Here in "Notable Numbers," we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, I'll discuss a pair of players that were largely overlooked on draft day, but have returned tremendous value thus far this season, as well as a big man down on South Beach that has exceeded lofty expectations.
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PJ Padding His Stats:
You guys know I love me some "boring yet productive" fantasy contributors, and P.J. Tucker fits the bill precisely. I had PJT pegged as one of my favorite undervalued draft targets back in October (remember, last season he became the first player in NBA history to average more than 1.5 made 3-pointers and 1.5 steals, but fewer than 1.0 turnovers per game). However, he's exceeded even my wildest expectations. He's currently averaging career-highs in points (9.8), rebounds (7.1), blocks (0.5), and made 3-pointers (2.0). Tucker has been especially active on the backboards of late. On Monday night, he grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds. He's pulled down at least seven boards in six straight games and is averaging a double-double with 12.0 boards over Houston's last four contests. over this four-game stretch, he's logging over 41 minutes a night (boosted by a double-overtime game vs. San Antonio).
On the season, he's one of only four players averaging at least seven rebounds and two made treys per game, while shooting over 45% from the floor. The other three are Karl-Anthony Towns, Luka Doncic and Pascal Siakam.
There's just so much to like about Tucker from a fantasy perspective. In addition to his well-rounded stat lines - he ranked first in steal-to-turnover ratio (2.10) last season and has more steals (744) than turnovers (607) for his career - he is also incredibly durable. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Tucker has played the most games (587) of any player in the league. He hasn't missed a contest since 4/2/17 (191consecutive games played).
Sum it all up, and Tucker checks in at 45th overall in nine-category formats this season, ranking just ahead of Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Rudy Gobert. I'll add this piece of advice as well: If the GM in your league(s) is not respecting Tucker properly, don't be afraid to throw out some trade offers. Chances are you could get him for a more "popular" player that isn't nearly as valuable.
* Bertans is Balling
Another player that is wildly exceeding expectations plays down in DC.
Back in early July, in the first week of free agency, the Spurs were forced to trade Davis Bertans to clear the cap space necessary to sign FA Marcus Morris. So, they agreed to ship Bertans to the Wiz. However, Morris backed out an agreement with San Antonio in mid-July, instead deciding to accept a more lucrative offer from the Knicks and signing in New York. The Spurs were furious, and they'd have been even more irate if they knew Bertans was about to break out.
Coming into 2019-20, Bertans had never averaged more than 8.0 points, or more than 1.9 made 3-pointers per game. However, playing for an up-tempo Wizards squad that has limited offensive firepower, Bertans has the green light to fire away at will.
As a result, he is obliterating his previous career-highs. He's currently averaging 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 trifectas, while converting 47.4% of his FG attempts, 46.5% of his triple tries and 87.5% of his free-throws.
He's ramped up his production to an even higher level this month. In the six games the Spurs have played in December, he's tallying 23.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.0 treys and just 0.3 turnovers in 32.9 minutes a night, while slashing .516/.507/.909. Incredibly, among all players in December, Bertans ranks fifth in total points (ahead of Doncic, Harden and LeBron) and first in made 3-pointers (his 36 made treys are ten more than any other player in the league).
Only one player in NBA history has averaged more than four made triples per game while shooting over 45% from downtown throughout a full season. That was Stephen Curry in 2015-16, when he shot 45.4%. Bertans is currently averaging 4.0 made treys while shooting 46.5% from distance.
Yes, Davis' percentages have to regress to the mean eventually, but he will continue to see plenty of playing time and will be encouraged to attempt as many long-range shots as he can muster. As a result, his fantasy value has a lovely, built-in floor in eight and nigh-category formats.
As an aside, how must Coach Pop and the Spurs feel watching Bertans light it up on a nightly basis!? Bertans, by himself, has made more trifectas this season (92) than Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Rudy Gay, DeMarre Carroll, LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles COMBINED (89). Sorry, one more punch in the gut for Spurs fans. There are only two players in the NBA this season averaging more than five 3PT attempts per game and shooting above 45% from 3PT territory: Davis Bertans and Marcus Morris.
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* Bam Is Really, Really Balling
Unlike Tucker or Bertans, plenty of us fantasy nerds did have high hopes for Bam Adebayo coming into the 2019-20 campaign. After all, he had posted impressive per-36 minutes averages over his first two years in the league, and with Hassan Whiteside shipped off to Portland, the runway was clear for Bam to take off.
However, I'm not sure any of expected to develop into one of the NBA's most versatile and productive bigs this quickly. After posting his first career triple-double on Tuesday (30 points on 13-of-18 FGs, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals) in an overtime win against the Hawks, Bam is now averaging a whopping 15.3 points (on 59.1% shooting), 10.5 boards, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
Adebayo is one of only three players averaging at least 15 points, ten boards four dimes, one steal and one block this season. The other two are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns. When you factor in Bam's exceptionally efficient offense, he is on pace to join an even more exclusive club.
Per Basketball-Reference, there are only three players in NBA history to average more than ten rebounds and four assists, while also shooting above 58% from the floor for a full season: Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
* Is Love-ing Kevin Wrong?
On the other end of the spectrum, we have plenty of players out there heading in the wrong direction. Kevin Love in Cleveland is one such culprit.
Love has missed three games over the last three weeks due to a back issue and an illness. Yet, even when he's been on the floor, he's been far from productive. He has scored in single digits in five of his last six games. Over this six-game stretch, he is averaging just 9.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 turnovers, while shooting a putrid 35.2% from the field. Hard to believe this is the same player that was averaging 19 and 12 over the Cavs first 14 games this season. In addition, there is a dizzying amount of trade rumors swirling around Cleveland, which further complicates Love's future.