Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today we discuss the surprisingly strong play of Domantas Sabonis and Montrezl Harrell, as well highlighting some exciting data on Paul George, D'Angelo Russell and Tim Hardaway Jr.
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A strong case could be made that Domantas Sabonis is one of the most underrated players in the league at the moment.
He has yet to start a game this season and is logging just 24.5 minutes a night, but is still averaging 14.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting a scorching 68.5 percent from the floor. He is one of only ten players averaging at least 14/9/3 this season, and has the highest FG percentage of this group, by far. In fact, per Basketball-Reference, only two players in NBA history have averaged at least 14 points, nine assists and three assists per game, while shooting higher than 60 percent from the floor, over the course of a full season: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (in 1979-80) and Wilt Chamberlain (in 1966-67 and 1971-72).
Sabonis doesn’t supply many blocks or steals, and he’s only attempted four 3-pointers this season (making three of those four attempts); however, in league’s that don’t count 3-pointers, Sabo ranks inside the top-40 overall.
It also should be noted that Myles Turner (sprained left ankle) is questionable for Wednesday's game vs. Charlotte. If Turner is unable to play, Sabonis would likely make his first start of the season and would be a very intriguing DFS option.
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‘Trez is Trending Up
Another player in the running for “Most Underrated Player” this season is the Clippers' Montrezl Harrell.
Back on draft day, ‘Trez was considered a deep sleeper. Despite limited playing time, he was productive in 2017-18, averaging 11.0 points in just 17 minutes. Per NBA.com, he is the only player in the shot clock era to average at least 10 points on over 60 percent shooting in under 19 minutes per game. He was just the second player to do so in under 20 minutes per game.
Heading into 2018-19, the question was whether or not he’d see enough court time to take that next step in his development. Well, five weeks into the season, the answer is a resounding "Yes." He played well over the first few weeks of the season but has production, and playing time, has spiked this month. Harrell has scored in double-digits (while shooting at least 50% percent in each contest) and grabbed at least six rebounds in nine straight games. That ties Rudy Gobert for the longest such streak this season.
Incredibly, over the Clippers past seven games, ‘Trez is averaging 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.9 blocks on 69.3% shooting. Over this current stretch, Harrell ranks 15th overall in nine-category leagues. On the season, he sits at 32nd overall, just behind Victor Oladipo and just ahead of Blake Griffin.
If you drafted Harrell or scooped him up off the waiver wire, congratulations are in order because there is a strong chance you are near the top of your league’s standings.
PG-13’s Rating is Rising
Paul George has always been a productive fantasy stud, but this season he’s taken his game to the next level. PG13 is currently averaging career highs in points (24.3), rebounds (7.9), assists (4.3), steals (2.4), and blocks (0.8).
The one blemish on George’s resume this season has been his poor field goal percentage. He struggled with his jumper earlier in the season, shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor and 78.1 percent from the free-throw stripe over the Thunder’s first 12 contests. However, George has been far more efficient of late. Over OKC’s last four games, he shot 48.3 percent from the floor, including 40 percent from downtown, and has missed a free throw (24-of-24). He’s averaging 31.5 points over this recent stretch.
Sum it all up, and you have a player who is ranked seventh overall in nine-category fantasy leagues this season.
Russell is Rolling
It was disheartening to watch Nets rising star Caris LeVert writhe on the floor in pain after his gruesome lower leg injury earlier this month. Fortunately, we found out that LeVert “only” dislocated his right foot and that surgery was not required. Per the Nets medical staff: “There were no fractures and only moderate ligament damage and LeVert is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season."
As we are well aware in the fantasy world, an injury to one player often opens up opportunities for another. That’s precisely what we’ve seen happen in Brooklyn.
Over the Nets first 13 games this year, D'Angelo Russell averaged 15.7 points, 5.1 dimes, 3.7 boards,1.0 steals and 2.2 triples in 26.9 minutes, while shooting 40.9% from the floor and 36.4% from downtown.
In the five games the Nets have played since LeVert went down, Russell is averaging 21.8 points, 6.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 3.4 treys in 30.5 minutes, while shooting on 44.7 percent from the floor and 45.9 percent from 3-point territory.
With LeVert expected to be sidelined through at least the middle of January, Russell should be expected to continue shouldering much of the Nets offense on a nightly basis. While his shooting percentages will likely regress to the mean (closer to his career numbers), he’s still in a line for lofty fantasy production. As a pending free agent, he is undoubtedly motivated to prove his worth.
Doing it the Hardaway
Kristaps Porzingis in street clothes on the sidelines as he rehabs a torn ACL. Kevin Knox is averaging just 8.3 points on 33.0 percent shooting as he tries to figure out how to score against NBA competition. The reality is the Knicks have very few players who they can trust to deliver offense consistently. As a result, they rely heavily on Tim Hardaway Jr. Probably more than they should. On the season, THJ’s 314 field goal attempts ranks inside the top-10 in the NBA. He’s attempted 100+ more shots than anyone else on his team.
Although he’s had a problem with efficiency throughout his career, Hardaway is doing a bit better job of late. Over New York’s past three games, he is averaging 31.3 PPG. During this current stretch, according to BasketBall-Reference, Hardaway Jr. became the first player in Knicks franchise history with at least 30 points, three made 3-pointers and eight made free throws in three consecutive games.
In THJ’s case, free-throws are a very telling statistic. He is clearly at his best, and most effective, when he is attacking the basket and getting to the line, as opposed to settling for just perimeter jumpers.
Hardaway has attempted eight or more free throws in six games this season. In those six contests, he is averaging 32.7 points on 44.4 percent shooting.
In contrast, Hardaway has attempted fewer than five free throws in seven games this season. In those seven contests, he is averaging 16.8 points on 34.6 percent shooting.