porter 156 134 156
Garrett Temple 157 127 192
J.J. Redick 158 165 191
Bryn Forbes 159 136 161
Gary Harris 160 150 151
Goga Bitadze 161 155 164
Frank Ntilikina 162 156 183
Daniel Theis 163 137 140
Jarrett Allen 164 166 119
Markieff Morris 165 187 166
Trey Burke 166 133 149
Josh Okogie 167 171 146
Kevin Huerter 168 173 177
Cedi Osman 169 153 182
Jahlil Okafor 170 172 162
Markelle Fultz 171 179 168
Tony Snell 172 138 196
Avery Bradley 173 157 169
Royce O'Neale 174 158 197
Thaddeus Young 175 169 163
Jake Layman 176 174 186
Bobby Portis 177 162 130
Zach Collins 178 190 194
Norman Powell 179 184 184
Hamidou Diallo 180 180 174
Kenrich Williams 181 152 181
Gorgui Dieng 182 163 190
DeAndre' Bembry 183 191 153
Joe Ingles 184 186 180
Omari Spellman 185 185 188
Emmanuel Mudiay 186 196 185
JaMychal Green 187 170 189
Anfernee Simons 188 182 193
Aaron Holiday 189 177 195
Tyus Jones 190 189 165
Marc Gasol 191 197 178
R.J. Barrett 192 200 65
Kyle Anderson 193 175 171
Kevin Knox 194 178 175
Rajon Rondo 195 151 136
Matisse Thybulle 196 194 200
Chris Chiozza 197 192 198
Damion Lee 198 188 179
Marvin Bagley III 199 193 67
Frank Kaminsky 200 199 152

 

We have specific buy-low, sell-high columns each week, and rankings like this are another convenient way to seek out trade targets. Aaron Gordon may never reach the heights we assumed he might a few years ago, but he's better than top-120 and just 26.7 fantasy points per game. Maybe his owner is frustrated? Buddy Hield is shooting a career-low 41.2% from the field (down from 45.8% last year) and his rebounds, assists and steals have all slipped. He's only playing one fewer minute, though, and without De'Aaron Fox he should have the ball in his hands more often, so when I see him outside of the top-100 I'm instantly floating some reasonable trade offers. If I can get Hield for T.J. Warren or something comparable, it's a coup. That might not happen, but you don't know until you try.

Caris LeVert was barely top-200 for 9-cat value. I mean that literally, he was No. 199 thanks to deficits in percentages (42.1% FGs, 64.5% FTs), too many turnovers (3.4) and meager defensive stats. For the entire season he has six steals and one block. Kris Dunn has 25 steals. You don't draft LeVert for blocks, but even Damian Lillard has six swats this year. LeVert will likely remain a liability in percentages, and it's bizarre to me that every single year in the NBA he's been worse in both FG% and FT%. I don't expect him to finish at his current career lows, but it's a troubling trend. If the percentages don't scare you off, this could be a buy-low moment. My fear is that anyone who drafted him loves him, and probably reached for him in the 4th/5th round, so you can't get him at a discount. It never hurts to try.

Players who didn't make the top-200 cut for 8-cat include Dwight Powell, Coby White, Bruce Brown, Steven Adams, Terrence Ross, De'Andre Hunter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Dennis Smith Jr. A unifying theme with those guys is brutal percentages. Dwight Powell, a typically solid free throw shooter, is at 52.6% on 2.7 attempts per game. I'd happily bet on a course-correction for him and view him as an under-owned center. Coby White went bonkers with 23 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and couldn't miss from downtown, so he's worth a speculative add if you need scoring and 3-pointers. I'm still not sold on his overall value, though, and don't want to deal with the FG% problem.

Bruce Brown is dropping dimes in a starting PG role, with 11 more on Tuesday, but the ride is about to end. Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin have both been out, but their returns will take the ball out of Brown's hands more often than not -- he's not exactly a per-minute monster, so that's a huge problem. As a side note, the Pistons' broadcast quoted coach Dwane Casey as saying that Reggie Jackson could be out until "December or January," which is the first we've heard of R-Jax's back injury potentially keeping him out past Christmas. If you haven't cut him already, this is your cue.

Seeing rankings like this, side by side, is also interesting to me as an owner in many leagues with different formats. DeMar DeRozan has been great in points leagues but is struggling in 9-cat, where a career-high 3.3 turnovers are compounded by high-volume 77.2% free throw shooting. That's the lowest since his rookie season in 2009-10 and he's another buy-low option. Players like Danuel House, Brook Lopez, Taurean Prince, Marcus Smart, P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington are glaringly better in 8-cat and 9-cat leagues, but don't get the raw counting stats that are required for most points formats. The inverse has been true for Julius Randle, Justise Winslow, RJ Barrett (with bizarrely bad FT%), Ja Morant and others. That's all the time I have today but let me know if you have any questions or insights! Next week we'll be talking all about usage rates.