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NBA Fantasy Trends

Stats: The Holiday Season

by Mike Gallagher
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Jrue Holiday is back! Actually, he’s BACK


We only have a two-game sample, but it’s more delicious than your favorite sample at CostCo. On the surface, Holiday has averages of 21.5 points, 2.0 boards, 8.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.0 treys on 54.8 percent from the field in 26.5 minutes per game. Holiday came off the bench in both games and had a 30-minute cap on Saturday, which he just missed by just 0.4 minutes due to his five minutes in overtime.


On the advanced stat side, the Pelicans smashed on the Blazers and Hornets while Jrue was out there. In that time, the Pelicans had a team-high +18.5 net rating. To take it a step further, they had a +33.5 net rating in the 36 minutes Holiday played next to Anthony Davis


Last year, one of the great mysteries for rotations was trying to figure out why coach Alvin Gentry wasn’t playing Jrue and AD next to each other as much. When Gentry went with a three-man combo of AD, Jrue and Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans had a +3.9 in those 639 minutes in 54 games. That is just 11.8 minutes per game, and even just a Jrue-AD combo saw just 20.1 minutes together. 


Given the lack of depth this year, Holiday and AD should play minutes together in the upper 20s. That would also be a big positive for AD. Davis’ numbers were way better with Jrue on the court and he even posted a 71.8 true shooting percentage in his 36 minutes over the weekend — sample size, I know.


As for Jrue’s fantasy value, it’s looking great. He’s gone on some very strong runs and he’s sitting on third-round value per game. That is with a minutes cap, so it’s not even his ceiling. Although, he’s not going to be this efficient, so that per-minute output is a bit high. He still has a great chance to be a top-40 guy.


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OK, let’s revisit Jrue’s stress fracture. The Pelicans are probably going to be smart with Jrue’s minutes this year because of his tibial fracture, which was aggravated in 2014-15. Last season, Jrue was able to avoid that because the Pelicans did not play him in the back-to-back sets in the early going. They had restrictions on him in back-to-back until Christmas of last season — he sat back-to-backs until except for when he played 13 and 14 minutes on Nov. 27-28. Once he got rolling, he only missed two games due to a toe injury and then suffered a season-ending orbital bone fracture in his face.


So how much of a concern is that lurking tibial fracture? Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is Bradley Beal’s leg fracture, which has cost him time for every single season of his NBA career. There is a difference on these two because Beal’s fracture is to his fibula and Holiday’s is to his tibia. In layman’s terms (shout out Jake Layman?), the tibia is your shin bone and fibula is on the side of your leg.

According to some medical research, a tibial fracture is more common with that bone accounting for 24 percent of stress fractures in the body. The fibula isn’t too far behind at 16 percent, which isn’t surprising because it’s not as load-bearing as the tibia — it’s actually not close with the tibia at 93 percent and the fibula at seven percent. Yes, this is a column about basketball.


According to another study, 75 percent of the time, stress fractures in the tibia are good to go after the prescribed rest. That study also says fibula fractures are also not as common, which makes Beal’s case look even more wild, but I digress. I’ll add that this study is old and that that 75 percent is on non-surgical stuff. 


OK, enough boring medical stuff. The bottom line is you shouldn’t doubt Jrue. Hey, maybe you can trade for him even freak out his owner and say 24 percent of stress fractures are to the tibia to cause a scare. As said above, I’ll value him as a top-40 guy going forward. It’s Holiday season.


Alright, so if Jrue is going to get minutes, that means someone is going to lose some. Obviously the big loser is going to be Buddy Hield. Before this weekend, his playing time was at 21.1 minutes, but he played just 6.5 in the last two. On top of that, he may get the entire bump from the rotation and there is even some talk of him going to the D-League. 


If Buddy’s 21 minutes are gone, that means only 10-15 more minutes are coming out of the rotation. Let’s take a look at who played next to Holiday over the weekend (in minutes):


Langston Galloway 41

Tim Frazier 23

E’Twaun Moore 6


Keep in mind Jrue came off the bench, so that explains the low minutes for the starter Moore to a degree -- Frazier is just better, of course. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of this equation is out Gentry rolled with the Jrue, Frazier and Galloway lineup for a whopping 11 minutes on Saturday. That lineup wasn’t used in the first game and it was also used for five minutes of overtime, so it is slightly misleading. 


There’s a good chance this backcourt rotation is going to shake out a lot like how the Boston frontcourt does. It’ll have one guy be like Amir Johnson as a more stable option while the rest are just about matchups and feel. Basically, Frazier should be the reliable guy while Galloway and Moore get the late minutes depending on who is hot and who they are playing against. For season long, Frazier is probably the only guy worthy of a roster spot. Tyreke Evans could be back to also throw a wrench in this equation.


Kemba Walker finally had his 20-plus scoring streak snapped with just 17 points against the Grizzlies on Monday.


After a breakout year last season, Walker was off to a ridiculous start as a shooter. Before yesterday, Walker made a whopping 60.0 percent of his catch-and-shoot treys. That’s helped him get to a ridiculous 82.4 effective field goal percentage on his shots without a dribble.


He should still be really good, but his price in DFS is too high right now in a normal matchup. He’s also going to have a tough time hanging in the top 10 for season long value per game.


So what’s up with the Wolves? Amazingly they’re 4-9 and it’s not like their losses are against really tough teams: Hornets (twice), Thunder, Grizzlies (twice), Kings, Nuggets, Nets and Celtics. So what’s up with that?


It seems like every game they’re giving up a big run. It turns out it’s usually in the third quarter. In that frame, the Wolves are a dead-last rank of -30.5 net rating. They’re also 23rd in net rating in the fourth, and worse yet they have a -44.0 net rating in clutch time for 27 minutes of action (side note: the Warriors are +74.4 in their clutch time).


Even Marcus Smart called them out. “They were definitely pressing,” Smart said. “You could definitely tell they were pressing to find a great shot.” Ouch. 


There might be some changes, but it may just be about their combinations. In other words, don’t worry about the reliable fantasy guys losing value. 

Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with NBC Sports Edge. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.