With the imminent return of fantasy basketball looming, let’s look at some interesting post-All Star Game stats from last NBA season. Small sample size, you say? Hogwash! Around a quarter of the season is played after the All Star Break; for instance, the eventual-at-some-point-hopefully-in-my-life-time-NBA-Champions Detroit Pistons played 25 games after the ASB. That’s plenty of games from which to glean data. So there!
Here are 17 stats from the second-half of last season to take into account when drafting for this season:
- Only 15 players (10 games played, at least) in the second half of the season averaged 25+ points per game. James Harden and Devin Booker were the only two players to average over 30 PPG; the others are (in descending order) Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine, Paul George, Mike Conley, Kawhi Leonard, and the Sarge, Russel Westbrook.
- Only three of those players averaged their 25+ PPG on fewer than 19 shots per game: Giannis (10.5 free throw attempts per game), Kawhi Leonard (50.6 field goal percentage in the second half), and Mike God Damn Conley (47 FG%, 40 3PT%, 8+ FTA per game, HE’S GOOD).
- Of those 15 elite scorers, only two players had a sub-70 free throw percentage: LeBron James (63 FT%, 8 FTA per game in the second half) and Westbrook (65 FT%, 6 FTA per game). It’s tough to make the postseason when you can’t hit your free throws. Don’t believe me? Only five teams had a 80+ FT% as a team last year (for the entire season): the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Celtics, and Warriors. All five made the playoffs; two of them made the Finals. LeBron (career 73 FT%) and Russ (career 80 FT%) won’t win shit unless they can hit free throws.
- Only 39 players averaged 15 or more shot attempts post-All Star Break, and Dwyane Wade was one of them, so it’s really 38 players for our purposes of scouting pre-fantasy drafts. Of this group, only 7 players shot 50% from the floor or better (in descending order): Giannis (57 FG%), LaMarcus Aldridge, the Big KAT, DeMar DeChozan, Nikola Vucevic, Kawhi, and LeBron.
- Hey, look at that, two Spurs were two of the most efficient shooters in the second half, despite taking lots of twos! (This is all just a subtle plug for my new fantasy basketball podcast: The Long Two) The Spurs were the second most efficient team last year, shooting 47.8 FG% as a team. Number 1 was the Golden State Warriors at 49.1 FG%. Neither of those teams were top 10 in field goal attempts. The Warriors were top 10 in three point attempts per game; the Spurs were dead last. Both teams made the playoffs.
- 36 players averaged at least 6 three point shots in the latter section of the season. Of those, only 9 players shot 40 3PT% or better: JJ Redick at 40%, ditto Mike Conley (HE’S GOOD), Klay Thompson at 41%, Steph Curry 42, CJ McCollum 42, Eric Gordon 43, Joe Ingles 43, LANDRY! SHAMET! 43 (Philly, what are you DOING), and the player with the best 3PT% after the All Star Game was...Donovan Mitchell at 45%! Three (now) Jazz players were three of the best long distance shooters over the last quarter of the season.
- This is presumably the Utah Jazz’s starting lineup this upcoming season: Mike Conley, Don Mitch, Bojan Bogdanovic (shot 42.5 3PT% for the entire season last year, as he led the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers to the playoffs), Aussie Joe Ingles, and the Stifle Tower, the French Rejection, the Gaul Wall, Rudy MFing Gobert (only two players averaged 12+ RPG and 2+ blocks per game last season: Rudy and Anthony Davis). Utah is going to be GOOD.
- There were 14 players who averaged 10 or more rebounds per game post-ASB. The player who averaged the 15th most per game, 9.9 RPG, was LUKA DONCIC! Luka averaged 22 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 7 APG, 1+ steal per game, and shot better than 40% from the floor in the second half of last season. Only 19 players averaged 22 PPG or better last year for the entire season; only five averaged 22 PPG and 9 RPG (Giannis, Embiid, the Brow, the Big KAT, and Westbrook); only three players averaged 22 PPG and 7 APG (Harden, ‘Bron, and the Sarge); and, only one player averaged 22/9/7: Russell Westbrook. Is Luka going to average a triple-double at any point in his career? Is this going to start being more of a thing? Regardless, Luka’s production, combined with his youth, makes him a must first/second rounder. I haven’t done my rankings yet, but I can’t imagine him being out of the top 20. Let me put it this way: if the NBA redrafted all the players today, who do you think would get drafted earlier, Luka Doncic or Zion Williamson?
- 41 players averaged 8 or more rebounds per game in the second half. Only one of those players averaged less than 18 minutes per game: Ed Davis, who averaged 16 MPG. He had 194 total rebounds in 385 total minutes, post-ASB. Willie Cauley-Stein took down 193 boards in 611 minutes. Ed Davis is a MFing vacuum.
- Jonas Valanciunas averaged 20/10 for Memphis after his trade from Toronto. Only seven players averaged that for the season last year. All seven of those players make at least $25 million a year. Valanciunas makes $15 million on average for the next three years. Not bad value, if he can keep it up.
- Five players averaged 2+ BPG after the All Star break: fantasy darling Mitchell Robinson, the Gaul Wall, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez, and JaVale McGee.
- Three players averaged 2+ steals per game in the second half: Paul George, Marcus Smart, and...Kelly Oubre, Jr.! Oubre averaged 20+ PPG on 47 FG% shooting after the ASG. Only 17 players in the NBA averaged that for the entire season last year.
- Three players had a +/- rating of 10 or more post-ASB: Steph Curry, Eric Gordon, and Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic is only 25 years old and continues to improve from year to year. He got injured late in the season, but he’s now listed as the third Center on ESPN’s depth chart for Portland, behind Hassan Whiteside and Pau Gasol. Raise your hand if you think that maintains.
- Three players averaged at least 50 FG% and 50 3PT%, while attempting at least one three per game post-ASB: Danny Green, Malcolm Brogdon, and Jerami Grant. All three of those players are now on different teams. Both Grant and Brogdon are 26 years old. Danny Green’s won two NBA Finals (both with Kawhi, neither in the same country). He’s a severely underrated player, and his was an underrated signing by the Lakers this offseason. Danny Green is of vital significance to this Lakers season.
- The Hotlanta Hawks averaged the second most PPG as a team in the second half of the season, 119.9 to the Milwaukee Bucks’ 120.9 PPG. They were also second in three point attempts per game, 41.8 3PA to Houston’s 46.6 3PA per game. The Hawks averaged the most shots per game post-ASB, and they had the third highest pace (amount of possessions) behind the Bucks (second), and the Nawlins Pelicans (first in pace at 106.42, the only team over 105).
- Do you know who had the slowest pace post-All Star? Ladies and gentlemen, the Detroit Pistons had the slowest pace, 95.7, in the second half of the season. They were the only team under 98. They were pretty good after the All-Star break, 15-11, 12th best winning percentage in the NBA. But, they didn’t play what I would call a deliberate kind of basketball. Their field goal percentage as a team was bottom 5. I felt like they made the playoffs in the East because Charlotte was the next closest team to the postseason, and since Charlotte sucks now and they sucked then, Detroit ended up in the 8th seed.
- Blake Griffin’s line last year, for the entire season, was 24.5 PPG on 46% shooting, with 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Here’s the list of players who averaged 24 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5 APG: Blake Griffin, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Only 15 players averaged 24 PPG last year. Only 18 players averaged 7 or more 3PA per game; Blake had the fourth best field goal percentage of those 18 players, behind only Brad Beal, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson (whoa). Again, this is for the entire season. Only three players averaged 7+ three point attempts and 7+ rebounds per game: Paul George, Luka Doncic, and Blake Griffin. And, of those 18 players who averaged 7+ 3PA last year, Blake was second in that group in free throw attempts per game, 7.3 FTA to James Harden’s 11. Blake did everything. He was sensational. The fact that the Pistons were so mediocre while playing an undeniable top 15 player is terrifying for me as a Pistons fan.
And finally... player comparison time! (All stats from the second half.)
Player A: 24.7 PPG, 30+ MPG, 18 FGA per game, 44 FG%, 7 3PA per game, 35 3PT%, 6 free throws made per game, 4 RPG, 9 APG, 0.9 SPG
Player B: 24.7 PPG, 30+ MPG, 18 FGA per game, 43 FG%, 8 3PA per game, 36 3PT%, 5 FTM per game, 5 RPG, 8 APG, 1.o SPG
Player B is Maestro Dame Lillard.
Player A is...Trae Young! The young man had a nice end to the season. The Hawks could be verrrrry fun to watch this season (at least, their backcourt could be), but Maestro’s defense is what separates him from the young scorer.