The NBA season is fast approaching and fantasy basketball leagues are preparing to draft. Here are some stats from last season to help you prepare, focusing specifically on rarity. Who got you points? Who got you boards? Who dished dimes, and who blocked shots? When building a good fantasy team, one should draft elites, all around contributors, and specialists who dominate in one or two statistical categories (“stat cats”). We’ll confine these stats to players who played in at least 20 games last year.
All stats and info are courtesy of NBA.com, ESPN.com, and Basketball-Reference.com.
34 players averaged 20 or more points per game (20+ PPG) last season. Of those 34 players, Julius Randle had the lowest average field goal attempts, 14.9 FGA per game. Nikola Jokic, the Joker (timely nickname!), had the second lowest at 15.1 FGA per game.
66 players averaged 16+ PPG. Of those 66, only 9 players had a sub-70%: Andrew Wiggins, John Wall, Brandon Ingram, LeBron, Westbrook, Montrezl Harrell, Clint Capela, Ben Simmons, and Andre Drummond (59 FT%, sigh). Only five of those 66 players shot 89 FT% or better: Curry, Maestro Dame Lillard, Danilo Gallinari, KLove, and JJ Redick.
Only 7 players (8 if we were counting Boogie Cousins, but we ain’t) scored at least 16 PPG in 30 MPG or less:
- Lou Williams (20 PPG, 26.6 MPG)
- John Collins (19.5 PPG, 30 MPG)
- Derrick Rose (18 PPG, 27.3 MPG)
- Kevin Love (17 PPG, 27.2 MPG)
- Jordan Clarkson (16.8 PPG, 27.3 MPG)
- Spencer Dinwiddie (16.8 PPG, 28.1 MPG)
- Montrezl Harrell (16.6 PPG, 26.3 MPG)
Those seven players could all be in for higher value if they get over 30 MPG. I think it’s unlikely for Lou Williams and Rose, but Collins is already at 30 MPG and should improve, Love was returning from injury and will be better, and Clarkson, Dinwiddie, and Harrell are all young vets who can take advantage of opportunities in playing time.
Points and Boards
7 players averaged 20+ PPG and 10+ Rebounds Per Game (“RPG”): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Sergeant Russell Westbrook, Nikola Vucevic, and Nikola Jokic.
20 players averaged 20+ PPG and 5+ Assists Per Game (“APG”). Of those 20 players, two will not play this year: Dr. John Wall and Kevin Durant.
In my humble opinion, a good fantasy team needs to have at least one player from the 20/10 or 20/5 groups. Ideally, you’d have at least one from each. I mean, duh. “Try to draft the best players overall, you guys!,” said a genius who looks exactly like me.
13 players averaged 20+ PPG, 5+ RPG, and 5+ APG: James Harden, Giannis, LeBron James, Steph Curry, KD, Bradley IS A BIG Beal, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Sergeant Westbrook, DeMar DeChozan, Luka Doncic, Jrue Holiday, and the Joker.
14 players averaged between 15 and 19 PPG and had at least 7 RPG. Included in this group are young players who could improve to 20-10 guys, or near enough. They are:
- John Collins (19.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG)
- Lauri Markkanen (18.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG)
- Andre Drummond (17.3 PPG, 15.6 RPG)
- Kevin Love (17 PPG, 10.9 RPG)
- Ben Simmons (16.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG)
- Clint Capela (16.6 PPG, 12.7 RPG)
- DeAndre Jordan (16.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG)
- DeMarcus Cousins (he’s injured and he’s in legal trouble, so forget about him)
- Aaron Gordon (16 PPG, 7.4 RPG)
- Rudy Gobert, the Gaul Wall, the Stifle Tower, the French Rejection (15.9 PPG, 12.9 RPG)
- Jusuf Nurkic (15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, I bet you didn’t realize he was the 32nd best player on the ESPN Basic Player Rater last year)
- Jonas Valanciunas (15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, could be in for a HUGE year if he gets 30+ minutes per game)
- Nikola Mirotic (no longer playing in the NBA, so who cares)
- Serge Ibaka (15 PPG, 8.1 RPG)
23 players in the NBA averaged 9+ RPG. That’s not even one per NBA team. You should probably have one or two of these guys.
Only 16 players averaged 10+ RPG. All 16 of those players averaged double-doubles (at least 10+ PPG and 10+ RPG). Both Enes Kanter and John Collins averaged 9.8 RPG.
25 players averaged 6+ APG. This group does NOT include Kemba Walker, Giannis, nor KD because they all averaged 5.9 APG. Nikola Jokic, who is a Center, and Draymond Green, who sometimes plays Center, are both on that list. No other Bigs are in that group. Seems kinda valuable. Only two players averaged 6+ APG, and fewer than 2 Turnovers per game: Mike Conley and Darren Collison.
Stocks (Steals + Blocks)
6 players averaged 1.9+ Steals Per Game (“SPG”): Paul George (currently out injured for who knows how long), Robert Covington, Harden, Chris Paul, the Sarge, and Jimmy Butler. Covington is especially underrated (current Average Draft Position on ESPN is 111th).
8 players averaged 1.9+ Blocks Per Game (“BPG”): Myles Turner, Mitchell Robinson, Anthony Davis, Gobert, Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee, Joel Embiid, and Hassan Whiteside. Of those 8 players, only one, Brook Lopez, also averaged 2+ 3-Pointers Made (“3PM”) per game. BroLo was 22nd on ESPN’s Player Rater last season. His current ESPN ADP is 102nd, and his ownership is 52.6%, which is lower than Derrick Rose, who may not start, Bobby Portis, who may not start, JaVale McGee, who may not start, and Jarrett Allen, who may not start.
Only 11 players averaged 1+BPG and 1+ SPG. One of those players is Boogie Cousins, so it’s really just 10 players for our purposes this fantasy season.
80 players averaged 12+ FGA per game (so, averaged 3+ shots per quarter). Of those 80, DeAndre Ayton (a rookie) had the best FG% at 58.5%. Of those 80 players, Steph Curry had the best 3PT% at 43.7 3PT%. Danilo Cincinattus Gallinari was second best with 43.3 3PT%. 22 of those players averaged at least a 37+ 3PT%.
41 players averaged 5.9+ 3PA per game. 6 of those players averaged 10 or less shots per game: Joe Ingles (fantasy gold, one of only three players in the entire NBA to average 4+ RPG, 5+ APG, and a 39+ 3PT%, along with Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving), Brook Lopez, Reggie Bullock, Allen Crabbe, Wayne Ellington, and Gerald Green. Ingles was 53rd on the Player Rater last year. His current ESPN ADP is 84th. Of the 41 players who averaged 5.9+ 3PA, only Robert Covington also averaged 1+ SPG and 1+ BPG.
Only two players averaged 10+ Free Throw Attempts (“FTA”) per game: James Harden and Joel Embiid.
44 players averaged 4+ FTA per game. 7 of those 44 averaged fewer than 30 minutes per game: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jusuf Nurkic, Kevin Love, Sweet Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Boogie Cousins, and Marvin Bagley III.
Of all players who averaged at least 20 MPG last season, only two non-Centers were in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage: Joe Harris and Danny Green. Joe Harris was also in the top 10 in true shooting percentage. HE’S GOOD.
There are diamonds in the rough out there in fantasy basketball land. Finding them and predicting where you can take them in the draft (usually a round or two earlier than projections) is one of the best ways to ensure your fantasy team will be strong entering the season. Having one or two specialists really helps, so try to identify those guys and decide which ones you’d like to have on your team. Always try to get your guys. Fantasy’s more fun with your fantasy boyfriends.
Good luck drafting!