It’s that time again, when yours truly combs through a whole bunch of box scores (in this case, 23 games so far this week) and somewhat arbitrarily chooses exactly five stat lines to discuss. Do we talk about them because they are, strictly speaking, the best performances of the week? No. We’re looking for notable developments for fantasy purposes. But in some cases there is overlap between the absolute best and a significant fantasy development, and one of those cases is:
1. DeMar DeRozan’s onslaught (52 points, 5 boards, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 5 3s on Monday): There are certainly better ways to spend one’s time, but it’s safe to say that DeMar DeRozan’s 3-point shooting has irritated me for nearly a decade. And it is specifically because of that 3-point shooting that his 52-point line lands here. Let’s start with a quick review of DeRozan’s 3-point makes per game, year-by-year:
Early in his career, he was not just a low-volume 3-point shooter; he was also a maddening fantasy option, who did very little other than score. Then, in 2013-14 (when DeRozan also averaged 22.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 4.0 apg), it looked like he had finally arrived as an all-around contributor. To some extent, he had (the rebounds and assists have remained solid), but the improved 3-point shooting was just a pump-fake. DeRozan only hit 30.5 percent of his attempts during that 2013-14 season, so rather than being a sign that he his shooting was on the upswing, for a long while it was nothing more than a blip.
Until now. And by now, I mean the last two weeks. Up until that point (and through his first 28 games this year), DeRozan had made 0.6 3s per game on 25.0 percent shooting – not surprising at all given his track record. However, over his last eight games, we have seen a wild and unexpected outburst: a grand total of 25 3s made (3.1 per game) on 46 attempts, for 54.3 percent. Suddenly, DeRozan’s treys sit at 1.2 for the season on 36.8 percent shooting, both career-highs.
Here’s another way to look at the hot streak:
*Nov. 24-Dec. 17 (11 games): one 3-pointer made
*Dec. 20-now (8 games): 25 3s made
So is this sustainable? To try to get some clarity, I quickly browsed through all of DeRozan’s career games looking for any similar stretches to this one. I didn’t find much, with the closest being a run of 17 3s made over eight games back in 2013-14. The bottom line is that we are in unprecedented territory for a shooter who has been shaky from 3-point range for most of his career. And if this recent stretch doesn’t present a sell-high opportunity, then there basically is no such thing as one. At the same time, even at just 0.8 or 1.0 3s per game, this edition of DeRozan – 25.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, a career-best 5.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 48.5 from the field and high-volume, high-percentage free throw shooting – does more than enough to be a really valuable fantasy option, even if this 3-point barrage is highly unlikely to last.
2. Covington in a skid (7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 trey on 2-of-7 shooting Wednesday): From sell-high opportunity we transition to a notable buy-low window. Robert Covington is still the No. 27-ranked player in 9-category leagues this season, but Wednesday marked the fourth time in the last six games that he has failed to hit double-digit points (he has averaged just 8.3 ppg in those six games, making 6-of-24 3s). To the extent this shooting slump gives you any opportunity to get him in a trade, I’d try to capitalize. I expect Covington to be back posting big lines sooner rather than later.
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3. All is Wall (25 points, 9 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 trey on 9-of-18 shooting Wednesday): Would you believe that this was just Wall’s second time shooting 50 percent from the field since the start of December (a span of 11 games)? Would you also believe that he’s shooting just 41.7 percent from the field and 70.1 from the line, down from 45.1 and 80.1 last year? Maybe you know all of this too well if Wall is on your fantasy team(s), but it occurred to me that I haven’t discussed him much (if at all) in this space so far this year, so here we are. Overall, Wall has been a major disappointment (No. 82 overall in 9-category leagues), but I see him as a player to target aggressively in trades. He’s been erratic through the first couple months of the season, but he truly is in a spot where he can only get better from here. And if he can keep his turnovers in check (currently at a career-low 3.0) and his blocks near where they are (a career-best 1.1), while simply shooting better from the field and line … watch out.
4. Delon Wright did what? (25 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 4 treys on Wednesday): There are different ways to look at Wright in the wake of this wildly unexpected performance. One way see it is that Wright is trending way up, now averaging 12.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.3 3s over his last seven games. On the flip side, he has also played less than 20 minutes three times during that stretch, which leaves me really skeptical that there’s any way he can sustain any sort of consistency. Ultimately though, there’s no point in overthinking this one. Wright is worth adding if you have someone obvious to drop, but I wouldn’t suddenly overvalue him – or cut anyone of value to add him – just based on this one monstrous game.
5. Gerald Green! (29 points, eight 3s on Thursday): We started with a 3-point binge, and we shall end with one. And no question, in real-life hoops, this has been a pretty phenomenal story line. In fantasy leagues, however, we need to temper our expectations. Even at his best, Green has never contributed much of anything outside of points and 3s, failing to average better than 3.5 boards, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals or 0.5 blocks since entering the NBA in 2005-06. Yes, he’s in a great position to shoot and hit a lot of 3s (and score plenty in the process), but this is just a reminder that as exciting as this has been, he’s not likely to help your fantasy team outside of two categories.
Other Random Thoughts: Marquese Chriss is now averaging 12.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg and 2.0 3s over his last six games. … Tyus Jones has been a disappointment since taking over for Jeff Teague (7.0 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.0 spg, 0.3 3s four games), but I would wait it out. He looked really good in his previous starting stint (12.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 apg, 4.0 spg, 1.7 3s in three games in late November), and his minutes are still pretty much there (an average of 32 in his last four). … I wish I could get more excited about Mason Plumlee’s line from Wednesday night (7 points, 8 boards, 6 assists, 5 blocks), but inconsistency and bad free throw shooting have him way off my radar outside of much deeper leagues. .. One performance from this week that nearly made the cut: Justin Holiday’s 26-4-4 with 6 treys on Wednesday. Over his last 10 games, he’s now averaging 13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.4 3s on 45.0 percent from the field.