Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, among other topics, we highlight the impressive play of Myles Turner, Rodions Kurucs and Ivica Zubac.
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Myles Turning It On
After a phenomenal sophomore campaign in 2016-17, Myles Turner was viewed as one of the games potential future fantasy stars. However, he took a step back last season, as his playing time and production dipped across the board. Many fantasy GM’s were hoping for a bounce-back season this year, but the early returns weren’t all that promising.
Over the first 18 games of the Pacers season, Turner averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.3 treys and 2.6 blocks, while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor and 20.7 percent from downtown.
Yet, Turner started to get in gear in late November and, by early December he had taken his game to another level. Over Indiana’s past eight games, Turner is averaging 17.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 triples and 3.4 blocks, while knocking down 51.4 percent of his field goals and 52.2 percent of his 3-pointer attempts. Over this stretch, Turner ranks seventh overall in nine-category fantasy formats.
Much of his statical spike is related to his increase in playing time. During the 23 games the Pacers played in October and November, Turner logged more than 30 minutes just once. In contrast, Indiana has played 12 games in December and Myles has played 30-plus minutes in nine of them.
There is a strong correlation between Turner playing well and his team experiencing success. On the season, the Pacers are 14-3 when he scores at least 12 points, and 0-4 when he scored fewer than eight. Expect Turner to continue seeing 30 minutes a night, and is fantasy ranking continue to climb.
In the Warriors embarrassing blowout loss to the Lakers on Christmas Day, Draymond Green finished with just four points on 2-for-7 shooting. Speaking with reporters after the game, Green said: "I kind of f----d our whole offense up and it kind of messed the flow of the game up. I just got to be better."
In each of the previous four seasons dating back to 2014-15, Draymond Green has never finished lower than 32nd overall in nine-category fantasy leagues. His success has never been wholly dependant on his offensive production, but rather his all-around contributions. However, he hasn’t been this frustratingly inefficient offensively since his rookie year, and it’s dragging down his fantasy value.
After shooting 45.4 percent from the floor in 2017-18, Green is at just 40.7 percent this season. In 2015-16, Draymond shot 38.8 percent from downtown. He’s converting only 22.4 percent of his long-range attempts this season. Over his last 11 games, he’s shot above 40% just once and is slashing 33.8% / 19.2%. During this stretch, he's scored 65 points on 77 field goal attempts. (In contrast, Washington's Thomas Bryant has scored 117 points on his last 66 FG attempts).
In addition, although his steals and rebounding numbers are in line with his career-averages, Draymond is also averaging fewer than one block and one 3-pointer per game for the first time since 2013-14 and averaging fewer than seven assists for the first time since 2014-15. Furthermore, he’s averaging the highest turnover rate (29.3 percent) of his entire career.
Sum it all up, and Green finds himself outside of the top-70 overall. He hasn’t been this ranked this low, this late in the season, in a long time. The question GM’s should be asking themselves is whether or not this is a buy-low opportunity? I tend to believe it is. Again, even if Green’s shots continue to clank, he still has a high floor due to his well-rounded game. If his percentages improve, he can climb into the top-50 quite quickly. I’d throw out some offers and see if I could acquire him at a steep discount.
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Forget the fantasy radar, Rodions Kurucs wasn’t even on the radar of many diehard Nets fans heading into this season.
The skinny, 20-year old forward from Latvia was a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and it was assumed that he’d split time in 2018-19 shuffling back and forth between the G League and the big club as he adjusted to life in America and the pace of the NBA. He appeared in just seven of the Nets first 23 games through the end of November. However, some injuries on Brooklyn’s frontline tested the team’s depth and opened up some minutes for Kurucs.
Playing well in limited minutes off the bench in early December earned him increased playing time as the month wore on. Then, when Allen Crabbe injured his right knee on December 12th, coach Kenny Atkinson inserted Kurucs into the starting lineup, and the youngster has undoubtedly made the most of the opportunity, exceeding even the most optimistic of expectations.
Over the Nets last seven games, Kurucs is averaging 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 triples, 0.7 steals and 0.6 blocks, while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, 44.4 percent from downtown, and 88 percent from the charity stripe.
On the season, Kurucs leads the team in Offensive Rating (112.0) and Net Rating (plus 6.9) by a large margin. Unsurprisingly, coach Atkinson has effusive in his praise of the impressive rookie. After Kurucs recorded the first double-double of his career in Sunday’s win over the Suns by scoring 16 points and grabbing a season-high ten rebounds, Atkinson was asked if he expected Kurucs to remain in the starting lineup. This was his response: “He keeps playing like this, it’s gonna be tough to take him out.” It’s worth noting that Allen Crabbe (right knee) has already been ruled out of Wednesday against the Hornets.
During this current seven-game stretch, Kurucs has posted top-100 overall fantasy value. If he’s still on your waiver wire, especially in deeper leagues, go scoop him up.
Another player that will be flying off waiver wires this week is Lakers center Ivica Zubac.
Since entering the starting lineup in place of JaVale McGee, who has been sidelined due to a bout of pneumonia, Zubac has been a beast. He’s scored at least 16 points in each of his three starts and is averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 31.9 minutes per game, while shooting 78.1 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
Even in games in which backup center Tyson Chandler has been healthy, Zubac is still logging over 30 minutes a night. It will be very interesting to see how much playing time Zubac sees once McGee returns and the Lakers have all three centers active. The Lakers next game is Thursday vs. Sacramento.
Last Second Shots:
* Only five teenagers in NBA history have scored at least 15 points in 20 of their first 30 career NBA games: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, and now… Luka Doncic.
* Luka isn’t the only rookie lighting it up this Holiday Season. Over the previous five seasons, there had been a total of only two games in which a rookie scored at least 22 points (on 65% shooting or better) and grabbed at least 15 rebounds.
Over the Suns last five games, Deandre Ayton is AVERAGING 22.8 points and 15.6 rebounds, while shooting 67.1 percent from the floor and 84.2 percent from the free-throw stripe. AVERAGING.
* Per Basketball-Reference, no player in NBA history has ever averaged more than two 3-point attempts per game, yet shot below 20% from 3-point territory over the course of a full season… Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently averaging 2.3 3PT attempts per game, yet shooting just 12.7% from 3-point land.
* LeBron James fell awkwardly in the third quarter of Tuesday's game against the Warriors and appeared to say he heard a "pop" in his groin area. James is expected to miss "a few games." Incredibly, LeBron has not missed a game since April 12, 2017, the final date of the 2016-17 regular season. That’s 156 consecutive games, including both the regular and postseason.
Since the start of this streak, LeBron has logged 5,870 minutes. The player with the second most minutes during this stretch is Klay Thompson (5,107). So, that means King James has logged at least 763 more minutes (the equivalent of approximately 23 more games) than everyone in the NBA.