With the midway point in the NBA season just past us and the All-Star Game in Houston right around the corner, now seems like a good time to hand out my official Midseason Fantasy Basketball Awards as well as note some of the players who greatly outlived expectations and those that completely fell flat. While you won’t see Carlos Boozer on my “Surprises” list (in my Oct. 28 article I predicted a big season for him without Derrick Rose in the lineup) and you won’t see Dwight Howard on my “Busts” list (aside from injury time and free-throw percentage, his numbers are in line of what was expected), there may be some other names that might shock you.
MVP: Kevin Durant (Thunder)
If I could give out a “co-MVP”, believe you me I’d have LeBron share this with KD, but unfortunately these are MY rules, and Durant gets the nod. It’s hard to argue that with what he’s done this season so far: 29.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.9 three’s, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game for the team with the second-best record in the NBA. Those absurd numbers also include a 51.6 FG percentage, a 90.3 FT percentage and a 41.9 three-point percentage. He is on pace to record only the 11th 50/40/90 (FG%/3P%/FT %) season with at least 10 points per game…ever. For you stat geeks out there, Steve Nash (4x), Larry Bird (2x), Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Dirk Nowitzki and believe it or not, Jose Calderon, are the others. And oh, by the way, Durant is still only 24-years old. Let that sink in for a minute. If you were lucky enough to have had one of the top 2 picks in your draft, congratulations are in order.
Honorable Mention: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
Lillard has been the favorite to win this award from the beginning (please see my article on Oct. 28th) and he hasn’t disappointed. Portland’s No. 1 draft pick this season (sixth overall) has helped guide the Blazers to a surprising 25-23 record. His above average size for the point guard position has allowed him to make the most of certain situations and he has rewarded fantasy owners to the tune of 18.4 points and 6.5 assists as well as 2.3 3-pointers per game and an 84.8 FT%, both uncharacteristically good stats for a rookie.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Alexey Shved
The “Ugghh, I Wish I Had More Patience!” Award: Co-winners: Nikola Vucevic (Magic) and Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks)
Vucevic was one of my much-talked-about sleepers going into the season (see my Nov. 8th article). He started well out of the gates, but a brief lull in his stats and minutes between November 19 and November 28 caused many owners to jump ship. During this five-game stretch he posted lines of 5.8 points and 7 rebounds in only 22.6 minutes. His total season averages of 12.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 32.4 minutes show that that run was simply a fluke. If you were a patient owner and held onto him, you’ve been rewarded handsomely. The Swiss-born, USC product is first in the Eastern Conference in double-doubles with 26.
Ilyasova shares this award, but his season trajectory has been a little different. With an average ADP of 54.3, he was quickly becoming THE bust of the year. Many fantasy owners took a slight gamble by taking him early, but were hoping that his unique combination of size and good shooting would garner them dominance in multiple stat categories. He finished last season with a bang. His April averages of 14.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 1 steal and 1.5 3’s exemplify the well-roundedness that fantasy owners look for. He signed a $40-million contract in the offseason and expectations were high, but all that soon came to a crashing halt.
Mired in former-Coach Scott Skiles’ daily lineup mercurialness, he was accumulating inconsistent minutes and even a couple DNP-CDs. He was the most frustrating guy to own because he could go from having 17 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes (12/26) to having 6 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes (12/29) and then coming back with 24 points and 3 3-pointers in 27 minutes (12/30). Every time you wanted to drop him, or did, he’d stab you in the heart by having a great game and if you held onto him he’d have a dud.
Now that Jim Boylan is at the helm we can say that he is a MUST OWN and the owners who stuck with him or those that swooped him up on the waiver wire thinking his fortunes would change, have been rewarded. In his past 8 games, the 25-year old from Turkey is averaging 20.5 points, 9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.5 3’s, which he’s hitting at a 63% clip. All this talk about Turkey makes me want to get a sandwich.
Honorable Mention: Michael Beasley, J.R. Smith, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Tristan Thompson
Fantasy Surprises of the Year…so far (based on Average Draft Position):
David West, Pacers (ADP: 113.7): Having a bounce back year with 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks (20 ppg over his last 12, which includes a triple-double)
Shawn Marion, Mavericks (ADP: 117): 11.2 ppg, 8.2 reb, 50 FG%. He has played in 41 of a possible 48 games at age 34.
J.J. Hickson, Trailblazers (ADP: Undrafted): 12.9 ppg, 10.7 reb, 56 FG% and tied for third in the NBA in double doubles. It may be time to sell high as a possible trade to a contender could reduce his role.
Kyle Korver, Hawks (ADP: Undrafted): 11.5 ppg, 4.1 reb, 1 steal, 2.9 3PG. Leads NBA in 3P% at 47.4%. The Ashton Kutcher look-a-like is doing better than the “Two and a Half Men” star’s ratings these days.
J.J. Redick, Magic (ADP: Undrafted): 15.3 ppg, 2.5 reb, 2.5 3PG, 45.2 FG% (all career-highs). His 4.5 assists are 8th in the NBA for shooting guards. Who says Duke players can’t be good in the pros?
Chandler Parsons, Rockets (ADP: Undrafted): 14.4 ppg, 5.8 reb, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.8 3PG, 8 double doubles
Honorable Mention (ADP is in parentheses): Kemba Walker (92.3), Nikola Pekovic (95.3), Jamal Crawford (112.7), Greivis Vasquez (115.9), Omer Asik (116), Jarrett Jack (undrafted), Matt Barnes (undrafted), Metta World Peace (undrafted), Tiago Splitter (undrafted), Amir Johnson (undrafted),
Fantasy Busts of the Year…so far (based on Average Draft Position)
Mike Conley Jr., Grizzlies (ADP: 40.3): Career low 42.7 FG% and career high 2.4 turnovers per game. The fact that he is only 25-years old is not a good thing when your stats regress. The trade of Rudy Gay should boost his points, though.
Deron Williams, Nets (ADP: 5.3): 16.8 ppg is his worst since his 2nd year in the league; 7.7 assists and 0.9 steals are both his worst since his rookie season
Marcus Thornton, Kings (ADP: 68.9): 11.3 ppg, 1.1 assists, 1 steal, 40 FG% (averaging 7.7 points in 18.6 minutes over the last 12 games)
Gerald Wallace, Nets (ADP: 80.2): 8.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and a 43.1 FG% are his worst averages since the 2003-04 season with Sacramento. “Crash” has crash-landed.
Kris Humphries, Nets (ADP: 85.6): The last two years he averaged 11.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He signed a 2-year, $24 million contract and is averaging 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. Could it be the curse of Kim Kardashian?
Marcin Gortat, Suns (ADP: 42.5): His blocks are up, but after last year’s averages of 15.4 points (on 56% shooting) and 10 rebounds in his first full season in Phoenix, this seasons numbers of 11.5 points (on 52.3% shooting) and 8.9 rebounds are a little underwhelming.
Honorable Mention (ADP is in parentheses): Pau Gasol (18.3), Jeremy Lin (63), Manu Ginobili (66.2), Jason Terry (75.6), JaVale McGee (78), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (91.4), Kawhi Leonard (106), Jeff Green (112.7),
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