SEASON 2016-17 is almost over from an NBA fantasy perspective and as we sulk gloomily ruing our failures or dance around in championship glory it’s time to hand out some deserving awards. Some starred, some flopped and others produced season unlike anything we have ever seen before.
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Fantasy Coach Of The Year
MIKE Malone get’s an honourable mention for unleashing Nikola Jokic (spoiler alert he features later) into the fantasy world, but another Mike deserves the honours more. D’Antoni’s ‘run and gun’ offensive style that was a feature of the Nash-led Suns teams of yesteryear was unleashed onto the NBA scene and boy were fantasy owners happy. MVP favourite James Harden elevated his game to an unrealistic level and helped players like Capela, Gordon, Ariza and Anderson increase exponentially in value.
Didn’t Live Up To The Height
IT wasn’t exactly the breakout year Kristpas Porzingis owners were expecting. The Knicks struggled to compete in a lot of games, which resulted in poorer stat lines for Pozingis. He boosted his scoring just slightly, but most of his stats stayed the same as his rookie season.
Image from csnne.com
Welcome To The Untouchables
JOHN Wall and Giannis Antetokounmpo have enriched themselves as locks for 1st round draft picks in 2017-18. Wall emerged as the clear franchise player on a fast rising Wizards team and Antetokounmpo had the elevation in production that many were expecting and then some, leading the Bucks in all major statistical categories.
AGE catches us all eventually and unfortunately for Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge, their time as fantasy elite is over. The 12 and 10 year veterans are still serviceable prospects, yet they are longer must haves by the end of your 3rd round. It’s tough to define the sliders and players who are projecting downwards, these two however have ran their race as fantasy stars.
Fantasy Most Improved
WHEN the real NBA awards are handed out you may find Antetokounmpo’s name on the trophy, but everyone expected the ‘Greek Freak’ to lift his production into star-like category. Nikola Jokic however almost came out of nowhere. Doubling his assist production has seen the Serbian drop five triple doubles this season; good for 4th most in the NBA. Boosting his scoring from 10 PPG to 16.3 didn’t highlight how dominate he has been in the later two-thirds of the season.
Image from fansided.com
Fantasy Rookie Of The Year
THE best part of the fantasy awards is normal rules don’t apply. Joel Embiid only played 31 games this season, but those 31 games were better than any other rookies body of work. 20 points, nearly eight boards and two and a half blocks are impressive per game averages, rookie or not.
Injuries Suck Man
EVERY season there are injuries that ravage our teams, forcing us to add less than ideal waiver wire targets (yes I’m talking to you Maurice Harkless). Spare a moment for the stars that were subdued by the wrong twist of a knee or ankle and forced to call time on their season way to early. Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul all fell into this bracket for a period of time, but what’s even more depressing is seeing young guys like Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Zach LaVine and Ben Simmons unable to take to the court. A moment’s silence please.
Fantasy Stat Line Of The Year
WESTBROOK’S triple double body of work features a ton of candidates for this award, as does Devin Booker’s 70 point eruption. But the stat line that the fantasy world will remember came from the probable MVP. Against the Knicks Harden celebrated the New Year with 53 points, 16 rebounds and 17 assists in a W on Jan 1st. Even Westbrook didn’t produce numbers like that this season, which is saying something.
I was lucky enough to bank on Jeff Teague to produce this season and he rewarded my faith. Taken just a few picks earlier was Utah center Rudy Gobert who asserted himself as a force in the league with a career year including a league leading 2.6 blocks a night. The man who has elevated himself the most up rankings though was Otto Porter. The fourth year forward was elite from downtown, leading the league in three point percentage for much of the season. A bump in every statistic and a decrease in turnovers is impressive as hell from the Wizards young stud about to get paid. Watch for him next season in your drafts.
SOME of the stat lines and averages we have seen this year are straight up ridiculous. 50 point triple doubles, All-Stars scoring 50 with regularity almost, 20/20’s galore and of course the James Harden and Russell Westbrook brackets. While Harden’s numbers may get him more MVP sway in the ‘real’ award, averaging a triple double with 30 points is a level of production that can’t be matched in fantasy. Westbrook’s bonkers bulldozing season is something we haven’t seen in over 50 years and will seem him become the inaugural SportsbyFry Fantasy MVP. Kudos Russ.