As we come to the end of Week 4 in the NBA, some trends are starting to developing. Let’s take a deeper look at some numbers so you can get The Edge in your fantasy basketball league.
Andre Drummond’s numbers without Blake Griffin
Andre Drummond has been an absolute beast so far this season. He is the sixth-ranked player in default fantasy points leagues, averaging 52.39 points per contest, but all but one of those 12 games have been without Blake Griffin by his side.
Last season, Drummond averaged 46.49 fantasy points per game, a stark difference from his output this season and that was with a full season of Griffin.
YAHOO FANTASY MAILBAG: What to do about injuries and breakout stars
FANTASY BASKETBALL EDGE: Brandon Ingram's hot start, Taurean Prince and Jabari Parker
But, is his improvement this year only due to Blake being hobbled?
Well, for a start, his block numbers are up and that has nothing to do with Griffin being healthy or not, and his steals are also higher.
The problem is that there are three things that the Griffin-Drummond pairing has an impact on, and the big one is assists.
When Blake plays, he takes control of the offence and Drummond’s role is reduced to play finisher, rather than play creator.
This season, Drummond is averaging 3.1 assists versus last season, where he was at 1.4 assists. If we go back to last year’s numbers, the same truths hold evident.
When Drummond was on the court without Griffin, his assists percentage was 9.6 percent. When they shared the court, it went all the way down to 5.8 percent. Drummond also had a usage of 23.2 when they shared the court and 27.6 percent when Griffin was off.
If you have a chance to sell Drummond at his current output before Blake fully immerses himself as the Pistons’ alpha, I would do it.
Andrew Wiggins’ shot selection
Andrew Wiggins is good. I said it. But, how has he been able to improve his game?
The last two seasons, Wiggins has barely cracked the top 70 for fantasy points leagues, but so far this season, Wiggins is ranked 20th, averaging 41.38 points per game.
He is blocking more shots, but one of the most important factors in his rise has been his playmaking, averaging 3.6 assists versus 2.5 last season. And more impressively, he is averaging 6.0 assists in the last four games.
But, let’s talk about his shooting. His two-point shooting is up from 44 percent to 53 percent and his free throw shooting is up from 70 percent to 74 percent. There is a reason for his improved two-point shooting.
Last season, 30 percent of his shots were from 10 feet out to the three-point line. This season, that number is down to 20 percent. He is scoring 48 percent of his points in the paint versus 40 percent a year ago. The common thought he is just taking a lot more threes, but he’s only at 2.5 percentage points higher in terms of three point attempts.
It’s about more aggression getting into the paint and taking better twos, as well as working to create his own shot more, as his assisted percentage is down 10 percentage points on twos and 20 percentage points on threes.
If this can stick, Wiggins should be a top 50 player this season.
Fred Van Vleet as Toronto’s starting point guard
Kyle Lowry has fractured his thumb, so Fred VanVleet has moved over from starting shooting guard to starting point guard.
This season, when FVV shares the court with Lowry, he has averaged 0.77 fantasy points per minute. When FVV is on the court without Lowry, which is going to be all of his minutes over the next three weeks, at least, he is averaging 1.08 fantasy point per minute in 174 minutes.
That is an over 40 percent increase in his production.
Pascal Siakam had 36 pt..Fred Van Vleet had 30 pt in the win in Portland.— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) November 14, 2019
Those 2 guys were the focus of Dwane Casey’s comprehensive player development program in Toronto.
Casey’s fingerprints are all over the rings they’ve given out in Toronto💯
In the three games since Lowry has been hurt, VanVleet has averaged 45.4 fantasy points. In his first eight he averaged 33.39 points.
So, if for some reason VanVleet is on your wire, go and add him, but also, before Lowry returns, trying to sell him high is a great idea.
Is Will Barton back?
Last season was a disaster for Barton, after injuring his hip in the first week of the year, he was never able to return to form and was benched for Torrey Craig when Denver was in the playoffs.
Barton is looking great this season though, and is the 30th ranked player in standard fantasy leagues over the last two weeks, averaging 38.15 points per contest.
Is that sustainable? In short, no.
More descriptively, Barton is hitting 53 percent of his three-pointers this season. Nobody, not even Steph Curry, or Craig Hodges, or Anthony Morrow, can do that.
Barton’s best shooting season was 37 percent from deep back in 17-18, so a drop is coming.
Concerningly, despite shooting this well, his three-point attempt rate is well down from 43 percent last season to 33 percent this season, so when the shooting falls off, his overall scoring is going to suffer a bit. He still should be rostered in fantasy leagues, but a drop off is coming.
Keep an eye on Moe Wagner
Some of you may be asking, ‘who?’
Well, Wagner was sent to the Wizards from the Lakers, for nothing, when Los Angeles tried to clear cap space to sign Kawhi Leonard. He barely played as a rookie last season after being the Lakers’ first-round draft choice in 2018, but this year, he has been a limited minutes revelation.
Over his last five games, in only 19 minutes, Wagner is averaging 22.54 fantasy points as the backup to Thomas Bryant in Washington.
Now, he is averaging an insane 8.1 fouls per 36 minutes and has fouled out in a quarter of his games so far, but if we project his fantasy points production out to per 36 minutes, Wagner is the 62nd ranked player so far, if everyone played 36 minutes.
Moe Wagner just turned into a unicorn for a play. pic.twitter.com/A5yRIIncXP— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) November 14, 2019
So, if Bryant gets hurt at all in Washington, Wagner would be the hottest of hot adds, and even now, if your league is marginally deeper than normal, he is providing value.
The good thing is, he isn’t even shooting at a crazy rate like Barton, hitting 37 percent of his threes so far.
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.