Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today we'll discuss, among other topics, the surprisingly strong starts for new Pacers Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
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* Dynamic ‘Dipo
Player A is averaging 23.9 points (on 49.1 percent shooting), 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Player B is averaging 19.6 points (on 43.2 percent shooting), 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
It’s obviously still early in the season, and Paul George is a superior player that teams will be desperate to hand max money to this summer, but the Pacers have to be extremely pleased with Oladipo’s production over the first three weeks of the 2017-18 campaign.
Oladipo was hyped as one of Rotoworld’s favorite undervalued assets in drafts last month, and he’s made us look good thus far. Even with a disappointing 14-point outing on Tuesday, due partially to the Pacers blowing out the Kings, he still ranks 13th in the league in scoring. He’s also chipping in 1.7 steals and 2.3 triples per contest, while shooting a scorching 45.7 percent from downtown. ‘Dipo’s lofty percentages will likely come back down to earth a bit, but he’ll remain a consistent contributor as one of the focal points of the Pacers offense. Oladipo currently ranks 11th overall in Usage Rate, just behind John Wall and just ahead of Anthony Davis.
* Super Sabo
The other player that Indiana acquired in the Paul George trade was Domantas Sabonis. While not scoring at the same clip as Oladipo, Sabonis has been a beast on the boards and has played far better than almost everyone expected.
Few had high hopes for the Pacers entering the season, and when it was announced that Myles Turner had suffered a concussion in the first game of the year, it was assumed things would go from bad to worse. However, seven games into the season and the Pacers above .500 and tied for sixth place in the conference. One of the key reasons for their success sans Turner has been the impressive interior play of Sabonis. Over the Pacers last five games, Sabo is averaging 14.2 points (on 68.3 percent shooting!), 12.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Turner is making steady progress and may return to game action as early as Friday. Sabonis will get bumped back to the bench upon Turner’s arrival; however, coach Nate McMillan has been effusive in his praise of Domantas and said he would undoubtedly explore playing Sabonis alongside Turner going forward.
* KP for MVP?
Kristaps Porzingis poured in a career-high 38 points in New York’s 116-110 home win over the Nuggets. At the free throw line in the final moments, the crowd serenaded him with "M-V-P" chants. While the overly optimistic Garden crowd may be getting slightly ahead of themselves, there is no denying that KP has flourished as the top gun in NYC. With Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose no longer in the picture, Porzingis leads the entire league in usage rate (35.1).
Coming into this season, Porzingis had scored 30 or more points just three times over 138 career games. He’s now scored at least 30 points in five of the Knicks first six contests. He is the first player in New York franchise history to accomplish that feat. It is also noteworthy that KP is in just his third NBA season. Per Basketball-Reference, the last player to score 30-plus points in five of his team’s first six games within his first three pro seasons was Michael Jordan in 1986-87.
* Big Ben Still Standing Tall
We highlighted Ben Simmons last week, but the rook is playing too well not to acknowledge his jaw-dropping numbers once again. Simmons has now tallied at least 10 points, five boards and five assists in each of his seven games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player in league history to begin his career with such a streak was Oscar Robertson in 1960. In fact, only three other rookies have had a streak of seven-plus games with at least 10/5/5 at any point during their debut campaign: Alvan Adams (1975–76 Suns), Steve Francis (1999–2000 Rockets) and Chris Paul (2005–06 Hornets). Robertson, Adams, Francis and CP3 all went on to win the Rookie of the Year award.
* O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Repeating the theme from above:
Player A is averaging 14.2 points (on 49.2 percent shooting), 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Player B is averaging 11.7 points (on 38.2 percent shooting), 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Player A is Robin Lopez. Player B is his twin brother, Brook. Again, we’re dealing with a small sample size, but these numbers are fairly startling considering Robin’s ADP was 121, while Brook’s was 39.
Brook finished last season ranked 40th overall in nine-cat leagues. He averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 boards and 1.8 3-pointers, with a 29.2 percent usage rate as the primary offensive weapon in Brooklyn. Now on the other coast, Brook is averaging six fewer minutes a night, nearly five fewer field goal attempts per contest, and his usage rate has dipped to 24.8. He’s a career 50.4 percent shooter, so his efficiency should progress to the mean, which will help his fantasy value. However, he won’t be featured as frequently as he was with the Nets, meaning he won’t have an opportunity to match last season’s output.
Robin, on the other hand, is setting career-highs across the board, including both field goal attempts and USG rate. He’s even knocked down a couple of 3-pointers. With the undermanned Bulls desperate for offense wherever they can find it, Robin is in the right place at the right time and should continue to enjoy plenty of opportunities to pad his stats.
* Drummond the Distributor
As of Sunday morning, Andre Drummond had played 391 games in his career. Never once in any of those 391 contests had Drummond ever dished out more than four assists in a single game. The Pistons have played two games in the three days since and Drummond has dished out five dimes in each outing. On the season, he is averaging 2.9 assists, which is more than triple his career average of 0.8.
This is by design in Detroit, as coach Stan Van Gundy is asking Drummond to sacrifice shots in order to become more a facilitator on offense. SVG calls Andre’s new role a “hub.” Although he’s averaging fewer than 11 field goal attempts per game for the time since his sophomore season, Drummond is finding numerous ways to help his ball club and his fantasy owners. In addition to the assists, Drummond is averaging a career-high 2.1 steals and shooting 70.0 percent from the stripe. Through eight games, he is ranked 29th overall in nine-category leagues.
* Devin Booker turned 21 years old on Tuesday. He scored more points before his 21st birthday (2,897) than all but three players in NBA history: LeBron James (4,649), Kevin Durant (3,495) and Carmelo Anthony (3,283).
* Mike Conley is off to a frustratingly slow start this season, shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor and 26.1 percent from 3-point territory. This is quite an aberration for Conley, who has never shot below 42 percent from the floor or below 33 percent from downtown in any of his previous ten seasons in the league. It was announced on Tuesday that Conley is dealing with soreness in his left Achilles, which is likely directly tied to his shooting woes. Antsy owners have no choice but to stay patient.
* Per Elias: At 19 years, 228 days, Jayson Tatum became the youngest player in Celtics history to record a double-double when he scored 14 points and grabbed ten boards on opening night. Tatum is also just the third Celtic to notch a double-double in his first career game, joining Larry Bird & Dave Cowens.
* Kyrie Irving is just the second player in Celtic history to score more than 150 points in his first seven games with the franchise.
* John Collins has scored at least 13 points in five of his first seven NBA games. On the season, he’s averaging 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds despite logging just 20.1 minutes a night. Per NBA.com, Collins is the first Atlanta player to tally back-to-back double-doubles in a reserve role since Adam Keefe in March 1993.