Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today we dissect a trio of rookies (Jaren Jackson Jr., and Allonzo Trier), and discuss the dominant play of underrated big man Nikola Vucevic.
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JJJ Has Arrived Ahead of Schduele
Jaren Jackson Jr. has had some duds here in there, such as his 4-point, 18-minute outing Tuesday night vs. the Raptors. However, considering he’s the youngest player in the NBA (19 years, 74 days), JJJ is vastly exceeding expectations and surprisingly has already racked up some awe-inspiring numbers.
For instance, in Sunday’s loss to the Knicks, Jackson posted one of the most unique stat lines in recent NBA history. Not only was JJJ perfect from the floor (6-of-6 FGs) for his sixteen points, and perfect from behind the arc (4-of-4) for his four treys, he also grabbed six boards and blocked seven shots! In the process, he became just the third player in NBA history to record at least four threes and seven blocks in a contest, joining Brook Lopez and Raef LaFrentz.
With just 20 games under his belt, the kid is off to an incredible start to his rookie campaign. Per Basketball-Reference, Jackson is only the seventh player in NBA history with 20+ steals and 40+ blocks in their first 20 career games are. The other six are Bill Walton (1974-75), Patrick Ewing (1985-86), David Robinson (1989-90), Kenyon Martin (2000-01), Shawn Bradley (1993-94) and Andrei Kirilenko (2001-02).
Jackson is the first player ever to tally at least 40 blocks, 20 steals and 15 3-pointers in his first 20 career contests.
Mind you; he’s doing this while logging just 25 minutes a night. JJJ’s per-36 minute stats are straight silly: 18.2 points, 3.0 blocks, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 treys. The only player to ever average at least three blocks, one steal and one triple per-36 over an entire season is Joel Embiid.
Bottom line: Jaren Jackson Jr. is the real deal. The scary part is he hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of his potential.
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A fellow rookie from the 2018 Draft Class is setting a different sort of record down in Atlanta.
Trae Young has attempted 121 3-pointers of the first 21 games of his pro career. That’s the most attempts, by a wide margin, by a rookie in Hawks history. In fact, only one other Atlanta rookie with more than 50 triple attempts through 21 games (Salim Stoudamire, who had 69 in 2005). However, the issue is that Young’s hasn’t been knocking down those treys at a satisfactory clip.
On the season, Young is shooting 24.8 percent from downtown, which means he's on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average over five 3-point attempts per game, yet shoot below 25 percent from behind the arc.
And yet, that includes Young getting relatively hot this week (6-of-15 in his last two contests). Over a 15-game stretch from October 27th through November 23rd, Trae was 12-for-75 from downtown (16.0 percent).
Unfortunately, that’s not the only issue dragging down Young’s fantasy value. He’s also turning the ball over at a rapid rate, averaging 3.9 turnovers a night, and has committed the third most TO’s in the league this season. He just the second player this century with more than 80 turnovers through his first 21 career games (Emmanuel Mudiay, in 2015, is the other).
When you add it all up by factoring in the anchoring impact in the FG percentage and turnover columns, it easy to see, despite the solid scoring and assist numbers, why Young has been so disappointing in nine-category fantasy leagues. He currently ranks 187th overall, just behind Damian Jones and just ahead of Ersan Ilyasova.
Iso Zo Heating Up
Unlike Jaren Jackson Jr. or Trae Young, Allonzo a top-five selection in the 2018 draft. In fact, he wasn’t drafted at all. However, Trier came into this season looking to prove he has first-round talent. So far, so good.
After a monster night Tuesday in Detroit, in which he compiled 24 points, ten rebounds and seven assists, Trier now ranks fifth in total points, seventh in assists and tenth in rebounds among all rookies. The only other rooks in the top-10 in each of these categories this season are Deandre Ayton, Wender Carter Jr. Luka Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Unsurprisingly, Trier scored those 24 points in efficient fashion on Tuesday, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor. Over the Knicks last three games, he is averaging 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 triples while shooting 60 percent from the floor 66.7 percent from downtown.
Incredibly, according to Basketball-Reference, Allonzo Trier is on pace to become the first rookie in NBA history to average 12+ points per game while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point territory.
On the negative side of the ledger, he doesn't provide much in the way of dimes, steals or blocks, and may see his minutes reduced with the pending return of Courtney Lee. However, especially due to his recent hot streak, Trier is worth a flier in deeper leagues.
Vooch on the Loose
I was high on Nikola Vucevic coming into this year. After all, he has recorded 25+ double-doubles in each of the past six consecutive seasons, which is the second-longest active streak in the NBA, trailing only DeMarcus Cousins, who has eight.
However, I certainly didn't envision Vucevic playing as well as he has. Vooch is averaging career-highs in points (20.8), assists (3.7), steals (1.1), field goal percentage (54.9%), 3-pointers (1.1), 3-point percentage (39.0%)., free-throw percentage (84.9%). Remarkably, he’s doing this while logging fewer than 31 minutes a night, which is just the fifth highest MPG average of his career.
Prior to this year, only five players in league history had ever averaged more than 20 points, 11 boards, three dimes and one 3-pointer per game over a complete NBA season: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Coleman and Charles Barkley. (And Barkey was the only one in this elite club to shot over 50 percent from the field.)
Vucevic has managed to take his game to an even higher level of late. Over the Magic past seven contests, Vooch is averaging 26.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 treys and 1.1 steals, while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor and 91.9 percent from the charity stripe.
On the season, Vucevic ranks seventh overall in nine-cat leagues. Feel free to explore “sell-high” opportunities, but only if you get a legit stud back. The Magic are playing well recently, and the versatile Vooch will continue to be the focal point of their offense. My only concern with him down the road is Orlando potentially trading him at the deadline to a championship contender, as he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Magic just spent a top-six pick on Mo Bamba.