Editor’s note: Arron Afflalo Fantasy Value: Scoring Breakdown is a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and for more information on Arron Afflalo stats, news and rumors visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues
The last few years have been kind to Arron Afflalo in both fantasy and reality. After the 2011 season, Afflalo was traded to the Magic in the Dwight Howard trade. Afflalo a year after signing a 5 year, $36.7 million contract with the Magic. Financially, his worries were over. Now, all he had to do was adjust to his new environment. Unfortunately for the team, the players he was stuck with weren’t/aren’t very good. For his fantasy purposes, however, that meant the team needed a leader. While he wasn’t going to be winning very many games, he had a chance to become a standout. This year, he has done just that.
Why has he all of a sudden upped his scoring to almost 20 PPG? Denver was one of the most fast paced offenses for years and Afflalo was a part of them. So far this season, Orlando has scored the 24th most points of any team in the NBA (96.0). For those of you who weren’t math majors, that puts them in the bottom seven offense in points per game. You would think the transition from fast-paced to slow-paced offenses would decrease his scoring; not the case with Afflalo. One of the best gauges to see how a player has truly improved is the per-36 minute numbers. From 2009 to 2010, Afflalo’s minutes went up by six per game. It’s easy to see why his numbers overall increased over that period. What isn’t as easy to quantify is when production per minute increases. This season, Afflalo is averaging a career high 19.1 points per-36 minutes. His previous career high was 16.5 which he accomplished last season. Clearly, the Magic situation is just a better fit for him. Why would that be?
Look at the players around Afflalo in his current situation. Nikola Vucevic is a nice up and coming center in the NBA but he’s nowhere near a superstar. Of all players on the Magic roster besides Afflalo, none has ever averaged more than 18.3 PPG. Who accomplished that feat? The answer is Jameer Nelson nine seasons ago. For the most part, all of his teammates only possess the skills to score in the mid-teens. Need evidence? Orlando’s second leading scorer this year is rookie Victor Oladipo at 13.9 PPG. After Oladipo comes Tobias Harris (13.7), Nikola Vucevic (13.3), Jameer Nelson (13.0) and Glen Davis (12.6). The dynamic of the team revolves around Afflalo as the leading scorer; mostly because everyone else on the team is very average at it. Oladipo will get better in due time, but while he’s developing, Afflalo will remain the guy. Another contributing factor to Afflalo’s scoring success is the fact that Jameer Nelson and Oladipo dominate possession of the ball. Orlando relies on their point guards to set up possessions and find the open man. On many occasions, Afflalo is the open shooter. His success is evident by his high eFG% this season, which is .26% above his career average. Basketball reference defines eFG% as the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%). Don’t understand the concept? That’s okay. Just realize his shooting has been more effective this season than his career average despite a career high in attempts. That means his shooting has improved and he is relishing the opportunity to be the top scoring option on his team.
Denver, on the other hand, didn’t allow him this freedom. Surprisingly, Afflalo actually had a higher percentage of made shots come off of assists in Denver. The problem was he didn’t get the opportunity to shoot as much. Of course, the reason was simple: Carmelo Anthony. Throughout most of his career with Denver, he had to deal with Melo controlling most possessions. Despite playing essentially the same minutes as the season prior, Afflalo saw his first major uptick in scoring the year after Melo left the Nuggets (which was Afflalo’s final year with the team). In just one season, Afflalo went from 12.6 PPG to 15.2. In terms of dynamics, the ball went from Carmelo’s hands most of the time to Ty Lawson’s. I’m sure you know as well as I do that the change resulted in more team passing. That season, his FG attempts increased by over two per game. From 2010 to 2012, Afflalo’s FG% dropped as his attempts rose. Finally this season, that number went back up. For my money, it’s because of the team around him as much as it’s about him improving. No Carmelo Anthony and no competition for points is a recipe for success.
Why has Afflalo improved in scoring? The answer is a combination of improvement, opportunity and team structure. This season in Orlando, Afflalo has all three of those components. While I don’t expect Orlando to be incredibly active at the deadline, one or both of Jameer Nelson/Glen Davis could go. A shake-up in team make-up could cause Afflalo to take a hit. I wouldn’t be too worried but if I owned Afflalo in fantasy basketball, I’d want his situation to stay steady. Why not? It’s clearly perfect for him. He’s enjoying a breakout season this year. Let’s hope it continues after the All-Star break.
What do you think? What is Arron Afflalo fantasy value? Let us know in the comments section below. Want more Magic? Sign-up for our newsletter!