Importance of Usage Rate in Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy basketball is pretty much like a doctor’s diagnosis. It’s impossible to look at just one symptom while ignoring others and then making a conclusion built around that one sign.

Chances are, you’ll kill the patient. Or mess up their kidneys (and still end up killing them).

Of course, there are no such serious implications in fantasy sports BUT if you’re like me, you want to be good in everything, especially when it’s about hoops. There’s no way around it.

One of those statistics that you need to look, consider, and ponder upon is Usage Rate.

Importance of Usage Rate

Usage Rate is the measurement of the percentage of the team’s possessions a certain player “uses” while he is on the court. It is calculated by using the formula:

Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + TO] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)

The equation looks a little complicated but simply look at the stats that matter– FGA, FTA, Assists, and turnovers– and then find the percentage of the team’s total output that comes from a specific player.

Importance of Usage Rate: Isaiah Thomas is averaging only 26 minutes per game but more than makes up for it by “using” 34% of his team’s possessions. Photo Source

While Usage Rate is a crucial tool in fantasy, it is especially more beneficial in daily fantasy basketball. A high usage player will accumulate stats but will tend to drop in efficiency (more turnovers, more missed shots) but unlike season-long leagues where percentages (and sometimes, turnovers) are scored, daily fantasy basketball contests don’t punish missed shots and turnovers as much.

That is why if you play daily fantasy basketball, Usage Rate is one of those stats you should keep a close eye on.

League’s Highest

It’s not going to surprise anyone that the players with the highest Usage Rates are also among the tops in fantasy (and even in reality). Russell Westbrook, who recently had a four-game triple-double streak broken, leads the pack at 38%, followed by Isaiah Thomas (34.0), Kobe Bryant (33.4), LeBron James (32.9), and Dwyane Wade (32.3), per ESPN Advanced Stats.

Westbrook benefited immensely as running partner Kevin Durant (ranked 13th) is currently wearing tailored suits rather than warm-ups. However, that doesn’t stop Russ from posting a whopping 30.1 PER (Player Efficiency Rating), only slightly below Pelicans do-it-all forward Anthony Davis (31.67).

What you can also look at is the combination of Usage Rate and playing time. Thomas (25.8 MPG), although averaging less than 30 minutes, is an exception. He is dropping an insane 20 .1 points, 5.4 assists and 2 treys per game in those minutes. The only player in the top 20 in Usage Rate that is averaging less than 20 minutes is Golden State Warriors big man Marreese Speights (17.2 MPGbut with a 26.3 % Usage Rate).

Another surprise is the fact that Blake Griffin leads the L.A. Clippers in Usage (27.5) and that Jamal Crawford actually has a higher rate (25.9) than Chris Paul (24.4).