This article was originally published on February 5, 2018.
We mapped the Pts/$K for the Phoenix Suns throughout the 2017 season and found some very interesting results.
Scatter plot of all 82 games and the respective Pts/$K for the Phoenix Suns.
We see a clear upward trend towards the end of the season with the Phoenix Suns. 21 out of the Suns’ last 25 games saw their eligible players average > 4.5 Pts/$K (84%). Additionally, 7 out of the last 12 games saw eligible players average > 5.0 Pts/$K (58%).
We believe this can be directly attributed to a change in coaching style that occurred with about 20 games to go in the regular season. Suns were only playing 8 or 9 guys consistent minutes, with 6 of those guys playing the vast majority of total minutes. In our opinion, FanDuel was unable to adapt quickly to this change in coaching strategy, and thus players were under priced at the end of the year. Let’s look at two sample box scores:
Box Score from December 16, 2016 (non-blowout)
Box Score from April 1, 2017 (non-blowout)
We see the difference in how players were rewarded minutes in these two games at different points in the season. In this case, we are convinced that the change in coaching strategy as well as injuries to key players caused the players that were rewarded with heavy minutes to become undervalued. Specifically, we see in the December games that 13 players entered the game, while in the April game only 9 players saw the floor. Additionally, of the 13 players that entered the December game, 11 of them had significant minutes (10 or more). The starters dominated the majority of the minutes in the April game, a trend we saw often with the Phoenix Suns toward the end of the season. The Suns experienced both injury and turmoil towards the end of the 2016-17 season, and this is likely what led to the unique allocation of minutes. This also foreshadowed the awkward departure of star guard Eric Bledsoe this past October.
The Phoenix Suns have experienced turmoil and heavy roster turnover in the past year.
In the future, we can look for similar teams towards the end of the NBA season who are young, likely not playoff-bound, and who have experienced a change in the way minutes are allocated. We can take advantage of a possible tendency of FanDuel’s pricing algorithm to misprice and choose players from these teams when we need to fill out rosters (this strategy can be used as a tiebreaker).