5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 16

Willy Hernangomez has been crashing the boards hard since an increase in playing time and is looking like the future at center for the New York Knicks.

As the NBA season hits the dog days of winter, it is often the unheralded players who are needed to help carry a team over a short stretch. Young players such as Yogi Ferrell have brought a new energy, while young big men Guillermo Hernangomez and Ivica Zubac have also turned heads. On the other side of the coin, a veteran like Khris Middleton is hoping to make a big return to boost his club into the playoffs.

As we draw yet another week closer to the NBA playoffs this spring, here are five stats you need to know.

The Dallas Mavericks Have Ran Yogi Ferrell All Over the Floor

Just a few short weeks ago, Ferrell was playing point guard for the Long Island Nets in the developmental league. After injuries to Deron Williams and Jose Juan Barea, the Dallas Mavericks were in desperate need of a point guard and brought in the former Indiana Hoosiers star on a 10-day contract.

After just four games, he did enough to earn himself a two-year deal by averaging 17.8 points, 5.0 assists and 1.8 three-pointers made. Much of that was due to his superior activity on both ends of the floor that saw him travel 1.56 miles per game over the last five contests, second in the NBA to only Brandon Jennings.

With Williams' return to the court on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how head coach Rick Carlisle utilizes the newly-signed Ferrell.

Willy Hernangomez Is Crashing the Boards Hard

The New York Knicks thought they solved their center position this summer with the signing of veteran Joakim Noah, but it has been rookie Willy Hernangomez who has given the team hope in the lane recently.

The first-year big man has been given a minutes boost and has responded with an astounding 15.8 rebounds per 36 minutes over his past eight games. The 6’11” Spaniard has double-digit rebounding totals in four of the last seven games and has helped fill the void by the struggling Kristaps Porzingis.

With the Knicks sitting at just 22-30 and only a 8.7% chance to make the playoffs it seems likely that Hernangomez will continue to see a bigger role, while Noah and Kyle O'Quinn appear to be candidates to see reduced roles.

Ivica Zubac Is Scoring 1.09 Fantasy Points Per Minute Over the Past Month

In a very similar circumstance to the Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers may be moving on from a newly-signed veteran big man in favor of a rookie center.

Zubac received a career-high 28 minutes last week against the Portland Trail Blazers, followed by 26 the next night against a tough Utah Jazz squad. He responded in those games with a combined 28 points and 20 rebounds, but has seen his playing time drop off recently.

However, he is a fantasy dynamo when he plays -- as his 1.09 fantasy points per minute over the last month suggests. Not only has Zubac shot over 50% during that time, but he also brings double-double upside and a respectable all-around game at center.

The rookie is currently averaging 15.6 points, 10.8 points, 1.8 blocks and 0.7 steals per 36 minutes.

If Timofey Mozgov continues to be fazed out of the lineup, daily fantasy players need to keep an eye on the young Zubac, who’s cheap price tag and high point-per-minute output could help lead to a big score at a low price.

Khris Middleton Is Scheduled to Return on Wednesday

When Khris Middleton went down with a torn hamstring, it was a giant blow for the young Milwaukee Bucks. Their top wing during the 2015-16 season, Middleton was a jack-of-all-trades who posted career highs in points, assists, steals and three-pointers made.

The one positive for Milwaukee is that his injury forced Giannis Antetokounmpo into a bigger role, and the Greek Freak has blossomed into the ninth overall player in the numberFire nERD rankings.

Despite the emergence of Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will be happy that Middleton's prolonged absence will come to an end Wednesday against the Miami Heat.

Although it seems likely that he will be limited to start, Middleton will take much needed pressure off both Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, who have carried the team this year.

Paul Millsap Put in Extra Work Last Sunday vs. the Knicks

Anytime there's a four-overtime game, there are bound to be a few statistical oddities. This game between the Knicks and Atlanta Hawks featured 281 points, 4 double-doubles and a remarkable 247 field goal attempts. Despite all that, Paul Millsap’s day was perhaps the most impressive.

Millsap, the oft-talked about trade asset, became just the second player in the last five seasons to play 60 minutes in one game.

He's continued his steady play this year -- as he's shown throughout his career -- with 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Although he is just the 54th ranked player with a nERD of 2.7, he is the heartbeat of a Hawks team that is poised to make the postseason yet again.