NBA Market Share Report: Julius Randle Is Stuffing the Stat Sheet
Welcome back for another edition of the weekly NBA Market Watch Report. The last 10 days or so have been a bit hectic, shall we say, so if you happened to miss last week’s installment, be sure to go back and take a gander.
This week we’ll look at a couple compensatory options for your daily fantasy lineups -- guys who may not cost you as much as the typical top-tier, but who are putting up similarly impressive numbers. We’ll also pay homage to the machines (a seemingly essential piece in these columns) and take note of a particular gigantic center surprising us with his newfound shooting range.
Julius Randle and Walton’s Wand
There’s fun stuff happening in L.A., and it’s not all Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers. Since being hired as head coach last spring, Luke Walton has expended his wizardry on the Los Angeles Lakers, who have jumped out to a surprising 7-5 start with efficient passing, a Nick Young who plays with effort, and an effective bench unit. Oh, and Julius Randle.
There’s a fun conversation to be had (if you want) about Walton’s new squad and the potential of some of the young guys in L.A. filling similar roles to those of players Walton coached with the Golden State Warriors. The easiest jumpstart to said discussion is Julius Randle filling the role of Draymond Green.
Spoiler alert: Julius isn’t Draymond. Not yet, anyway. But like Green did last season, Randle is stuffing the stat sheet and doing so efficiently. He’s scoring 14 points a night on 55 percent shooting and grabbing almost 9 boards a game, which is seventh-most amongst forwards, and his nearly 4 dimes a game is commendable for the position, as well as a key ingredient as to why the Lakers are able to move the ball so well en route to 110 points a night.
Check out his start compared to Green's performance last year.
Again this is a comparison from Green’s complete season last year (under Walton) and Randle’s present season, consisting of just 12 games. The assist numbers show the largest numerical difference comparatively, but taking into account respective surrounding casts, it’s easy to understand why. We also don’t see Randle shoot it as often or as well from three-point range, but we should again remind ourselves that he’s only been under the Walton wand for a dozen games and he’s still just 22 years old.
There’s more to dig through for the purposes of strictly a basketball comparison between the two -- like comparing them at respective ages or in respective seasons, or breaking down where Randle needs to improve on defense -- but from a fantasy standpoint, Randle’s 30.5 FanDuel points per game is decent compensation given how much more you’ll pay for Green and his 39 FanDuel points per game.
CP3: Humanoid Robot
Acknowledging the bundles of cyborg parts stuffed into human bodies and disguised as professional basketball players has become a weekly occurrence in the short life of this column, so we’ll go ahead and keep that rolling.
This week’s tip of the cap goes to Chris Paul.
As good as he’s been, this is pretty much the norm for CP3: consistently awesome, a career double-double guy, solid defense, and currently tops in the league with a 4.4 nERD. There are two numbers, however, that are beginning to stand out, both of which are increases in desirable categories.
Through 12 games this season, Paul is averaging a career-high 5 three-point attempts per game and connecting on nearly 46 percent of them, which would also be a career high if he can keep it going for a cool 70 games more. And a CP3 with improved three-point scoring is like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson joining The Fast and the Furious movie franchise -- you may not have thought it could get any better, but it sure as hell did.
How's that for a fun and healthy reminder that even some of the very best never stop evolving?
And when it comes to steals -- the type of thievery FanDuel rewards you two extra points for -- Paul is bagging 3 of ‘em a game right now, which -- combined with an average of 18 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds -- helps to make him a top-10 fantasy option so far this year at 41.9 points per game.
Not to be outdone on defense, Paul is sporting a defensive rating of 89.6 (almost tops in the league if it weren’t for his teammates Luc Mbah a Moute, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick), a defensive rebound percentage of 16 (damn impressive for a 6-foot point guard), and 4.3 deflections per game (which puts him at the top of the league with dudes like Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green).
If you’re anything like me and have a small rooting interest in Clippers players and their success this season, these Chris Paul numbers are great. On the other hand, even if you hate the Clippers or can’t seem to tolerate Steve Ballmer’s courtside jives, at least keep building your daily lineups around Chris Paul because it’s a wise thing to do.
Speaking of crafty guards, can we talk about these Kemba Walker flames?
We mentioned the Hornets and their surprising start in last week’s edition, but we didn’t get into particular players. No worries, though -- we can make up for that here.
Kemba Walker is nipping at the heels of Chris Paul at 40.7 FanDuel points per game, and like Paul, Walker’s getting it done on both ends of the floor. His 49-percent shooting ranks sixth among players taking at least 15 shots a night, while his 48-percent shooting from deep is good for third among players taking at least five shots a night from long range. He’s also limiting his turnovers while dishing out 5.5 assists per game with a usage rate of 30 percent, and he ranks in the top-10 with almost 2 steals a night.
Considering where they both are in average fantasy points per game -- along with Walker saving you as much as $1,000 worth of a salary on a given night -- it’s not a stretch to argue the case of point guard compensation at this point in the season.
At the very least, fantasy or otherwise, this feels like legitimate Kemba Walker ascension.
Nine Years Later...Marc Can Chuck It
Generally speaking, 66 three-point attempts in eight seasons by a 7’1" center with tentacles for arms isn’t all that surprising. Even making just 12 of those 66 heaves over the same span isn’t that startling, because again, we’re talking about a gargantuan center after all.
But what is remarkable as it pertains to this same center, now playing in the ninth year of his career, at 32 years old and a seasoned vet in every sense of the word, is that Marc Gasol has already attempted 40 three-pointers this season and he has more makes through 10 games than the entire eight years prior.
That’s awesome. And crazy. And pretty incredible, too.
Memphis only attempted 19 three-pointers per game last season under head coach Dave Joerger, and naturally they didn’t shoot them very well, knocking down just 33 percent, which ranked 29th in the league. This season, however, with Joerger out and new coach David Fizdale running the show, the Grizzlies are chucking 26 shots per game from downtown, and Gasol -- that oversized center -- is accounting for 15 percent of those shots.
I want to apologize.... TO ABSOLUTELY NOBODY!#GrindCity pic.twitter.com/JN6p8YdV0G
— Marc Gasol (@MarcGasol) November 17, 2016
Gasol's 19 points per game this season is a career high, but his fantasy production has stayed right in line with last season at 33 FanDuel points per game. This newfound offensive stroke, however, alongside a coach who clearly wants to take more threes and even calls plays for this center to pull the trigger from long range, should ultimately lead to improved production and an increase in Gasol's daily fantasy stock.
And that'll do it. Remember to always clean your fruits and vegetables before consuming. See ya next week.