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Notable Numbers

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Notable Numbers

Thursday, January 11, 2018


 

Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today we discuss a few non-starters putting up impressive numbers off the bench, KP heading the wrong direction, and Stephen Curry’s MVP-caliber season.


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* Knick with the Knack
Michael Beasley (ankle) did not scrimmage on Tuesday and is considered questionable for Wednesday's game vs. the Bulls.


Back in October, at the start of the season, it would have been tough to predict that the above sentence would have caused even a minor a ripple in the fantasy community. However, here we are ten days into January, and Beasley has been a valuable contributor on a quite a few fantasy squads of late.


Over his last 11 games, dating back to December 16th, Beasley is averaging 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks in just 24.8 minutes, while shooting a scorching 54.7 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point territory. The Beas has come off the bench in each of his last nine appearances and, per NBA.com, he ranks fourth among reserves in scoring at 16.7 points per game over that stretch. He is currently is 10th in the NBA in points-per-48 minutes at 30.8 points.


Back in September, when we were wondering how the Knicks would replace Carmelo Anthony's substantial offensive output, we giggled when Beasley stated: “I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor.” Beas continued: "I just want an opportunity to play more than 15 minutes. And you know if I play more than 15 minutes I’m going to score more than 15 points. And if I can do that for 82 games, that’s an All-Star level. I don’t know. I’m just talking.” While Beasley won’t be named an All-Star anytime soon, the numbers confirm he has been both more efficient and more productive than ‘Melo in 2017-18.


Here are Beasley’s per-36 minute averages this season:
23.1 points (on 52.7 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.9 blocks with a PER of 19.2


Here are Carmelo’s per-36 minute averages this season:
19.3 points (on 42.5 percent shooting), 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.6 blocks with a PER of 14.6

 

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* Porzingis’ Regression
While one Knick forward has been heating up, another has seen his stats head in the wrong direction.


During the first month of the 2017-18 campaign, Kristaps Porzingis was being serenaded with MVP chants inside Madison Square Garden. Over the first 11 games of the season, he averaged 30.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 treys in 32.4 minutes, while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from 3-point territory.


Over his last 11 games, dating back to December 14th, Porzingis is averaging 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 triples in 33.2 minutes, while shooting 36.7 percent from the floor and 30.2 percent from downtown.


Multiple factors are playing a part in Porzingis’ statistical stagnation. He’s been dealing with a myriad of nagging injuries, including an elbow issue that will likely require offseason surgery. In addition, after his incredible start to the season, opponents have been focusing on shutting down KP whenever they play the Knicks. Becoming the true focal point of the offense, and the constant double and triple-teams that come along with that responsibility, can be a difficult adjustment. Furthermore, coach Jeff Hornacek has run an unimaginative offense that has failed to fully capitalize on the unique skill set that Porzingis brings to the table.

 

KP also has to take on some culpability himself. Porzingis is averaging a career-low 1.2 assists and a career-worst 6.7 assist rate. He needs to do a better job of making defenses pay when they send an extra defender at him by finding open teammates. He has the size to look over the top of defenses and, by this point, should be to anticipate double-teams coming and locate shooters on the opposite side of the floor. Once opponents get burned consistently, they will be hesitant to send help, which will make life more comfortable for KP, allowing him easier looks at the basket. The absence of Tim Hardaway Jr. (leg) is also a significant factor in this respect. Without THJ, New York doesn’t have the requisite marksmen to space the floor properly. This is one of the major flaws of the Knicks roster, considering they have four centers accounting for $43 million in salary, and not enough perimeter shooting.

 

Fortunately, it sounds like Hardaway Jr. could return as early as this Friday at Minnesota or Sunday at home against the Pelicans. All things considered, Porzingis should see his scoring output and efficiency improve over the second half of season, as the pending return of THJ should have an immediate impact.


* Trey Balling
Much like Beasley in NYC, another player making a significant impact off the bench is Nuggets reserve Trey Lyles.


After two relatively disappointing seasons in Utah, and two unimpressive months in Denver, Lyles has recently stepped up since the temperature has dropped. Over Denver’s last 15 games, Lyles is averaging 17.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.5 triples and just 1.2 turnovers, while shooting 57.8 percent from the floor and 50.7 percent from 3-point range. He’s been remarkably consistent, having scored at least 15 points in eight straight games. Prior to the start of last month, his longest such streak was just three games.


Coming into this season, according to Basketball-Reference, only four players in NBA history had ever averaged more than three 3-point attempts per game while also shooting 53 percent from the field. Those four players are Steve Nash, LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Durant. This season, Trey Lyles is currently averaging 3.1 3-point attempts per game and shooting 53.5 percent from the floor.


Lyles ranks just outside the top-50 overall in nine-category leagues over the last month. And with Paul Millsap likely to remain on the sidelines until the end of February, Lyles has an excellent opportunity to continue putting up impressive numbers.


* King of Reserves
If we are going to discuss contributions from bench players, we have to mention Lou Williams. Over his last five games, Williams is averaging 31.2 points, 6.2 assists and 3.6 3-pointers, while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, 46.2 percent from downtown and 95.7 percent from the free-throw stripe.


Sweet Lou has scored 20-plus points off the bench in eight straight games, tying Jrue Holiday for the longest such streak among all active players. Per NBA.com, he’s also one of only 13 players to score at least 30 points ten times this season, and the only non-starter in the group. (Harden, James, Antetokounmpo, Booker, Davis, Curry, Irving, Westbrook, DeRozan, Porzingis, Cousins, Lillard)


In addition, Williams is second in the league points per isolation possession (1.25), trailing only James Harden. Lou is also second in the NBA in total fourth-quarter points (283) and points per game in the fourth quarter (7.9) this season, trailing only LeBron James.


* Curry Still Crushing
Some food for thought on just how incredible Stephen Curry has performed this season.


Steph won his first MVP award in 2014-15. That season, he averaged:
23.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 3.6 treys and 3.1 turnovers, while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and 91.4 percent from the free-throw stripe.


This season, Curry is averaging:
27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 4.1 treys, and 2.9 turnovers, while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 92.6 percent from the line.


Steph is on pace to become the first player in league history to average more than 3.5 made 3-pointers and fewer than three turnovers per game.




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