Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

Adding to the unlikeliness of Corey Brewer’s 51 points

Shortly after Corey Brewer’s 51-point outing against the Houston Rockets, Ryan Feldman at ESPN Stats & Info published a post about if the Timberwolves wing is the most unlikely 50-point scorer ever.

Here are some cool tidbits from that column that I suggest giving a read:

What do Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Rick Barry and Corey Brewer have in common?

They’re the only players in NBA history with at least 50 points and six steals in a game (steals became official in 1973-74).


Brewer is the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game without having previously scored 30 points in a game.

And lastly:

Brewer, in his seventh NBA season, is the most experienced player ever to score 50 points without having previously scored 30.

The only other players to score 50 before ever scoring 30 among players with at least two full seasons of NBA experience were Delk (fifth season in 2000-01) and Willie Burton (1994-95 season with the Philadelphia 76ers was his fifth season).

I’d like to add onto those interesting stats, though, after looking through 50-point scorers dating back to the 1978 season. It seems like that’s the first year Basketball-Reference started adding usage rating, among other statistics to their player pages. Here’s what I found:

For seasons when a player has scored 50 points in one game, Brewer’s usage rating is comfortably in last place. Below are the bottom 10 out of 150:

In the last 10 games prior to his explosion versus Houston, Brewer was using 18 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Adding his career night (32.6 usage) hikes that recent uptick to 20.

Brewer also holds the second-worst PER (bottom 10 here) of the 50-point club, one that increased .5 points overnight. He also squeaks into the bottom 20 percent when it comes to offensive rebound percentage, something that could aid in scoring. He’s also on the list of the 25 worst three-point shooting seasons ever, at least for players taking over 200 attempts, and a below-average free throw shooter at 72 percent. The Timberwolves were also without one-half of their “outlet mall” in Kevin Love while Brewer often makes up the receiving end of the fast break points.

None of these obstacles got in the way of Brewer, who scored 32 points in the restricted area alone while going 2-of-6 from three-point range. As for three throws, he was 73 percent but off 15 attempts, good for 11 points from the stripe.

It’s safe to say he’s one of the more unlikely 50-point scorers and hopefully those stats contribute to the discussion. Just for fun, I wanted to compare his shooting that game to his averages in his first 77 outings so I fiddled around with a variety of graphs I’ve recently used for the highest scorers and teams, among other related posts.

Below are his attempted and made shots per game. The last graph is Brewer’s first 77 games with the same axis used for his 51-point outing:

Brewer attempts together

Click to enlarge.

Lastly, points per location:

brewer points

Click to enlarge.

Edit: Percentage of points by location and shooting percentages can be found in those links. I just couldn’t help myself when it came to including yet another batch of those charts in a post. I should probably turn it down a notch.

As someone in Minnesota, though, this has been quite an entertaining last month or so of the season despite the Timberwolves either basically out of playoff contention or officially eliminated. They travel to Sacramento on Sunday where they’ll play former-teammate Derrick Williams, who always seems to show up to play them, but how Brewer will bounce back from 51 points (I still can’t believe it) will obviously be exciting as well. Given how he plays, it’s possible those were the happiest 51 points ever.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference.com, save for the shooting charts. Those are according to NBA.com’s numbers.


NBA backcourt tandems with the highest usage rates


Photos by Keith Allison, via Flickr

Going off my last post, I decided to list the other starting backcourts with usage ratings (possessions when a player takes a field goal, gets fouled or turns the ball over) of over 25 percent each. There were some guidelines, though:

  • They couldn’t be formed after a mid-season trade. (Allen Iverson played only three games for Denver before being traded to Detroit, so I included the ’09 Pistons.)
  • Both players had to start together, not just each starting whenever the other missed a few games.
  • I sorted through the Lottery Era up to last season.

There were quite a few cases where tandems interfered with the first two guidelines, but it made it easier to narrow down the list of qualified candidates and then calculate their effective field goal percentages, compare it to the team they played for, and then see how it matches up with the league average. 

Free throw attempts per game will be missing from the table as well as some other notable stats. I had to narrow it down to a doable list otherwise it wouldn’t format correctly. Here’s what’s left of it, sorting each duo by the season. The stats are according to Basketball-Reference.

Backcourt duos with >25% usage rate each

Player Year Team MinPG FG% 3PT% PTSPG Usage DuoEFG TmEFG LgEFG W/L
Jerry Stackhouse 1996 PHI 37.5 .414 .318 19.2 26.0 .458 .474 .499 18-64
Vernon Maxwell 32.9 .390 .317 16.2 25.6
Allen Iverson 1997 PHI 40.1 .416 .341 23.5 28.9 .458 .470 .493 22-60
Jerry Stackhouse 39.1 .407 .298 20.7 25.6
Ray Allen 2000 MIL 37.4 .466 .423 22.1 25.6 .498 .494 .478 42-40
Sam Cassell 35.8 .455 .289 18.6 25.0
Latrell Sprewell 2001 NYK 39.2 .430 .381 17.7 25.8 .467 .476 .473 48-34
Allan Houston 36.6 .449 .304 18.7 25.7
Sam Cassell 2002 MIL 35.2 .463 .348 19.7 27.3 .526 .507 .477 41-41
Ray Allen 36.6 .462 .434 21.8 26.2
Allan Houston 2002 NYK 37.8 .437 .393 20.4 25.9 .471 .468 .477 30-52
Latrell Sprewell 41.1 .404 .360 19.4 25.1
Michael Jordan 2002 WAS 34.9 .416 .189 22.9 36.0 .430 .464 .477 37-45
Richard Hamilton 35.0 .435 .381 20.0 28.6
Michael Jordan 2003 WAS 37.0 .445 .291 20.0 28.7 .444 .460 .474 37-45
Jerry Stackhouse 39.2 .409 .290 21.5 27.9
Larry Hughes 2004 WAS 33.8 .397 .341 18.8 28.1 .447 .454 .471 25-57
Gilbert Arenas 37.6 .392 .375 19.6 27.4
Gilbert Arenas 2005 WAS 40.9 .431 .365 25.5 27.3 .481 .474 .482 45-37
Larry Hughes 38.7 .430 .282 22.0 26.6
Jason Richardson 2006 GSW 38.4 .446 .384 23.2 27.6 .486 .479 .490 34-48
Baron Davis 36.5 .389 .315 17.9 25.9
Allen Iverson 2009 DET 36.5 .416 .286 17.5 25.9 .459 .483 .500 39-43
Richard Hamilton 34.0 .447 .368 18.3 27.0
Devin Harris 2009 NJN 36.1 .438 .291 21.3 28.4 .482 .497 .500 34-48
Vince Carter 36.8 .437 .385 20.8 26.8
Richard Hamilton 2010 DET 33.7 .409 .228 18.1 27.9 .438 .474 .501 27-55
Rodney Stuckey 34.2 .405 .297 16.6 26.4
Manu Ginobili 2011 SAS 30.3 .433 .349 17.4 26.0 .520 .491 .498 61-21
Tony Parker 32.4 .519 .357 17.5 25.5
Kyrie Irving 2013 CLE 34.7 .452 .391 22.5 30.2 .485 .473 .473 24-58
Dion Waiters 28.8 .412 .310 14.7 26.1

You can pick and choose what stands out here, if anything. Here are a few thoughts:

Backcourts who carry the load of an offense can be risky, but that’s not to say they often struggle. They can succeed when implemented with the right group of complimentary players and system. For example, I’m pretty comfortable letting Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili carry the offense, though I can’t say the same for two guys who couldn’t stretch the floor like Jerry Stackhouse and Michael Jordan.

I DON’T know how often some duo’s minutes were staggered because lineup data on NBA.com is only available from 2008 and on. Some backcourts, like Sixers of ’97, just look like they played a ton of time together. That couldn’t have been a good thing. Here are the minutes the previously-listed backcourt tandems logged together over the last six seasons, though:

  • Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton: 23.2
  • Devin Harris and Vince Carter: 27.7
  • Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey: 25.0
  • Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili: 19.6
  • Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters: 21.4

The combo of Jordan and Stackhouse/Hamilton made the list when neither were point guards. Looking back, there wasn’t a whole ton of talent at that position for Washington. It speaks for itself when, in 2003, 70 percent of Larry Hughes’ minutes came at the point, according to Basketball-Reference. It’s kind of amazing that he, a 39-year-old Michael Jordan, and Jerry Stackhouse won even 37 games with their shooting, but that’s the power of MJ, I guess. It’s also impressive that Jordan used up 36 percent of the Wiz’s possessions in 2002. Overall, Washington had high-usage backcourt combos for four straight seasons until Cleveland splurged on Hughes.

Another oddity was Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell making the list too. Basketball-Reference has them listed as a shooting guard during their careers at one point or another, though. I chose not to remove them from the list. Shooting guard and small forward tandems, or teams with three starting wings who used a ton of possessions (the early-2000s Bucks, for example) might be something I’ll look into in the near-future.

Again, this post isn’t meant to say high-usage backcourts often lead teams into mediocrity. Point guard-shooting guard duos (or in some cases, two shooting guards with one as a small forward) are just something I find interesting and worth looking at. It made me think, though, that if those backcourts used up a ton of possessions, then the team is more often than not sorely lacking talent in one other position.

It’s also pretty obvious that teams with two players taking a combined ~30 or more shots per game with inefficient stats (and one of them being the point guard) just won’t perform well. They might not frequently get to the line, take (and miss) several jumpshots, play lackluster defense in order to save energy on O, or some combination of the three. To repeat what I mentioned earlier, some (not all) of that can be helped by staggering minutes.

Going forward, I wonder how often we’ll see two guards with similar high usage rates, and how well their teams perform. Right now, Philadelphia and Washington have duos that would join the list but neither squad is doing all that well this season.

Anything else worth mentioning? Feel free to leave a comment.

LeBron James and the Heat look young again while I age myself

Sometimes aging is smooth and graceful, like realizing I’m only 24 and have plenty of life left in me. Other times it’s a rude awakening, like stressing out over crazy things like responsibilities while being reminded of more enjoyable times, like the first time I watched a basketball team chasing a three-peat make their stop in Minneapolis.

There’s very little I remember about the time the 1998 Bulls came to Minnesota, likely because I was playing basketball with a five-foot hoop, one with an oval-shaped cardboard backboard and an Orlando Magic logo slapped on it my dad squeezed into the basement a couple years earlier. The space to chuck bricks at it to the point it looked like I was trying to mash a hole was something like 10 feet wide and 15 feet long. To the left of the hoop were the house’s furnace and firewood which represented out of bounds along with wherever the carpet near it ended. The right right side of the basement featured a couple steps leading to a worn out couch and a television I watched basketball from when I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with energy, which was basically never.  

That’s probably why I remember very little from that game 16 years ago between the Bulls and Timberwolves. Outside of watching basketball, roughly 99% of my freezing Minnesota winters from 1996 to 1999 – first grade through fourth for me – were spent shooting hoops in the basement or playing NBA Live 95, 97, or 98 after school. Having the flu didn’t stop me from any of those hobbies, and especially not after Michael Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’ during the ’97 Finals. I still remember the times I labored from my bed to the basement, humming the theme song of NBA on NBC only for my legs to feel like Jell-O a few minutes later. It was never a good idea to create my own flu game, but I couldn’t help it.

The little I remember from the time the Timberwolves beat the Bulls, though, like Stephon Marbury celebrating by heaving the ball into the stands, will stick with me for as long as I’ll live. Marbury and the fans acted like they won the NBA Finals that night, but I can’t blame them. After that game, Eight-Year-Old Me thought Minnesota escaped the cellar of the West for good and became a contender.

Here are some highlights of that game:

Even though this season’s Wolves and the one of ’98 were looking to put years of rebuilding behind them, not much was alike in regards to what actually happened during their games. The crowd last night was mostly dead and so was I. The gravitational pull of recliner left me with no urge whatsoever to stand up and pass time between dull moments by exercising. I chose instead to stare blankly at what appeared to be a payment plan for college loans, while other times I scrolled Twitter and online discussion forums about visual snow. It even took me midway through the second quarter to realize the last time I saw Minnesota host a team chasing its third championship was when I was four feet tall. In 2002 I was glued to the PlayStation 2 when the Lakers paid themselves a visit, and I was playing online poker both times the 2011 Lakers won at the Target Center.

Like the enthusiasm, the result of the game wasn’t close to what it was like in ’98. A youthful Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury had the luck of playing a Bulls squad missing Scottie Pippen while last night’s Heat were at full strength and Minnesota was missing Kevin Love. If that sounds like a recipe for a blowout, you would be right. LeBron and Dwyane Wade ended the Heat’s two-game losing streak by doing LeBron and Wade things. After their 21-point victory, Wade video bombed LeBron, giving an accurate summary of the game:

That’s what I’ll remember most about last night. Neither lasting memory from the Timberwolves playing host to the ’98 Bulls or ’14 Heat were highlights from the actual games.

After watching Stephon Marbury celebrate Minnesota’s victory over Chicago by heaving the ball into the stands, I celebrated by shooting hoops in my basement and pretended I was Kevin Garnett with my newfound energy, banging a ball against my head and pretending to be a seven-foot freak of nature. 16 years later, 24 Year-Old Me lounged in the recliner long after the Heat mopped the floor with the Love-less Timberwolves. The time I should’ve spent trying to get back into shape, or anything really, was instead wasted wondering if Wade would ever videobomb LeBron while dressed as an elf. I dozed off shortly after, waking up four hours later and tweeting in my foggy, half-asleep daze about the need for an all-you-can-eat French fry buffet.

For more Timberwolves memories, check this out.

Fantasy basketball history: The Most Improved Players

Last week, I wrote about MVPs in the NBA normally not being the best in fantasy basketball. A couple questions popped into my head while writing that piece:

  1. Which players in fantasy basketball were one-hit wonders?
  2. What about breakout seasons, much like contract years in the real NBA?

Introducing, fantasy basketball’s most improved players! It was yet another excuse to reminisce about the recent history of the NBA and the players I grew up watching. I found 15 players — one for each season since 1998 — who may have swung the fortunes of their fantasy basketball owners.

Each player is also linked back to RotoMonster where their fantasy basketball rankings came from. It’s a neat site, one I’ve used for my most recent fantasy basketball postings.

Onto this list though. Let the reminiscing begin:

1998: Wesley Person, Cleveland Cavaliers

8-cat ranking: 16

9-cat ranking: 6

As I said in my post about the 1994 NBA Draft, I thought it was so cool his last name was actually ‘Person’.

With his 192 three-pointers, Wesley Person was the most valuable three-point shooter in ’98 ahead of Reggie Miller and Glen Rice, among others. He also became a nice source of steals. Outside of those two categories, Person didn’t do anything too good or bad. He was a steady all-around player that nearly ascended to the top of the fantasy basketball world, all while being a teammate to the immortal Shawn Kemp.

1999: ???

I actually skipped this season because, well, it sucked.

2000: Michael Dickerson, Vancouver Grizzlies

8-cats: 34

9-cats: 27

Michael Dickerson’s one of a handful of players in the early 2000s I hated to see their career cut short due to injury. I still have a page on my bedroom wall from the March 2001 issue of NBA Inside Stuff where veterans and coaches talked about up and coming players from that time. In particular, Derek Anderson talked about Dickerson:

“The most underrated guy in the league. I think he’s sort of like Clyde Drexler. He’s one of those guys who scores, does it all, plays hard and just wants to get a win. You can tell he’s come from a good, solid program. He’s just been in a situation where they’re not winning. But he still plays hard on both ends.”

Unfortunately, groin and sports hernia injuries forced him into an early retirement. 2000 was his best season overall when he played all 82 games and was a nice source of points, threes, and free throws for fantasy basketball owners. He wasn’t too damaging in any other category.

I’ll always remember Dickerson as an Arizona Wildcat. The same goes for Miles Simon. I’ve come to despise college basketball, but I’ll never forget when those two guys won an NCAA title in 1997.

2001: Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics 

8-cats: 5

9-cats: 13

Antoine Walker was actually a decent guy to draft in the 8-category leagues since turnovers don’t count, and he turned it over a ton, making his rankings between the 8 and 9-cats pretty drastic. Walker was also major minuses in field goal percentage and free throw percentage over the years.

In 2001, though, Walker became an unusual source of assists and steals for power forwards. He also exploded in three-pointers, becoming the most valuable player for that category ahead of Ray Allen (2001’s best overall player in both leagues) and Dirk Nowitzki. Top it off with taking less free throws, an element in the game he often struggled with, and Walker had a career fantasy year.

But it wasn’t enough for Walker to make an All-NBA Team. He actually never made one his entire career. Things happen when you start your career nearly the same time as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett while playing at a loaded position in general.

2002: Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards  

8-cats: 92

9-cats: 107

This is a reverse one-hit wonder, if anything. 2002 was actually the only time Michael Jordan played more than 50 games and finished outside the top 100 in either fantasy basketball league.

Since this was when he was a Wizard, let’s pretend this never happened. It’s much more fun to look at the 10 seasons Jordan went either first or second in fantasy basketball.

2003: Eric Snow, Philadelphia 76ers

8-cats: 32

9-cats: 36

Most categories for Eric Snow emit light red on RotoMonster, which explains why he finished out of the top 100 nine out of his 13 seasons. He was often a nice source of assists and steals though. In 2003, free throw percentage was thrown into the positives he gave fantasy basketball teams, shooting nearly 86 percent on 4.6 attempts per game. He was also a not-so-bad point-producer, which was nice given he was a role player on every team he played for.

But Snow was a valuable role player at that. In 2003, he was a great one for fantasy basketball teams as well.

2004: James Posey, Memphis Grizzlies

8-cats: 22

9-cats: 9

James Posey was kind of, sort of similar to Wesley Person in ’98: a solid contributor to threes and steals while not hurting his team too much in categories he didn’t specialize in. For a wing, he was also an unusual positive in field goal percentage.

What was best about Posey though was his production in the last two weeks of the season, normally reserved for the fantasy basketball playoffs. During that span, he averaged 22.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 2.3 threes, 7.1 free throws on 80 percent shooting and shot 51.8 percent from the field through nine games. If that stat line was too long, it can be summarized as this: Posey killed it in six categories, enough to turn an average fantasy basketball team into a title contender.

2005: Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards

8-cat: 24

9-cat: 24

In 2005, Larry Hughes was a top-25 fantasy basketball player. Every other season but one (2004), he finished outside the top 100. That ranking in 2005 is even more shocking when he missed 21 games. Dwyane Wade pulled off a more extreme version of this in 2008, playing only 51 games while making the top 25 in 8-cats.

But to compare the two, Hughes was at least active for the fantasy basketball playoffs. He could’ve anchored a team in steals while not being too big of a minus in field goal percentage, and even though Hughes shot only 28 percent from three, he made one per game. So there’s that. He was also obviously a great contributor in points that season.

After signing with Cleveland, Hughes might’ve been the worst fantasy basketball player ever while making over $12 million per year in real life. My theory behind that terrible contract: Larry Hughes was on Dan Gilbert’s fantasy basketball team the season before.

2006: Mike James, Toronto Raptors

8-cats: 25

9-cats: 24

I laughed while looking at Mike James’ basketball-reference page. Look at all the jerseys he wore over his career:

mike james teams

It reminds me of international competitions when you see all the flags:


James will always be known for triggering my embarrassing, irrational excitement for the 2007 Timberwolves thanks to his 20 points per game in ’06. Anything was an upgrade over Marko Jaric.

He was a fine contributor in points, threes, assists, and free throw percentage the year before he came to Minnesota. 2004 was the only other time James finished in the top 100 in fantasy basketball, back when he was part of Detroit’s 2004 championship squad. I actually forgot all about that stage of his career. Add that with the ’07 Timberwolves and Mike James embarrassed my (lack of) basketball knowledge twice.

2007: Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns

8-cats: 15

9-cats: 14

Leandro Barbosa was actually a solid fantasy basketball contributor for a few seasons, but he was huge in 2007. As a team, Phoenix owned that season in fantasy basketball with Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Barbosa all in the top 15 in both 8-cats and 9’s. (I already wrote about Shawn Marion’s dominance here.)

Barbosa logged a bunch of threes that season and was either a positive or microscopic negative in any category but rebounds and blocks, stats guards rarely produce anyway.

Looking back on the Suns of the mid-2000s is always depressing though. I’m not a fan of Mike D’Antoni, but those Nash-led teams were so fun and got so close to a title so many times. Bad luck and bad management was too much for them to overcome.

2008: Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors  

8-cats: 5

9-cats: 7

Throughout his career, Baron Davis was hot and cold both in fantasy and real basketball. He was rarely healthy after 2002, wasn’t a great free throw shooter, and in multiple seasons he was the biggest minus in field goal percentage for fantasy basketball. He often alternated with finishing seasons in the top 50 and outside the top 100.

But boy, Davis was a freak in steals and assists. In 2008, only Chris Paul provided better, well-rounded production in those two categories. Playing all 82 games that year also led to being a solid source of points, threes, and an above-average rebounder and blocker (!!!). Being healthy all season led to being a pain with field goal percentage and turnovers, but that was acceptable when he was one of the best in four other categories.

2009: Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers  

8-cats: 26

9-cats: 25

Mo Williams was one of the Weirdo All-Stars along with Jamaal Magloire and a few others, but was also a unique point guard in fantasy basketball. Though he was one of the best three point shooters and rarely missed a free throw, he wasn’t a big contributor in assists. Williams also wouldn’t hurt teams in field goal percentage like most point guards would. Much of the lack of assists and boost in field goal percentage could probably be blamed on LeBron James. Once LeBron left Cleveland, Williams’ value in fantasy basketball plummeted.

2010: Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets

8-cats: 31

9-cats: 54

2010 was the only season where Aaron Brooks consistently started, and he did that for all 82 games. He was the most valuable three-point shooter in fantasy basketball, which helped with points as well. Assists and free throws were also positives that came with drafting him.

All of that made for one season where Brooks was a nice addition. He’s been ranked outside of 150 in every other. 2010 was also the season Brooks was the Most Improved Player of the Year. If only Houston could trade him to the Utah Jazz so he could win it twice.

2011: Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors

8-cats: 20

9-cats: 13

In 2011, Dorell Wright was only a minus in one category: field goal percentage. It was an acceptable tradeoff when, like Aaron Brooks in 2010, he was the best three-point producer. He also produced in categories normally not reserved for small forwards: assists (while not turning it over too much) and blocks.

Overall, 2011 was a breakout year for Wright. It reminded me of Quentin Richardson’s 2005 campaign with Phoenix (here’s a statistical comparison). Richardson tailed off after that season while Wright has been a key reserve on bad teams until now, thanks to Portland storming out of the gates.

2012: Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers

8-cats: 14

9-cats: 19

2012 was Andrew Bynum’s most complete season, being a buy-low sell-high candidate at first until he played nearly every game, 60 out of 66 in a lockout-shortened season. He dominated in four categories (points, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage) while being a pretty bad contributor in every other, ones where big men typically suffered though.

Then came 2013 when Bynum was the complete opposite of how he finished. He went from buy-low, sell-high to a waste of a first round draft pick in fantasy basketball. Maybe one day he’ll be a master in fantasy bowling.

2013: Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors

8-cats: 47

9-cats: 29

Last season, Rudy Gay joining the Raptors didn’t affect Amir Johnson’s fantasy basketball value, even though Gay could’ve been a small ball power forward in Johnson’s place.

His 2013 production didn’t really scream effective when looking at it, but little improvements were made in just about every category with the biggest coming in steals, giving him an advantage over most power forwards. Overall, no category was too big of a positive or negative for Johnson, which is different from most players in this post. 

And that’s what was nice about him. It kind of, sort of reflected his game in real life. He wasn’t the main man on the Raptors by any means, but he was one of the better role players despite playing with ball stoppers like Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan.

This year, every player on the Raptors is a question mark in fantasy basketball because of the likelihood of a trade or two happening before the February deadline. We could see Johnson be used a little more if Gay is traded, or we could see him play less if he’s traded to an actual contender and not the East’s fourth seed that’s currently under .500.

Prediction for 2014

It’s hard to judge after only one month but…

Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers

Best fantasy basketball season: 2013

8-cats: 79

9-cats: 81

Spencer Hawes has done it all this year: score, score efficiently, rebound, pass, make threes, and also turn it over but whatever. Right now, he’s producing in categories some guards can’t even match, most notably the couple of threes per game.

He won’t shoot 49 percent from three all season though and that inevitable downfall will hurt his field goal percentage, but he’s in a situation where everything else can stay steady. The 76ers are really thin up front so he’ll consistently get over 30 minutes of play, at least until March and April. Eventually, Philadelphia will go into the tank, even if the Atlantic Division continues to be terrible. Who knows if Hawes starts developing “soreness” and misses a few games here and there, which would bring his ranking down at the end of the season.

But right now, Hawes is a top-10 fantasy basketball player. All but last year he was outside the top-100. He’ll finish somewhere in between if he can stay relatively healthy, but right now he’s been all that his fantasy basketball owners could ask for and more.

Just like every other player on this list.

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