We’ve passed the 21 game mark of the season, bringing us to the end of the first quarter and the time to re-visit the Raptors Lineup Stock Game. Cue the theme music and play along at home as we look in at how the player’s have changed their arbitrarily set prices from the start of the season. We’ll go over the rules again quickly, for a full refresher, check out the first edition of the lineup game here.
The rules are as follows:
Why? In the words of our fearless new national leader, “Because it’s 2015.” Efficient play can make up for your lack of playing time. Per 100 possessions is counted on more heavily than per game stats. Shooting 40% from 3 but not getting a wealth of opportunities to shoot is better for your stock price than scoring more points from 3 overall, but doing so while shooting 28%. That doesn’t mean traditional counting stats don’t matter for the game; of course they do. But they aren’t valued in a vacuum. A player’s shooting numbers are compared to league averages. If they shoot above, their price rises, below and they drop. The degree to which this effects your price is also tied to shot volume.
Minutes played matter:
You need to play to make a contribution. Not playing or being a big minutes guy that gets pulled in important or end of game situations speaks volumes about how the coaching staff evaluates that players performance and ability to contribute or hurt the team, often on a more nuanced level than most of us watching at home are educated or informed about behind the scenes details to perceive. They may also know about injury situations, team chemistry or conditioning issues that we as fans don’t know about, no matter how loud we scream James Johnson’s name. A big part of minutes mattering is, Injuries matter. Despite what magic the wizards of Phoenix’s world famous training staff appear to wield or what the thin-skinned World Champs might think, luck and chance play a major role here. Chance can dictate fate in sports, in the real stock market and in the rest of life. That’s just the way it goes. If a player tears an ACL or Achilles or a big man breaks his foot, that hurts his stock price bigger than if he just rolls an ankle or breaks a finger. Your stock is going to plummet, sorry. Have fun telling little Johnny how you blew his college fund thinking you were the Wolf of Wall Street. Injuries play a major role in determining a player’s real life value, that’s why so many NBA players in free agency this last summer scooped up whatever long term money was available instead of investing in themselves, playing a one or two year deal and then cashing in when the cap jumps up each of the next two seasons. They know much an injury, bad play or bad luck could harpoon that future price.
Starting is irrelevant:
Too many NBA players are too concerned about the ego of starting or coming off the bench and it sets team back with chemistry, balancing lineups and matching up with specific opponents. 2 points scored at the start of the second quarter count for the same 2 points that they do at the start of the first. Being a starter or a bench guy doesn’t influence your price. Would you have rather had James Harden when he came off the bench for the 2012 OKC Thunder or any team in the league’s 3rd or 4th starter? Andre Igoudala just won Finals MVP. Let’s be grown ups.
Winning an Eastern Conference player of the week or player of the month has a big boost to a player’s value for that quarter. The same goes for all-star appearances or end of season awards.
At the end of the first quarter, a player’s value will go up or down based largely on where their numbers are now in relation to where they were last season. If they’ve improved, With each passing quarter, more weight will be given to comparing numbers in the most recent quarter with those of the completed quarters thus far in addition to last season. Play better; your stock value goes up. Go on a prolonged cold shooting steak, get benched, tear a rotator cuff or stop rebounding and your value plummets. Simple.
2014-15: 41-34-80 shooting, 4.7 reb, 6.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 16.8 points, 4.5 FTA 34.5 Mins
2015-16: 43-41-88 shooting, 4.9 reb, 6.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, 21.3 points, 5.9 FTA 35.7 Mins
Lowry’s numbers are improved almost unilaterally across the board. The only drop in his game has been in assists, where he’s down 0.8 a game, but that number is more than made up for his increased shooting, free throws drawn and efficiency in doing so. Lowry has been a menace, draining spot-up and transition 3s at a rate that would double his previous career high and he’s doing it while hitting a career best shooting percentage. Lowry is leading the league in steals and playing his best defense in years. His play has him on pace to deserve the starting Eastern Conference all-star spot for point guards and between his increase in production and efficiency, see’s a 50% increase in his value, pushing his stock to $60 a share.
2014-15: 41-28-83 shooting, 4.6 reb, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, 20.2 points, 7.2 FTA 35 mins
2015-16: 43-24-84 shooting, 4.3reb, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0.3 blocks, 21.7 points, 8.3 FTA 36.2 mins
Eastern Conference player of the week
DeMar’s game has been up and down so far this season. His woeful jump shooting has continued, where his inefficiency is becoming painfully noticeable. However, he’s getting to the line a full free throw more per game while taking the same amount of shots as he did last year, and his passing has taken another small step forward as well, helping a great deal to compensate for his poor shooting. DeMar is also near the league lead in minutes played. The advanced stats are not fans of his defensive play so far this season compared to last though, with his real plus minus rating on that side of the floor so low that it’s pulling him into a negative overall rating. His recently earned Eastern Conference player of the week, the first such of his career, help to compensate for this. DeMar’s numbers last season were abysmal efficiency wise, establishing a baseline for his numbers this year that make for a soft initial landing. Combined with his FT’s, award and passing, his value is up 20% to $42 a share.
2014-15: 48-39-70, 5.3 reb, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks, 12.6 points, 31.3 mins
2015-16: 39-37-63, 5.1, 1.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, 12.2 points, 34.2 mins
Carroll’s play has been hampered by injuries that saw him miss 3 games this quarter. His shooting numbers have suffered considerably after starting off strong. Injuries offer a reasonable explanation to his dips in efficiency, which is understandable, but the game isn’t interested in excuses. Carroll was a big boost to Atlanta’s offense when he was on the floor last year, while some metrics have him as a negative this season for Toronto, though those same metrics have him improving defensively. Between the injuries and dip in shooting, Carroll’s shares take a 25% hit to $15 a share.
Jonas’ stats are remarkably similar to his quietly decent numbers from a year ago. He’s up slightly in rebounds, points, free throws and minutes while maintaining essentially the same shooting percentages. His blocks are down and his passing has stayed essentially non-existent. What he did see for the first time in his career this year though were consistent 4th quarter minutes and an on/off rating that showed the Raptors playing much, much better when he was on the court. That matters. Unfortunately, so does missing a third of the games played with a broken bone. Those conflicting factors make Valanciunas a push, with the games missed cancelling out any improvement for now. Shares stay at $18 a share.
SCOLA! Luis has been a huge asset for this Raptors team as a veteran cog that has taken more shots than the team realistically planned on him taking when he’s on, and minimizing his takeaways by simply sitting him when he hasn’t had it. The result has been the best shooting season of Scola’s career. He’s shooting 48-42-80 to the surprise of everyone, and he’s on pace to have attempted more 3s this year by all-star than he had in every year of his career combined. He’s playing more minutes than he has since 2012 and been impressively efficient in doing so. Scola shares make a huge jump from $10 to $20 a share.
The rest of the new prices:
Terrence Ross was $12, TJ Ross falls to $8.
Patrick Patterson falls from $15 to $12.
Cory Joseph doubles from $10 to $20.
James Johnson rises from $5 to $7.
Bismack Biyombo doubles from $5 to $10.
Bebe soars from the basement $1 to $5.
Everyone else stays at $1.
So how does my portfolio look after the first quarter?
I made $200 on Lowry.
I lost $75 on Carroll.
I made $14 on DeRozan.
I made $50 on Scola.
I made $200 on Joseph.
I lost $25 on Ross.
I made $50 on Biyombo.
I made $20 on Johnson.
Total: I made $434, a 29% return on my initial $1500 investment. BAM!
As a result, I like where I stand. Having said that, I’m going to cash out on my $84 of DeRozan stock and cut my losses on my big Carroll investment, which is now only $225. I’m taking that $309, buying 3 more shares of skinny Kyle Lowry for $180 and 6 shares of Joseph for $120. With the rest, I’ll buy 1 share of Bebe, because that’s fun to have, and 4 more $1 stakes in Powell.
How did you do in the first quarter? Is it time to buy or sell?