Mostly NBA Notes: Dwyane Wade’s changing game

Dalton Del Don
January 10, 2013

Dwyane Wade has averaged 20.8 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.2 spg and 0.6 bpg, which are all career lows since his rookie season (except for steals, which is his lowest mark ever). He’s actually shooting a personal best 51.1 percent from the field while committing the fewest turnovers per game of his career, but he’s followed last year’s trend of getting to the line far less (this is no fluke, as he’s attempted the fewest shots at the rim ever, although he’s countered that with easily his best mark there at 76.2 percent), and the biggest decrease in production has been in the defensive stats. Maybe it’s a sign of him entering a slight decline phase now on the wrong side of 30, and he’s taken a ton of punishment with his style of play throughout his career, but expectations were he’d be better this season after being clearly limited by a knee injury last year. It just simply hasn’t been the case, as the first round fantasy pick has been only the 33rd most valuable player so far. Now that hardly makes him a bust, and Wade remains integral to Miami’s success, as his Usage Rate is the eighth highest in the NBA, but he no longer sees the minutes he used to, as the Heat care far more about his health come playoff time. While that may result in his scoring remaining down, it’s probably safe to expect more steals and (especially) blocks from here on out.

Speaking of early season disappointments, Josh Smith hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations either, as he hasn’t been even a top-50 fantasy player despite being a consensus top-10 pick entering the year. Smith’s field goal percentage has fallen each of the past three seasons, but the biggest culprit for his drop in value in 2012/13 has been his shooting at the free throw line, where’s he hit a career-low 54.0 percent. J-Smoove is shooting a career-best both at the rim (79.1 percent) and from beyond the arc (36.5) this season, but it’s been his mid-range game that’s failed miserably, posting career-worst marks from 10-15 feet (17.4 percent) and from 16-23 feet (27.0). It’s likely just a bunch of small sample noise that will regress moving forward, both from the floor and the line. In fact, over his last five games, Smith has averaged 18.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 3.0 bpg and 1.4 3pt, so the window to buy low is rapidly closing.

Here’s a pretty sick reverse alley-oop by J.R. Smith.

Here’s a close encounter with a polar bear.  (On a related note, if you have never seen “Grizzly Man,” I strongly recommend it. Probably a top-three documentary I’d say.)

Despite his scoring dropping from 20.7 ppg last year to 17.7 this season and his rebounding seeing a similar decline (10.9 to 8.5), Blake Griffin has gone from the 83rd most valuable player in 2010/11 and the 80th last year to 58th this season. A decrease in turnovers has helped, as has his FT% bouncing back from last year’s horrible 52.1 percent mark to (a still bad) 62.3, but the real improvement has been his sudden swipe ability. After recording 0.8 spg in each of his first two seasons in the league, Griffin has nearly doubled that mark so far, getting 1.5. The drop in points has mostly to do with circumstances outside his control, as playing for a deep Clippers team that probably has the best bench in basketball has led to a decrease in minutes (31:53), and his Usage Rate is a career-low as well. Griffin has made real strides with his mid-range jumper, but it’s been a bit perplexing to see such a drop in rebounding from the big man.

This dart performance is intense.

Here’s a kangaroo getting loose inside an airport car park. If only the people trying to catch it had seen this helpful instructional video.

After finishing as the 35th most valuable fantasy player last year despite averaging just 12.4 ppg and shooting 61.7 percent from the free-throw line, Andre Iguodala looked like an enticing asset entering the season with him moving from a team that ranked 24th in Pace to a Denver squad that ranked second. While the Nuggets have remained uptempo (currently sixth in Pace), the change in scenery has done anything but increase Iggy’s fantasy value, as he currently clocks in at No. 118 – behind the likes of Carlos Delfino, Jason Thompson and Amir Johnson. Iguodala simply hasn’t played well, as his 14.52 PER is easily a career worst and just barely above league average. I kept him inside the top-50 in my latest Big Board update, but the more I think about it, the more I regret doing so, as Iguodala’s severe drop in FT percentage looks more and more like a trend that’s here to stay, and the more possessions while playing in Denver has ultimately hurt his turnovers far more than it’s helped his offensive stats.

Here’s a ridiculously fast way to consume water.

Here’s a classic magic trick that involves a few twists (including lung cancer).

Finally given a role as a full-time starter this year, Thaddeus Young has taken full advantage, averaging 14.7 ppg with career highs in rpg (7.1), apg (1.6), spg (1.7) and bpg (0.9). He’s one of only three players in the NBA to average more spg than tpg (Chris Paul and Tony Allen are the other two). After attempting 302 three-pointers over 2008/09 and 2009/10, he’s launched just 27 shots from downtown over the past three seasons (including only one so far this year), and while fantasy owners could complain about the loss of a category, it’s resulted in a big improvement in shooting percentage from the field. As for Young’s current 58.3 percent mark from the charity stripe, it’s easily a career low, and it’s probably safe to expect him to be closer to his career level of 71.1 moving forward, so his value might actually increase from here on out. Considering his price tag, Young has been an absolute steal for fantasy owners so far.

Futuristic highways glow in the dark.

Man spends nearly $23,000 on shirt to impress the ladies.

The trailer for “Silver Linings Playbook” looked terrible, but after positive reviews and more importantly, the fact it was directed by David O. Russell (his last movie, “The Fighter,” was fantastic) led to me watching it, and I recommend it.

Quick Hits: Over his last 13 games, Greivis Vasquez has averaged 17.3 ppg and 10.4 apg. A lack of steals and (especially) a high turnover rate has really suppressed his fantasy value, but he was likely cheap at your draft and currently is third in the NBA in apg. His value jumps a ton for those in 8-cat leagues…Stephen Curry is shooting better from beyond the arc (45.0 percent) than inside it (42.4 percent)…Kevin Martin is on pace to finish with the highest free-throw percentage (93.2) with a minimum of 4.0 attempts per game since Reggie Miller (93.3) during his last season in the league back in 2004/05…Boston has easily been the worst rebounding team in the league this year, while the Timberwolves have been the best…Speaking of work on the glass, Nikola Vucevic has averaged 18.0 rpg over his last four contests, a stretch in which he pulled down 29 boards during one game against the Heat.

Drive Thru Invisible Driver Prank. Pretty brilliant.

Longread of the week: A strongly recommended read about a prosecutor who has essentially dedicated his life to keeping a convicted murderer(?) in prison.

Quick Hits Part Deux: After Ersan Ilyasova was a top-50 fantasy player last year despite getting just 29 starts (in which he averaged 14.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg and 1.0 3pt, leading to a big offseason contract, which theoretically meant his PT would be safe regardless of early season performance), he was drafted aggressively, but he’s been one of the biggest busts so far, with a current rank of 144. However, with Scott Skiles out as head coach, he’s looking at another opportunity at big minutes (he was productive during a return to the starting lineup Tuesday, and he would have seen even more minutes if not for foul trouble). Ilyasova is likely no longer available in most fantasy leagues, but he’s going to infuriate those who drafted him and don’t currently own him…Jameer Nelson has been the fifth most valuable fantasy player over the past two weeks, while David Lee has ranked eighth over the past month…It’s hardly surprising to see Oklahoma City lead the league in Offensive Efficiency, but it’s pretty unexpected to see Indiana leading in Defensive Efficiency so far…Omer Asik is shooting 52.5 percent from the floor, which is tied for 17th best in the league. Outside of two feet, he’s shooting 22.9 percent (11-of-48)…Seriously, are the Lakers not even going to make the playoffs?

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