Building a Fantasy Basketball Team Around Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is one of a handful of players that could be considered the best fantasy player this season. He is obviously a dominant three-point shooter, but he also is a top contributor in points, assists, steals and free throw percentage

To begin our dissection of Steph's game, let's look at his projected stats for next season. His fantasy game has no major weaknesses except for turnovers, where he is projected to have a top 10 negative impact on your team next season.

Stephen Curry 33 48.0% 18.5 91.0% 4.6 26.3 4.3 4.7 6.6 1.9 0.2 3.1

These are the Hashtag Basketball fantasy basketball projections done by Marc Roberts. I use these projections and develop the fantasy impact in each category, and roughly compare each category to points - this is called Fantasy Point Equivalent (FPE). This system I have developed is Modified Rarity Index Scoring (MRIS). Below are Steph's projected FPE for next year in the nine common statistical categories:

Stephen Curry 33 5.31 12.74 15.59 19.59 1.59 20.81 18.22 -2.64 -16.38

The important consideration with FPE is that all categories are directly comparable. Surprisingly, Steph is actually a stronger contributor in assists than in three-pointers. Let's compare the graphs of assist contributions to three-pointer contributions. Both of these graphs have FPE vs overall MRIS Rank so you can compare the distribution of value in each category.

Even though Steph is projected to be, by far, the top contributor in 3PM, there are so many other contributors that the value of a three is diluted. You can expect to get a significant contribution in threes at the end of your draft (or the waiver wire for that matter). However, with assists, the value is concentrated in the top players. For comparison: 

  Assists 3PM
Top 50 Total FPE 543.87 327.97
Top 100 Total FPE 714.65 517.77
Top 150 Total FPE 731.02 731.02

First of all, you can see that I based my FPE calculations on a 150 player league (the overall effective FPE pool is the same for each category). Secondly, you can see that there is almost zero assist contribution from 100 to 150 compared to the contribution in threes in that same region of overall value. This shows that assists are concentrated in much fewer players.

Overall, by building a team around Steph you are starting from a very strong place in Points, Threes, Assists, Steals, and Free Throw percentage. Steph is one of only a handful of players that pull your percentage up and can help make up for drafting a player like Rudy Gobert or Clint Capela later on. In this graph of FPE from FT%, you can see that there is a small group of players at +10 FPE near the top of the draft, and four players projected below -15 FPE.

However, just because you are so strong in free throw percentage with Steph does not mean you should sacrifice your advantage in this category to take on a player with such a glaring weakness. Those players are so much more valuable to a team that is punting free throw percentage that it is rarely advisable to take the hit from a bad free throw shooter when you are starting from such a position of strength.

Many fantasy basketball experts advise you to always punt turnovers. While I don't like agreeing with blanket strategies, I rarely consider the category myself. When you remove turnovers from consideration, Steph is the #5 projected player with the MRIS system and Marc's projections, behind Anthony Davis, James Harden, Russel Westbrook, and Kevin Durant. In standard nine-category leagues, Steph is projected to be fourth, but behind Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Karl Anthony-Towns.

One of the advantages of drafting Steph is his lack of weaknesses - the only categories he doesn't excel in are categories that can be found later in drafts. In particular, he is lacking rebounds and blocks so it is natural to look for bigs that are good to pair with Steph like Draymond Green. He has a Yahoo ADP of 21.4 and is projected 14th with a punt turnover strategy. DeMarcus Cousins has an ADP of 13.3 but is projected 7th if you punt turnovers. If one of these two is not available with your second pick (or you get outbid in an auction) I definitely love Embiid (ADP 28.8, projected 15th punting turnovers) if he falls to you - but only if you think he will play as many games as Marc has him projected at (57). It has been said many times, but the health of Embiid will determine a lot of fantasy leagues this year!

Don't feel obligated to take a big to pair with Steph. Rebounds and blocks are categories that have a lot of value between ranks 50 and 100:

The only aggressive punting strategy that Steph can facilitate (aggressive meaning punting a category that can be negative like turnovers and percentages) is field goal percentage. However, there are not players with massive negative field goal percentage impact like there is with free throw percentage impact.

Instead, you should be able to gather small amounts of value by targeting multiple players with poor field goal percentage. Some great players to target for that strategy are John Wall (projected MRIS rank goes from 9th to 7th punting FG%, Yahoo ADP of 10.1) and Damian Lillard (MRIS rank rises to 12th from 17th with an ADP of 17.6).

The most complimentary players to target are bigs that don't have great field goal percentages. If you miss out on DeMarcus (projected at 5th if you are punting FG% and turnovers), Kristaps Porzingis has an ADP of 23.5 and is projected to be the 20th best player by MRIS if you are punting FG% and turnovers. Kevin Love has an ADP of 36.8 on Yahoo and is projected at 35th in the same scenario. This isn't great value compared to Cousins but it does get you a well-balanced team to build from.

Other guards that are undervalued in this scenario are Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday - with ADPs of 35.1 and 53.6 respectively, they are projected to be the 23rd and 25th best players in this scenario. Most PF and C eligible players that do not have a decent field goal percentage (Dario Saric (projected 71), Ryan Anderson (113), and Danilo Gallinari (73)) are over-drafted even after punting field goal percentage.

Steph's fantasy outlook is great this year. Starting your team with him in a traditional snake-style draft or an auction draft gives you a lot of flexibility and it doesn't limit your ability to find value with players that slip by your opponents on draft-day. Besides, who doesn't enjoy watching Steph play basketball?

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