Three weeks into the 2012-13 NBA season, a number of players are posting substantially improved fantasy statistics. Former bench and role players are stepping up as new contributors while other previous fantasy contributors are rising into star territory. The most improved fantasy players in early 2012-13 include Houston Rockets’ center Omer Asik and Charlotte Bobcats’ point guard Kemba Walker.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets:
2011-12: 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 45.6% free throws
2012-13: 10.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 blocks, 66.7% free throws
Fantasy basketball always welcomes new productive centers and Omer Asik’s productivity through ten games has been great. He’s more than doubling some of his core numbers from Chicago and he ranks third in the league in rebounding through ten games. He’s even hitting his free throws at a much improved clip. The only downside is his ballooning turnover rate, which is up to more than three per game.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats:
2011-12: 12.1 points, 4.4 assists, 0.9 steals, 36.6% field goals, 78.9% free throws
2012-13: 18.8 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 42.3% field goals, 86.0% free throws
Eight games into Kemba Walker’s sophomore leap, the Bobcats are more than halfway to their 2011-12 win total and Walker is a top 20 fantasy player. Walker ranks 19th by per game average in Yahoo leagues thanks to a sizable scoring increase, much improved shooting efficiency, and a big jump in steals.
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers:
2011-12: 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 1.8 threes
2012-13: 20.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.2 blocks, 3.1 threes
Nicolas Batum has been a good and improving fantasy player for a few seasons, but with a big new contract his production has spiked into elite territory. Ten games into his season, he ranks fourth overall in Yahoo leagues due to significant numbers across virtually every stat category in fantasy basketball. He sits in the league’s top ten in scoring, three-point baskets, and steals per game.
Al-Farouq Aminu, New Orleans Hornets:
2011-12: 6.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.5 blocks, 41.1% field goals
2012-13: 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, 50.6% field goals
Al-Farouq Aminu is embracing his steady starting role in New Orleans and generating some outstanding defensive statistics in the process. Aminu is one of 14 players averaging at least one steal and one block per game. He’s grabbed at least six rebounds and one steal in each of his first eight games.
James Harden, Houston Rockets:
2011-12: 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks
2012-13: 26.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks
Unsurprisingly, giving one of the best young wing players in the league a starting role and increased playing time is resulting in a big boost in production. The trade that sent James Harden to the Rockets is paying dividends for both the player and the team, and fantasy owners have to be thrilled with his early numbers. Harden is the NBA’s second leading scorer through ten contests, and while his turnovers are up, he’s contributing in almost every other fantasy category.
Honorable mentions: Chandler Parsons, Nikola Vucevic, Byron Mullens, George Hill, Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick, and Greivis Vasquez.
Statistics obtained from Yahoo Sports and NBA.com