Who is blowing us away with their statistical output, or conversely, confounding us with what they aren’t doing?
I’m going to take a look at some NBA stats and see why they may be happening and how you can translate that into fantasy in today’s Edge.
Carmelo Anthony is now an elite defender?
People, including me, derided Melo for his turnstile defence and it was one of the things keeping him out of the NBA.
But, this season, he has been good. Not great, certainly not elite, but actually good. He has a positive D-PIPM of 0.40 and for fantasy, he is putting up great defensive stats.
Anthony is currently averaging a career-high in steals at 1.4 and also is swatting 0.7 shots, but in his last six games, Melo is all the way up at 1.3 blocks per game and 2.3 steals.
It’s even better in his last three, where 2.0 steals and 2.3 blocks have vaulted Melo into the top 20 for fantasy points leagues.
Now, that level of defensive excellence won’t stick, but I feel confident in saying that Anthony is better on defence this season in Terry Stotts’ system than we’ve seen him in a while.
Joe Ingles Is starting again
It’s been a bad start to the season for Jinglin’ Joe Ingles, but of late, we have seen glimpses of that form that vaulted him into our hearts.
He hasn’t been a top 150 for the season, yet over the last week, Ingles is back in the top 70.
Why? Well, he is back starting and that has worked wonders. His pairing with Rudy Gobert, versus playing with Ed Davis and Jeff Green, is one of the keys to his fantasy value. He moved into the starting lineup when Mike Conley went down, but encouragingly, even in Conley’s return, Ingles remained starting.
Now, that point is moot as Conley is out again, but I feel okay about stating Ingles will continue to start even when Mike is back.
As a starter this season, Ingles has averaged 27.17 points per game compared to 19.57 as a reserve. Yes, he has played more minutes as a starter, but even on a per 36 minute basis, Ingles averages around five additional fantasy points as a starter.
Is Brandon Clarke the best rookie in the league apart from his teammate?
It was foolish that Clarke fell to pick 21 in the Draft. Teams are looking pretty silly at the moment with how the Grizzlies’ rookie is performing on the court. And for fantasy leagues, he is posting up numbers which should get everyone interested.
Recently, Clarke has seen his minutes rise and over the last four games, since he returned from his oblique strain, he is the 75th ranked player, playing just 24 minutes a game.
How is he doing it? Well, it isn’t coming from crazy defensive numbers, which he was well known for at Gonzaga. In fact, he hasn’t registered a steal since returning and has blocked just three shots in those four games.
He is literally the most efficient rookie in NBA history. Of all rookies in the history of the league who have averaged at least 20 minutes a night (regular rotation players), Clarke has the highest true shooting of anyone.
He sits at 70.1 true shooting percentage, with Mitchell Robinson and Jaxson Hayes trailing him at 69.2 and 65.8 and the only player in the top 15 for rookie true shooting with a higher three-point attempt rate is Aryvdas Sabonis, who shares the same 14.4% mark as Clarke.
If he gets those defensive numbers cranking to go along with his increased usage and efficiency, Clarke could challenge the top 40 this season.
Dario Šarić’s run could end
It’s been a pleasant surprise to see Šarić up inside the top 100 fantasy players over the last month of action, but I fear that time is coming to an end.
With Deandre Ayton suspended for 25 games, Šarić took on a larger role and flourished, but the early returns from playing both of them together have been discouraging.
In 791 minutes that Šarić has played without Ayton so far, he has averaged 0.91 fantasy points per minutes. That’s solid. Now, in the 36 minutes, the two have shared the court, an EXTREMELY small sample, that number drops to 0.83 fantasy points per minute, a not-insignificant drop. But that’s not the only reason for my pessimism.
With Ayton back, Frank Kaminsky is going to move his minutes across from centre, where he was starting for the last couple of weeks, back to power forward.
So, those 29 minutes a game Šarić was getting is likely to drop as well. So, we are likely to see a drop in not only per-minute production but also in minutes played, making Šarić an aggressive sell-high player, who may turn into an outright drop pretty quickly.
Where Has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s Usage Gone?
Shai has been a solid fantasy option most of the season, but your perspective of him depends on what you thought at the beginning of the season.
He was thought by many to be a breakout and draft sleeper guy and while he has been good, he hasn’t quite been at the lofty goals some had for him. But, if you are asleep on Shai heading into the season, then he has been unbelievable, jumping from the 158th ranked player last season to 69th this season.
He has been relatively consistent regarding his fantasy points production, but in the last three games, things have been a bit different. His usage for the season is at 24.4 percent, but in those three games, his usage has plummeted down to 18.8 percent.
Usage is a key factor in fantasy points leagues, and for a guy like SGA who is failing to provide us with much defence and few assists, it is especially key.
Do you know who the highest shot taker is for the Thunder in those games? Dennis Schröder is averaging a whopping 16.0 field goal attempts per game, higher than Danilo Gallinari at 14.7, while SGA, Chris Paul, Steven Adams all hover around 10 per game. Schröder’s usage at 33.0 percent is also an anomaly, up from 28 percent over the season.
Usage is a zero-sum number - there are only so many possessions to go around and with Schröder controlling the offence and shots at the moment, and rightfully so, because he is seemingly making everything (ts% 65%), there are fewer shots for SGA to take.
The Thunder have been winning, but also doing it by making ridiculous late-game charges and riding of the hot hand, so I have to think that the shot distribution will normalise and Shai will get his shots back, so if you have him, it’s not time to panic yet.
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.