NBA action starts this week (finally), so I thought I'd take a trip around the league to give you your final bits of NBA wisdom to prepare you for the 2014/15 Fantasy Basketball season...
While the preseason always skews perception - as most of the regulars play vastly reduced minutes - there are some instances where preseason production hints at regular season surprises.
Recent examples of players whose NBA preseasons revealed an upside we hadn't quite predicted include Blake Griffin and Arron Afflalo.
There were certainly a few guys around the league who hinted at better things to come - and changed their ownership % in the process... Let's check 'em out, shall we?
Jimmy Butler, CHI, SG/SF
I've always loved Jimmy Butler's counting stats, it was his % stats that had me spooked. Well, check these out: 15.8 PPG, 58.8 FG%. (SIGNIFICANT STAT: 0.8 3PA. Jimmy took 3.6 3-point attempts/game last year at a poor 28.3% clip. Smarter shots this year could send Butler's FG% through the roof...)
Kobe Bryant, LAL, SG
I said it before, I'll say it again: Never bet against Kobe. #4 in NBA (tied) for PPG (19.0) in 26.7 MPG, only 39.6 FG% though. MAJOR USAGE THIS YEAR. I'm not expecting a high field goal % (not that I ever am with the high-volume Kobe), but counting stats should be a buffet...
Steven Adams, OKC, C
#12 in NBA in points/48 (23.7), 68.4 FG%, #8 in NBA in rebounds/48 (12.8), #6 in NBA at 2.4 blocks/48
While everyone is targeting swings on OKC in Kevin Durant's absence, I think guys like Steven Adams are going to provide sneaky value. More usage going around isn't exclusive to the SF position... Adams could be a Fantasy Beast for the first 2 months of the season...
Otto Porter Jr, WAS, SF
#17 in NBA in points/48 (22.7), #5 in NBA at 2.8 steals/48
Another player in an excellent position to benefit from a teammate's injury. Bradley Beal's absence means opportunity to Otto Porter Jr. I had him ranked as an honourable mention in my Breakouts column before Beal went down. Now OPJ could crack the starting 5. His monster preseason hinted at a solid 14/15 campaign. Get in on him before everybody else does...
Jared Sullinger, BOS, PF/C
#1 in NBA in rebounds/48 (20.1), #6 in NBA in points/48 (27.5)
There's plenty of usage available, and Sullinger could end up becoming the Celtics' leader. One of the best preseasons in the NBA. This could be the year Jared breaks out in a major way...
Shabazz Napier, MIA, PG
Kid's gonna be a star. I ranked him #10 this year for rookies (before all the preseason madness happened for him) - and that ranking could be too low. Shabazz' NCAA heroics continued this preseason - as he routinely scored in the clutch, and showed the league why Miami traded to get him.
Here is a good example of what to expect from most NBA rookies. In 2 back-to-back games this preseason, Napier put up these numbers: 32 minutes, 25 points, 6/13 FG, 12/14 FT, 4 assists, 2 steals. Next game: 21 minutes, 0 points, 0/7 FG, 0/0 FT, 2 assists, 1 steal.
He hasn't figured it out yet, but he's starting to. When he does, watch out...
Preseason wasn't so great for a few NBA players - as the list above clearly indicates. Some of them are lengthy injuries, some of them are of the nebulous "day-to-day" variety. Still, I thought I'd note them. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity...
New advanced stats for 2014/15 NBA season:
I thought I'd finish off my preseason recap with clarification on the new advanced stats released by the NBA this year. As a Fantasy Basketball writer, they'll certainly give me a few more analytical options.
NBA season starts tomorrow night, all.
Let's do this.
BG% = posterized percentage
kOBe = when USG% exceeds 100
w/b = determining whether the ethnicity of the player was a factor in making the basket
$+ = stats inflated by contract year
MJ% = percentage of direct influence Michael Jordan has had on a particular player
ASe = aggregate increase in ego as a result of All-Star recognition
JRat = jealousy rating
melO = index that measures player's refusal to play defense