Fantasy Basketball 2014: Storylines From The First Half Of Season
You knew it was going to fly by.
NBA All-Star weekend is (already) here, forcing fantasy enthusiasts like myself to take a break from the daily hoops grind. Sure, the dunk contest and All-Star game is great and all, but there is no better rush than frantically setting lineups, watching game and rooting for your players. So, with games on hold until Tuesday night, I thought it would be as good a time as any to recap the first half of the fantasy hoops season. Who’s been good, who’s been bad and how many owners have been burned by Lakers injuries or Bucks coaching antics.
Too many to count, I bet.
Andre Drummond’s Progression
The other night, Drummond took home Rising Stars MVP honors by going off for 30 points and 25 rebounds. Of course, it was a game where defense was few and far between, but do you want to hear something scary?
That stat line isn’t out of reach for Drummond in an NBA game, folks.
Okay, so maybe a little bit, but the fact remains that Drummond has been playing out of his mind this season, and in my eyes, was a serious All-Star snub. So far in 2013, the sophomore center is averaging a monstrous double-double of 13.1 points and 13 rebounds to go along with 1.9 blocks per game. Double-doubles have been easy to come by for Drummond, as only Kevin Love has posted more than Drummond’s whopping 39 this year. He’s virtually a walking double-double, only failing to do so three times over his last 20 contests. The rebounding has come much easier to Drummond, as he ranks third in basketball in that department. Using stats from NBA.com, we find that he is seeing an incredible 18.5 rebounding chances per contest, which ranks third-most among any player in basketball. He is also converting on over 70 percent of those rebounding chances, which is among the highest in the game. And what’s even more impressive is the fact that 5.9 of his rebounds per game have been contested, showcasing how dominant he is on the glass.
Drummond is also second in the league in field-goal percentage (61.1) and eighth in blocks (1.9). With his size and athleticism, this kid is emerging into a star before our very eyes, and his time to start in the All-Star game is looming.
There are so many good PGs
Chris Paul is great. Stephen Curry is great.
But they aren’t the only ones.
The point guard position continues to get deeper and deeper, as young studs continue to emerge each and every season. I wanted to highlight a handful of guys who have stepped into not quite superstardom, but pretty darn close.
The Dragon, Goran Dragic headlines this list, for sure. After being under Steve Nash’s wing for years, Dragic is showing the world that he is anything but Nash’s understudy. So far this year, he is averaging an impressive 20.3 points per game(16th) to go along with 6.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He’s also notching 1.4 steals per game. One of the biggest All-Star snubs, Dragic is the sole reason Phoenix is surprisingly siting at the 7th spot in the Western Conference. Those numbers are also good enough to rank him as the number six point guard on ESPN’s Player Rater, ahead of Paul and Kyrie Irving.
Perhaps one of my favorite young guards, Isaiah Thomas is making a name for himself that isn’t a hall of famer’s. Thomas is just ahead of Dragic on the player rater, coming in at 5th. He’s averaging career-highs in points (20.2), assists (6.3), rebounds (2.7), steals (1.3) and triples (1.9). He is running the Kings offense, touching the ball an average of 83.8 times per game, which is the 13th-most in the league. The early season trade of Greivis Vasquez has been arguably the best thing to happen to fantasy basketball because Thomas was posting strong numbers while playing limited action. Now, playing almost 35 minutes per game, Thomas has emerged into an elite fantasy point guard.
Finally, John Wall makes me very excited as a basketball fan. We’ve always known how good he is, but it appears he is finally putting it together this year, averaging a career-high 19.8 points, 8.5 assists and 2 steals per game. He, meanwhile, is touching the basketball 98 times per game, which is the second-most in the league. Wall is doing well with his touches, averaging a strong 0.20 points per touch. Only Steph Curry is higher on ESPN’s Player Rater among point guards than Wall, who is averaging 40.6 fantasy points per game this season, which is the third-most among point guards. With Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt for Washington, the future is bright.
The Lakers and 76ers cannot play defense
Philly bump, LA bump, y’all.
When playing daily fantasy, players always, always, gravitate towards players who face the Lakers and 76ers. The league’s two worst defenses have been produced fantasy goodness all season long.
|PHI||110.4 (1st)||56.2 (2nd)||43.0 (10th)||26.5 (1st)|
|LAL||105.6 (2nd)||57.6 (1st)||47.8 (1st)||25.1 (2nd)|
The 76ers play at the league’s fastest pace (102.5), allowing the opposition to see plenty of possessions and score plenty of points. So far this year (via Chris Towers), there have been 19 games where Philly’s opponents have taking at least 90 field-goal attempts this year. On the other hand, the Lakers play at the league’s second-highest pace (99.6), while they have had 24 occurrences where a team has taken 90 shots or more. Adam Flango of CBS points out that the 76ers have allowed a league-leading 39 25-point performances this season, which is well above the league average of 27.2. That means that over 60 percent of the 76ers games have seen at least one player score 25 points or more.
Keep plugging in players against these atrocious defensive units.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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