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Notable Numbers

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Notable Numbers

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Back in September, prior to the start of the season, I selected potential fantasy sleepers for each NBA squad - a list of players that I predicted would outperform their average draft position. Now that we have nearly reached the finish line of the 2017-18 campaign, I thought I’d go back and take accountability for my hits and misses. 


First up, here are some of the predictions that paid off:
* Kris Dunn - Chicago Bulls:
I had faith that Dunn would bounce back from a brutally disappointing rookie campaign in Minnesota and enjoy a fresh start in the Windy City. As I pointed out over eight months ago, “every year there are players that log heavy minutes and put up gaudy numbers on bad teams.” The Bulls were most certainly a bad team, and Dunn, when healthy, posted some notable numbers. Yes, the missed games were a problem. Dunn started the season on the injured list due to a dislocated finger, and a toe injury cost him the final month of the season (he’s already been shut down). However, when he was on the floor, he played well and has secured his spot as Chicago's point guard of the future.


Dunn’s final per-game averages for the season are impressive: 13.4 points, 6.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Consider this: Dunn is the only player in the league this season to average at least 13 points, six dimes, four boards and two swipes per contest. Due to the injury issues this season, I believe Dunn is still undervalued. Thus, I’m planning on doubling down and investing in him heavily in fantasy drafts next season as well.


* Tyreke Evans - Memphis Grizzlies:
Like Dunn, Evans’ injuries towards the end of the year takes some of the luster off his breakout season, but his production was undeniably spectacular. Evans was a free agent last summer and had to settle for a one-year deal with Memphis at a near-minimum level salary. He decided to bet on himself, in hopes of re-establishing his value and re-entering free agency in July of 2018. And that is just what he’ll do, as he's expected to cash in this summer.


Evans started 32 games for the Grizzlies this season, and averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.4 treys in 32.5 minutes. He was nearly as effective off the bench as the team’s sixth man as well. Those are numbers that NBA teams will be lining up for this summer, and fantasy GM's will be chasing in drafts next October as well.


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* Clint Capela - Houston Rockets:
I was very high Capela coming into the season, as he would be able to run pick-and-rolls with Chris Paul, getting all those easy dunks that DeAndre Jordan enjoyed while CP3 ran with the Clippers. Oh, and the Rockets other starting guard is a pretty good offensive player as well, frequently putting Capela in position to convert easy buckets at the rim. Capela has delivered on the promise, and then some.


Capela is averaging career-highs of 14.0 points, 10.9 rebounds (which ranks eighth highest in the NBA) and 1.9 blocks (second in the league) in just 27.6 minutes per game. Prior to this season, no player in NBA history had ever averaged at least 14 points, ten rebounds and 1.5 blocks in fewer than 28 minutes per contest. Capela has recorded 40 double-doubles this season, after just 25 in his first three professional seasons combined. Oh, and he also leads the NBA in field goal percentage (65.2 percent).


After finishing the 2016-17 campaign ranked 78th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues, he is currently 31st overall. Capela is a common denominator on many, many championship fantasy squads this year.


* Victor Oladipo - Indiana Pacers:
Many pundits predicted a breakout season for Oladipo in Indiana after he had been freed from the shadow (and historic usage rate) of Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Thus, you had to be somewhat aggressive on draft day to secure his services. The folks here at Rotoworld encouraged “overpaying” to land ‘Dipo, and he rewarded that faith.


Oladipo is the only player in the NBA this season who is averaging more than 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. The only other players to average at least 20/5/4/2 over a full season this decade are Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry. Per NBA.com, Oladipo leads the NBA with an average of 2.3 steals per game, and despite missing six games due to injuries, he leads the league with 168 total steals. His 2.3 steals per game is the highest average in the NBA since Ricky Rubio matched that number during the 2013-14 season. ‘Dipo has had at least one steal in 61 straight games, a Pacers franchise record.


Furthermore, Victor seems to be saving his best for last, just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Over the Pacers past four games, Oladipo is averaging 25.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 3.8 steals, while shooting a scorching 62.9 percent from the field!


Now, let’s take a look at the predictions that missed the mark:
* Boban Marjanovic - Detroit Pistons:
I gotta admit, Stan Van Gundy had me gassed.

Over this final four games of the 2016-17 regular season, Boban averaged 15.8 points and 10.3 boards, while shooting 59.1 percent from the field and 84.6 percent from the stripe in 23 minutes per contest. He became the first player to log over 250 minutes and average at least 23 points and 16 boards per-36 minutes since Wilt Chamberlain in 1965-66. When Aron Baynes left Detroit to sign with Boston, it looked like a clear path to extended playing time was set for Marjanovic. Over the summer, SVG hyped up his well-paid big man. "This is a fault of ours that we really didn’t build anything around [Marjanovic], either offensively or defensively," Van Gundy said. “We didn’t build enough around him. Certainly we will, going forward."


As we all well know, it never happened. Boban was buried on the bench. He played a total of 12 minutes over the first six weeks of the season. He never made his way out of the doghouse, before being shipped off to the Clippers in a mid-season trade. Unless “dancing awkwardly with Tobias Harris” is a category in your fantasy league, Boban was a major bust in 2017-18.


* Maurice Harkless - Portland Trail Blazers:
When the Blazers traded Allen Crabbe to the Nets in July, I assumed the move was a springboard for a big season from Harkless. After all, both Crabbe and Harkless averaged just under 29 minutes and just over eight field goal attempts per game for the Blazers in 2016-17.


However, despite starting the first 18 games of this season, Harkless was later demoted to the bench due to lack of production. He averaged just 5.9 points and 0.8 assists in 26.5 minutes, while shooting 40.6 percent from the floor and 24.2 percent from downtown over those 18 contests. From the end of October through the start of February, he scored in double-figures twice.

Harkless actually started to pick up his play late in the season, but then was forced to undergo an arthroscopy to remove a loose body in his left knee in late March.


* Nerlens Noel - Dallas Mavericks:
Like Tyreke Evans, Noel bet on himself last summer. Unlike Evans, Nerlens lost that bet.


Noel turned down a $70 million, four-year contract from the Mavs on July 1st of 2017 and eventually signed a one-year $4.1 million qualifying offer in order to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Obviously, Noel entered the season motivated. Also, the rebuilding Mavs didn’t have much depth up front. Was Noel really going to lose his spot in the rotation to some guy named Salah Mejri? As it turned out, he would.


Noel scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on Opening Night. Then, the wheels fell off. Amazingly, he wouldn’t score more than 10 points in any other game this season. He recorded only one other double-double, five months later. Injuries and inconsistency left him stuck to the bench. On Tuesday, he was suspended for the final five games of the season for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.


However, I will admit, I’m willing to roll the dice on Noel next season, depending on where he signs. He’s still just 23 years old and for his career, Noel averages 13.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.0 blocks per-36 minutes.


* Marquese Chriss - Phoenix Suns:
If you read Rotoworld previews before the season, you know we were high on Chriss. And for good reason. Over his final 15 games of the 2016-17 campaign, Chriss averaged 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks in just 27.8 minutes per contest.


However, Marquese struggled mightily right out of the gate this season and was unable to find his footing. Over the first 55 games of the season, Chriss averaged just 6.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks, while shooting a putrid 39.6 percent from the floor, 29.2 percent from 3-point range, and 57.7 percent from the charity stripe.


Chriss finally got going in March, and has posted improved numbers over the last month. Still, on the season, Chriss ranks 293rd overall in nine-category fantasy leagues.




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