If I pause for a second to consider the basketball existence of Marvin Williams, the first thing that inevitably comes to mind is the number two. That is of course Williams’ jersey number, and the spot where the Hawks drafted him in 2005, two picks ahead of Chris Paul (and I’m completely over that, not in any way bitter at all).
Whining aside, what I also think of are a couple other sets of numbers. First, this:
*10.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg and 0.6 3s — Marvin’s uninspiring averages through the first 10 years of his pro career;
*And then, this: 11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.8 3s — his numbers last year and this season combined, during a small but notable late 20’s/early 30’s statistical spike.
Taking all that into consideration, it probably goes without saying that one of the last things that comes to mind with Marvin Williams is high impact fantasy contributor, but lately that is precisely what he’s been. Take a look at his first eight games of March:
3/2 - 19 pts, 4 reb, 0 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 3s
3/4 - 14 pts, 12 reb, 3 ast, 0 stl, 2 blk, 2 3s
3/6 - 6 pts, 5 reb, 0 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 0 3s
3/8 - 14 pts, 12 reb, 3 ast, 0 stl, 3 blk, 1 3s
3/10 - 12 pts, 18 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 0 3s
3/11 - 27 pts, 10 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2 3s
3/13 - 13 pts, 18 reb, 5 ast, 0 stl, 1 blk, 1 3s
3/15 - 4 pts, 6 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 0 3s
To review, during this stretch, he has:
*Hit a career-high in rebounds (18) and then tied that career-high again within a four-day span;
*Tied his career-high for assists (seven);
*Scored a season-high 27 points, just his second 20-point game of the season;
*Unleashed at least one pretty ferocious dunk;
*And overall, for the first eight games of this month, his numbers look like this: 13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.3 bpg and 1.1 3s, shooting 50.6 from the field and 84.6 from the line, numbers that put him 27th overall in 9-category leagues during that stretch.
And yes, if you want to get technical, there have been a couple of duds in there, including one on Wednesday. But in both of his off games, he picked up a steal and a block to salvage some value.
Bottom line: Marvin Williams in March 2017 is, in terms of stats, hardly recognizable. And if you’re wondering why this random stat explosion is happening right now, I’ll offer a two-pronged explanation: A) Williams, as mentioned above, has notably improved his numbers, and seen his game get more fantasy-friendly, since the start of last season; B) Also, as you probably know, strange things tend to happen late in the NBA season. So for now, I wouldn’t worry as much about the why as I would focus on the reality: Marvin Williams very well may be helping to lead you to a fantasy title. And if you play in a weekly league, more good news is just ahead: Charlotte has four games each of the next two weeks.
(You can follow me on Twitter right here)
In other hoops-related matters…
Skal Labissiere’s ascent is another clear sign that box scores are about to get a whole lot weirder. Quick background: Over the summer, I made a brief appearance on a Sacramento sports radio show discussing what the Kings had done in the draft. I’m not sure, but I think the hosts may have thought I was being a little too kind when I said I liked some of the things that the Kings had done. And one of the moves I cited was taking a gamble on Labissiere’s upside.
With that said, there is no universe in which I could’ve imagined that Labissiere would score 32 points in an officially sanctioned NBA game during the upcoming season. After all, he averaged just 6.6 points at Kentucky last season. Now though, over his last five (which includes the 32-point, 11-board explosion on Wednesday, and 11 points, seven boards and four blocks on Monday), Labissiere has averaged 14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.6 spg and 1.0 bpg (doing so in just 20 minutes per game). Putting aside all late-season silliness (and the fact that Labissiere broke out against the Suns), he showed some pretty impressive post moves in that game (including some lefty hooks), as well as a smooth jumper. Yes, it’s fair to expect inconsistency in the weeks to come, but there is suddenly plenty of intrigue around Labissiere as a fantasy option right now — and even more on a thin Kings front line heading into next season.
Other Random Thoughts: In more strange March happenings … Ricky Rubio is averaging 19.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 11.8 apg, 1.4 spg and 1.6 3s in his last five games, shooting 50.8 percent from the field. Also worth noting — Rubio’s first 32 games: 7.1 ppg, 7.2 apg, 37.8 FG. His last 29: 13.2 ppg, 10.8 apg, 42.4 FG. … Another frustrating fantasy PG redeeming himself emphatically lately: Elfrid Payton. His last eight games: 13.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 8.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg (54.7 FG / 81.3 FT). … In other Orlando-related news, Terrence Ross posted 14.6 ppg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 bpg and 2.0 3s in his first five games with the Magic. Over his last six, however, he’s at 7.7 ppg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg and 1.0 3s, shooting 33.3 percent. … I’ll be honest: I expected the Jahlil Okafor breakout to happen long before this. But let’s not complain because at least it’s finally happening. Okafor’s last four games: 18.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.3 bpg (56.9 FG / 89.5 FT) in just 25 minutes per game. … I’m sure I’m not alone here, but I’m somewhat wildly excited about what Marquese Chriss* is doing down the stretch. Yes, there are still some ugly lines from time to time, but in his last 12 games, the 19-year-old is at 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.8 bpg and 1.3 3s. There’s some pretty monstrous potential here for next year.
*Also: I feel compelled to mention that Chriss was drafted by the Kings, and traded to the Suns in a deal including… Skal Labissiere!