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Notable Numbers

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Notable Numbers

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. The topics discussed today include Carmelo Anthony’s disappointing start to the 2017-18 campaign and New Orleans guards exceeding expectations…

 

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* Stay Melo?
Carmelo Anthony is one of only five players in league history to average over 20 points per game in each of the first 14 seasons of his NBA career. (The other four are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.) However, when he was traded from New York to Oklahoma City this summer, we all assumed his scoring numbers would dip, as he would have to share the ball with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The upside would be far more open looks for Melo, which would translate to a higher field goal percentage.


Well, not only has Melo’s scoring decreased, his percentages have dropped precipitously as well. And they’ve fallen off a cliff this month. Through the six games the Thunder have played in December, Anthony is averaging just 12.5 points while shooting an atrocious 35.2 percent from the floor, 19.2 percent from 3-point territory, and 57.1 percent from the free-throw stripe.


On the season, he is slashing 40.4 percent/ 33.8 percent/ 76.9 percent. The field goal and free-throw percentages would represent career-lows. He’s also averaging just 1.6 assists per game, a full assist less than his previous career-low. His usage rate in NYC last season was 29.1; it’s down to 25.5. His PER sits at just 14.5, the worst mark of his career.


Out in Cleveland, Melo’s buddy, Dwyane Wade, started the season in a similarly disappointing fashion as he tried to adjust to playing alongside his new Cleveland teammates. Eventually, Wade and Coach Ty Lue decided it would be best for the aging star if he accepted a switch from the starting lineup to a reserve role. As it turns out, playing with the second unit has been great for D Wade and the Cavs. Wade has been far more efficient and effective off the pine. His individual production has improved dramatically, and the Cavs have won 15 of their last 16 games. It might be time for Melo to swallow some pride and realize that coming off the bench might be best for both himself and his new teammates.

 

Editor’s Note: FanDuel is hosting their Super Duel for a Difference contest this Sunday, where you can win tickets to the Big Game in Minneapolis! Support a good cause and compete for an unforgettable grand prize.

 

* Bradley Boardless
Another player who has turned in a disappointing first two months of the season is Avery Bradley. AB posted career highs across the board in Boston in 2016-17 and finished the year ranked 57th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues. One of the biggest reasons for Bradley’s value last season was his work on the boards. He averaged a career-high 6.1 rebounds per game for the Celtics.


This season, he’s sharing the floor with the NBA’s leading rebounder Andre Drummond, as well as other solid rebounders relative to their positions. Avery is averaging just 2.5 boards per game for Detroit. Last year in Boston, he was his team’s second-leading rebounder. In contrast, there are eight Pistons currently averaging more rebounds per contest than Bradley. In addition, Bradley is shooting just 42.3 percent from the floor, a sharp decrease from the 46.3 percent he posted last season in Beantown.


Sum it all up and Bradley and it’s clear to see why Bradley ranks outside the top-150 overall in 2017-18.


* Fantasy Gold All Over New Orleans
Superstar bigs Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins draw most of the attention down in the Big Easy. It’s understandable, as both Boogie and the Brow are putting up monster numbers for the Pelicans. However, with the Pels backcourt also playing superbly, the guards deserve some love as well.


Jrue Holiday has been on fire of late. Over his last five games, Holiday is averaging 29.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.0 treys and 1.6 steals, while shooting a scorching 61.1 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from downtown.

 

Rajon Rondo, meanwhile, has dished out double-digit assists in five of his last six games, including an NBA season-high 18 dimes in the Pels victory over the Sixers on Sunday. It was Rondo’s 17th career game with at least 18 assists. Per Elias Sports Bureau, the only other active player with even half as many such games is Chris Paul (14). Over this recent six-game stretch, Rondo is putting up 12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 11.5 assists, 1.7 triples and 1.3 steals per contest.


The unsung hero of the crew is E'Twaun Moore, who has been playing some of the best basketball of his career this month. Over the seven games the Pelicans have played in December, Moore is averaging 19.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.1 dimes and 3.6 treys. Moore has also been incredibly efficient, shooting 62.1 percent from the floor and 67.6 percent from behind-the-arc. Don’t sleep on Moore. He ranks 29th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues this month and 83rd overall on the season.


* Sleeping on Sacramento?
The Kings are not typically a team we’d turn to if we’re searching for fantasy production. However, there are a couple of Kings flying under the radar that have been quietly returning a substantial profit.


Only four players are averaging at least 22 points and ten rebounds per game in December: Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid and …. Zach Randolph. Yes, Z-Bo has turned back the clock this month. He has scored at least 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in each of the six games Sacramento has played since the end of November. His full stat line for December reads: 22.7 points (on 59.4 percent shooting), 10.2 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.3 treys and 1.0 steals in 32.1 minutes per contest. Believe it or not, he ranks 18th overall in nine-cat leagues during this short sample size. However, it is important to note that Willie Cauley-Stein is now back in the mix, which will likely eat into Randolph’s minutes.


While Buddy Hield isn't stuffing the stat sheet nearly as well as Z-Bo, he is shooting the lights out. Yes, Hield is on an old-fashioned heater. We've all heard of the exclusive 50/40/90 club? Well, how about 50/60/100?

 

Over the nine games Sacramento has played in the last three weeks, Hield is shooting 50.5 percent from the floor, 60.0 percent from 3-point range and 100 percent from the charity stripe. His rebound (3.3) and assist (1.4) averages are minimal, but he’s only been playing 23.6 minutes a night over this stretch. Still, Hield has proven he can be an efficient and effective shooter. I expect Buddy’s minutes to jump up over the second half of the season when the Kings place a priority on playing their young guns. If you are in need of a boost in 3-pointers and/or percentages, he’s a player I’d target.


* Caping for Capela
Another player who has rarely missed recently is Houston’s Clint Capela. Over the Rockets last two games, Capela has scored 39 points and, remarkably, made 17 of the 19 shots he attempted. However, I suppose that isn’t completely surprising, considering Capela has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 22 of the 23 games he’s played in this year.


On the season, Capela is averaging 13.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, while shooting a league-leading 67.7 percent from the floor. According to Basketball-Reference, he is on pace to join Wilt Chamberlain and DeAndre Jordan as just the third player in NBA history to average at least 13 points and 11 boards while converting on better than 67 percent of his field goal attempts over a full season.


* Another Shot for Okafor
Jahlil Okafor, who had been buried on the bench in Philly, may have a chance to turn his career around in Brooklyn. The Nets have plenty of bodies up front, and coach Kenny Atkinson has said Okafor will have to earn his playing time, but if Jahlil can carve out a consistent role, there's reason to believe that he can put up impressive numbers. Folks tend to forget that Okafor entered the league as a teenager and averaged 17.5 points (on 50.8 percent shooting), 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a rookie. Per Basketball-Reference, he was just the sixth player in league history to average at least 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting above 50% from the floor, before turning 21. (Magic Johnson, Adrian Dantley, Chris Webber, Shaq, and Karl-Anthony Towns are the other five.)


Okafor’s per-36 minute averages for his career are also undeniably impressive: 20.0 points (on 51.0 percent shooting), 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He has plenty of issues on the defensive end of the floor, but the kid can score in a number of ways. Okafor has great touch around the basket, an impressive post-up game, and can also step out and knock down 15-footers. We’ll see if he has a chance to put it on display in Brooklyn this winter, or somewhere else next season.




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