Jan 25 2013 10:21AM

Fantasy Friday: Going Small


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Because of a shortage of good wing players due to injuries this season, taking a small loss on a trade for a quality shooting guard like Kevin Martin in exchange for a good big like Carlos Boozer (guarding him) is excellent strategy.

The best fantasy basketball players are power forwards.

No question.

It's a statistical fact, proven every season, and this year is no different.

Next best is the center spot.

Part of the reasoning for that is the overlap with the power forward position--where many players can play both PF and C.

Then there is a big dropoff until you get to point guard, then small forward and finally shooting guard.

The reason I bring this up is because, with league trading deadlines coming up, the season midway point is practically the last opportunity you will have to fill a position void on your roster.

If you are like most teams, you probably are struggling to find a shooting guard or small forward worth starting at this point of the season.

Injuries have taken out Manu Ginobili, Eric Gordon and Carmelo Anthony to varying degrees, not to mention Danny Granger to others. All these men are eligible for the shooting guard and small forward positions in ESPN fantasy basketball leagues. And their 7-to-43-game absences have hurt already-depleted positions.

So--you're asking yourself--how does this affect me? What should I do to strengthen myself at these weak positions?

That's easy.

Trade your good big men for comparable wings now.

Even if you take a small loss on the transaction, it is better to land, say, a shooting guard with a 16.23 Player Efficiency Rating for a power forward with an 18.47 PER.

In other words, I would trade Carlos Boozer, who has that aforementioned 18.47 PER, for a shooting guard like Kevin Martin, who has a 16.23 PER.

Not only does Martin fill up the necessary shooting-guard stats (points, free throws, three-pointers), but Martin ranks ninth among shooting guards in PER Value Added stats.

On the flip side, Boozer ranks 13th among power forwards in PER Value Added, and is further off the starting power-forward baseline than Martin is off the shooting guard floor.

To better illustrate this point, I broke down Value Added stats for each position to show what the averages were for players in Top 20 at their overlapping positions.

Top 20 Point Guards: 160.4

Top 20 Shooting Guards: 149.1

Top 20 Small Forwards: 172.9

Top 20 Power Forwards: 192.9

Top 20 Centers: 174.8

Now when you eliminate the Top 10 players at each overlapping position and just look at the players ranking 11th through 20th, you see a huge dropoff at the wing positions, with averages of players who would be unplayable at the big-man positions.

No. 11 thru No. 20 Point Guards: 119.8

No. 11 thru No. 20 Shooting Guards: 103.3

No. 11 thru No. 20 Small Forwards: 104.8

No. 11 thru No. 20 Power Forwards: 155.7

No. 11 thru No. 20 Centers: 151.1

Are you beginning to see my point?

Even though you're giving up a few points to trade Boozer for Martin, you are landing a Top 10 shooting guard and that is a precious commodity in fantasy basketball.

Let me break it down yet another way--again using PER Value Added points as the basis for the argument.

When you look at Top 20 power forwards, they score 22.7 percent of all position points, followed by centers (20.6 percent), small forwards (20.3 percent), point guards (18.9 percent) and shooting guards (17.5 percent).

Now when you look at position players that rank 11th through 20th at their overlapping positions, you really see how rare it is to have contributing wings. Power forwards in that range score 24.5 percent of the points; centers, 23.8 percent; point guards, 18.9 percent; small forwards, 16.5 percent; shooting guards, 16.3 percent.

If you trade a 17- or 18-PER guy like Boozer or Kevin Garnett or Joakim Noah and land a 15- or 16-PER guy like Martin or J.R. Smith or Joe Johnson, you actually come out ahead in the long run.

It's baseline math. Fantasy basketball facts.

And who knows, it may be the key to your 2012-13 season.

Take a look at your roster and if you're lacking a second or thing wing--as you probably are--this is definitely something you should consider.

You probably have an extra big man or two who's not even playing now, huh?

If so, make some calls and pull that trigger.