Here in "Notable Numbers," we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting statistics and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, I discuss KP making fantasy GM's smile wide, a couple of Knicks playing their best ball of the season, and C.J. McCollum's historic heater.
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* Kristaps Porzingis Pulverizing The Competition:
Porzingis was one of the more debated/controversial players coming into the 2019-20 season. We knew his upside was immense, but the fear of injury and missed games was genuine.
When he took the floor on opening night, it had been 624 days since he last played in an NBA game. Yet, he played well early on, scoring 20+ points in each of his first three contests for the Mavericks. However, KP's impact decreased, and his efficiency began sagging in November. This was the continuation of a troubling trend from his days in New York. In his finals two seasons a Knick, Porzingis often started the season playing like an MVP candidate, only to have his production tail off before eventually succumbing to an injury.
Sure enough, Porzingis was a late scratch for the Mavs' game on New Year's eve due to what was termed "minor right knee soreness" and ended up missing ten consecutive contests as a result. This is what GM's worried about back in October.
However, since returning to action in late January, KP has been a beast. Over his last 11 appearances, Porzingis is averaging 27.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks, while shooting 50% from the floor, 40% from 3-point territory and 83% from the FT line. In Sunday's victory over the Wolves, he erupted for 38 points, 13 rebounds, six 3-pointers, five blocks, four assists and one steal during a lopsided road win. He is the only player in NBA history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five made 3-point FGs in a single game. And he's now done it twice (Sunday vs. Minnesota and Dec. 12, 2017, vs. the Lakers while he was with the Knicks).
He's also on pace to become the first player ever to average at least 2.5 made treys and 2.0 blocks in the same season.
This is what GMs that drafted KP were dreaming of back in October. Over the last two months, he ranks seventh overall on a per-game basis in nine-category fantasy formants, behind only Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Dame Lillard, Nikola Jokic, James Harden and Bradley Beal. Dating back to the start of February, KP ranks third.
It is important to note that Porzingis has missed four games over the last five weeks, sitting out the back end of each back-to-back Dallas has played. It's also worth noting that Porzingis was drafted in July of 2015 and has played a grand total of one NBA game in April in his entire career. The Mavs are hoping that their "load management" approach will help keep KP healthy late into the season, and then into the playoffs.
* McCollum Gone Mad:
Many have wondered what kind of numbers CJ McCollum might post if he were ever traded away from Portland and re-installed as the focal point of another team's offense, as opposed to playing second-fiddle to Damian Lillard in the great Northwest.
We got a glimpse of what that might look like since Lillard injured his right groin in the Blazers' final game before the All-Star break. CJ scored 27 points and dished out ten dimes in the first game after the break, but that was merely an appetizer for the main course. McCollum has seen his usage rate spike over the last two weeks and has been feasting on opponents.
Over the Blazers last five games, McCollum is averaging 34.6 points, 8.0 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.6 made 3-pointers, while shooting 49% from the floor and 41% from downtown. He's posted a Usage Rate of 36.0%, the highest rate over a five-game stretch of his career. McCollum has also made at least three 3-pointers in each of the last ten games, tying Damon Stoudamire's franchise mark.
Lillard is expected to return to action on Wednesday vs. the Wizards, which will obviously send CJ's usage rate back down to earth. However, we had to acknowledge McCollum's monster two-week run, which likely propelled a few fantasy teams into the playoffs.
* A Pair Of Knicks Trending In The Right Direction:
Over his first 50 games this season, it's fair to say that Mitchell Robinson did not live up to expectations. Logging just 22 minutes a night, he averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 boards and 1.8 blocks. His incredible FG percentage and low turnover rate buoyed his value in nine-category formats, but this was a guy typically selected in the second or third round of fantasy drafts.
Yet, over the last month, we've seen flashes of the Mitch Rob we were hoping we'd drafted. Over his last eight games, Robinson is averaging 12.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 2.6 blocks and just 0.4 turnovers in 26.4 minutes. The increase in minutes is certainly notable. Not only should we expect New York to give more playing time to their young pups over the final five weeks of the season, but Mitch has also done a much better job of avoiding foul trouble, especially of late.
Over the first 30 games of the season, from Opening Night to the end of December, Robinson committed 7.7 personal fouls per 100 possessions. From New Year's Day through the All-Star break, he committed 6.1 personal fouls/100 possessions. Over the Knicks' last five games, Robinson's foul rate has dipped down to 3.4 per 100 possessions.
Robinson's had trouble at the FT line, but those numbers shoot improve; he has a solid stroke and is a career 60% shooter from the stripe. Even with the free-throw woes, he ranks 23rd overall since the All-Star break. If you punt FT's, he's sitting just outside the top-10, one spot in front of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Another young Knickerbocker currently playing his best ball of the season is neophyte R.J. Barrett. Since the All-Star break, Barrett is averaging 17.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 made 3-pointers, while shooting 47.7% from the floor. He's the only rookie in the league averaging more than 15 points, more than four rebounds and more than three assists per game.
It's also worth noting that the kid is still just 19 years old and won't celebrate his 20th birthday for another few months. Monday's win over the Rockets (in which RJ racked up 27 points, five rebounds, five assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes) was his 50th career start. Per Basketball-Reference, Barrett is one of only five teenagers in NBA history to tally at least 700 points, 200 rebounds, and 100 dimes in their first 50 starts. The other four are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Luka Doncic.
Much like Mitch, RJ has been a poor free-throw shooter this season, which obviously is something he needs to work on this summer. He also doesn't supply many steals or blocks, so his fantasy value is capped, especially in nine-category formats. However, for folks in dynasty leagues, Barrett could be a buy-low target. He'd only cost a fraction of the price of other top rookies such as Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.
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Last Second Shots:
* Last week, Bradley Beal became the first player to score at least 50 points two nights in a row since Kobe Bryant did it in March 2007. (And when Kobe did it, he was the first player to with 50-Burgers on back-to-back nights since Michael Jordan in 1987). In addition, Beal has scored 25+ points in a franchise-record 19 consecutive contests. During this 19-game stretch, Beal is averaging 36.4 points while shooting 49% from the floor, 39% from downtown and 85% from the FT line.
* Per ESPN Stats and Info, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both increased their scoring from last season by seven points per game. If both Tatum and Brown continue to score at this rate, this will be the first season that multiple Celtics players have increased their scoring by at least 7.0 PPG in the same season.
* In January, Trae Young scored 31.7 points and dished out 11.5 dimes a night. In February, he averaged 31.3 points and 10.1 assists. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Young is the fifth player to average 30 points and ten assists in consecutive months, joining Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.