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Dose: Midseason Fantasy Awards

Sunday, February 18, 2018


With the NBA on hiatus, there were obviously no actual games played on Saturday, only All-Star contests. Spencer Dinwiddie won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Devin Booker earned a victory in the JBL 3-Point Contest, and Donovan Mitchell was crowned the Slam Dunk champ.


Thus, for this edition of the ‘Dose,’ I thought I’d hand out some hardware. Even though we have already passed the midway point of the 2017-18 campaign, the All-Star break provides an excellent opportunity to reflect back on the season up to this point.


* Fantasy MVP: Anthony Davis
A valid argument could be made for a number of players. James Harden, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all posted incredible numbers. However, in my opinion, the Fantasy MVP leader in the clubhouse right now is Anthony Davis. He’s second in the league in blocks, third in scoring and eighth in rebounding, and currently ranks first overall in nine-category fantasy leagues according to Basketball Monster. The Brow has been especially dominant since DeMarcus Cousins went down with his Achilles injury. In the nine games the Pelicans have played without Cousins, Davis is averaging 31.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 treys, 2.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks. Maybe the most important number for Davis is 51. That’s the number of games he’s played this season, which is more than Harden, Durant and Steph Curry, among others. However, there is one majorly concerning stat: Davis is averaging a career-high 36.4 minutes per game. For a player as injury-prone as AD, that could mean trouble down the road.


* Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni
Heading into this season, there was genuine concern that pairing Chris Paul and James Harden together would reduce the fantasy value of each player. Would these two ball-dominant guards find a way to avoid seeing their stats slip playing alongside each other? Well, four months later, we’ve been reminded that Mike D’Antoni’s offense is fantasy nirvana. Thanks to the Rockets fast-paced, dynamic offense that is racking up points at a historic clip, Harden ranks second overall in nine-category leagues, with CP3 coming in at No. 6. The Beard is averaging a career-best and league-leading 31.3 points per contest. Paul is taking far fewer mid-range jumpers, while attempting a career-high 6.7 3-pointers per game. Clint Capela is also enjoying the best statistical season of his young career.

 

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* Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons
This is a two-horse race between the Sixers’ Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz. Mitchell is the first rookie with multiple 40-point games before the All-Star break since Michael Jordan, and is averaging a team-high 21.3 points over Utah’s current 11-game win streak. However, Simmons has been spectacular all season. He leads all rookies in assists, rebounds, and steals per game; he is second in scoring and third in blocks per game. Amazingly, Simmons and Mitchell are ranked back-to-back in nine-category leagues, with Ben at 43rd overall and Mitchell at 44. However, in five-cat formats, Simmons has a huge edge, as he is ranked inside the top-20 overall. As noted earlier this week in Notable Numbers, Simmons is on pace to become just the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 16 points, seven boards and seven assists while shooting over 50 percent from the field over the course of a full season. The other six are Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.

 

* Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo
Easy call in this category. Oladipo has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations this season, averaging career highs in points (24.4), rebounds (5.3), steals (2.1), 3-pointers (2.3), field goal percentage (.484) and 3-point percentage (.381). ‘Dipo has scored 30-plus points 10 times this season, more than his combined total through the first four years of his NBA career.


* Defensive Player of the Year: Paul George
George, the player for whom Victor Oladipo was dealt, has seen his offensive numbers dip a bit in Oklahoma City. However, he has been a beast on the defensive end of the floor for the Thunder. PG-13 is averaging a career-high and league-leading 2.2 steals per game, to go along with 0.5 blocks.


* Biggest Bust: Kawhi Leonard
There were red flags attached to Leonard heading into fantasy drafts back in October. However, most pundits believed that Leonard would only miss a brief amount of time before returning to game action. After all, he had played at least 72 games in each of the prior two seasons, and the Spurs medical staff is considered one of the best in the business. Leonard's average draft position was 10th overall. However, Kawhi’s absence dragged into November, and the Spurs remained eerily quiet, failing to provide updates. Leonard finally returned in December, but was kept on a strict minutes limit and didn’t play in back-to-backs. The bottom fell out in January, when the Spurs announced that Kawhi would be held out for an indefinite period of time as he continued to rehab from right quadriceps tendinopathy. He’s only appeared in nine games this season, and it is unknown if/when we’ll see him back on the court. It’s always extremely difficult to overcome a wasted first-round fantasy pick.


* Biggest Surprise: Andre Drummond
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Detroit’s Drummond. As expected, Andre the Giant has been dominant in the paint and on the boards, averaging 15.1 points and a league-best 15.7 rebounds a night (the NBA's highest average in over 20 years). However, shockingly, he’s also been one of the NBA’s best passing big men this season, while also improving his free-throw shooting dramatically. Over the first four seasons of his career (304 games), Drummond dished out a combined total of 187 assists. Over the first four months of this season (55 games), Drummond has dished out 199 assists. In addition, after shooting just 38.1 percent from the charity stripe coming into this season, Drummond is knocking down 62.5 percent of his freebies in 2017-18.


* Top Waiver-Wire Pickup: Tyreke Evans
Evans was mostly an afterthought on draft day. According to ESPN, Evans ADP was 149, a few spots after Atlanta’s Ersan Ilyasova and Charlotte's Frank Kaminsky. The hesitancy towards Evans was understandable. Last season he appeared in just 40 games and averaged 10.3 points and 3.1 assists. In 2015-16, he missed a total of 57 contests. However, Evans has remained healthy and has returned fourth-round value this season. Per Basketball-Reference, he is one of just five players averaging at least 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers per game.

 




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