It was right around this time last year that Kenneth Faried went berserk.
To refresh your memory: After a relatively slow first four months in 2013-14 (10.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg in his first 55 games), the Manimal emerged from March 1st onward, posting 19.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.1 spg and 0.8 bpg over his final 25 games.
This season, the circumstances have been different, but the end result could very well be the same. Through his first 54 games of 2014-15, Faried averaged a disappointing 11.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.7 spg and 0.7 bpg, including just 8.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg in his last 10 games through the end of last week.
Then, on Tuesday, something beautiful happened, at least as far as Faried is concerned: The Nuggets fired Brian Shaw.
In two games since Melvin Hunt took over as coach, Faried has averaged 16.0 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 1.0 spg and 2.0 bpg, including an 18-point, 14-board, two-steal, two-block gem on Wednesday night.
It’s not easy to wait through four disappointing months – nor is it easy to have the faith to buy low on a big name who’s struggling – but if you did indeed do either of those things, it looks like you’ll be getting a big-time reward from Faried down the stretch.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $400,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday’s NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $40,000. Starts at 7:00pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
In other hoops-related matters…
It appears that prosperous times are ahead for Will Barton in Denver as well. Unlike Faried, Barton had actually been thriving during the last days of the Brian Shaw regime (18.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 3s in Shaw’s final four games as Denver’s coach), so I was worried when Barton played just 22 minutes (with two points on 0-of-2 shooting) in Hunt’s first game after replacing Shaw. That’s why it was so encouraging to see Barton play 30 minutes, and drop 17 points with six boards, two steals and two 3s on Wednesday. In total, over his last six games (four with Shaw, two with Hunt), Barton has averaged 15.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.2 3s on 51.6 percent from the field, scoring 15 or more points in five of those six. Barton may need garbage time to thrive, but there should still be plenty of that in Denver the rest of the way, and it’s enough to make the 24-year-old worth owning in most leagues.
For more on Barton, plus the impact of Wesley Matthews’ season-ending Achilles injury from Thursday night, check out my latest conversation with Jenna Corrado below:
Meanwhile, is the fun over for Danny Green? To be clear, it’s not like Green has completely fallen apart, but with double-digit scoring numbers in just four of his last 12 games, it’s pretty clear that he has run into a wall of sorts. Consider this breakdown:
Green through the end of January (47 games):
12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.5 3s, 43.3 percent shooting, 31 minutes per game
Green since the end of January (12 games):
9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.6 3s, 38.5 percent shooting, 24 minutes per game
If you look at the percentages and the drop in 3s, it would be easy to call this a simple shooting slump, but the other number that’s a little disconcerting here is minutes. After averaging 29 minutes in November, 33 in December and 30 in January, Green has dropped to 24 minutes per game since the start of February, topping 30 minutes just three times in his last 12 games. It should be noted that the Spurs have won their last two by 27, so the blowout factor has kept his minutes in check to some extent, but he has also had low minute totals in close games lately, so that theory doesn’t explain everything. Whatever the cause may be, the positive aspect of all of this is that a slump for Green is far less frustrating than a slump for many other players, because he's always contributing in steals, blocks and 3s (1.2 spg / 0.8 bpg / 1.6 3s in his last 12 games), even if he is inconsistent on a game-to-game basis at the moment.
Speaking of frustration, try to stay patient with Tobias Harris. The numbers have been pretty bland for Dr. Fünke since he returned from (and continues to play through) his recent bout with knee trouble (11.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.2 3s in his last five games). And during that stretch, he has taken just 9.4 shots per game. Contrast that with his last four games before the knee issue, which saw him average 22.5 ppg on 17.0 shots per game, and you have a genuinely perplexing individual. Now, here’s the encouraging side of things: Harris’ minutes are still running at a lofty number (36 per game in his last four), and as long as he can stay healthy (always a solid “if” with Tobias), the numbers should be on the rise soon.
Some good news (and a little bit of bad news) for Andrew Wiggins… The good news: After initially struggling to play alongside Kevin Martin (just 15.2 ppg in Martin’s first nine games back from injury), Wiggins has once again found a scoring groove, posting 20.9 ppg on 47.0 percent shooting in his last seven games. The bad news: His 3s have mostly disappeared. After a 13-game stretch that saw him hit 1.3 treys per game from late-December to mid-January, Wiggins has hit a total of just six 3s in 21 games since (shooting 6-of-33 during that stretch). That’s far from ideal, but Wiggins has helped make up for a lack of 3s with some very steady defensive production. Heading into the weekend, the 20-year-old has picked up a steal or a block in 24 consecutive games (his last game without a steal or a block was back on Jan. 10), and during that 24-game stretch he’s at 1.1 spg and 0.8 bpg. In the long run I still expect his 3-point production to be fine, and in the short term it’s nice to see him honing two of the key categories that can make him into a true fantasy dynamo.
Other Random Thoughts: Since a dreadful 0-of-10 game on Feb. 9, Trey Burke has put together a solid 15.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 0.9 spg and 1.9 3s in his last eight games, on a dead-eye accurate (for him, at least) 42.9 percent from the field. … As a Roundball Stew reader pointed out, Damian Lillard’s line on Wednesday (five points, 18 boards, four assists, 1-of-13 shooting) has to be one of the strangest stat lines of the year. … On one of my fantasy teams in a league I take very seriously, I have had all of the following players at one point this year: Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Chris Bosh, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday and Jimmy Butler – a group that has collectively missed 190 games and counting this season. On a positive note, I feel like I’ve handled the adversity really well*.
Random Thoughts, Part Two: There’s no scenario in which I’d be excited to have Louis Amundson on a fantasy roster, but it is worth noting that he’s at 10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.7 spg and 1.2 bpg over his last six games. … For a long stretch this season, Marcin Gortat was pretty boring to have on a fantasy roster (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg for 30 games between early December and early February). Lately, though, Gortat has been considerably more intriguing. Last 10 games: 12.9 ppg, 11.9 rpg and 1.2 bpg, with six consecutive double-digit rebounding games heading into the weekend.