Welcome to The Edge.
Every week, I’m going to be digging deep into the stats to find some numbers that slip under the radar that may give you an advantage in your fantasy basketball league.
Steph Curry is out, Ben Simmons is hurt, the Suns are good. It’s been an eventful start to the NBA season. Let’s take a deeper look at some stats so you can get The Edge by making a savvy move at the beginning of the year.
Brandon Ingram’s hot start
Brandon Ingram has been one of the success stories of the new NBA season, averaging 25/9 points per game and 43.4 fantasy points per game. So how is he doing it, considering he is playing fewer minutes this season and averaging eight extra points?
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Right now, Ingram is shooting the lights out - and that should be cause for scepticism. Ingram was a career 33 percent shooter from three on two attempts per game. This season he is at 49 percent on five attempts per game. That has no way of sticking. It isn’t just his three-point shooting though - comparing his shot charts from last season to this season paints a better picture.
He is taking fewer shots at the rim and but converting at the same rate as in the past, and this is historically the most efficient shot.
Brandon Ingram's eFG% so far this season: 62%— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) November 8, 2019
Steph Curry's eFG% in his unanimous MVP season: 63%
On a positive note, he has converted those shots into threes instead of midrangers, but when the threes stop falling, will he go back to the rim or keep settling for longer attempts? The three-point shooting is wild, but Ingram is also hitting 64 percent of his shots between 10-16 feet.
He is a 38 percent shooter from that range in his career. I don’t think his shooting splits will be sustainable, so if you can sell Ingram high in fantasy, I would try to do it.
Jaren Jackson’s struggles
Jackson was super hyped heading into the season, with Yahoo having him ranked 34th before the season began. So far, he is ranked 139th in standard fantasy points leagues, a long way off number 34.
Why has it been so bad? For a start, the obvious factor is the fact he is playing just 23 minutes a night.
Fouls. That’s the issue.
Jackson averaged 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes last season, which is a high rate, but this year it has been elevated to a whopping 6.6 fouls per 36 minutes. He is actually averaging 4.3 raw fouls per game in only 23 minutes, getting into foul trouble in almost every game, and after the first two games, where he played 30 and 32 minutes, he hasn’t gotten over 24 minutes.
Judging by my mentions, a lot of y'all are freaking out about Jaren Jackson, Jr. Don't. He's younger than Ja. There will be struggles but he's a monster talent.— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 7, 2019
If any of y'all are foolish enough to be selling Jaren stock, I'll buy it all.
The fouls and subsequent benchings seem to have impacted his confidence as well and he has scored just 14 points combined in the last three games and he has -0.89 PIPM, when he was at -0.59 last season.
There is hope. His first three games gave us 26.6, 41.2, and 26.7 fantasy points and I do think he will turn it around, as long as he can stop fouling.
Jabari Parker is a starter
Unfortunately for fantasy GMs that drafted him, John Collins was suspended for 25 games for ingesting a performance-enhancing drug.
That opens up a lot of minutes and usage on this young Hawks roster. So far, Jabari Parker has been the man to step up and inherit Collin’s role.
Parker is not the same player as Collins, but in two starts since the suspension, he’s proving to be a great asset for fantasy players. In his two starts, Parker has totalled 62.1 fantasy points, playing 30 minutes a night, but is there anything weird in those numbers to make us think it won’t stick?
Well, it isn’t the three-point shooting, which is at 14 percent in the two starts. His true shooting is actually identical coming off the bench and as a starter, with the major change being in his usage which went from 23.3 percent up to 25 percent and the minutes up from 22 a game.
His steals are slightly elevated, as are his rebounds in his two starts, but basically, what Parker is doing in his new role is highly repeatable and he should be rostered in all fantasy leagues, giving you at least top 75 type numbers while Collins is out.
Taurean Prince is relevant again
Taurean Prince was thrust into an unfamiliar role last season, as a key offensive piece of a young Hawks team and he failed. Now, he is almost an afterthought in Brooklyn as their starting power forward and he is back into fantasy basketball relevancy.
How is he doing it? For a start, his usage is down under 18 percent from 20 percent last season, but he has improved his shot selection.
Only two percent of Prince’s shots have been outside ten feet, versus 19 percent last season (not including three-pointers). As for the threes, he is attempting 64 percent of his shots from outside the arc, up from 53 per cent last season and is hitting them at 41 per cent, a marginal increase from 39 per cent last season.
The increase in threes is helping his scoring and efficiency, but the other standout factor is his rebounding. In his career, Prince had a 8.2 rebound percentage before joining Brooklyn. This year, he is at 11 percent, which has translated to 7.0 rebounds per game.
That’s almost double his raw numbers from last season and has pushed him into the top 80 for standard leagues and makes him a must roster player this season.
Bruce Brown, the point guard
With Reggie Jackson out long term, and Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier sidelined in the short-term, the Pistons have had to go with a different option as their starting point guard.
Bruce Brown Jr, their starting shooting guard, has been the starting point guard for the Pistons the last three games. They experimented with him at point guard through Summer League to great success and this small sample size so far this season has yielded similar outputs.
In those three games, Brown is averaging 15 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 37 minutes a game, which has given us 36.1 fantasy points per contest. Contrast that with the 11.87 points he is generating when coming off the bench, and the move to starting point guard has really helped Brown.
I think he may stick as the starting point guard when Frazier is back, and maybe even Rose, although Jackson’s eventual return could limit his usefulness, especially in terms of just having the ball in his hands enough to generate those assists.
Every week, I’ll be looking at some weird trends across the NBA and seeing what they mean, so make sure you’re checking out The Edge, here every Friday.
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