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AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

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AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby bokzg » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:46 am

There is a lot of discussion and disagreement as to just how much attention should be paid to the TO category when drafting in fantasy basketball. Many people simply ignore the category, even when it is one that is being used for their league, because so many of the leagues best players come with a lot of TOs. Many others pay attention to TOs, knowing that many others ignore the category, and use it as a "secret" weapon against less knowledgeable or savvy competitors.

It is my opinion that TOs needs to be weighed in conjunction with the AST category, because the two are so closely related. The fact is that with assists come TOs, there's no avoiding it because the reality is that holding onto the ball more will cause players to collect more TOs. Teams that are strong in one category are usually weak in the other because they sort of work against each other since your aiming for the highest possible number in one and the lowest possible for the other. It's a similar relationship as the one shared between 3PTM and FG%, one usually comes at the expense of the other just because of the reality involved.

If you can accept that, then my next point seems pretty obvious. Instead of looking at TOs by itself, I think people should look at AST/TO ratio instead. The reason for this is that simply looking at a player and the amount of TOs they get doesn't paint a complete picture. You need to see whether those TOs are "justified", i.e. if they're coming at the expense of production in the AST category. Thus, it is also my opinion that a player who averages a lot of TOs isn't necessarily a player who will harm your ability to compete in the TO category, so long as he gets enough assists to make it worth it.

For example, drafting a player who averages a lot of TOs, but who also averages a lot of assists, i.e. Steve Nash, will allow you to more easily avoid high TO players later on in the draft since you won't be looking for as much assists production. Taking guys like Nash early on may look bad in the early part of the draft because you'll be so far behind other teams in the TO category, but it's very possible to then target low-TO players later on since you won't need to draft for assist production. In summation, you'd be reasonably able to compete in both AST and TOs categories.

On the contrary, drafting a player who averages a lot of TOs, but who doesn't get many assists either, i.e. Dwight Howard, will often kill all chances of you competing in both AST and TOs categories. By taking someone with very little production in assists, you will have to draft high assist players later on to compete in that category, most of whom will come with large TO numbers as well, making it almost impossible to compete in both categories. You could potentially still compete in TOs by taking all low-TO players afterwards, but that would make it almost impossible to compete in the AST category since production in both categories typically rise or fall together.

Some of this may sound very obvious, but I think some people fail to realize the implications of this aspect of AST/TO ratio. With this concept in mind, players who are typically criticized for getting too many TOs (and are thus avoided by some managers) suddenly don't look as bad because of the amount of assists they come with. It may surprise some people that Lebron, who is one of the players most people think is very damaging to competing in TOs, has a better AST/TO ratio than many of the players typically thought of as very helpful in competing in TOs, i.e. Marion, Rashard, Rasheed, Battier. While a guy like Marion remains helpful in competing in TOs because of all the other stats he brings (since, to some degree, all stats tend to come with more TOs), he is arguably less helpful than Lebron in competing in both AST and TO since you'd still have to end up drafting some high assist and, most likely, high TO players later on to compete in the AST category. On the other hand, it may surprise some people to know that players like Amare, Al Jeff, Kaman, GWall, and JSmoove are actually significantly more damaging to the TO category than someone like Lebron because of the absence of assists in their production. Taking any one of those players makes it very hard to compete in both AST and TO at the same time because they're producing a good number of TOs while giving you proportionally next to nothing in AST.

The bottom line is that I think people should realize that guys like Deron, Nash, or Lebron, who get more TOs than almost anyone in the league, are actually not as harmful to the TO category as most people would think. The players you really should be avoiding, if you want to compete in both AST and TO, are Amare, Al Jeff, or Yao. I think a true "secret" weapon that is not utilized as often as it could be is the AST/TO category, because paying more attention to it could give you a significant advantage in competing in both categories.
Last edited by bokzg on Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby mbuser » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:50 am

in a nutshell, what you hash out there is why i've never given any merit to the blanket "TO's devalue good players and add value to crappy players" statement

GET RID OF TURNOVERS! ... I stopped playing on Yahoo last year because of TOs, and I know others have quit for that reason. That cat is too much of a headache to deal with. However, my biggest problem is that it results in good players being undervalued and bad players being overvalued.

... There are plenty of good players who aren't TO machines, so it's not a fair blanket statement to say that good players are undervalued and bad players are overvalued. What including TO does is reward players who are efficient. With that said, Kobe Bryant finished fifth in the league in TO last season but is the consensus No.2 pick behind Paul right now, so explain that one. I will say this - if you can't stand TO, my suggestion would be to drop both it and AST from your stat categories and use AST:TO instead.


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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby plonden » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:57 am

Really interesting argument you put forward here, bokzg. I definitely buy it. I've heard the 3PTM-FG% argument but never heard it applied to AST-TO as well. I think that this is especially useful for Roto leagues, where the entire season's production from each player is totaled. In head to head, any given player's TOs can fluctuate from week to week thus making TOs fairly unpredictable (like percentages). But in Roto, there is no escaping reality. Thanks for the write up.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby plonden » Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:07 am

Follow-up question: So is there some sort of threshold you can identify in your research/thoughts on this relationship where a player becomes valuable according to their AST/TO ratio? For example, is any player with a positive A/T ratio valuable? Or is it something like 2:1 A/T ratio?

I may have phrased this question poorly -- is there some sort of magic A/T ratio where that separates the more valuable players from the less valuable players regarding assists and turnovers?
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby jphanned » Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:22 am

Average AST:TO ratio is around 2.4/2.5. Good post bokzg, a lot of people can learn from this.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby bokzg » Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:39 am

plonden wrote:Follow-up question: So is there some sort of threshold you can identify in your research/thoughts on this relationship where a player becomes valuable according to their AST/TO ratio? For example, is any player with a positive A/T ratio valuable? Or is it something like 2:1 A/T ratio?

I may have phrased this question poorly -- is there some sort of magic A/T ratio where that separates the more valuable players from the less valuable players regarding assists and turnovers?


Unfortunately, I haven't managed to find any magic AST/TO ratio that would be considered the threshold between "good" and "bad" AST/TO ratio players. I really don't think one is necessary though, because I don't think one should ever look at any stat and come up with any hard lines about what is tolerable and what isn't. Like every other stat, what is acceptable for any given team depends entirely upon its makeup. As an example, if you're able to pick up someone like Chris Paul or Jose Calderon (two of the best in AST/TO ratio), you could conceivably use that to take on some people with poor AST/TO ratios like Josh Smith or Amare Stoudemire and still be competitive in both AST and TO. My intention with this thread was simply to point out the interrelationship between the AST and TO categories, and the usefulness of the AST/TO ratio statistic in keeping track of it.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby geodbear » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:08 am

Rounders Block wrote:Average AST:TO ratio is around 2.4/2.5. Good post bokzg, a lot of people can learn from this.


That must be for all NBA players right - it seems too high for fantasy? When you talk about the top 120 to 150 fantasy players you're looking at about 1.8 or even lower. I played in a roto league last year where A/TO is a category and about 240 active NBA players were involved and the winning A/TO was 1.82 with the average A/TO in the 1.6 range. An A/TO of 2 should easily win the cat in most leagues.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby jphanned » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:29 am

Yeah that was amongst all NBA players. I went ahead and calculated the average AST/TO ratio of the top 156 ranked players and ended up with 1.867, which seems off given your league's results.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby ChipaDub » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:31 pm

Shhh, Chauncy's been winning leagues this way for a few years now for me!

In regards to Nash, I'm actually not that big on him here. As a whole his stats compared to TO effect aren't so good. Not only that, he usually doesn't do better that 3 ast/to. Chauncey averages roughly 3.7 over the last three years. Nash's ast/to is very good, but not in the highest echelon and when you consider the amount of points/3pt/stls etc. per TO it's not that great a value either. When executing the "do well in Ast and TO" strategy, these fine lines determine your success in my experience. It's pretty difficult to pull of high value in both, some experts have even written articles discussed here at the cafe that you should only expect to do well in one or the other and build around that. I'm with you though, it can be a great way to win leagues.
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Re: AST/TO Ratio: The Sleeper Category

Postby bokzg » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:54 pm

ChipaDub wrote:Shhh, Chauncy's been winning leagues this way for a few years now for me!

In regards to Nash, I'm actually not that big on him here. As a whole his stats compared to TO effect aren't so good. Not only that, he usually doesn't do better that 3 ast/to. Chauncey averages roughly 3.7 over the last three years. Nash's ast/to is very good, but not in the highest echelon and when you consider the amount of points/3pt/stls etc. per TO it's not that great a value either. When executing the "do well in Ast and TO" strategy, these fine lines determine your success in my experience. It's pretty difficult to pull of high value in both, some experts have even written articles discussed here at the cafe that you should only expect to do well in one or the other and build around that. I'm with you though, it can be a great way to win leagues.


Yeah, I've been targeting Chauncey for the past couple of seasons for the same reason, but I figured that the secret had been kept long enough ;)
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