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Mike Gallagher

NBA Fantasy Trends

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Stats: Maker's Mark

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


The rookies were not supposed to have much of an impact this season. While it won’t be like last year with Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way as a unanimous Rookie of the Year winner, we always love to see what the shiny, new players have in their game. Plus, we saw Nikola Jokic, Myles Turner, Devin Booker and Kristaps Porzingis all have great post-break runs to springboard them to productive second seasons.

 

Last season, there were a whopping eight rookies with double-digit scoring averages on the season, but this year there is just one rookie to hit that mark. Yes, Joel Embiid is absolutely killing it with 20.2 points per game with an upward trend. Among active players, Blake Griffin in 2010-11 had the best rookie scoring average with his 22.5 points per game in his rookie season, so Embiid has a good chance to pass him for that distinction — he has no chance at Wilt Chamberlain’s record 37.6 points per game.

 

We don’t need to break down Embiid in this column anymore as probably the most covered player for the stats breakdown. This dunk to start Friday’s game was amazing, though:

 

 

We also covered my guy Caris LeVert last week, so bang it here for a little more on him.

 

Let's get international today.

 

Summer League matters. Back in July, a Lakers had a big man making plays for the second half of the event. This was somewhat surprising to see a second-round pick already make a splash and only a handful of people were familiar with him. This play was really cool back on July 8:

 

Now, we have Zu mania. Ivica Zubac had a huge week to propel him to fantasy relevance. In his last two games, he averaged 14.0 points, 10.0 boards, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in 27.0 minutes per game. He has been closing out games and is already showing off a somewhat complete two-point skill set at just 19 years old. This hook!

 

Here is his shot chart this season:

Zubac still needs to work on his finishing at the rim, but 9-of-19 from non-restricted shots in the paint is a great sign for him going forward. Perhaps more impressively, here are his shot types this year:

Nine hook shots to lead the way! That’s great. As you might expect, he’s struggling on layups at just 29.6 percent, and also the 2-of-10 on tip shots really pulls him down.

 

Perhaps no player gained as much relevancy for the NBA and fantasy than Zubac did last week. Better yet, he still hasn’t maxed out and there were some great quotes from the Lakers this week (via Mark Medina of the Orange County Register). 

 

Most important of all, coach Luke Walton was asked about Zu Alcindor starting for the Lakers. “That’s definitely a possibility that at some point he starts,” Walton said. “The further we get [from] actually having a chance to make the playoffs, the more you have to put some thought and focus on developing the young guys even more.” The Lakers are tied with the Suns for the second-worst record in the NBA, so keeping their top-three protected pick will be huge. In other words, tank on, tankers. 

 

Additionally, D’Angelo Russell also talked up his soon-to-be primary screener. “When he gets his opportunity,” Russell said, “it’s going to be special.” Russell will be passing the ball to Zubac more than anyone else, so this is a very promising quote for him (I suggest reading the entire OC Register story here).

 

From a fantasy perspective, Zubac is getting picked up left and right. He is already owned in every league I’m in and is already up to 30 percent ownership in Yahoo! leagues. I think he’s pretty much a must-own player right now and is probably the closest thing to Nikola Jokic among the rookies. I do have to add that I drafted both Jokic and Zubac in the industry 30-team redraft league, so I’m a little biased in hoping Zubac can help me repeat. All eyes are on Zupac! Picture him rollin’ to top-60 value when he’s going strong later this year.

 

Editor’s Note: Golf is coming soon to FanDuel! And they’ve created the Tee Off Classic to celebrate, offering you an opportunity to win a VIP trip for 3 to play a round of golf with Jerome Bettis! Play now.

 

Another rookie from Europe went off last week. In those four games, Davis Bertans averaged 11.5 points, 1.8 boards, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.5 steals and 2.5 treys on 60.0 percent from the field. Here’s his shot chart in that span:

 

Wow. Those above-the-break treys got him to an 83.2 true shooting percentage on an 18.7 usage rate. Bertans only played 16.0 minutes per game and garbage time was absolutely a factor here, so it’s still tough to buy him as a fantasy asset. Although, he could be a sneaky guy to use when the Spurs are heavily favored or go against an up-tempo team. He should benefit while Pau Gasol (hand) is out, but he’s just another option for Gregg Popovich to use next to LaMarcus Aldridge, which is potentially bad news for Davis Lee and/or Dewayne Dedmon. Lee has been really good lately, by the way.

 

Thon Maker also got his first start at center on Saturday. As most of you know, Maker is Sudanese and could be affected by the executive order from over the weekend. Luckily, Maker was able to get back to the USA after the road game in Toronto on Friday. However, a couple US players who play in an Iranian basketball league can’t go back to their home teams because Iran banned Americans after our President banned them. Joseph Jones and J.P. Prince are still stranded right now and can’t do their job. 

 

Anyway, let’s talk some Thon. Here’s his shot chart on the season:

While that is a small sample, that’s pretty good stuff from him. He has a 19.6 usage rate and a 65.2 true shooting percentage in his time on the court.

 

The Bucks put together a nice little Thon highlight from Saturday, too.

 

 

OK, so was Thon starting just a statement? It certainly feels like it, but coach Jason Kidd is talking about some basketball reasons. “[Thon Maker] gave us energy, and I thought he changed the game in the second half,” coach Kidd said after the game.

 

Before the game, Kidd also made it seem like Thon is going to get more run. "We gotta figure out out how to get [Thon Maker] more minutes on the floor,” Kidd said.

 

The Bucks really are not getting much out of John Henson or Miles Plumlee right now. Usually, it’s because Kidd is yo-yoing guys regardless of play, but Henson just isn’t playing well right now. That suggests there is an opportunity for Thon right now.

 

OK, so obviously Maker isn’t the pickup that Zubac is right now, and we all know we can’t trust the things Kidd says. Basically, Maker is more of a 16-team stash right now, but he does have some upside for scoring and some blocks, as well. Plus, it’s always nice to have players you’re rooting for on your team. I hope Maker goes off this season.



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.
Email :Mike Gallagher



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