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Mostly NBA Notes: Kevin Durant in midst of historical fantasy season

Dalton Del Don
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Even Durant can't believe his shooting so far (USAT)

Kevin Durant has averaged 36.3 points over the past eight games, and despite attempting a whopping 6.3 3pt in January, he’s shooting 53.5 percent from the field this month, also averaging 5.2 apg. He’s shooting 91.0 percent at the line this year while attempting the third-most free throws in the league. In fact, Durant has taken 399 shots from the charity stripe, and only four other players in the league have attempted more than 250. According to Basketball Monster, his impact in FT% has been by far the biggest among all categories (his ft%V is 4.16. Next best is James Harden at 2.55. To put this in perspective, the next biggest gap atop a category is Larry Sanders with a blkV of 4.15. Next best is Serge Ibaka at 3.56). Durant’s 4.4 apg and 1.6 spg marks are both career highs, and he leads the NBA in scoring with 29.6 ppg despite playing alongside a teammate who’s attempted the third most field goals per game this season.

We’ve discussed before just how historical a 50-40-90 season is, but KD’s current marks are 52.0-42.1-91.0. And this has come with extreme volume, as he ranks sixth in FGA, 36th in 3pt and 3rd in FTA. I know you don’t need me to tell you Durant is good at basketball, but his current 1.39 value at Basketball Monster is well ahead of No. 2 (LeBron James with 0.95). Only two other players have eclipsed the 1.0 mark since BM started tracking this, one being Chris Paul with 1.06 in 2008/09, and the other being Shawn Marion with 1.11 in 2005/06. Put differently, Durant has made a bigger difference in fantasy impact than James this season than James has compared to Nicolas Batum. And using Yahoo’s scoring, Durant is currently No. 1 across the board both in totals and averages for all date ranges: 7 days/30 days/season. It’s almost unheard of and about as impressive as it gets.

People are awesome 2013 (not sure why they added the two fakes, but the rest are legit).

Here’s Russell Westbrook trolling.

After being a more valuable player to the Spurs than fantasy owners throughout his career, Tony Parker currently ranks 30th in fantasy terms this year, which at age 30 qualifies as his highest ever. His 19.8 ppg, 7.4 apg and 0.5 3pt are all the second-best marks of his career, while his 81.5 percent shooting from the line has never been better. A 31.4 percent shooter from downtown throughout his career, Parker is hitting 39.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this season, and his 3.1 assist:turnover ratio is the fourth-best in the league (minimum 25 games played). Parker, who’s previously led the NBA in points in the paint during a season, is attempting the second-most shots at the rim per game (5.2) among all point guards, making an impressive 67.9 percent there. Among the top-25 PGs who’ve attempted the most shots at the rim, Parker’s 52.4 percent shooting from 3-9 feet is the best. Add it all up, and Parker’s field goal percentage (52.0) is easily the highest among all point guards (Rajon Rondo is second at 48.4 percent). In short, Parker is shooting better from downtown and at the line than ever before while also attacking the rim like he usually does and maintaining last year’s big jump in assists (while even keeping his turnovers down). His performance hasn’t translated just to fantasy success, as Parker’s PER (22.64) ranks 13th in the NBA, despite a modest 32:47 mpg.

I remain a Ricky Rubio fan and think he’ll be an impact player once he gets healthier, but this is a pretty bad miss.

Here’s a woman trying to wash her car with gasoline.  Your guess is as good as mine.

Here’s Cousin Sal giving people the flu.

Earl Clark is averaging 9.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.2 apg and 1.5 bpg over six starts this season, and coach Mike D’Antoni apparently has no intention of sending him back to the bench anytime soon. D’Antoni is stubbornly sticking to his system and demanding a smaller, quicker lineup, resulting in Pau Gasol heading to the bench (and away from the basket when he’s actually on the floor). Dwight Howard’s latest shoulder injury doesn’t appear serious, but it looks like Clark is going to have a major role either way. He’s obviously not exactly a special player – and likely long gone by now in deeper fantasy leagues – but he’s certainly firmly on the radar with his new role. Despite personnel that would suggest an opposite strategy might work best, Los Angeles currently ranks third in Pace. The whole situation is curious to say the least (and kind of fascinating to watch unfold). Don’t be surprised if Gasol is eventually dealt, although the Lakers have done their best to sabotage his value.

Here’s Jim Harbaugh giving the best QB clinic of all time.

New feature: Song of the week.

To say Emeka Okafor hasn’t lived up to being a former No. 2 overall pick is an understatement, and he got off to an extremely slow start this season, but he’s quietly been pretty useful in fantasy leagues of late, especially for those in need of boards. Over his past 18 games, Okafor has averaged 11.1 rpg, getting 1.44 bpg over that span as well. He’s never going to be a prolific scorer, and his current 46.7 FG% is easily his worst since 2005/06, and the best thing that can be said about his poor free throw shooting is at least he doesn’t get to the line much. Okafor’s 0.6 spg isn’t bad for a center, and he rarely turns the ball over (1.3 tpg). Don’t get me wrong, Okafor isn’t a huge fantasy asset, but at least he’s back contributing in blocks and boards…Sticking with Washington real quick, here are Bradley Beal’s ppg averages over Oct/Nov, Dec, and Jan: 11.0, 13.4 and 16.7. He’s also making 2.4 3pt while shooting 46.0 percent from the floor (including a ridiculous 54.7 percent from downtown) this month, so it sure looks like the rookie is on the right trajectory.

Here’s a crazy look at an assassination attempt.

Here’s a pretty awesome Blake Griffin GIF.

Here’s Caron Butler blocking a shot that knocks down a referee.

I typically don’t like getting too worked up over All-Star rosters in any sport, but I guess it’s worth mentioning Brook Lopez looks like this year’s biggest snub (with Stephen Curry probably the second most deserving player who didn’t make it, but the Western Conference is loaded, whereas there were some questionable additions in the East). Lopez has been very good in fantasy terms (he currently ranks 28th), but with such an improvement in defense – the Nets have ranked dead last in Defensive Efficiency when he’s been off the court this season – he’s been even more valuable to Brooklyn. In fact, his 25.04 PER ranks fifth in the NBA. Again, it’s not something to get overly worked up about and no stat is perfect, but it sure looks like he was probably more deserving than some others who made it.

The Law: Robber demands money from Starbucks, cashier gives him coffee instead…Would-be Robber has change of heart at Papa John’s, given free pizza and wings…Meanwhile, in a Chinese Zoo, a Man Bit an Ostrich to Death... Five charged in deadly Philadelphia “dungeon” case...Ohio teacher with phobia of kids suing former districtTwo men sue Subway over short footlong sandwiches.

Quick Hits: Javale McGee not only decided to throw himself his own alley-oop, but he celebrated with a fingerstache. He has a ton of faults (George Karl’s recent “lazy and crazy” quote was pretty awesome), but McGee has somehow averaged the ninth-most bpg (1.9) while recording the most dunks in the NBA this year. McGee has averaged 18:48 mpg!...LeBron James recorded his second triple-double of the season Wednesday, one more than he had all of last year (his one and only came during the NBA Finals-clinching Game 5). Rajon Rondo leads the league after recording his fourth trip-dub Thursday, while Jose Calderon joins James as the only other player with more than one…Jared Sullinger has shown promise, especially on the glass, but his fouls per minutes are the most in the league…J.J. Hickson has the third-most double-doubles in the NBA with 24 (behind only David Lee (26) and Zach Randolph (27)), and among the top 35 in the category, Hickson’s 29.3 mpg are easily the lowest.

Longread of the week: In honor of one of the absolute craziest sports stories of all-time, here’s another “Catfish” incident.

Bonus Longread of the week: Here is what happens when you cast Lindsay Lohan in your movie.

Bonus Longread of the week Part 2: This might be the most important thing I’ve read in a long time. A truly compelling case about lead leading to increased crime rates.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Stephen Curry is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average 3+ three-pointers and 6+ assists per game. I love Jrue Holiday and was happy to see him make the All-Star team, but he “leads” the league with 4.0 turnovers per game and has committed a whopping 4.5 tpg in January…Over the past month, Darren Collison has been the 18th most valuable fantasy player, which has directly coincided with him rejoining the Mavericks’ starting lineup. Other surprises over that same span include Ersan Ilyasova (22nd), Andre Drummond (28th) and Tiago Splitter (36th)…The current leaders in Efficiency Differential (Offensive Efficiency minus Defensive Efficiency) are the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers and Heat, in that order, which just so happens to be the same exact order of the top-four teams in the league in winning percentage…The Rockets currently lead the league in Pace (by a wide margin), while the Hornets rank dead last. I’m sorry, I mean the “Pelicans." I must say, that is one fierce looking pelican.

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