Sometimes awesome, sometimes horrible.
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Turns out your brother now goes by the name 'Debra'? Lots to talk about...
After 3 weeks in the NBA, there have been many things we couldn't have predicted. While I did a pretty good job of forecasting Chandler Parsons' inefficiency here and Kobe's beasting here, I may have incorrectly written off Austin Rivers prematurely. And I definitely didn't see the Amar'e mini-resurrection coming...
So buckle up, set your oxygen tank to full and let's take a look at some of the NBA's biggest surprises thus far...
Chandler Parsons, DAL, SF/PF
If you're a regular reader of my articles, you'll know that I've been slamming Chandler Parsons in this space for about 3 months.
I just never believed the hype.
While his counting stats were beastly as the 3rd option on the Houston Rockets, I never agreed with the massive contract Cuban gave Chandler in the off-season. Apparently, neither did James Harden.
Let's take a look at the efficiency stats between last year and this year.
While the counting stats are similar to last year, the biggest difference is in HOW INEFFICIENT CHANDLER PARSONS has been this season. I obviously expected this to happen - since increased defensive pressure tends to do that to players. Life gets a lot harder when NBA coaches make defensive schemes in a coordinated effort to STOP YOU.
Last season: 37 minutes/game, 16.6 PPG, 47.2 FG%, 1.8 3PM, 4.7 3PA, 37 3P%, .565 TS%, 19.3 USG %
This season: 31 minutes/game, 14 PPG, 40 FG%, 1.6 3PM, 4.9 3PA, 32.7 3P%, .507 TS%, 21.6 USG %
Taking a look at these numbers, a couple things stand out:
1. If Parsons scored as efficiently as last season, his counting stats would be very similar.
2. As Parsons' usage is increasing, his efficiency is decreasing. (This is known in economics as the law of diminishing returns.)
While Parsons' productivity may increase as he gets acclimated to the Mavs' system, I don't expect we'll see anything particularly close to his Rockets stats. He's simply not talented enough, and can no longer hide behind 2 of the best players in basketball (James Harden and Dwight Howard).
There is a HUGE difference between being the #2 scoring option on your team, and being #3. Scottie Pippen was famously Michael Jordan's #2. Who was #3? Exactly. Nobody really knows...
$46 million for 3 years. Houston let Parsons go, and they're currently 9-1. Is it possible for a GM to get an assist for another team's success? If so, Mark Cuban is the Steve Nash of team mismanagement. Oh, right. Nash was another player Cuban evaluated poorly...
Amar'e Stoudamire, NY, PF/C
Gratuitous apostrophes aside, Amar'e has been a pleasant surprise this season.
While his FG% of 48.9 is significantly below his career FG% of 53.5, check out his rebounding numbers. He's currently at 7.7/game - which is the highest total he's had for 3 seasons. Even more impressive, HE'S DOING IT WHILE PLAYING 10 LESS MINUTES A NIGHT.
After averaging a pedestrian total rebound rate of 12.9 the last 3 seasons, Amar'e (I hate that apostrophe) is currently #11 in the NBA at 19.7 in TRB%.
It's actually the highest rebounding rate of his CAREER. We have to go back to 06/07 for the next significant rebound rate in his career. Even then, Stoudamire was at 17% - good for 9.6 total rebounds per game playing 33 minutes/game.
It's possible we have a statistical anomaly after playing a small sample size of 10 games this season. Or maybe he's finally healthy. Or maybe he's simply more focused on the rebounding side of his game. (I should also note that his steal % of 1.4 is also the highest since his beastly 06/07 season.)
Personally, I think he's an aging NBA player who wants to prove he still has some gas left in the tank. While no longer the multi-cat beast of his youth, Amar'e still has value if you need rebounding - and certainly a must if you are in a league of 14 teams +.
James Johnson, TOR, SF/PF (9% owned in Yahoo leagues)
While James Johnson just sustained a minor injury, he's a big part of the Raptors' hot 8-2 start to the NBA season. Playing less than 20 minutes/game, JJ is averaging 7.6 PPG on 57.4 FG%, with 1 steal and 1.4 blocks/game. I also believe that his minutes will increase as the season evolves - and he may even have an outside chance of starting in the future.
The Raptors are simply a better team when he is on the floor, and his revitalized stats clearly indicate this. In case you think he's a fluke, you should know that his advanced stats seem to indicate a player that has improved in basically EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY. Even with a career low USG %, he has career HIGHS in: PER (20.9), true shooting % (.623), defensive rebound rate (19), block % (6.2) and turnover % (14.1). Johnson is #7 in the NBA in block %, #17 in the NBA in TS%, #6 in the NBA in defensive box plus/minus (4.4) and #15 in the NBA in Win Shares/48 (.213).
Some may view these as statistical anomalies that will revert back to career averages, but I believe this is the story of a player who has finally found the ideal role in the ideal system for his gifts. In deep leagues, he's a must-own. And in 1-year leagues, the only question is his immediate health.
Unless he's injured, James Johnson can help your Fantasy Basketball team.
Austin Rivers, NO, PG/SG (1% owned in Yahoo leagues)
I wanted to give Austin a shout out, since I've been relentlessly bashing him all season
While he's not ownable in standard formats, he's an intriguing prospect in keepers/dynasties.
I had written Rivers off. And figured I could simply write a "Where Are They Now?" article in 2 years - when Austin ended up a groundskeeper or pet store owner - but the kid's got some fight in him.
Check out his advanced stats:
True shooting % of .635 (career average of .468)
Block % of 1.4 (career average of 0.6)
PER of 15.9 (career average of 9.1)
USG % of 15.8 (career average of 18.8)
Even with DECREASED usage - and the team's refusal to sign Rivers to an extension - Austin Rivers has responded by becoming a HIGHLY EFFICIENT offensive player. You're talking about one of the league's WORST shooters becoming one of the most efficient offensive players in the NBA. While he doesn't play enough to really be considered among the league leaders, Austin is currently #13 in the NBA in true shooting %. Guess who #14 is? Steph Curry. Anyone here thought Austin Rivers could be a more efficient shooter than Stephen Curry? That's what I thought...
It's early and a small sample size and yadda yadda yadda... But Austin Rivers is an improving player, and an intriguing Fantasy Basketball prospect. Keep your eye on him, and make the add in deep dynasty leagues...
Yahoo Friends and Family league update:
Speaking of surprises, I thought I would let everyone know that I am currently 3rd place in the Yahoo F & F league. (2nd best record in the league.)
It's early, but my team is rolling...
In summation, it's only been 3 NBA weeks. Even if your Fantasy Basketball team got crushed by Haters Gonna Hate last week, you could take the league by storm this week with your surprise victory over Ballin' is Life.
Surprises happen every week.
Some good, some bad.
But that's what keeps life interesting.
Just ask Chandler Parsons.
He's bathing in money right now instead of practicing his jump shot.
If Mark Cuban was your sugar daddy, wouldn't you?