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 record-setting production of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and the strong play of New York’s Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr.
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* PG-13 and R-Rated
It would be borderline criminal to author a column on notable numbers and not highlight the fact that Russell Westbrook has posted a triple-double in a record-breaking ten straight games. It’s fair to criticize his shot selection and poor field goal percentage and high turnover rate, but it’s impossible to deny that what Westbrook is doing in spectacular.
Anytime a player shatters a record set by Wilt Chamberlain, one which we assumed would never be broken, that has to be acknowledged as amazing.
Over the last three weeks, Russ has nine more triple-doubles than all players in the entire Eastern Conference combined. During this current streak, Westbrook is averaging 13.2 rebounds and 13.8 assists. He’s dished out a total of 138 assists. Nobody in the league has more than 86. Russ has more assists than Ben Simmons and Chris Paul combined. Westbrook has also ripped down more rebounds than Andre Drummond or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It’s also important to note that the Thunder are 12-1 in their last 13 games, and, dating back to the start of his MVP campaign, the Pels are 72-20 in the 92 games in which Westbrook has registered a triple-double. Prorated over an 82-game season, that’s a 64-win pace.
However, we also have to point out that OKC’s other superstar has been performing at an incredibly high level as well. Over OKC's last 12 games, Paul George and Russ Westbrook (just those two players) are averaging a combined: 55.6 points, 20.6 rebounds, 17.5 assists, 6.6 3PT's, and 3.7 steals per game.
On Monday, Westbrook and George became the ninth pair of teammates in NBA history to record a triple-double in the same game.
In 2019, the only player to score more points and knock down more 3-pointers than Paul George is James Harden. PG-13’s incredible accuracy from downtown has also been remarkable. Over OKC’s past 20 games, he is shooting 46 percent from 3-point territory.
George is on pace to become just the second player in NBA history to average at least 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals per game over a full season. The only player currently in this club is Michael Jordan (1988-89).
* Harden Still Making History
The NBA’s other mind-boggling active streak belongs to James Harden, who has somehow scored at least 30 points in 30 straight games. During this incomparable scoring surge, Harden is averaging 41.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 5.7 trifectas and 2.3 steals.
There a bunch of different ways to put Harden’s histrionics in context, but I think this one stat speaks volumes. Here are the total number of games in which the following all-time great players scored at least 40 points and made at five 3-pointers in their entire CAREERS:
* Kevin Durant: 18
* LeBron James: 17
* Allen Iverson: 5
* Michael Jordan: 4
* Dirk Nowitzki: 3
* Steve Nash: 2
* Larry Bird: 1
Here’s the total number of games with at least 40 points and five made 3-pointers THIS SEASON:
James Harden: 16
Yes, The Beard has more 40-point, 5-treys games this year than MJ, Iverson, Dirk, Nash and Bird’s careers combined.
One other factoid, via ABC/ESPN’s broadcast on Saturday: Harden has made 164 step-back 3-pointers this season. That’s more step-back 3-pointers than every other team in the league — every other TEAM!
When it was reported that Knicks were going to keep DeAndre Jordan on the roster the rest of the season, as opposed to buying him out, most fantasy owners assumed this news was a massive blow to Mitchell Robinson’s value. Yet, although Jordan has been playing plenty of minutes and posting solid numbers of his own, Robinson is playing his best basketball of the season.
Over New York’s last four games, Robinson is averaging 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, while shooting 77.8 percent from the field and 70 percent from the charity stripe. His lofty FG percentage and high block rate have placed him in some impressive company. Robinson is just the third rookie in Knicks history with at least ten points and two blocks in four straight games. The other two are Kristaps Porzingis and Patrick Ewing.
He’s just the third rookie ever to post four consecutive games of at least 10 points and two blocks while shooting at least 60% from the field. The other two Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Davis.
And Robinson's impressive numbers are not limited solely to his play over the last week. On the season, despite logging fewer than 18 minutes a night, he’s averaging two rejections per game and is shooting 70.3 percent from the floor. Per Basketball-Reference, over the last 30 years, only six rookies have blocked two shots per game and shot over 50% from the field: David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, Chris Webber, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan.
* DSJ A-OK
Another Knickerbocker posting solid stats of late is point guard Dennis Smith Jr. After getting dealt from Dallas to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, DSJ has made a very strong first impression.
In his second game with the team, Smith racked up 25 points, six assists, five rebounds and two triples in 40 minutes. Two nights later, he poured in a career-high 31 points, to go along with two rebounds, eight assists, two treys, two steals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, DSJ became the first player in Knicks franchise to score more than 60 points and dish out at least 20 assists in his first three games with the team. He also posted a usage rate north of 30% and averaged over 32 minutes a night.
It would seem like Smith Jr. is poised to be a fantasy stud over the final two months of the season. However, looking ahead, Smith’s smooth sailing in NYC may hit a couple of speed bumps. Specifically, Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder) and Frank Ntilikina (groin) have both been sidelined since DSJ arrived in New York, but both players are expected to return after the All-Star break. In addition, Kadeem Allen has played surprisingly well, tallying a combined total of 39 points, 12 assists and seven boards in his last two games.
Following the All-Star festivities, all four players could find themselves competing for minutes in a crowded backcourt. The Knicks certainly want to find out if DSJ is their point guard of the future, so he definitely won’t be buried by any means. I suspect he’ll remain in the starting lineup the rest of the season. However, he won’t have quite as long a leash as he does with both Mudiay and Ntilikina out of action. For that reason, I would consider selling high on Smith Jr. over the next week. His playing time and production likely won’t be as predictable going forward.
* Isaac’s Block Party
It took four months or so, but the Jonathan Isaac we were hoping we’d see back in October may have finally arrived. Over Orlando’s last eight games, Isaac is averaging 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 triples, 1.3 steals and 2.6 rejections, while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 95 percent from the charity stripe. During this current eight-game stretch, he ranks 18th overall in nine-category fantasy formats, one spot ahead of Joel Embiid.
He has blocked at least two shots in each of the Magic's last seven games. Per Basketball-Reference, the only players in Orlando’s franchise history with longer streaks are Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Ben Wallace - three pretty decent defenders. Isaac has also knocked down at least one 3-pointer in each of seven of his last eight games.
I’m willing to bet the kid can keep it up for the rest of the season. With Jonathon Simmons traded away, Isaac should see close to 30 minutes a night. Make sure he’s not still available in your league. And, if you play in a dynasty format, I’d try to trade for him ASAP, before his stock price rises dramatically.