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Notable Numbers

Notable Numbers: Draymond's Decline

by Tommy Beer

Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, among other topics, we highlight the importance of ignoring name value and October’s ADP, and instead focusing on present-day production. 

Follow Tommy Beer on Twitter: @TommyBeer

* Brunson Balling 
In an email I received this morning, a reader asked if he should drop Goran Dragic or Will Barton for Jalen Brunson.

At the start of the season, this would have been a ridiculous question. Even while both players were injured, but were expected to return in time for the fantasy playoffs, it would have been foolish to drop someone with a top-75 potential for an unproven rookie. However, we have long passed that point in the year where ADP back in October or fantasy value over the past few seasons should override what the numbers dictate.

Both Dragic and Barton has struggled mightily since returning to action. Dragic hasn’t played more than 24 minutes in a game since November 16th. Barton has had some intermittent flashes of his 2017-18 self, but dating back to the start of February, he is averaging just 11.4 points and 3.6 assists, while shooting a putrid 37.2 percent from the floor.


On the other hand, Brunson has seen his playing time and production skyrocket for the tanking Mavs. Jalen exploded for a career-high 34 points on Tuesday night, shooting 12-of-16 from the field, 7-of-7 from the line and 3-of-6 from downtown to go along with five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one turnover in 37 minutes. Over Dallas’ last four contests, Brunson is averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 dimes, 3.8 boards and 1.8 trifectas, while shooting 58.8 percent overall and 36.8 percent from distance. 

With the fantasy playoffs upon us, it’s often wise to remove preconceived expectations from the mix. Yes, when comparing Brunson and Dragic, Brunson is actually the far preferred fantasy option at the moment. And, this moment/ this week is when fantasy championships are decided. Don’t be afraid to drop a sixth-round pick for an undrafted free agent if the stats lead you in that direction. 

* A Rookie Wall for Luka?
Since we addressed the impressive performance from one Mavs rookie in that Dallas loss to the Spurs on Tuesday, we should note that likely NBA Rookie of the Year had one of his worst games of the season in the same contest.

Doncic finished with 12 points, seven assists, six assists and two blocks in 35 minutes. However, he was just 5-of-18 from the field and, amazingly, missed eight of the nine free throws he attempted. He also committed nine turnovers.

Look, Doncic, at just 19 years of age, is already a star. He is on pace to join Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as just the third rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. And Luka is only going to get better. However, that does not mean I’m going to reach for him in fantasy drafts next October. In fact, I doubt I draft him in even one league, as I suspect his price will far outpace his projected production. 

This is because while Doncic’s counting stats are awesome, he can weigh a fantasy team down in other categories. For instance, over the Mavs last ten games, Luka is averaging a whopping 4.8 turnovers and shooting 41.3 percent from the floor and 62.7 percent from the free-throw line. Over this most recent ten-game stretch, Luka ranks outside the top-200 in nine-category fantasy leagues. 

We’ll have plenty of time to discuss this over the offseason, but I can already sense that I will have Luka ranked far lower in my overall top-150 than most other outlets/pundits. 

* Otto-man Empire
On the other hand, a player I plan on drafting everywhere I can is Otto Porter Jr. 

I’ve always believed Porter was criminally underrated in fantasy circles. He has that type of well-rounded game that is so, so valuable in nine-cat formats. He won’t single-handily win you any one category, but he knocks down 3-pointers, shoots solid percentages, chips in defensive stats, and limits his turnovers. 

While in Washington, he was an offensive afterthought behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. However, now that he’s landed in Chicago via the mid-season trade, Porter’s fantasy stock is soaring. 

Since returning from a leg strain in late February, Porter is averaging 18.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.0 treys, 1.9 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.9 turnovers in 35.3 minutes, while slashing 44.2% / 47.7% / 95%. It’s also important to note that he’s posted a 22.1% usage rate. During his first four years of his career in Washington, he never posted a usage rate above 18. 

Sum that all up and Porter ranks 10th overall in nine-cat formats during this seven-game stretch. On the season, including the first half of the season in Washington, Porter ranks inside the top-40. I think he has a legit chance to post top-25 overall value in 2019-20.

 

* Draymond's Decline
Draymond Green exploded onto the fantasy scene in 2015-16. As the Warriors rampaged their way through the league on their way to an NBA-record 73 wins, Green emerged as a critical cog in the Golden State attack and an incredibly productive fantasy contributor. 

That season, Green averaged 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.4 blocks in 34.7 minutes with an 18.8 usage rate, while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and 38.8 percent from 3-point range.

However, as the Warriors have added more talent (i.e., Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins), Draymond’s role in the offense has been dramatically decreased, and he’s also become far less efficient. This season, Green is averaging 7.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.0 blocks with a career-low 12.8 usage rate, while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor and 25 percent from downtown.

Thus, as a result, his fantasy value has plummeted. 

Here are Draymond's fantasy rankings in nine-category formats in each of the last four seasons:
2015-16: 13th overall
2016-17: 21st
2017-18: 32nd
2018-19: 53rd

In Sunday’s shocking loss to the last-place Suns, coach Steve Kerr was caught on video seemingly saying: “I’m so sick of Draymond’s s--t.” Fantasy owners who invested an early-round pick on him in drafts back in October could probably echo similar sentiments.
 

The Warriors future is very much in doubt, as three of Golden State’s current starters (Durant, Cousins and Klay Thompson) are set to become unrestricted free agents this July. A shake-up of the Warriors roster would likely benefit Green’s fantasy value, but he would also need to improve his offensive efficiency to get back up to the top of the heap. 

* The Bloom is Off the Rose
Earlier in the season, we highlighted Derrick Rose’s remarkable resurgence. Considering where he had come from, it was a remarkable story. After becoming the youngest MVP in league history as a 22-year old back in 2011, Rose had his career derailed by a flood of debilitating injuries. By 2017, he was a complete non-factor in fantasy circles. After a disappointing stretch at the start of the 2017-18 season in Cleveland, he was traded to Utah, and the Jazz immediately waived him. He eventually signed with Minnesota and saw sporadic minutes off the Wolves bench. 
 

He re-signed with Minnesota but was an afterthought in fantasy drafts last year. However, he exploded out of the gates in 2018-19, including erupting for 50 points in a win over the Jazz on Halloween. Over the first three months of the season, he was averaging 19.3 points, 4.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 made treys. The most surprising stat was his 3-point production and accuracy. For his career, Rose was a poor shooter from distance and had converted just 29 percent of his 3-point attempts. However, during the first 45 games of this season, he was shooting over 43 percent from downtown. 

Thus, I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that he’s come crashing back down to earth in that regard. Over his last 17 appearances, dating back to mid-January, Rose has made a grand total of just one 3-pointer and is shooting 3.3 percent. 

Yes, from Opening Night thru January 15th (34 games), Rose was 53-of-116 (43.1%) from 3-point territory. From January 16th through March 12th, Rose is 1-of-30 (3.3%) from deep. 

It’s a good reminder that when a player is significantly exceeding expectations, it’s often wise to sell high. After that phenomenal start to the season, there was plenty of doubts as to whether Rose would be able to stay healthy and continue to shoot at such a high clip from 3-point land. Unsurprisingly, Rose was bit by the injury bug, and his 3-point shoot abandoned him. 

Tommy Beer