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Hoop Pointers: Top 50 Analysis

February 13, 1998

I used the All Star break to take a closer look at Smallworld's worldwide top 50 teams, and see just what it was that got them to their lofty position.

The most distinctive characteristic of these teams is their elevated value. The average franchise value for these teams is just under $130 million, which means these teams have generated gains averaging $80m during the first 3+ months. The average number of trades used is 48, which means these rosters are pretty well set for the duration of the season. It also means they have produced an average gain per trade of almost $1.7 million.

How was this done? I looked at the players who produced these trading gains, and found it somewhat surprising that more than half of the gains were generated on trades involving just 10 different players. Here's the list of those players, along with the associated average gains:

Player Avg. Gain per Team
Williams, Brian $7,792,180
Knight, Brevin $7,439,600
Jackson, Bobby $4,503,200
Hardaway, Anfernee $3,949,700
McCarty, Walter $3,869,200
Cassell, Sam $3,278,000
O'Neal, Shaquille $2,976,800
Marshall, Donyell $2,892,060
Robinson, David $2,613,700
Grant, Brian $2,482,240
Total $41,796,680

The average team bought each of these 10 players between 2 and 3 times this season. Brian Williams and Brevin Knight have certainly been instrumental, as the average team has generated gains exceeding $7 million on each of these two players. In fact, the average gain for each of these two players exceeds the highest value that they ever traded for.

These 50 teams have, at one time or another, owned 188 different players. However, their current rosters show only 44 different players, and of these, 13 appear on only a single roster. In fact, you need only 25 different players to fill 95% of the 600 roster slots on these 50 teams. Grant Hill is the most commonly owned player, showing up on 49 of the 50 teams. David Robinson (43) and Kevin Garnett (41) are the only other players who appear on more than 40 of the top 50 rosters.

Is there a lesson in all this? I guess it's that a lot a value was generated by paying attention to the players with the most price volatility, and repeatedly buying near the lows and selling near the peaks. This didn't necessarily require astute basketball acumen. It just required paying attention to price movement, and recognizing trends.

The formula for success seems very clear. Trade early and often to generate gains, and then buy the best players money can buy. The only caveat relates to the number of trades used. With the average team having only 2 trades remaining (in fact, 21 teams have no more than one trade left), injuries may knock some of these teams out of contention. The season still has about 40% to go, and if the propensity for early season injuries to key players continues, that number of trades won't be enough to duck disaster. Only 9 of these teams have a many as 5 trades remaining. So, there could still be a lot of turnover at the top. Time will tell.

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Hoop Pointers is written by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not an employee of any of the fantasy games discussed within this site, and any opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<davehall@home.com>.