March 7, 2022, 7:09 pm
Welcome back, ya freaks! As ring leader of the Circus of Fantasy Foretelling and Statistical Anomalies, I urge you to step inside the big top of this edition to find out whether or not my predictions from last week were bona fide nuggets of gold or bogus-filled bottles of snake oil. Plus, as always, cool stats!
The Crystal Ball Report
In an effort to give you clarity and trust (or not), I will now start off with a recap of my predictions from the week prior—am I a scion of great prophecy? Or just some knucklehead cloaked in data and an overabundance of free time? Let’s travel down the dark path to enlightenment together, shall we? Muhahahaha!
*a reminder that all rankings are 9-cat per game unless otherwise specified
Donovan Mitchell came in at number No. 3 last week (over the last month) but fell all the way down to No. 58 during the past two weeks making my prediction: A win.
DeMar Derozan came in last week at No. 4 but sank all the way down to No. 27 giving me another win.
Tyrese Haliburton was No. 8 last week and I said I didn’t expect him to remain that high but that he’d still be a mid-second rounder moving forward. Well, he was the 22nd player over the last two weeks and has delivered me my third win in a row.
Devin Booker was the 10th ranked player on the board last week and was playing at a No. 4 clip before getting sidelined by health and safety protocols making this analysis too tough to predict. I’d say it’s a push, however, and seeing as how my prediction last week was also a push, I’m taking this as another win.
Chuma Okeke tipped the charts at No. 20 last time and has slipped down to No. 30 this time around. I called his ROS potential top-60 and we’re still well within that range, although I didn’t have the magic stones to see this level of play continue. I’m going to rate this one as a push.
Fred Van Vleet had injuries push him down to No. 30 last time out and I said I thought that trend would continue. Well, now he’s missed a group of games and in the two games where he did play, he only netted a No. 106 valuation. Given that injuries were a big part of my prediction, I’m calling this a big win even if it brings me some sadness to see FVV getting worn down. Canada, the spirits and I feel your pain.
Keldon Johnson was at No. 44 and has sunk all the way down to No. 112 (just like I said he would) despite having the two biggest scoring games of his career—another win for me.
Javonte Green scorched the rankings last go ‘round with a No. 49 valuation but I said I thought he’d eventually settle at the end of standard league relevance. What do you know? Green fell to No. 120 and has netted me another win.
Maxi Kleber was No. 54 but has dropped way down to No. 186 for this edition. Now, while injuries definitely played a part here, and you can’t really predict how that will work, I had Maxi settling in as a top-100 guy so I must own up to a loss on this one.
Ja Morant was No. 94 last time and he’s been arguably the most exciting player in the league over the last couple weeks (if you said it’s Luka, I wouldn’t fight you either). However, despite jacking up his scoring, his 3PM and his free throw shooting, he’s still only ranked No. 48 over the last two weeks because of his 3.7 turnovers and low defensive stats. I said he wouldn’t be that low again but would remain an overrated fantasy player and I stick by that. Win.
*All-in-all, that puts me at a robust 8-1-1 with my crystal ball for last week. Not too shabby. It also means that now that we’ve cleared old business it’s time once again for:
Is This Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?
*all stats are 9-cat over the last two weeks unless otherwise noted
Terry Rozier has been on fire lately coming in at No. 3, a good bit higher than his No. 31 ranking for the full season.
Verdict: Fantasy. He’s probably going to exceed that yearly ranking by a bit (he’s been No. 22 for the last two months) but top-5 is just too much to ask. Once his shooting comes back down to historical levels he’ll settle back into the 25-30 range, although it’s nice for his prospects that Gordon Hayward doesn’t seem all that close to a return.
Kyle Kuzma coming in as the No. 7 fantasy player is the easiest fade I’m ever going to get and it’s only made easier by the return of Kristaps Porzingis.
Verdict: Big-time fantasy.
Cam Thomas and Jae Crowder (No. 8 and No. 23 respectively) are getting lumped in together because both of their current hot streaks are dependent on the injury situation in Phoenix and because I see them both as having virtually the same valuation ROS.
Verdict: Fantasy. Both guys are around the top-80 on the season and have been around top-50 over the past two months which seems right about where they’ll figure to be for the rest of this year, if not maybe just a bit lower. I doubt either guy falls past the top-70 but top-25 (let alone top-10) is just too much.
Tyrese Maxey has been shooting it above 60% from the floor since James Harden has come to town and has more than doubled his steal rate in that time, as well, all of which was good enough to rank as the No. 11 player.
Verdict: Fantasy. Maxey will probably be better than his season-long mark of 54 but not by much, says me. The shooting numbers are too outstanding to be considered reality for a point guard and I think the Sixers will have to make a point of getting Tobias Harris involved sometime soon.
De’Aaron Fox checks in at No. 43, well above his season-long mark of No. 112.
Verdict: Real life. Fox was great down the stretch last season and I have a big ol’ trophy to prove it. He’s been trending upwards for the last two months and now has a clearly defined role without the specter of trade speculation. Top-50 is well within reach.
Spencer Dinwiddie loves his new teammates and they love him—and they should love him, as the No. 53rd ranked player has been shooting lights out since getting to Dallas.
Verdict: Fantasy. He’s going to be better than he was in Washington as both his health and his team have improved but he’s a career 40% FG shooter, well below the 57% he shot over the last two weeks. He just doesn’t do enough other things to keep up that ranking and the top-100-to-125 feels about right for him with a little bit of upside baked-in if Jalen Brunson is forced to miss significant time with his foot injury.
Tobias Harris has been dreadful by his standards, falling all the way to No. 124 thanks mainly to a ridiculous cold shooting streak.
Verdict: Fantasy. Harris hasn’t finished lower than No. 64 in any of the last six seasons and while he might end up around the top-75 this year he’s just too good to be on the outside of the top-100. He and Harden will find a way to mesh and when they do I expect his shooting numbers to come back with a vengeance.
Anfernee Simons has had a pretty dismal stretch lately, falling down to No. 129, and it’s recently been made worse by a quad contusion and the Blazers’ egregious tank-job.
Verdict: Real life. The good time vibes are all but gone for Simons and while he might still have a shot to replicate his top-70 ways from the last two months, he probably won’t sniff that on a totals-based front. It’s just sad it’s happening during the fantasy playoffs, it really is.
Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 143? Get real.
Verdict: Fantasy as heck.
Derrick White has plummeted to No. 178 thanks to looking hesitant and having his minutes reduced from 29.5 on the year to 22.5 in the most recent stretch.
Verdict: Real life. He’s almost certainly going to push his way back up near top-125 territory but as the at-best fourth option on the Celtics getting limited minutes, there’s just no way he’ll be able to get close to his No. 66 season-long mark.
And now, the unbridled statistical furor sweeping the trivial brains of at least two people (and counting!):
1- LeBron James’ game from Saturday made him only the second player ever to score 50 points or more with three different teams, joining the Big Dipper, Wilt Chamberlain, per @EliasSports.
2- LBJ joined MJ as the second player ever to drop 50 in three separate decades, per @statmuse.
3- LBJ is the only player ever to get 50 before the age of 21 and after the age of 35, per @statmuse.
4- While not quite 50, LeBron has played with 48 different teammates since joining the Lakers in 2018 per @statmuse.
5- On Saturday, Karl-Anthony Towns joined Tim Duncan as the only players with a 35/15/5/3 game on 75% shooting since the 3-point era (1980) and unlike the Big Fundamental, he did it with zero turnovers per @StatsBySTATS.
6- Tyrese Maxey became the first player in NBA history to average 25+ points, shoot 60% from the field, 70% from three (min. 20 attempts) and go undefeated over a four-game span, per @StatsBySTATS.
7- On March 3rd, the Suns reached 50 wins and had a seven-game lead in the standings. The last time any team hit 50 wins with a bigger lead was the ’96-’97 Bulls who did it with an eight-game lead, per @StatsBySTATS.
8- March 2nd marked the 60th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. In the 20 years following, only four other players were even able to achieve 100 points in any two-game period: Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Bob McAdoo and Pete Maravich, per @EliasSports.
9- That night also saw Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes become the first rookie in NBA history to achieve 25-15-5 on 85% shooting, per @statmuse.
10- Ja Morant’s 52-point effort on February 28th means that now every one of the NBA’s 30 franchises have had at least one 50-point scorer, per @statmuse.
*See something you like? Something you hate? Have some stats you think I missed? Head on over to Twitter and find me @sumocartwheel and let’s keep the conversation going!