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Notable Numbers

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Notable Numbers

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and facts that are also fantasy relevant.

 

Today, among other topics, we discuss Giannis Antetokounmpo’s unprecedented start to the season, as well impressive debut weeks from Lauri Markkanen and Ben Simmons.

 

* The Greek Freak is For Real
There were high expectations for Giannis Antetokounmpo heading into the 2017-18 campaign. Last season, as a 21-year old, he joined Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dave Cowens and Scottie Pippen as just the fifth player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Well, apparently he was just warming up.

 

Through the Bucks first four games this season, Antetokounmpo is averaging a mind-boggling 36.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks, while shooting an absurd 65.9 percent from the field. This is, quite literally, something we’ve never seen before. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other player in NBA history has had that many points (147), rebounds (43) and assists (21) in his first four games of a season. Giannis is also just the third player in league history with at least 140 points on 65.0 percent shooting through four games. The other two are Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

 

Antetokounmpo has thrust himself into the early season MVP conversation and has a legit chance to begin his reign as the top fantasy player on the planet, a crown he'll likely hold for a long, long time.

 

* Simmons Stuffing the Stat Sheet
After sitting out his first pro season with a foot injury, Ben Simmons seemed to fly under the radar a bit this fall. However, just over one week into the new season, Big Benny has made it clear he’s a legit Rookie of the Year candidate. With 21 points (on 8-of-11 shooting), 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Pistons on Monday night, Simmons recorded the first triple-double of his career. Per Elias, he became the third player ever to record a triple-double within his first four career games, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (10/19/60) and Hambone Williams. (10/21/67). Simmons is also the second player in Sixers history to record a triple-double while shooting better than 70 percent from the field. Charles Barkley was the other.

 

However, it’s not merely just that one game in which Simmons has shined. He is currently averaging 17.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists. That means he’s averaging more rebounds than Marc Gasol and Karl-Anthony Towns, and more assists than Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry. Simmons has recorded a double-double in each of his first four games this season. He’s the first rookie to begin his career with at least four consecutive double-doubles since Shaquille O’Neal double-doubled in each of his first 11 NBA games.

 

* THJ has been BAD
One player that has not lived up to expectations early on is Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks inked THJ to a massive four-year, $71 million contract this offseason in the hopes that he would establish himself a stud scorer and franchise cornerstone to complement Kristaps Porzingis. Fantasy owners that invested a mid-round pick in him earlier this month were hoping for the same. However, over his first few games, Hardaway Jr. has been wildly erratic. He’s averaging 9.3 points per game, while shooting just 24.3 percent (9-of-37) from the floor, including 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from 3-point territory.

 

Hardaway is currently the only player in the league to have attempted at least 30 shots with a field-goal percentage below 25.0 percent. Additionally disconcerting is the fact that THJ has not been contributing in the other statistical categories. He’s logged 91 minutes this season and has tallied a total of four rebounds, four assists, zero steals and zero blocks. Coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters on Tuesday that Hardaway has been dealing with some discomfort in his ankle, so that may be partly to blame here. At this stage of the game, it’s best for fantasy owners to remain patient and wait for the shots to start falling. His percentages have nowhere to go but up.

 

* Three’s (and Elite) Company for Lauri
Lauri Markkanen, the No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft, is off to a great start in Chicago. He’s averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 triples over the Bulls first three games. According to Basketball-Reference, not only is he the first rookie to make 10 or more 3-pointers in his first three NBA games, but he’s also one of just ten rookies since 1983-84 to tally at least 49 points and 28 rebounds over their first three career games. The other nine players in this exclusive club are Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Dikembe Mutombo, Shaq, Lamar Odom, Blake Griffin and Karl-Anthony Towns.

 

* Durant the Defender?
Those fantasy owners that used their early first-round pick on Kevin Durant were confident that KD would provide copious amounts of points, boards, 3-pointers and assists, to go along with solid percentages. However, Durant doesn’t seem content only to dominate offensively this season. This summer, he was vocal about his desire to establish himself as a dominant defender as well, and he has let his play speak for itself early on. Durant blocked four shots in the Warriors season opener and swatted seven more in their second game. On the season, Durant is currently averaging 3.8 blocks per game, which leads the league. Although he’s never averaged close to three rejections per game, KD has seen his block rate increase in each of the previous four seasons.

 

* RoLo From Downtown
His brother Brook doesn’t need to look over his shoulder just yet, but Robin Lopez has knocked down a 3-pointer in each of his last two games.

 

Lopez hadn’t made a single 3-pointer in his entire career prior to Saturday night, but it appears that he will continue to let it fly from behind the arc. "It's definitely something I've been working on," Lopez told the Chicago Tribune over the weekend. "My teammates have confidence in me. Coaches have confidence in me. I have confidence in me… If I'm open, I'm going to take it." That’s great news for his fantasy owners. RoLo has a high fantasy floor, as one of the primary offensive focal points on a team bereft of top-tier talent and desperate for offense. He’s currently averaging 15.0 points and attempting a career-high 11.7 shots per game. If he can chip in a few 3-pointers per week, that would certainly help boost his overall value.

 

* Dead-Eye Dre
There are currently 46 players who have attempted more than ten free throws and are shooting better than 80.0 percent from the stripe this season. Most of the names on the list are the usual suspects, many of the game’s sharpest marksmen. One name that no one would have suspected to be in that group is Andre Drummond. However, Drummond is shooting a shocking 83.3 percent, having knocked down 10 of the twelve free throws he attempted this season. Yes, he’s shooting a higher percentage than both Bradley Beal and Goran Dragic. It’s obviously a very small sample size, so we’ll see if Drummond can keep it. However, if he can shot even 60.0 percent from the stripe, that would qualify as a significant improvement over his career number of 38.4 percent, and would spike his fantasy value considerably.




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