With the first round of the 2009 Playoffs currently underway, what better time to look back on this season’s top fantasy producers and recognize some of the truly outstanding statistical performances. Let’s take a look at some of the above-average averages from this season.
A Three, a Steal and a Block
The three, steal, and a block trifecta is a widely-known club in fantasy basketball circles and this season four players qualified for membership. MVP candidates Lebron James and Dwyane Wade were both members and were joined by maturing superstar Danny Granger and breakout candidate Francisco Garcia. Notably absent is Shawn Marion, who used to be the president of this club. Also, players like Josh Smith, Andrei Kirilenko and Gerald Wallace are also absent this season. Next season, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant are two young players who have potential to average a steal, a block and a three per game. Also, look for all four of the current members to renew their membership to this exclusive club.
This season, there were surprisingly few point guards who averaged a double-double. Of the three that qualified, Gilbert Arenas probably should not be included in this group, due to the fact that he only played in two games despite assurances early on this season that his surgical procedure on his knee wasn’t a big deal. Besides Agent Zero, Deron Williams and Chris Paul were the only other two players to average a double-double that included assists. CP3 and Williams’ careers appear to be intimately linked, whether they like it or not. Having been drafted within one pick of each other in the 2005 draft, the two players will be constantly compared to each and with good reason. They are hands down the two best point guards in the league right now. Notably absent is Steve Nash, who, like Marion in the steal-block-three club, was a perennial member but has since lost a step. Possible additions to this club next season include Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. There are quite a few promising young guards who have the opportunity to take the next step and raise their game to the next level. Expect more than two point guards to average a double-double next season.
Among big men, the double-double club is a lot less exclusive than the point guard double-double club. This season there were twelve big men that averaged at least ten and ten this season but there were some notable exceptions. Guys that missed the cut this season were Amar’e Stoudemire, Yao Ming, Josh Smith, Tyson Chandler and Elton Brand. Of this group of twelve, Troy Murphy, David Lee and Al Jefferson (prior to his season-ending injury) had tons of fantasy value and Murphy and Lee in particular were probably instrumental to many championship runs. Seeing how many more players averaged a double-double in rebounds over assists, this might be a good reason to pursue assists early in the draft and to pickup rebounds in later rounds. Next season, promising young big men Brook Lopez, Al Horford, Michael Beasley, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas and Greg Oden all have an opportunity to join the club. In addition, Blake Griffin, the probable first pick overall in this summer’s draft, has the potential to join the club as a rookie.
50 FG% – 40 3PT% – 90 FT%
Although he missed averaging a double-double by 0.3 assists, Nash was alone in that he shot over fifty percent from the field, ninety percent from the line and forty percent from downtown. This is the club of the ultra efficient and Nash is certainly that. Notably absent is Ray Allen, who is normally a strong candidate to meet these stringent requirements and is one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history. With further gains in efficiency, Chris Paul should be able to take the leap to the next level and join the 50-40-90 club, futher illustrating the fact that Paul has surpassed Nash as the league’s best point guard. At least for one more year, Nash still has the edge on CP3 in efficiency.
50 FG% – 85 FT%
Looking for roto-friendly big men or guards that shoot well from the floor? Look no further than the seven players who shot better than fifty percent from the field and eighty-five percent from the free throw line. Of these seven players, the top four were the only ones with sustained fantasy value over the course of the entire season. However, Singleton and Songaila both had stretches of fantasy value in deep leagues. Although absent from the rebounding double-double club, Yao Ming made this list by being one of the most efficient big men from the field and free throw line in the game today. Guards in this club include Paul, Nash and Nelson, who was on track to compete for the league’s Most Improved Player award prior to his season ending shoulder injury. Notably absent is rookie big man Brook Lopez, who’s free throw percentage dipped ever-so slightly down the stretch this season. Have no fear, as Brook promises to be a member of this club for many seasons to come.
The Chuckers: Over 16 Points Per Game on Under 42 FG%
It wouldn’t be a complete roundup of above-average averages if there wasn’t one club for the elite Chuckers, consisting of guys that score at least sixteen points per game while shooting less that forty-two percent from the floor. This group of high-volume, low-efficiency scorers are the bread and butter of fantasy squads that punt field goal percentage. The king of this dubious group in years past has recently been Allen Iverson, although this season Don Nelson’s go-to scorer, Stephen Jackson, has taken the crown. Despite his reputation as a clutch scorer, Mr. Big Shot Chauncey Billups is a low-efficiency scorer. Notably absent from this list is Baron Davis, who had a very forgettable season playing for the other team from Los Angeles and failed to average sixteen points this year. Another notable exception is Kevin Martin who barely avoided joining the club by shooting exactly forty-two percent from the field. If Russell Westrbook cannot improve his shooting from the field next year, he could have the dubious distinction of joining these seven players next season.
The Garbagemen: Five Boards and Five Dimes
The final group of players is the Garbagemen, which includes players who averaged better than five rebounds and five assists this season. The nickname Garbagemen alludes to the fact that these guys do the dirty work in cleaning the glass and making the extra pass. These players are the stat-stuffers who are so essential to any head-to-head fantasy league. Wade, Lebron and CP3 are the kings of this club providing varying degrees of statistical ridiculousness. After them are the next wave of emerging superstars in Stephen Jackson, Rajon Rondo and Andre Iguodala. Rounding out this season’s group is declining superstar Jason Kidd, who contributes across the board but provides below-average scoring. Dominic McGuire, Gerald Wallace, Pau Gasol and Russell Westbrook all have the potential to join this group of highly paid Garbagemen next season.
Phil Londen is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Phil in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of plonden.
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