Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today we highlight four players who have seen their fantasy stock spike of late: Justise Winslow, De'Anthony Melton, Collin Sexton and Julius Randle.
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Justise Being Served
Over the first 183 games of his NBA career, from his professional debut on October 28th of 2015 through last Thursday, December 6th, 2018 (a span of 1,136 days), Justise Winslow scored 20-plus points just twice.
Then, beginning last Friday, over the span of four days, Justise Winslow scored 20-plus three times.
When Winslow slid to tenth overall in the 2015 NBA draft, most pundits predicted that Miami walked away with an incredible steal. In fact, Boston GM Danny Ainge offered Pat Riley four first-rounders for the right to select Winslow. However, over his first three seasons, Justise failed to live up to expectations. Battling injuries and inconsistency on offense, he didn't reach his perceived potential.
Yet, it’s important to remember that the kid is still just 22 years of age. It looks like he may finally be coming into his own in late 2018. As noted above, his current stretch is, by far, the best of his career. Over Miami’s last three games, Winslow is averaging 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.7 treys, while shooting 56.8 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from downtown. During this stretch, he ranks inside the top-10 in nine-category leagues.
His uptick in 3-point shooting is arguably the most impressive and important stat of the bunch. Winslow has made at least one triple in each of Miami’s last 12 contests. As of last month, his longest such streak was only five games. Over his previous 11 appearances, Winslow is averaging just under two made treys per contest, while shooting 48.8 from behind the arc.
We obviously have a large sample size which tells us it’s improbable that Winslow will be able to keep this up. However, it possible that Justise if finally being served in South Beach. It certainly makes sense to scoop up Winslow off the waiver wire and see if he has finally turned the corner.
Move on Melton
Based on numerous published reports (and common sense), the Suns would like to make a trade for a point guard. However, until they make a move, it looks like rookie De'Anthony Melton will see all the minutes he can handle at PG going forward.
Melton dropped into the second round of the 2018 draft, but that had more to do with off-the-court issues that his skill level. After being forced to sit out the 2017-18 season at USC because he was embroiled in an NCAA bribery scandal, Melton surprisingly slid all the way to 46th overall. He first popped up on the fantasy radar following a very impressive showing at the Las Vegas Summer League back in July. Melton developed a reputation as an elite defender in college, but showcased an impressive offensive arsenal in Vegas as well. Over the five games he appeared in, he averaged 16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.4 treys and a league-leading 3.0 steals. That’s the type of all-around production that fantasy GM’s are intrigued by.
Melton bounced back and forth between the G-League and the big club over the first month of this season but has become a consistent part of the rotation in December. Over the Suns last five games, he is averaging 14.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.8 3-pointers on 43.1 percent shooting.
With Devin Booker sidelined by a hamstring injury and Elie Okobo shipped down to the G League, Melton has started three straight contests for Phoenix. He has scored in double-figures in each start and is logging over 31 minutes a night. His fantasy stock is spiking.
Don’t wait any longer, go grab Melton off the wire.
I was surprised when no NBA team with significant cap space make a substantial offer to free agent Julius Randle last summer. After all, he played the best basketball of his career over the second half of 2017-18. Over the final 25 games of last season, Randle averaged a whopping 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists, while shooting a scorching 55.5 percent from the floor.
Well, he’s at it again this year in New Orleans. In fact, he's averaging career-highs across the board: points (19.2), boards (9.4), blocks (0.6), and treys (0.6). He’s been especially dominant this month.
Randle has scored at least 20 points (while shooting over 50 percent) and grabbed six-plus rebounds in each of the Pelicans last five games. The only player with a longer such streak this season is Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Over this five-game stretch, Randle is averaging 27.6 points, 11.2 boards, 3.4 dimes and 1.2 triples in 34.3 minutes, while shooting 59.3 percent from the floor and 50 percent from downtown.
With Nikola Mirotic battling a nagging right ankle injury since last month, Randle has gobbled up minutes and stuffed the stat sheet. Mirotic has already been ruled out of Wednesday’s game vs. the Thunder and, on Monday, coach Alvin Gentry told reporters that the Pels will err on the side of caution and hold Mirotic out until he's healthy.
In the meantime, Randle will continue to eat.
Sexton and Driving
Continuing with the theme of players on the rise, we have to shout out Collin Sexton.
The rookie out of Alabama started the season slowly. Over the Cavs first ten games, he was averaging just 10/2/2 and shooting only 40% from the floor and 30% from deep. It was around that time that Sexton’s teammate, J.R. Smith, tweeted that Trae Young would win Rookie of the Year, and The Athletic's Joe Vardon reported: "It's becoming increasingly clear that when you hear a Cavs veteran talk about younger players not knowing their role, or knowing how to win, or what to do on the court, they mean Sexton. Throughout the organization, the line on Sexton is that he does not 'know how to play.'"
However, in the five weeks since, Sexton has been stellar. Over Cleveland’s past 17 games, Sexton is averaging 18.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 made 3-pointers.
Coming into the league, Collin was praised as an above-average, aggressive defender, while the knock on his game was his inconsistent jumper. Surprisingly, he’s been a far better shooter than advertised. Over this current 17-game stretch, he’s shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and 48.8 percent from distance.
However, he has failed to supply the defensive stats we thought were coming. On the season, he’s averaging just 0.4 steals and 0.1 blocks. In addition, he’s turning the ball over a bit too much, and not dishing out as many assists as hoped. His assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6-to-2.3) is awful.
Nonetheless, the Cavs are committed to throwing him into the deep end of the pool and having him learn to swim. Dating back to November 7th, Sexton has logged 578 total minutes, which is the 18th most minutes played in the NBA over that stretch.