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Fantasy basketball: A look at November numbers

Watch out over your shoulder, IT’S TOM THIBODEAU!

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Here are some interesting numbers from the top 25 players in several different stat cats in the month of November.

Fantasy basketball starts with minutes. All other stats, including volume stats like points, boards, and assists, and ratios, like field goal percentage and free throw percentage, flow from the amount of minutes afforded each player. The more you play, the more minutes you have, the better your stats will be, usually. Minutes reflect the quality of, and talent level of, a player: if you’re getting a lot of minutes, then you’re accumulating opportunities to score, to rebound, to dish, etc. You can’t shoot if you’re on the bench. And, so every NBA season we look for players who we think will play more minutes as the season goes along. Some folks look at usage rate, some look at shot attempts. But, let’s be boring and grey beardy for a minute, and just look at minutes.

Who played the most in the month of November?

Four players tied for the 25th most amount of minutes played in the last month: DeMar DeChozan, Victor Oladipo, Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Go Blue!), and, Fake-Ancient Taj Gibson (he’s only 32 years old! But, I feel like he’s twice that…), each with 34.2 minutes played per game.

First of all, that Taj Gibson fact just makes me think, “Thibs,” just like when a Chicago football fan sees their team make another bewildering decision and they think to themselves, “Bears.” It’s like a koan or a mantra, or hell, maybe even a prayer, that you tell yourself to explain something without having to mention the fifty trillion examples of when that thing made you want to jump off a goddamn cliff. Like, when the Lions went Defeated in their (apex?) 0-16 season, you know what I said to myself? “Lions.” Of course, the Lions would have the worst season of all time. In many ways it wasn’t a surprise, at all, even though it was incredibly unlikely. The Lions, those beautiful baby blue Lions, were always going to have an 0-16 season, somehow, some way. That season was fulfilling in a strange way, almost like a relief, as if the horrible, terrible thing that we knew was always going to happen had finally occurred, and we could now move on without the oppressive hope that stems from winning even a, ONE, UNO, game. After the last defeat Lions fans saw each other on the street or at school or at the lip of a cliff, and they grimly nodded at each other and just said “Lions,” as they shook their heads in that knowing way that only people who are damned can shake their heads. But, that mutual whisper of numb agony, of emotional flaying, kept us from the ledge. We shared the hurt together, just like we always have. Other people might not understand, but to those who know, saying “Lions” is like a shibboleth: you don’t need to explain yourself, we already know who you are. Come in from the cold, brother, and share our small measure of warmth in this frigid and fallen world. It’s the exact same thing with “Thibs.” Everyone who knows Tom Thibodeau knows that he’s going to run AT LEAST one of his players into the goddamn ground. Did you know that the Minnesota Timberwolves have all five of their starters in the top 30 in minutes played over the last month? Karl-Anthony Towns at 34.1 (29th in minutes) to Andrew Wiggins at 37.4 (3rd). New Orleans has three players in the top 30; everyone else only has two. When one of the Timberwolves starters gets injured this season (I don’t want to guess who but the most tragic, and predictable, player would be Big KAT, no?), NBA fans will just shake their heads and say “Thibs” to each other.

As for the Bears, John Fox recently said that they don’t know what they’re doing. Yup, uh huh, Bears.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was 10th in minutes (interesting), but Brandon Ingram was 21st, right ahead of Boogie Cousins. Ingram is fun to watch, and I’m glad he’s getting such play in LA. People forgot about him due to all of the Lonzo-mania (do teammates call him “Lonzo No-Balls” since the fight?), but Ingram will probably be the better player of the two of them. I know this sounds stupid, but I’m reminded of Kevin Durant when he first came into the league, and just how hella skinny he was. Ingram has a few years to fill out his frame; when he does, the league better watch the eff out.

Wesley Matthews is 21st in minutes over the past month. He’s only owned in 37% of leagues but that’s probably due to the fact that he can’t hit the broad side of a barn this season. He’s shooting 38% on the year, YEUCH! But, he’s a career 43% shooter, so if he starts sinking buckets to go along with all of those minutes, he could be a good buy-low player. Plus, he gets you a few boards and dimes every game, too.

Some more factoids:

  • Only 25 players averaged at least 20 points over the past month. Lou Williams was 19th with 21 points per game. Now that Blake is out (Blake was 12th with 24 per game), Lou Williams may feast. At the very least, he, DeAndre Jordan, and Austin Rivers should all get some of Blake’s shot attempts. Williams is owned in fewer than 80% of leagues. He should be owned in at least 90%. He’s been a top 25 player over the last month on ESPN basic. Time to see if you can trade for him.
  • Khris Middleton, Tyreke Evans, and Harrison Barnes were also in that top 25. ‘Reke’s field goal percentage on the month was 52%. With the weirdness in Memphis, could he be a big time beneficiary? Most Improved Player will be an interesting award this year, lotsa candidates.
  • Rodney Hood attempted the 10th most threes this month, 7.2 per game.
  • JJ Redick attempted 6.5 threes per game, good for 24th in the league in November. You know who was 23rd with 6.6 attempts per game? Boogie Cousins.
  • Enes Kanter was one of 12 players who averaged double digit points and rebounds in November. Here is that list in descending order: Drummond, DJ, Whiteside, Embiid, Boogie, Big KAT, Dwight Howard, Clint Capela, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Kanter, and Giannis. That’s a nice-ass fantasy list to be on.
  • Six players averaged at least 2 steals per game: Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Larry Nance, Jr. (!!), Ben Simmons, Eric Bledsoe, and Kris Dunn (!!).
  • Five players had a true shooting percentage of at least 70 in November: Darius Miller, Tony Snell, DJ, Dewayne Dedmon, and Enes Kanter. (Darius Miller is a wing for the Pelicans who takes six shots a game, FYI.)
  • Kyle Korver had the 8th best offensive rating in November. The seven players before him are all on the Houston Rockets. (LeBron is 9th, and Clint Capela, another Rocket, is 10th.)
  • Over the past 30 days Aaron Gordon has been the 18th best player on ESPN’s player rater. Pau Gasol was 28th.
  • Tyson Chandler (0.03) and Chandler Parsons (-0.02) were the players on either side of zero in the player rater. I thought that was pretty fudging weird.
  • Buddy Hield, aka Steph Curry 2.0, scored 12 points, had 4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 steal, and shot 48% on 10 shots per game in the month of November. He still has a ways to go, methinks.