It’s abundantly clear.
Kevin Love has been the best player in fantasy basketball this year. He’s scoring points, drilling threes, leading the league in rebounds, you name it. However, while Love is incredible, another member of the Timberwolves deserves a heck of a lot more fantasy love than he has been receiving.
Love’s partner in crime in the paint, Nikola Pekovic has been very, very strong for fantasy owners this season. In fact, he may be one of the best centers in basketball that no one is talking about. Anyway, averaging a solid 14.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, Pekovic continues to get the job done at the center position. Sure, he doesn’t provide anything other than points and rebounds, but he is such a safe bet in those two departments. He’s really been heating up as of late, which is partially the reason why I felt the need to write this piece.
Over his last five games, Pekovic has recorded two monster double doubles, while averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest. Sure, Love may soak up all the headlines, leading the NBA with 16 double doubles, but with consecutive double doubles, Pekovic now has a very solid seven on the season, which ranks inside the top-12 on the season. He’s scored double-digit points in all but one game this entire season, and has posted eight games with double-digit rebounds. Part of the reason Pekovic (and especially Love) have been so effective this season comes down to opportunity.
Using NBA.com and their incredible Player Tracking stats, I took a look at how many chances Pekovic has for fantasy production. He is currently seeing 8.1 touches per game, which are looks that originate with 12 feet of the basket. That number is second-most among all players in basketball, only behind Marc Gasol, who is hurt. He’s also posting a solid 0.38 points per touch. That helps him average almost 15 points per contest, but what about is rebounding? While Love is easily leading the league with 21.5 per game, Pekovic has seen his fair share of rebounding opportunities himself. He’s seeing a healthy 15.5 per game, which ranks inside the top-20 in the league. Pekovic is also grabbing 55 percent of his rebounding chances, which is higher than the likes of Zach Randolph and Joakim Noah. And because he is logging over 33 minutes per game, rebounding chances should continue.
Love is the big name in this offense, but god forbid if he ended up going down with injury (which he’s been known to do), Pekovic would emerge into a top-10 caliber center. Either way, he’s still a top-notch secondary fantasy big man, especially with the way the Minnesota offense has been playing this year.
Don’t sleep on him.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.