Last month, I wrote about how the rule changes in the NBA seemed to be suppressing perimeter production compared to previous seasons. That was the story of the season at the time, as it shifted the fantasy basketball valuations from the backcourt to a higher emphasis on frontcourt players. The big question at the time was whether the top perimeter players would be able to adjust to the new rules and bounce back to raise their value again this season.
Immediately after that article ran on December 16, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 rocked the league.
Players were forced to enter the Health and Safety Protocol at a record-setting rate, causing teams to have to dig deep into their rosters as well as sign players from outside of the league in order to roll out complete line-ups. Several games were postponed due to teams lacking the requisite eight healthy players, and we started seeing former NBA players like Joe Johnson and Greg Monroe, who were out of the league altogether, getting another opportunity to play.
On the fantasy basketball front, this made roster management and weekly lineup setting nigh impossible. For me as a prognosticator, it was equally difficult because there were so many players giving impact production who were completely outside of the 300+ players I did year-long projections for before the season began. It did keep my weekly Diamonds in the Rough article popping, though, as every week there were new names out of nowhere that could help get a fantasy team a win in a given week.
I spoke about this phenomenon recently, during a radio interview, when I was asked about some of the monster lines that point guards like Ja Morant and Trae Young were producing at the time. And it led to a larger question: had COVID-19 supplanted the rule change as the dominant story of the season? And if so, had the huge amount of player turnover caused defenses to loosen up with the side effect of jump-starting the previously suppressed scoring of high-volume guards?
That sounded like an interesting question. So, l decided to explore.