Our Moneyball 101 section is filled with information, strategies, and analysis that can help you improve at Daily Fantasy Sports on Moneyball. Today, we’ll be focusing on the NBA again, by quickly examining one of the most significant advanced statistics at your disposal – usage rate.

What is usage rate?

Basketball Reference describes Usage Rate ‘as an estimate of the percentage a team plays used by a player while he is on the floor.’ A used possession can be either good or bad, but simply, it’s when a player attempts a field goal or commits a turnover.

Quickly think of a ball-dominant player in the NBA. Who came to mind? Was it Russell Westbrook? Westbrook is a classic example of a player with a high usage rate, and you rarely see him take a back seat and let another player run the offense.

Usage rate is an extremely important reactionary statistic to lineup changes in the NBA.

Lineup Changes

If something were to change to the Thunder lineup, such as an injury to a key player, Russell Westbrook, who already enjoys a ridiculously high usage rate would likely see even more of the Thunder’s possessions.

Westbrook is already an excellent fantasy scorer and can consistently score upwards of 50 fantasy points per game with a full roster; this is a result of his particularly high usage rate. When a key player is injured or suspended, however, Westbrook’s usage rate jumps up even further and his fantasy output increases as well. This example was most applicable to Westbrook when he was teamed up with Kevin Durant at the Thunder (the good old days!). With Durant out of the lineup, Westbrook’s usage rate would shoot up 7 points, and his fantasy points would increase by over 8 per game, compared to when Durant was

This example was most applicable to Westbrook when he was teamed up with Kevin Durant at the Thunder (the good old days!). With Durant out of the lineup, Westbrook’s usage rate would shoot up 7 points, and his fantasy points would increase by over 8 per game, compared to when Durant was in the team.

This same concept can be applied to every team in the NBA. The concept doesn’t change, however the application does. Previously, we would compare Rudy Gay’s usage rate with and without DeMarcus Cousins and found that Gay’s usage rate moved from 21.9 to 28.9 with the big man out of the team. There are many of these examples across all teams in the NBA.

At the end of it all, though, even the rarest of selections in Daily Fantasy can soon become relevant if their usage rate is expected to bump up.

Who to Choose?

Usage rate is also an excellent tool when deciding between two similarly priced players. A higher average usage rate in games will usually result in a higher level of consistency, considering this player is often taking more shots (hopefully not more turnovers) than the other. As a general rule when building lineups, if there are two players that I can’t differentiate, I will often select the player that I predict to have the higher usage rate.

At times, previous games and statistics are all that we can use to predict usage rate, so it’s important to know where and how to look for potential usage rate increases and advanced game statistics.

Helpful Tools

To take advantage of usage rate increases, you have to first be able to predict one before the game starts. Therefore, possibly most importantly, make sure you keep an eye on injury news. Everyone does this differently, whether you use FantasyLabs or Twitter.

Once you are aware of a particular lineup change, you can then begin to analyse the impacts and how they might benefit certain players on the team. Once again, most will do this differently, but I use StatMuse, a site which allows you to simply enter a query and see an instant result.

Using our old example, we could find Russell Westbrook’s usage rate with or without Kevin Durant by searching in StatMuse for: “Russell Westbrook average usage rate with, without Kevin Durant 2016.”

You can easily see if a player’s usage rate is trending up or down by entering queries such as ‘Russell Westbrook average usage rate last 10 games’ as well, which is a much better indicator than an entire season average usage rate.

NBAWowy, is another tool that can help you examine and understand how different lineups perform in the absence of a player. This tool allows you to see which players improve when a particular player misses a game, or how players benefit from the return of teammate as well.

Always remember, though, when attempting to predict usage rate for an upcoming game that past performances aren’t always a reliable indicator of future performance.


That wraps up an understanding of yet another simple DFS concept, but one that is definitely worth understanding because it can help you take that extra step towards becoming a dominant Daily Fantasy NBA player on Moneyball.

 

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