Do all of the recent coaching changes impact Daily Fantasy Basketball players?
The number of coaching casualties in the NBA seems to be growing by the day, with Derek Fisher joining the list on Monday, and George Karl looking likely to follow in the near future. If Karl does end up losing his job (as reported), he will be the sixth NBA head coach to face the axe before the all-star break, joining McHale, Hollins, Blatt, Hornacek and Fisher.
The idea behind a head coaching change is usually to shift the way a team is playing, which is why it can have such huge fantasy implications. A new coach can bring in new offensive and defensive systems, and they can also make changes to the rotation.
The most publicised firing this season has been the coaching change in Cleveland, where the Cavs fired Davit Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue (with or without Lebron’s approval.) As his first point of order, Lue made it known that he wanted to play through Love at the elbow more, and he also wanted to play with a faster pace. That begs an important question: how did the change in philosophy impact the fantasy scoreboard?
Lue said he wanted to play at a faster pace, and although that didn’t lead to more possessions per game, it did lead to greater intensity, which led to a spike in player production. Also, just as Lue said, the team played through Love more, increasing his field goal attempts from 9.5 per game, to 14.5 in the games immediately after the coaching change. With the increased usage rate, Love’s fantasy production increased, and in the seven games after the change, Love has averaged 31.2 fantasy points per game, compared to the 27.4 points he averaged prior.
After Tyronn Lue stated publicly that he wanted to get Love more involved, I played him in my fantasy lineup, and I was rewarded with 47.2 and 40.7 efforts in back-to-back games, which is how you can gain your edge.
When a coaching change has occurred, trying to assess the possible changes and drawing conclusions can be a good way to get a jump on the competition, and with George Karl pegged as the next victim, how can we use that to our advantage?
When drawing conclusions from a coaching change, it’s important to factor in the players on the team, and any changes the coach has made during his time with the organisation. That way we can attempt to predict what might change going forward. For the Cavs, it was an uptick in Kevin Love’s usage, but if George Karl is the next head coach to face the axe, there will be even greater fantasy implications for both the Kings and their opponents.
Under George Karl, the Kings are playing fast basketball, and they currently play at the second highest pace in the league. However, with Karl’s fast-paced offense there have been some deficiencies on the defensive end. The combination of allowing plenty of possessions and defending them poorly has made the Kings one of the most fantasy-friendly matchups all season. However, with DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings haven’t traditionally played at a fast pace – and slower paced teams aren’t always as fantasy friendly (I’m looking at you, Utah.)
With both Rondo and Cousins’ skillsets suiting a slower paced offense, there’s every chance that a decrease in pace is the first change that would be made if Karl is fired. If that does occur, not only would that mean less fantasy scoring opportunities for the Kings, it would also mean less scoring opportunities for their opposition, which could mean the Kings slowly become a more difficult matchup for opposing teams. For that reason, it may be best to be cautious with Sacramento games if/when George Karl is fired. We all know that players generally play with renewed intensity in the immediate wake of a coaches firing, so if the Kings are also playing at a slower pace, this could make them a particularly good team to fade against.
While this is all conjecture and guess-work, sometimes it’s these types of thought processes that can help give you an edge on the competition. The same thing is happening with the Knicks right now, and all of these situations are ones to keep an eye on. If you’re able to gather an edge that other people may not have, it’s always going to boost the likelihood of your fantasy success.
Sometimes it might be a shift in pace; sometimes it’s just an increase in minutes for a certain player, but regardless of what it is, coaching changes always impact daily fantasy basketball players in one way or another.