An open letter to DraftKings and the DFS Community
Dear DraftKings and the DFS Community,
As an avid NBA DFS player, I write to you to share with you my experience regarding the scoring system for DraftKings (DK). The goal of DFS scoring (giving values to certain statistics), or scoring on any fantasy site in general, is to represent the “real” game as closely as possible. For example, players get positive points for assists, rebounds, steals, etc, all of which are positive stats that lead to their team performing better (points and blocks are other positive stats). Conversely, negative points are given to a player that turns the ball over, an action that is clearly detrimental to a team’s success. This concept is pretty fundamental to understanding NBA DFS (or fantasy sports in general for that matter). However, there are multiple issues with the scoring system - both that some statistics are completely excluded, and that the point values for certain stats don’t accurately indicate their value to the team. In this article, I will address three glaring problems with DraftKings scoring, and provide solutions to them!
Here are the current DraftKings point values:
It’s baffling to me that charges are not a stat in NBA DFS. I don’t believe there’s any logical argument to be made that a player should not receive a point (or points) for taking a charge. As I said in the opening paragraph, the goal of fantasy sports is to accurately depict how a certain player is performing. If this is the case, then why wouldn’t a player get points for taking a charge, a defensive action that not only gives your team the ball, but gets a foul called on an opposing player (this is not to mention the mental push that a charge call often gives to a team)? There is a case to be made, in fact, that a charge is actually the most beneficial thing you can do on the defensive end for your team; a block often results in the offense securing the ball or the ball going out of bounds off the shotblocker, and a steal results exclusively in an extra possession for your team. Obviously sometimes the steal is a breakaway steal, in which case there is an argument to be made that those steals are more valuable to a team than a charge, but you get the point I’m trying to make: players should get points for taking charges.
There would perhaps be some ambiguity in this rule change - would defenders get a point for getting elbowed in the face, for example? This is up to DraftKings to come up with their own scoring nuances, but I think the answer should be YES! These plays are still extremely beneficial to a team’s success and must be included in fantasy scoring. I think it’s also important to note that there is ambiguity in all fantasy scoring, including but not limited to: the threshold for an assist, players tipping rebounds to themselves (multiple rebounds), turnovers that could be blamed on two people, etc. I say this to make the point that the potential ambiguity of the rule should not be a deterrent from making charges a stat in NBA DFS. There might be some growing pains, but it’ll all be WORTH IT!
OREB (+1.5) & DREB (+1)
If you’ve watched enough NBA basketball, you know that a defensive rebound is much less valuable to a team than an offensive rebound. A defensive rebound is not only expected (about 75% of missed shots end up in a secured, defensive rebound), but it is oftentimes uncontested. Many NBA teams place an emphasis on sprinting back on defense and will only have 1 or 2 guys crash the glass; these guys are usually boxed out by the defense easily, leaving the 3 other defensive players to grab the board. Now, I’m not here to say that there are not valuable defensive rebounds out there - of course there are - but there is no reasonable argument to be made that they are AS valuable as offensive rebounds. Offensive boards are extremely valuable, as they gain your team a possession that you wouldn’t have otherwise had; you can almost think of it as a turnover. Many defensive rebounds, on the other hand, are rebounds that you or I could retrieve (simply because they’re completely uncontested). For some reference, go look at some of Russell Westbrook’s triple-double games; his teammates do the boxing out, and Westbrook skies in for the rebound while no one is within 10 feet. It’s for these reasons that I suggest offensive rebounds count for +1.5 and defensive rebounds count for +1. This would give more (justified) value to a guy like Enes Kanter, who wins his team multiple extra possessions every game, and would decrease value for a guy like Westbrook, who is uncontested on most of his rebounds.
3 Point Shot Bonus (+0)
Players on DraftKings get a +0.5 point bonus for hitting a three point shot, meaning they gain +3.5 points for a made three, 1.5 more points than if they make a 2 point shot. This makes absolutely no sense to me, and it shouldn’t make sense to you either. If a player makes a 3 point shot, they already get one more point than if they were to hit a 2 point shot, which is exactly how it should be; this is literally the definition of fantasy point values representing “real” life impact on the game. But, DK gives an extra +0.5 to players who hit a three, because they for some reason think that there is extra value in hitting a three as opposed to a two. I would disagree ademantly, though. There is nothing that makes 3 pointers more valuable than 2 pointers (aside from the fact that they count for an extra point). In fact, there is a case to be made that a shooting foul that results in 2 made free throws is actually more beneficial than just +2 fantasy points, because it results in a foul call. I’m not saying that a player should get positive points for getting fouled, I’m simply saying that they definitely SHOULDN’T get positive points for hitting a three (besides the 3 points they already get).
DraftKings, and the DFS Community at large... I hope these suggestions find you well, and I hope you enjoyed reading about how I would change DraftKings scoring for the better. I specifically limited my suggestions to things that would be extremely easy to fix for DK; there are readily available statistics for Charges, Offensive Rebounds, and Defensive Rebounds. I say this to make the point that DraftKings could change these stats in probably one night, and it wouldn’t be such a significant change to current DK scoring that it would somehow leave current DK users left in the dust. DFS players would adjust effortlessly, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, DraftKings scoring would more accurately depict real-game value.