“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Or, if you are the Milwaukee Bucks, you can do the opposite and smile because it is finally, finally over. Or cry because it happened. Either one is fine.
The 2014 NBA regular season is over, which also signals the end of fantasy basketball campaign, as well. Unless you are a degenerate who is playing daily fantasy hoops for the postseason, in which case, good for you. So, with the season coming to a close, I dish out some fantasy hardware.
Fantasy MVP – Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Water is wet, fire is hot and Durant has been the best player in basketball in 2014.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, obvious statements.
It would be criminal to not name Durant, the soon-to-be league MVP, fantasy’s MVP, too. The league’s prolific scorer led the NBA in points per game (32.0), but also presented a nice all-around game, adding 5.5 assists and 7,4 rebounds. We are all aware of his insane 41-game streak of scoring 25 points or more, the third-longest streak in NBA history. And from a fantasy perspective, it was Durant and then everyone else. According to CBS scoring, Durant was the only player in basketball to post at least 100 fantasy points in every week, and, as Joe Polito points out, he even accomplished that feat in Week 17 when the Thunder played just twice. He was over 400 points better than second place Kevin Love and did you see that insane four-point play from Game 2 of the playoffs?
Notables: Kevin Love, LeBron James, Joakim Noah.
Defensive Player of the Year – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
This was insanely close between The Brow and DeAndre Jordan, but I sided with the far better player in Davis. He played 15 fewer games than Jordan, and finished with just four fewer blocks than the Clippers big man. He also led the league in blocks per game (2.82) and had 25 games where he finished with four blocks or more. Jordan was great for fantasy too, and makes an argument for the most improved player (which we’ll dive into later), but Davis was a better all-around defender, presenting better rim protection and more upside. I mean, Davis is probably going to be a top-seven fantasy pick next season. And on top of everything, he averaged a healthy 1.33 steals per game, the third-most among power forwards/centers.
Notables: DeAndre Jordan, Serge Ibaka.
Glass Man – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
I love Andre Drummond so, so much.
The Pistons big man was on my list of breakouts before the season started, and boy did he break out? The sophomore center finished second in rebounds per game (13.2), but led the league in rebounds per 48 minutes with a whopping 19.6. No one in fantasy was a safer or higher-upside rebounder this season, as Drummond literally presented 20-rebound potential every single night, assuming he stayed out of foul trouble. And, according to NBA.com, Drummond averaged 18.8 rebound chances per game, sporting a rebound percentage of 70.3, the second-best in basketball. Again, DeAndre Jordan was terrific as well, but when you consider that Drummond posted these insane numbers with a crowded frontcourt of Josh Smith and Greg Monroe around him, it becomes even more impressive. He was also the best offensive rebounder in basketball, hauling in 5.4 per game. Drummond had seven occurrences where he grabbed 20 rebounds, and with Monroe being a free agent next year, he could be in store for an absolute monster 2015 campaign.
Notables: DeAndre Jordan, Joakim Noah, Kevin Love.
Most Overlooked – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
He’s 35-years old, but Dirk does not care.
A future Hall of Famer, it’s incredible to see how little people tend to talk about Dirk as one of the greats. He averaged a sneaky good 21.7 points per game, becoming the 18th player in NBA history to average 20 points or more at age 35 or older (hat tip to Joe Polito). Dirk also quietly finished the season as the 11th-most consistent forward in basketball, and after being drafted 19th overall in ESPN leagues, Dirk went on to finish the year as the number eight overall player on ESPN’s Player Rater. At age 35, when everyone thought he had little left in the tank, Dirk played all 82 games this year, too. Dirk was awesome, has been awesome and deserves more love, as weird as it feels to say that.
Notables: Thaddeus Young, Robin Lopez, Kawhi Leonard.