After all that hard work of planning your draft picks, engaging in trade talks and adding/dropping players in your NBA fantasy league, the time has finally come for the playoffs. Whatever your league format may be(standard H2H, keeper, rotisserie, etc), there are just certain NBA players that have jumped out to you this year in the stats department.
Let’s take a look at 5 players that have surprised us the most this past year. These are players that were likely picked at the bottom end of the draft or were left out (in more shallow leagues).
(Posted stats reflect the games as of this writing – March 31, 2013)
5. Spurs Players
You could have put just Tim Duncan here, but several other Spurs players not named Manu Ginobili have stepped up their game this year. Timmy himself has been posting numbers we haven’t seen from him in ages. He’s averaging 17.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game (almost double from last year) while shooting at 50% from the field and 81% from the line (career high).
Tony Parker is also posting some of his best numbers as of late averaging 21 points, 7.6 assists while shooting at 53% from the field and having career bests from 3 and from the line (38.7% and 83.2% respectively).
The supporting players such as Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter are also posting better overall numbers this year providing fantasy teams help in various areas with little negative impact on either percentages or turnovers.
Note – I noticed that all the Spurs players I mentioned had improved in their free throw percentages. Coach Pop must have had this as an emphasis during the preseason. This results in a very fantasy friendly line for their owners.
4. Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats)
With the least most talented team in the league, it’s bound to have someone to rise and provide valuable fantasy stat points. Emerging from this team is the second year point guard, Kemba Walker. The reason he’s on this list is because Walker was ranked much lower than other point guards such as Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin and Raymond Felton during the fantasy draft. This is quite understandable since Walker shot such a low percentage last year at a measly 36%.
This year however, he’s put that up to a much respectable average (albeit still low) 42% and increasing his other stats per game such as steals (2) and assists (5.7) from the previous year. He also now leads the team with his 17.5 points per game.
Moving forward, judging from his progression, it’s not insane to assume that he can’t replicate or even improve on these numbers next year.
3. Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)
Vucevic was one of those sleeper picks coming into the draft. After a quiet rookie season from the Sixers bench where he only averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, only a few people expected for him to put huge numbers.
This season, he’s averaging a double-double with 12.5 points and 11.5 rebounds (5th in the league) to go along with 1 block per game, Vucevic has become one of the more reliable centers to produce numbers for their fantasy teams. It also helps that his free throw and turnover numbers are non-negative impacting which is usually the case for centers (see Dwight Howard).
His other young teammates have started to contribute on the fantasy end as well when minutes opened up for Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless. But all throughout the season, it was Vucevic who was consistent with his improved numbers.
2. Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets)
With the Rockets drafting forwards Terrence Jones and Royce White this season, it seemed like there was no longer any room for the Rockets’ 38th pick of the 2011 draft; Chandler Parsons. There was just so much depth at the Rockets’ forward position which also then included Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson (both of which have been traded since).
There have also been several changes in key players as Jeremy Lin and James Harden were brought as franchise cornerstones. So with all of these, it was just surprising to see Parsons flourishing in his role with the Rockets.
Parsons is the 2nd leading scorer now averaging 15.1 points per game while also contributing in other areas per game such as 3 points (2), rebounds (5.4), assists (3.5) and steals (1). These all-around numbers have definitely surprised his fantasy owners who are surely very pleased with their pick.
1. Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks)
With the Bucks trading for Ekpe Udoh last season and then drafting bigman John Henson this season, it all seemed like Sanders will be warming the bench as he did in previous years.
Prior to his triple double where he recorded 10 blocks against Minnesota, Sanders was far from the eyes of most fantasy owners. A couple more games after that (where he averaged 7 blocks in those 3 games) and he finally occupied the starting center position. Since then, he’s provided those owners who were quick enough to nab him in the waiver wire with huge fantasy stats most notably in blocks where he’s now 2nd in the league with 2.9 per game.
It’s no doubt that he’s the biggest fantasy surprise of the season.
Other notable players that have elevated their overall stats based on their initial perceived draft positions are the following in no particular order: Stephen Curry, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum, Brook Lopez, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green and Thaddeus Young.
Any other players that have surprised you this season? Leave a reply in the comments below (if you want to).