It is extremely early to do any serious and meaningful fantasy analysis since most players have played only about six games. That said, I will attempt to do some meaningless work by pointing out some numbers that stick out to me so far. Again, every sentence can be followed by: “But SKIP, it is so early in the season…” (all stats, facts, and opinions are through Nov. 7)
0 – Carlos Boozer hasn’t played a game yet due to injury. I mention him because he has the highest ownership percentage in Yahoo! of players that have yet to play a game. Now may be the time to sell high on Joakim Noah. While Noah is a tremendous talent and one of the fiercest players in the league, I have a feeling that his stats may suffer (currently averaging a career high in minutes played, shot attempts, free throw attempts, free throw percentage, rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals, blocks, and points) upon the return of Boozer.
2 – Hakeem Olajuwon won two championships in the NBA. Apparently, his work with Dwight Howard this past off-season has paid off to a certain degree. Howard is averaging career-highs, on a per-game basis, in shot attempts (13.0), free-throw attempts (12.6), steals (1.2), blocks (3.0), points (22.4), and fouls (4.0). Unfortunately, Howard is only averaging 11.4 rebounds per game which would represent a 7-year low while hitting only 54% of his free-throws (a career-low). Of course, you probably didn’t draft him for his FT% abilities, anyway.
3 – While Blake Griffin and John Wall get all the attention for ROY honors (much deserved, by the way) now is the time to pick up (and stash away – especially in keeper leagues) Derrick Favors, the third overall draft pick this year. Only 19 years old, Favors’ per-36 minute averages of 15.4 points and 11.9 rebounds are solid and his efficient field-goal shooting from college has translated into an efficient shooting clip at the NBA level. At 6′10″, he has the tools to become a solid double-double machine in the not-too-distant future. He is fortunate to learn from Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy because Lopez is a solid offensive rebounder and Murphy is a fantastic defensive rebounder.
5 – LeBron James is averaging a career-low in minutes, shot attempts, rebounds, blocks, and points. At the same time, he’s averaging a career-high 4.7 turnovers a game.
6 – In the Café’s “Consensus Rankings” thread, Kobe Bryant was the sixth overall pick. In 31.3 minutes per game (his career-low as a starter in the NBA), Kobe’s per-game stats are 22.9 points (11-year low), 5.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists (5-year low), 0.9 steals, (career-low as a starter), and 1.3 threes (7-year low) on 44.3% shooting from the field and 87.9% shooting from the line. Whether Kobe’s statistical decline is due to age or injury or anything else is anyone’s guess. The facts are is that with the Lakers being undefeated (7-0) means that something is working with the current formula; if that formula means that Pau Gasol is getting more minutes and shot-attempts (and more points-per-game) than Kobe, than so be it.
8 – Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder teammates) are averaging eight free throws made per game. Durant is making free throws at an 88.9% clip while Westbrook is shooting 92.3% from the line. I can only imagine the pressure this puts on opposing defenses to have these two talented players attacking the rim on a nightly basis.
13 – Reggie Evans is averaging 13 rebounds per game through 6 games. His previous career-high was 9.3 back in the 2004-05 season. Evans has clearly proven to be a good rebounder in the NBA and is leading the league in Total Rebound % so far. It also helps that the team’s starting center, Andrea Bargnani, is averaging a three-year low 4.8 rebounds per game.
22 – Both Dorell Wright and James Jones lead the league in Three Pointers Made at 22. Wright (a former Miami Heat player) is having a fantastic start to the season. In six games (all starts) he is averaging 18 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers while shooting 45.4% from the field and 72.7% from the line. James Jones (a current Miami Heat player) has come off the bench in all seven games but has gotten a consistent amount of playing time. Jones is more of a three-point specialist as he has yet to commit a turnover and he still hasn’t attempted a free-throw. His overall line of 10.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks on 51% field-goal shooting is much less impressive. While I am skeptical on both players going forward, I believe that Wright will end up with better overall numbers. Jones will probably see a decrease in minutes when Mike Miller returns from injury.
28 – Currently, no one is averaging at least 28 points per game. Monta Ellis, Kevin Durant, and Rudy Gay lead the league in scoring with 27.8, 27.7, and 27.1 points per game, respectively.
I have been participating in fantasy sports since the good old days (paper, pencil, box scores in newspapers, etc.). Basketball and baseball are my favorites though I've dabbled (without success) in football and hockey. You name it, I've done it (standard/custom, serpentine/auction, live/computer/message board, public/private/winners, etc.).
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