2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing – Kyrie, Kanter, Khris and Kenneth
In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock or you’re hibernating til the Rugby World Cup (just me?) starts in September, you may have missed Irving’s otherworldly shooting performances.
If you haven’t seen the Cavs-Spurs thriller in San Antonio, do yourself a favor and watch it, or as much of it as you can. The duel between Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James was enough in itself, but Irving’s ridiculous shooting would have merited a slow clap from even the most skeptical Irving critic – he was that hot.
We know he makes his free throws (10-10 against the Spurs), but his three point prowess always seemed to play second fiddle to his impressive ball-handling and driving ability, as he finishes at the rim with either hand, with equal success. Making seven threes in a game is a rare thing, but hitting that mark and missing none is even rarer (seriously, Ben Gordon went 9-9 from deep…TWICE), let alone on a nationally televised game against an equally hot Spurs team, at home.
He followed that 57 point fantasy monstrosity with 33 points in just 35 minutes – on only 15 field goal attempts and 80% shooting no less, another somewhat rare occurrence – yet something he had already done himself back in 2013 against the Hawks.
Needless to say those cynics among us who doubted whether Irving could absorb both LeBron and Love climbing aboard his fantasy ship, are now very quiet. I count myself among those who were skeptical but I’m pretty ecstatic I nailed his stat-line this season in the FHI draft kit – though the field goal percentage (47.4%) has provided an outstanding boost that few predicted.
Over his last four games he’s flashed everything in his fantasy arsenal. The 57 points and 7-7 threes standout, but he also grabbed 4 steals in that game. In his last game against Brooklyn he had 10 assists – just the fifth time this season he’s hit that mark, while turning the ball over just once.
Irving’s not Chris Paul, nor is he Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. But he comes damn close to Steph Curry in terms of production and skill set and if the Cavs needed more scoring, it doesn’t seem unrealistic that Irving could push 25 points a game if given more green lights.
Kanter has been in and out of my columns ever since his brutish showing in limited minutes from his second season at just 20 years of age.
With his role on the Thunder getting more clearly defined out of necessity – the latest Serge Ibaka knee injury providing the impetus for this latest production – Kanter has started delivering on that massive potential.
He’s scored at least 18 points in each of his last six games, shooting 57% from the field and 82% from the line – both big positives from a position that rarely produces impressive rebounding (12.2 per over that span) and shooting percentages from the same player.
Steven Adams is set for a bigger role, which means Kanter might see his impressive rebounding numbers drop slightly, but not enough to warrant concern as he’ll likely absorb some of the lost scoring from Ibaka’s departure from the rotation.
The knock to his fantasy game has always been the lack of another arrow in his fantasy quiver – whether it be half a three per game, or either one steal or one block – but the numbers don’t lie, he simply doesn’t produce anything worthwhile on the defensive end.
Pencil in 15-17 points along with 10-11 rebounds the rest of the way, as the Thunder fight desperately for that 8th seed in the hope they have a full arsenal at their disposal when the first round hits in under a month’s time.
Blah blah blah he hasn’t done what we all thought he’d do after that demonstrative showing at the World Championships.
Blah blah blah he’s overpaid and isn’t a ‘go to’ post presence.
Blah blah blah he doesn’t block enough shots or snag enough rebounds to be a top fantasy option at power forward.
What Faried does do, is ramp it up over the second half of the season. He did the exact same renaissance act last year, as soon as the break hit. From February 18 through to the end of the season, Faried averaged 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 55% shooting from the field – not too dissimilar numbers from what he’s done this season after the break.
Though his increase in production started slightly later than the All Star break this season, the jump in numbers has been the same. He’s put up 16.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.9 blocks and 54% shooting from the field in the 8 games starting from March 3.
Faried isn’t going to be the next Amar’e, nor is he the next Rodman – but he’s basically a light version of Zach Randolph, but with additional defensive stats and slightly less consistency.
The Bucks must have known something the rest of us didn’t. In trading away the much maligned (and MUCH crossed over) Brandon Knight, the Bucks essentially said they didn’t want to pay their starting point guard upwards of $12-$14m per season for the next four seasons.
The problem is they now have basically the worst shooter in the history of the NBA. MCW is a career 39% shooter from the floor, 25% from three (on nearly 3 attempts per), along with sub-70% shooting from the line. Needless to say, his new coach is familiar with these sorts of percentages.
For the Bucks, it’s lucky Khris Middleton knows how to shoot and score the ball.
As mentioned in The Fix’s fantasy playoff preview by Max, Middleton is scoring at an impressive rate – I’d like to point out now this is another player in a long line of impeccably timed (read: CONTRACT YEAR) breakouts.
Middleton was an under the radar steal last year, as he outperformed every expectation as a true glue guy at the swing-man positions, providing enough scoring, steals and threes to earn a roster spot on any team. This year – particularly over the last month and a half – he’s really taken off as the go to scorer on a young Bucks team hoping to make the playoffs, despite losing essentially three starters from opening night (Larry Sanders, Jabari Parker, Knight).
He’s stumbled over his last two games, totaling just 19 points while shooting 7-22 from the field, but check out this recent epic three game stretch – 25.7 points along with 1.7 steals, 4.0 threes and 60% shooting from the floor with 78% at the line.
As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetastic) and I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.