Question Marks to Exclamation Points

Tommy Beer
Rotoworld

Here in "Notable Numbers," we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, I'll players that came into the 2019-20 season as question marks or afterthoughts and are establishing themselves as fantasy factors.

Follow Tommy Beer on Twitter: @TommyBeer

* Paschall Still Producing
As we have discussed in this space time and time again, success is fantasy sports is often predicated upon being in the right place at the right time.

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Over the last five years, any player picked by the Warriors in the second round of the NBA draft would have had a very slim chance at earning a spot in the rotation, let alone emerging as a focal point of the team's offense. However, as we know, the Warriors have been hit by a perfect storm of sorts. They lost Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins via free agency. Klay Thompson is expected to miss the entire season due to an ACL tear. Stephen Curry had surgery on his left hand, costing him at least three months. Draymond Green is dinged up. And D'Angelo Russell (right thumb sprain) has missed multiple weeks. 

Sum it all, and there are a ton of shot attempts and scoring opportunities up for grabs. It has been an unheralded rookie from Villanova that has stepped in and stepped up. 

When Eric Paschall logged 31 minutes and scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds off the bench in the season opener, eyebrows were raised. However, most fantasy folks assumed Paschall wouldn't be able to match that production consistently. Well, in actuality, he's exceeded it.

In the 15 games he's started this season, Paschall is averaging a whopping 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while shooting 50.7% from the floor and 81.3% from the charity stripe. He's scored in double figures in 11 straight games - the last Warriors rookie to match that streak was Klay Thompson. Among NBA rookies this season, Paschall ranks first in total points scored, first in rebounding, first in minutes, fifth in field goal percentage, and eighth in free throw percentage. He has two 30-point games, which leads all rookies. (Paschall is the first Warriors rookie to have at least two 30-point performances since Stephen Curry in 2009-10.)

In fact, after exploding for 24 points, a career-high six assists, nine rebounds and two triples on Monday night, Paschall is now up to seven 20-point games this season. According to Basketball-Reference, coming into this season, only five rookies this decade have had more 20-point outings over their first 21 career games: Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Kyrie Irving. Per NBA.com, Paschall is the seventh rookie in Warriors franchise history to score at least 300 points in his first 20 games of his career, and the first since Mitch Richmond in 1988-89.

The only negative to Paschall's fantasy resume is the lack of defensive stats. He has a total of just seven blocks and seven steals on the season. If he can bring up those numbers, his fantasy value will soar even higher.  

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* Richaun Finds a Holmes
Another player that has continued to exceed expectations is Kings' big man Richaun Holmes

On the first day of free agency this past summer, the Kings address their hole at center by signing Dewayne Dedmon to massive three-year, $40 million contract. A day later, in a signing that didn't garner as much attention, the Kings inked Richaun Holmes to a two-year, $10 million deal. 

Well, six months into the 2019-20 campaign, it's Holmes that has established himself as the primary pivot in Sacramento. He was inserted into the starting lineup back on October 30th to replace the struggling Dedmon and has refused to relinquish his hold on the job.

Over the Kings' last ten games, Holmes is averaging 12.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.6 blocks in 30.1 minutes, while shooting a scorching 67.5% from the floor and 80.8% from the charity stripe. Over this ten-game stretch, Holmes ranks 21st overall in nine-category fantasy formats. For context, Trae Young, Rudy Gobert and Kawhi Leonard rank 18,19 and 20, respectively. 

Coming into this season, many folks felt that all Holmes needed was an opportunity. After all, he's always posted tremendous per-minute stats. In 2018-19, over 70 appearances for the Suns, he averaged 17.4 points, 10.1 boards and 2.4 blocks per-36 minutes. Thus, I don't view Holmes as a sell-high candidate. His playing time may be reduced a bit once Marvin Bagley (thumb) returns to the lineup; yet, as well as Holmes has played for the last month now, I don't see him dropping below 25 minutes a night. As a result, he should continue to provide plenty of fantasy goodness. 

* Fultz For Real?
Markelle Fultz was one of the more fascinating and unpredictable players in the NBA heading into the 2019-20 campaign, as he had endured a mystifying first two seasons in the NBA. 

Fultz appeared in just 33 games over those two years and had converted only 26.7% of his 3-point attempts and 53.4% of his free throws. He simply hadn't resembled the player that was the unanimous No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. A player that, as a freshman at Washington, averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 2.1 treys, while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from downtown. Yet, since draft day, he was plagued by a mysterious shoulder injury, which may (or may not) have led to the yips.

Well, six weeks into his Magic career, Orlando has to be extremely excited with his production this far. In Tuesday's victory over the Wizards, Fultz scored a career-high 20 points (on 9-of-17 shooting) and tacked on six assists, three rebounds, two steals in 31 minutes. Two nights earlier, in a win over the Warriors, he dished out a season-high tying nine assists, to go along with 14 points four rebounds, one steal, and zero turnovers. 

Over Orlando's past eight games, Fultz is averaging 15.5 points, 5.0 assists 2.9 boards, 1.4 steals and 0.5 treys, while shooting 54.0% from the floor, 33.3% from downtown and 70.6% from the stripe. 

How impressive are those numbers? Considers this: Dating back to mid-November, there are only four players averaging at least 15 points and five dimes, while also shooting above 50% from the floor: Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Malcolm Brogdon and… Markelle Fultz

Over this eight-game stretch, Fultz ranks inside the top-100 overall in nine-cat fantasy formats. 

* Harden Making History
I wouldn't be true to the "Notable Numbers" brand if I didn't discuss the recent fireworks from James Harden

The Beard is on a scoring binge we haven't seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain. Over the Rockets last 18 games, Harden is averaging 41.2 points, 7.6 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 triples and 13.1 made free-throws. Averaging. Think about that for a second. That means if Harden tallies 41 points, seven dimes, six boards, five treys, and 13 FT's tomorrow night vs., the Raptors, he brings DOWN his averages in every one of those categories. (insert mind-blown emoji here) 

Some other ridiculous Harden-related stats/factoids:
* Harden made 24 free throws last night. Here's a list of players with 24 or fewer made free throws this entire SEASON:
Al Horford
Clint Capela
Gary Harris
Kendrick Nunn
Myles Turner
Steven Adams
Joe Harris

* Here the leaderboard for most games with 20+ free throws, all-time:
1. James Harden: 9
2. Kobe Bryant: 7
2. Moses Malone: 7
4. Michael Jordan: 5
(Kevin Durant, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West each have four games with 20+ FT's)

* According to Basketball-Reference: Prior to Tuesday night, no player had ever shot below 38% from the field in a 50-point game. In the loss to the Spurs on Tuesday, Harden shot 29% from the floor.

* Coming into this season, no player in NBA history had ever made more than 50 three-pointers and 200 free throws over the first 20 games of a single season. Through Houston's first 20 games this season, Harden has made 98 treys and 261 free throws!

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