Points-per-game averages, assist-turnover ratios, losing streaks … basketball has become a game of statistics, and none are more aware of this fact than fantasy owners. Which fantasy buff and hoops fan doesn’t find himself or herself spending significant time poring over box scores, looking for insight – and, sometimes, simply entertainment value – in the numbers generated on the court? Here are a few stats that recently caught my eye…
Born Again in Charlotte
Brevin Knight hadn’t topped five assists a night since playing for Memphis in 2001-02. Four teams later, the veteran point guard is averaging 8.3 assists per game for the Bobcats, higher even than his career-best mark of 8.2, set in his rookie season with Cleveland all the way back in 1997-98.
So Much for Making a Good First Impression
In his first four games with New Orleans, Speedy Claxton shot just 22.7% from the floor. He also made only 53.9% of his free throws and turned the ball over twelve times.
Antoine, No Antoine, What’s the Difference?
Since shipping forward Antoine Walker to Boston, the hapless Hawks have dropped five straight games, losing by an average of 10.8 points a night. Then again, Atlanta wasn’t so hot with Walker in the lineup, either: the Hawks lost their last six contests before the trade, too. The team’s 11-game losing streak is currently the longest in the NBA.
But Guess Who’s Right Behind the Hawks
Somewhat surprisingly, the second-longest dry run in the league belongs to the Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of a 31-26 overall record. The Cavs have now lost five in a row (to Indiana, New Jersey, San Antonio, Seattle and Philadelphia), failing to crack the century mark in any of those contests.
Then Again, Maybe Antoine Does Make a Difference
Since reacquiring Walker, the Celtics have won four straight to take a two-game lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. In two of those games, Walker’s ability to give his team second chances was a key factor: he hauled in seven offensive rebounds in Phoenix, and six the following day against the Lakers. In 53 games with Atlanta, Walker recorded six offensive boards or more just five times.
Seattle’s Danny Fortson leads the league in fouls per game with 4.5, nearly half a foul more than runner-up Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Fortson is averaging less than 18 minutes per game.
Who Needs Rebounds?
On an average night, the Phoenix Suns will pull in 2.7 rebounds less than their opponents; only Toronto (-4.9) and Golden State (-5) have lower diferentials. The Suns have the second-best record in the NBA at 45-14.
Might As Well Go Home Early
In 38 tries this season, the New Orleans Hornets haven’t turned around a game in which they were trailing entering the fourth quarter yet. Every other team has staged at least three successful fourth-quarter comebacks.
This Game is Just So Much Easier When You’re on a Good Team
In five years of serving as one of the focal points of Atlanta’s offense, Jason Terry never shot higher than 43.6% from the field in a season. Surrounded by considerably more talent – and asked to carry a considerably lighter load – in Dallas, Terry’s shooting percentage has jumped to 51.1%.
So Much for Correlations
Of the eight teams averaging more than 100 points per game, four (Sacramento, Phoenix, Miami and Boston) rank in the top third of the league in assists, while the other four (Washington, Dallas, Orlando and Seattle) rank in the bottom third.
Are You Sure He’s Really a Guard?
Second-year pro Dwyane Wade leads all guards with 1.2 blocks per game. That’s twice what he recorded in his rookie 2003-04 season, and more than twice as many blocks per contest as any other guard. Wade is 6′4″.
Not Too Shabby for a Second-Rounder
At 4.8, 38th overall pick Chris Duhon is the only rookie with more than three assists per game. Duhon is only on the court for 25 minutes every night, but ranks 12th in the NBA with 9.2 assists per 48 minutes.
Need a few more blocks to push you over the top in that category in your fantasy league? Try starting players who face the Hawks, who on average have six of their shots swatted away every time they take the court. On the flip side, you may want to bench those blocked shot specialists when facing the Heat, tops in the league in avoiding rejections at just 3.4 per game.
It Was Fun While It Lasted
Not many people noticed, but the Grizzlies were one of the league’s hottest teams in January, shooting .471 to go 12-3 for the month. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep up that torrid pace: in February, Memphis shot a lowly .407 from the floor en route to a 5-5 record.
Arlo Vander is averaging 66.7 points per week in the Cafe’s Pick3 game.
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