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Which NBA teams are fantasy friendly?

A look at team pace and shot attempts to see which teams are the most fantasy friendly so far.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

We’re early in the season, but there are already surprises in the standings. Both the Lakers and the Wizards are, to be polite, sub-optimal right now. Amazingly, JaVale McGee is almost exactly what the DC Magic (North) need: a center who is better than a dead piece of wood. The Fightin’ Dwight Howards are also, strangely, built similarly to the Lakers: good perimeter players who should be able to switch and should be able to shoot. Neither team can do either right now, which is just hysterical, because neither team really has a good excuse.

Regardless, it’s a good reminder that, in fantasy, bad teams can be great for your fantastical squad. Two teams in the NBA currently have six players in the top 100, including two each in the top 50. Those two teams? The Los Angeles Lakers and the DC Abracadabras. (As of 10/29/18.)

Below are the NBA teams by reverse record (pre-10/29 games), along with their shot attempts, and their pace (because the higher the pace, the more opportunities there are for scoring and other counting stats). A note about pace, though: ALL teams are running more and pushing the pace this season. It’s all about opportunities and possessions, so even the slowest-paced team this season, the Pacers, are still playing at a speed that would have ranked 19th last season. We’ll see if that actually keeps up since, y’know, peeps might start to get tired as the season proceeds.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (0-6)

  • ZERO Top 100 Players on ESPN Basic. ZERO. This is the only team in the NBA without, at least, one player in the Top 100. Damn.
  • 20th in field goal attempts per game, tied with Boston at 90.2. Haha!
  • 25th in pace in the NBA. This will most likely change now that Ty Lue’s been fired, and KLove is injured, and the front office (the vile Dan Gilbert) are demanding youth and speed.

29. Phoenix Suns (1-5)

  • Three players in the top 100; one player in the top 50.
  • The Suns are 30th, LAST, in field goal attempts per game. In case you care. About shots. In basketball.
  • They’re also 17th in pace. This is bad. Phoenix and its Young Suns should be running, running, running more than most.

28. New York Knicks (1-5)

  • Two players in the top 50 (none from 51-100).
  • The Knicks are 4th overall in FGA? Huh? Oh, cool, they’re 23rd in FG%, AND in points per game, too. So, they shoot a lot, and miss a lot. Knicks.
  • Aaaand, they’re 22nd in pace. Why? Everyone’s young, why not run more? Is this a Fizdale thing?

27. Washington Wizards (1-5)

  • SIX players in the top 100, and two in the top 50.
  • The Wizzle-Wazzles are 10th in FGA, 9th in PPG, and THIRD in pace in the NBA (which could drop when Dwight Howard returns to the lineup). Their FG% is 21st, though. If more of their shots start dropping, watch out: this maligned team might go on a big run. (I, too, malign them. The Wizzers are malign-able, what can I say?)

26. OKC Thunder (1-4)

  • One player in the top 50 (Westbrook’s been injured; he’ll be top 50 again soon enough.)
  • Seventh in pace. 2nd overall in FGA. They’ll be fine because losing Andre Roberson can’t, CAN NOT, be the reason for a team to utterly fall apart and miss the playoffs. ESPECIALLY a team with the Sarge.

25. Houston Rockets (1-4)

  • Three players in the top 100, one in the top 50.
  • Houston’s 12th in FGA and 14th in pace. Still figuring it out. If Jimmy Butler gets pissed about bad defense, how will he respond to Carmelo Anthony if he’s traded to the Rockets?

24. Dallas Mavericks (2-4)

  • Four players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 14th in FGA and 16th in pace. This already looks like Luka Doncic’s team. He and DSJ are going to be a dynamic duo for years to come.

23. Brooklyn Nets (2-4)

  • Four players in the top 100; THREE in the top 50.
  • The Nets are 27th in field goal attempts and 28th in pace. Neither New York City team is hampered by slow oldies, so...is this all by design? Play slow and meticulous? They got the first part down. Just kidding, the Nets pace of 98.93 would’ve ranked 8th overall last season. ALL teams are running more; it’s just that some teams, like say young ones, should probably be going faster. Not just because speed is good by default, but more possessions equals more opportunities, and this is going to be de rigueur in the NBA going forward. Might as well get used to it by playing that way. (It’s also better for fantasy, but I would never, NEVER, stoop to such a low, craven reason for an opinion.)

22. Orlando Magic (2-4)

  • One player in the top 50.
  • They’re 9th in FGA. Really? 24th in overall pace. Isn’t this just perfect? I feel like this is such an Orlando number: bottom 10, but not bottom 5.

21. LA Lakers (2-4)

  • SIX players in the top 100; two in the top 50. #1 overall in field goal attempts.
  • Fifth in pace, which is great, but also maybe because they can’t play defense, and so have to outscore opponents in order to win. So, a bad team with a good fantasy strategy.

20. Chicago Bulls (2-4)

  • Four players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 25th in FGA and 19th in pace. So, slower than average, sans shooting, and no defense. This entire team is just the Dentist right now. Keep it up, Zach LaVine! Prove the haters wrong! Be Devin Booker (East)!

19. Minnesota TimberBulls (2-4)

  • Four players in the top 100; two in the top 50.
  • 7th in FGA and 9th in pace. They beat the Lakers. Towns is still not himself and Wiggins is out. But, they beat the Lakers. So: Yippee, all’s well now!

18. Atlanta Hawks (2-3)

  • Three players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • ATL is #1 in pace at 108.6. Nice. But, they’re 22nd in FGA. Not so nice.

17. Charlotte Hornets (3-4)

  • FIVE players in the top 100 (!); two in the top 50.
  • 11th in FGA, but 23rd in pace. Huh. I would’ve expected more, They ended last year 11th in pace, even though Dwight Howard was on the team.

16. Philadelphia 76ers (3-3)

  • Three players in the top 50 (Ben Simmons isn’t in the top 100, but he will be soon enough.)
  • 8th in pace and 6th in FGA. They’ll be fine. JJ Redick’s been great.

15. Sad Sac Kings (3-3)

  • FOUR players in the top 100 (?!?); one in the top 50.
  • 15th in FGA. #2 in pace. Good for De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.

14. Portland Trail Blazers (3-2)

  • Three players in the top 100; two in the top 50.
  • 18th in field goal attempts AND 18th in pace. Lil weird.

13. Miami Heat (3-2)

  • Two players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 13th in pace and...13th in FGA...is this something spooky for Halloween, or…?

12. San Antonio Spurs (3-2)

  • Two players in the top 100; one in the top 50 (LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t in the top 100)
  • 29th in pace, 8th in FGA. Haha, Spurs gonna Spur. Hey, is that shooting guard, DeMar something, doing well? Playing for Manu Ginobili’s old coach? That’s so shocking.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (3-2)

  • Three players in the top 100 (none in the top 50).
  • 28th in FGA and 27th in pace. Yup, Memphis: eff your New NBA.

10. Utah Jazz (4-2)

  • Four players in the top 100; three in the top 50.
  • 15th in pace. Whoa, slow down, Jazz! They’re 29th in field goal attempts, though, phew! I hope the good citizens of Salt Lake City can handle this Ridiculous Speed new NBA pace!

9. Indiana Pacers (4-2)

  • Four players in the top 100; two in the top 50.
  • 26th in FGA, 30th in pace. Last. To be fair, their pace of 97.29 would’ve been 19th last year, so: improvement? Is this team Victor Oladipo and spare parts? If so, what are they gonna do about it? What CAN they do?

8. LA Clippers (4-2)

  • FIVE players in the top 100; three in the top 50 (!).
  • 12th in pace, but 24th in FGA.

7. Boston Celtics (4-2)

  • Three players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 20th in FGA and 21st in pace. Is this team fun to watch? I can’t tell.

6. Denver Nuggets (4-1)

  • Two players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 11th in pace and 19th in FGA. Golden Gary Harris is THE MAN.

5. Detroit Pistons (4-1)

  • Two players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • 3rd in FGA, and 26th in pace. Raise your hand if you think this record with this pace can continue. Yeah: me, neither.

4. New Orleans Pelicans (4-1)

  • Three players in the top 100; one in the top 50.
  • Fourth in pace and fifth in FGA.

3. Golden State Warriors (6-1)

  • Four players in the top 50. Is this team good?
  • 10th in pace and 23rd in FGA. This team is hilarious.

2. Toronto Raptors (6-0)

  • Five players in the top 100; three in the top 50.
  • 16th in shot and 20th in pace. Technically, they’re tied with the Bulls in pace, but they are officially given one negative kudos point for being tied with the Bulls in anything.

1. Milwaukee Bucks (6-0)

  • Five players in the top 100; FOUR in the top 50 (whoa).
  • 17th in FGA. Sixth in pace in the entire NBA. This is WUNDERBAR. Remember, Budenholzer coached the 60 win Atlanta Hawks; are we heading for 60 wins with Giannis as the MVP?