Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. The topics discussed today include LeBron James’ dominance over Father Time and Nikola Mirotic’s miraculous run.
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* The Mirotic Miracle
Has there been a more shocking turn of events this season then the incredible turnaround by the Chicago Bulls over the past couple of weeks? The Bulls lost 17 of their first 20 games this season, including ten straight. Then Nikola Mirotic returned from facial injuries, which were the result of a punch from teammate Bobby Portis, and Chicago hasn’t lost since, winning six consecutive contests. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bulls are the first team in NBA history to follow up a 10-game losing streak or longer with a winning streak of 5 games or more.
Mirotic is posting prolific numbers during this run. He has scored over 20 points in four straight games and is averaging 24.3 points (on 53.1 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 triples and 1.0 steal in 30.6 minutes over those four contests. He will surely come back down to earth, as he has already been bumped to the bench with Lauri Markkanen (back) returning to the starting lineup; however, I think he can continue posting substantial numbers. Last season, Mirotic finished just outside the top-100 overall despite playing only 24.0 minutes a night. In 2015-16, he finished 88th overall in 24.9 minutes of action. If the Bulls find a way to deal Bobby Portis, who is also playing well, that will clear up even more playing time for Mirotic.
* The J-Rich Resurgence
Josh Richardson was one of Rotoworld’s favorite preseason sleepers heading into the 2017-18 campaign. However, J-Rich seemed to be sleepwalking through the first month-plus of the season. Over Miami’s first 19 games, Richardson was averaging a meager 8.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.3 turnovers and 1.2 treys in 32.8 minutes, while shooting just 35.3 percent from the floor and 25.3 percent from downtown. He ranked 216th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues at that time.
However, Josh started cooking around Thanksgiving and has remained red-hot in the weeks since. Over the Heat’s last 11 games, he is averaging 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 1.7 turnovers and 2.5 triples in 33.0 minutes, while shooting 54.8 percent from the field, including 51.9 percent from behind the arc. As you can see, his playing time barely fluctuated. It was his efficiency that spiked and skyrocketed his fantasy production. Over this recent run, Richardson ranks 26th overall.
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Toronto’s Serge Ibaka has also been playing his best basketball of the season in December. Serge averaged just 10.5 points and 5.8 rebounds over 13 games in November. Yet, as the temperature has dropped this month, Ibaka has heated up.
Through the seven games he’s played in December, Serge is averaging 18.7 points (on 57.1 percent shooting), 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 made 3-pointers and 1.7 blocks. Those are the type of numbers Ibaka posted in his prime fantasy-dominant days in OKC. It’s important to note that Ibaka was held out of Sunday’s game vs. Sacramento due to a sore knee. However, he’s not on the injury report for Wednesday’s game in Charlotte and is fully expected to suit up. Here’s hoping that one game off won’t cool him down.
* RoCo in Reverse
Unlike Ibaka and Richardson, Robert Covington has seen efficiency dip dramatically recently. Over the Sixers first 18 games this season, Covington averaged 15.9 points and 3.4 treys on 48.0 percent shooting from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range.
Over his last ten games, RoCo is averaging 13.3 points and 2.8 three’s while shooting just 34.1 percent from the floor and 30.4 percent from deep. In Philly’s loss to the Kings on Tuesday night, Covington was just 2-of-13 from long range. It was the first this season a player attempted more than 12 3-pointers yet made fewer than three. RoCo owners should just sit tight and ride out this rough patch, as his numbers will eventually settle somewhere between his hot start and recent cold spell.
* Sabonis Prize
The Pacers trade of Paul George was one of the more discussed and debated moves of the offseason. Over the first couple of months, it appears GM Kevin Pritchard got back a far better package than many of us suspected. And while Victor Oladipo has been getting plenty of national attention (deservedly so), the other player the Pacers received in the PG-13 deal has greatly exceeded expectations as well.
Domantas Sabonis is playing relatively limited minutes (24.2) off the bench, but is still averaging 12.3 points (on 54.4 percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Per Basketball-Reference, he has a chance to join Bill Walton (1979-80) as just the second player in NBA history to average at least 12 points, eight boards and two dimes in under 25 minutes per contest. (Oh, and Victor Oladipo is on pace to become the first player in Pacers franchise history to average at least 24 points, five rebounds and four assists over the course of a full NBA season.)
Looking for a reason as to why the OKC Thunder have stumbled out of the gate and find themselves in seventh place in the Western Conference with a 15-15 record? Consider this: There are only three players in the league this season averaging at least 15 field goal attempts per game, yet shooting below 42.0 percent from the floor.
* LeBron >>> Father Time
In this week’s installment of the LeBron James chronicles, let’s take a quick look at how King James’ stats in this season stack up side-by-side to his stats in the four previous seasons he was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player:
In his MVP season in 2008-09, he averaged: 28.4 points (on 48.9 percent shooting), 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists
In his MVP season in 2009-10, he averaged 29.7 points (on 50.3 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists.
In his MVP season in 2011-12, he averaged 27.1 points (on 53.1 percent shooting), 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists.
In his MVP season in 2012-13, he averaged 26.8 points (on 56.5 percent shooting), 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists.
This season (his 15th), LeBron is averaging 28.2 points (on 57.2 percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists.
Oh, by the way, he’s also averaging career-highs in made treys (2.1), 3-point percentage (41.1 percent), and tied for blocks (1.1).
With the Los Angeles Lakers retiring Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys during halftime of Monday’s game against Golden State tonight at the Staples Center, I thought I’d take a quick look back at some of Bryant’s more impressive statistical accomplishments. I suppose we have to start with his 81-point masterpiece vs. Toronto. Kobe’s 81 points in that game is the highest percentage (66.4 percent) ever for a single player with respect to his team’s total output (the Lakers scored 122) and the highest percentage of points one player has ever scored in a game for both teams (36 percent) in NBA history.
In addition, over a four-game stretch in March of 2007, Kobe scored at least 50 points in four straight contests. 65, 50, 60 and 50. Over that eight-day span, Bryant averaged 56.3 points. AVERAGED. Those last two games were on a back-to-back. 110 points in two days ain't too shabby. Over the last 12 years, there have been only 11 games in which an NBA player scored 60 or more points in a single contest. Kobe has six of those 11 (no other player has more than one), including two in the same week.
On this day, December 20th, back in 2005, Kobe scored 62 points in under 33 minutes against Dallas. When Kobe checked out at the end of the third quarter, he had more points than the entire Mavs team, who had 61. He is the only player to outscore his opponent through three quarters in the shot clock era.
Bryant's best all-around postseason performance came in 2001. The Lakers destroyed their competition, going 15-1 on the way to another title. Shaquille O’Neal was undoubtedly dominant, but Kobe put up some terrific numbers as well. Over those 16 games, Bryant averaged 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks.