Tommy Beer

Notable Numbers

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Notable Numbers

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


 

‘Tis the time of year when unexpected and unheralded players can decide fantasy fates.


That’s one of the downsides of head-to-head fantasy hoops leagues that last until the final week/day of the regular season. In the vast majority of all competitive fantasy football leagues, the Super Bowl is played in Week 16. The reason being that by Week 17 of the season, top teams frequently rest their best players.


We are already starting to see this in the NBA. On Tuesday, the Rockets rested James Harden and Clint Capela, frustrating fantasy owners throughout the land. Nonetheless, shrewd owners make the most of the hand they are dealt. This means securing assets that will see meaningful minutes over the final handful of games as the season winds down.


In this week’s “Notable Numbers,” we’ll focus on those players that have seen their stock spike and could, quite unexpectedly, help carry teams to a fantasy title.


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* Burke is Balling
As of Monday afternoon, only two Knickerbockers had scored more than 40 points and handed out more than 10 assists in one game over the last 50 years: Bernard King and Walt “Clyde” Frazier. On Monday night, Trey Burke was able to add his name to that list of illustrious Knicks.


Making just his second start in three years, Burke exploded vs. the Hornets in Charlotte Monday evening, finishing with a career-high 42 points and 12 assists in 41 minutes. He was 19-of-31 from the floor and 3-of-9 from downtown.


To be fair, there were some extenuating circumstances. Emmanuel Mudiay (illness) was not available, and Frank Ntilikina fouled out in 18 minutes of action. However, make no mistake, Burke secured himself plenty of leash over the Knicks final seven games of the season. Burke has also been remarkably efficient and effective in the limited playing time he’s received all season. He’s currently averaging 23.2 points, 7.6 assists and only 2.0 turnovers per-36 minutes in 2017-18. Per Basketball-Reference, only two players have ever logged at least 500 minutes and finished a season averaging more than 20.0 points, 7.0 dimes and fewer than 2.5 turnovers per-36 minutes (Gary Payton in 2000 and Chris Paul in 2008).

 

The Knicks have a team-option on Burke for the 2018-19 season, and they want to see what they have. Mudiay has been an outright disaster since coming over from Denver, and Ntilikina has been playing off the ball for much of the last month. As for Wednesday’s contest, Mudiay is listed as questionable, and he is joined on the injury report by Courtney Lee (left midfoot inflammation), who is also questionable. Burke should be locked in for 30-plus minutes once again and will most certainly have the green light after his recent epic performance.


* Trust in Terry
The Celtics have had some awful luck in the injury department this season. They lost Gordon Hayward on Opening Night, just five minutes into their first game of the year, and have been fighting uphill since then. Marcus Smart (thumb) was ruled out of the regular season after injuring his hand back on March 10th. He’s been joined on the sideline by Kyrie Irving (knee,) who underwent a “minimally-invasive procedure” on Saturday to remove a tension wire in his left knee. The last man standing in the Celtics backcourt is Danny Ainge-favorite, Terry Rozier.


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Rozier has rewarded his boss’ faith in him but stepping in and stepping up for the shorthanded C’s. Terry has started nine games for Boston in 2017-18, including each of their last six contests, and is averaging a whopping 18.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.4 treys and 1.7 steals in 35.3 minutes over those nine starts.


The Celtics have eight games remaining in the regular season, and Rozier will continue to be a focal point of the Boston offense, racking up counting stats along the way. For those fantasy GM’s lucky enough to have scooped Terry up, they may end up loving him as much as Ainge does if Rozier helps bring home a fantasy championship.


* Jackson Jamming
Josh Jackson stumbled out of the gates to start his rookie campaign and then saw his playing time and production dip even further a couple of months into the season. Over the 31 games the Suns played between November 1st and December 31st, Jackson averaged 8.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.8 steals in 20.8 minutes, while shooting a putrid 38.1 percent from the floor, including 20.9 percent from 3-point territory, and 56.4 percent from the free-throw stripe.


However, once the New Year arrived, Jackson’s play picked up. There were some peaks and valleys in January and February, but instead of hitting the rookie wall, he’s currently playing the best ball of his young career in March.


Over the Suns last seven games, Jackson is averaging 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals in 34.1 minutes, with modest improvements in his efficiency (shooting 45.8 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from downtown and 63.8 percent from the line). Jackson should have been snatched off the waiver wire long ago. Make sure he's not still available.


* Q is Cooking
Another guard that has taken advantage of a newfound opportunity as a result of injuries in front of him is Golden State’s Quinn Cook.


With Stephen Curry (knee), Kevin Durant (ribs) and Klay Thompson (thumb) sidelined, Cook has been tasked with leading the Warriors offense. Over the last three weeks, dating back to March 9th (the day Cook made his first start of the month), Cook leads the team in points and assists. He has scored in double-figures in seven straight games and is averaging 18.1 points (on 50.0 percent shooting), 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.3 triples and 1.0 steals over this current seven-game stretch.


Durant said he plans to return to the Warriors lineup on Thursday, and Thompson may follow early next week. However, Curry has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season, which means Cook is expected to stick in the starting lineup. He’ll cede shot attempts to KD, and his usage rate will dip, but Cook should certainly still be held onto in fantasy leagues. His assist rate should increase, and he’ll still score and rebound enough to provide plenty of value. (Nick Young, on the other hand, can be cut loose once Durant is back in the mix).


Other players that had a meager ownership rate a couple of weeks ago, but may end up in many starting lineups over the final fortnight of the season: Cameron Payne, Wayne Selden, Al-Farouq Aminu, Skal Labissiere, Nerlens Noel, Cheick Diallo

 




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