Mostly NBA Notes: Talking Victor Oladipo, Anthony Davis and a look around the league
Over the last three games, Victor Oladipo has averaged 22.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 3pt. He’s also shooting an improved 44.6 percent from the floor while making all 11 of his free-throw attempts and seeing at least 35:00 mpg over that span, as the rookie’s role continues to grow in Orlando’s offense. I was recently offered Kawhi Leonard for him in a keeper league, and while the latter has seemingly had a disappointing year, not breaking out as many expected, he’s still been the No. 36 ranked fantasy player (and also had the cheaper contract in this case). But ultimately, I declined (it also should be noted this is an 8-cat league, which helps Oladipo), and I’m hoping this latest stretch is a sign of big things to come from the rookie. It was a double OT game against a Knicks team that ranks 27th in defensive efficiency, but Friday’s performance in which Oladipo scored 30 points, grabbed nine boards and handed out 14 assists revealed some tantalizing upside. He sure seems to be "getting it" of late.
Sticking with Orlando, Tobias Harris’ slow start to the season looks like a thing of the past, as he has ranked as the No. 32 fantasy player over the past two weeks and is now locked in as the Magic’s starting power forward with Glen Davis gone. And in case you missed it, check out this Harris game-winning dunk basically at the buzzer. The Magic have lost a franchise tying record 16 straight games on the road, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t producing plenty of fantasy value, as Nikola Vucevic has also been a top-40 fantasy player this season (not to mention Arron Afflalo has been a top-65 one as well). Looking at a possible top-3 pick in this year’s draft, Orlando should enter 2014/15 with an interesting nucleus (although buying out Davis’ contract might actually hurt the team’s chances of getting a top-3 pick, it does help in the sense it will give the younger guys more experience down the stretch).
This shot from Trevor Ariza was legit (you have to love it when players get rewarded for chucking these shots and not worrying about their FG%). Having said that, Tony Wroten deserves even more credit, since he did the same in back-to-back games earlier this month.
O.J. Mayo has more important things to do than play defense, like tie his shoelaces.
This Thomas Robinson block was pretty sick.
Anthony Davis is on pace to become the first player to average at least 20.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 3.0 bpg since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999/2000 (on a side note, how crazy is it that Shaq never once led the NBA in rpg or bpg in any season of his career?). Speaking of crazy, opposing teams are averaging 2.9 made field goals on 6.3 attempts at the rim when The Brow is defending it. In other words, he’s blocking more shots at the rim than opponents are making there against him. Davis also faces far fewer attempts at the rim per minute compared to most of the other elite shot blockers in the league, making the fact he leads the NBA in bpg by 0.5 all that more impressive. It was insane it took a Kobe Bryant injury to get Davis onto the All Star team. He ranks third in clutch-time field goal percentage (minimum 25 FGA), shooting 57.9 percent in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, with a score differential of five points or less. The big man also has somehow scored 3.2 fastbreak points per game, which ranks 22nd in the NBA, ahead of Ty Lawson, Paul George, Tony Parker and Kyrie Irving, among many others, which is to say this is a versatile player. Davis’ PER (26.45) ranks fifth best in all of basketball, and that’s a stat that largely underrates defense. There’s a strong argument Davis is the third most valuable commodity in the NBA right now.
Headlines of the Week: Family Buys Beats By Dre Headphones At Walmart But Finds Cans Of Tuna Instead...Long Island Man Claims $1 Million Lottery Ticket He Found In Pile Of Leaves...Disgusted Central Park Mugger Rejects Victim’s Flip Phone...Passenger Allowed Onto Flight After Security Confiscates His Bomb...Man Shares Post Seeking His Arrest On Facebook, Is Arrested Within The Hour...‘Blind Man’ Caught In Disability Fraud After Seen Driving A Speed Boat...After Gambling Away Money On Horses And Texas Hold ‘em, 73-year-old Puts Underwear Over His Face and Robs Bank...Man In Jail For Marijuana Is Allowed To Leave Once A Month To Smoke Marijuana...Animal Sex Jury Erupts In Laughter After Hearing Man Was Rejected By Cow...Study Confirms That Men Stare At Women’s Breasts.
I have some thoughts on the All-Star weekend, which featured a 3-point contest winner airballing not one but two shots during the first round, a Slam Dunk Contest not only worse than usual, but also implementing a format that didn’t have the three finalists compete against each other at the end, and the All-Star game resulting in the East and West shooting a combined 55.8 percent from the field without a single shot being blocked on 242 field goal attempts, with the two teams combining for the most points during the event’s history. While Blake Griffin’s ally oops were fun to watch (I think he had eight dunks in the first quarter alone) as well as this Stephen Curry move, at one point, it almost seemed as if the teams weren’t trying their hardest on defense. In all seriousness, the highlight of the weekend was this sequence during the “Rising Stars Challenge” between Dion Waiters and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Songs of the Week: Beck’s “Blue Moon” and Coldplay’s “Midnight.”
Quick Hits: We all know Chris Paul is a fantasy superstar, but what he’s done lately has been special, as the point guard has recorded an almost unfathomable 39:2 assist:turnover ratio over the past three games. He’s missed some time, but on a per-game basis, Paul has been the No. 3 fantasy player this season…Kyle Lowry has been the No. 15 ranked fantasy player this year, and his owners can take a big sigh of relief the trade deadline came and went without him being dealt. Lowry’s Usage Rate (22.1) is a career high, so his owners have to be thrilled he’ll remain in Toronto over the rest of the year…Here’s Tyson Chandler goaltending his own dunk…Since Evan Turner was traded, Thaddeus Young has gone crazy, averaging 29.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 6.5 steals and 2.5 3pt. It’s been over just a two-game sample, but it’s clear Young is going to benefit greatly from now being the centerpiece of a team that easily leads the NBA in PACE (Philly has averaged 102.6 possessions per game, while the next highest have been the Lakers at a distant 99.7). No one has been more valuable in fantasy leagues over the past week than Young, who has remarkably made more field goals in the “restricted area” this season than DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Meanwhile, Turner was averaging career highs in ppg (17.4), spg (1.0) and 3 pt (0.7) in Philadelphia, but a trade to Indiana will be a huge blow to his fantasy value. He goes from having a 23.0 Usage Rate (on a team with the aforementioned highest PACE) to a bench role in which he might not see more than 20-25 minutes a night. At the time of the deal, Turner had the lowest PER (13.3) of any player in the NBA averaging at least 17.0 ppg, so this deal might not help the Pacers as much as their fans hope.
Police Blotter: Prostitutes Found in Mexico Jail...Inmate Escapes From Prison, Turns Himself In Due To Cold...Police Make ‘Unusual Find’ in Suspected Drunken Driver...Man Posts Video Of His Marijuana Garden On YouTube, Gives Name And Address, Gets Arrested...Lawyer Argues Kevin Spratt May Have Been Screaming In “Joy” While Being Tasered By Police...Man Killed by an “Atomic Wedgie”...Break-In Thwarted When Man Pulls Door Marked ‘Push’...McGruff The Crime Dog Gets 16 Years For Having 1,000 Pot Plants And A Grenade Launcher...Woman Trolls Herself on Facebook, Gets Almost Two Years in Prison...Man Found Dead, Ear Missing, Throat Cut; Texas Police Claim He Overdosed.
Quick Hits Part Deux: Since the start of 2014, Jeff Green has shot 38.6 percent from the floor in January and 38.3 percent in February. Over the last two weeks, he’s been the No. 208 ranked fantasy player. With Rajon Rondo staying put at the trade deadline, Green’s Usage Rate should go down as well…Steve Blake was in the midst of the best fantasy season of his career, but a trade to Golden State has all but killed his value. After getting 33:01 mpg in Los Angeles, he’s seen 17:12 mpg with the Warriors, as it would take injuries for Blake to see a dramatic increase in playing time. He can safely be dropped in all fantasy leagues…Even coming off a poor shooting performance, Patty Mills has averaged 18.5 points, 1.3 steals and 1.5 3pt over the past four games. He continues to come off the bench, but with Tony Parker remaining out indefinitely, Mills is currently worth using in deeper fantasy leagues…Mason Plumlee hasn’t made a single shot from eight or more feet this season...Speaking of poor shooters, I’m beginning to think Tyreke Evans might also be one…The good news is Nene Hilario’s recent knee injury isn’t season ending as originally feared, but the MCL sprain will sideline him 4-to-6 weeks. Most fantasy owners can’t afford that patience, especially this time of year and with no guarantee he’ll contribute before the NBA playoffs, meaning he’s fine to cut…Here’s a 7’1” sophomore high school player who looks terrifying. I’ll take him over any of this year’s “historic” (is it still being called that?) draft class. Plus, his name is Thon Maker!
Longread of the Week: “The Troubling Case of the Cannibal Cop.”
Quick Hits Part Tres: After winning just 25 games last season, many (including myself) thought the Suns were going to “tank” this year in hopes of landing a high pick in what appeared to be a loaded draft class, and this notion was only reinforced when the team traded Marcin Gortat right before the season started. Instead, the Suns have surprised in a big way, as they are on pace to approach 50 wins in a loaded Western Conference and would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Las Vegas’ Over/Under win total entering the year for them was 21! And Eric Bledsoe has missed 32 games. Jeff Hornacek deserves Coach of the Year consideration…Here’s Blake Griffin with a couple of sick windmill dunks in the same game…Here’s Lance Stephenson making a miraculous shot while taking a hard fall...I had a strong internal debate between Anthony Bennett and Jamal Crawford during my home league draft before the season, and I unfortunately took the former (and this is a yearly format, not keeper). The rookie is barely worth owning even in dynasty leagues right now, while Crawford has been the No. 66 ranked fantasy player and has been even better of late, averaging 25.2 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.4 spg and 3.0 3pt while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor over 10 games this month. Oops…I’m a Warriors fan who was at this game in person, but it’s tough not to appreciate LeBron James’ ridiculousness. I know this will come across as a huge surprise, but he’s been terrific in the clutch this season…Over his last 10 games, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 8.2 attempts from downtown, which would lead the NBA this season and is a big increase over his career mark of 3.1. Anthony has averaged a whopping 33.1 points over that span, so his fantasy owners shouldn’t exactly be complaining about all the three pointers being hoisted.