Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mid-Season Surprises

So the mid-season point is almost upon us in the NBA. Every season, there are players that come out of nowhere to surpass expectations, and this season is no different. These might be young players who are getting more playing time than originally expected (Moon, Beno Udrih), veterans who came back from injuries or mediocre prior seasons (Grant Hill, Brad Miller), or just guys who just arrived (Calderon, Kaman, Gay). This is part one of a two part series, the second of which will focus on the mid-season disappointments.

-Baron Davis (PG), GS - Season stats: 22.3 PPG, 4.9 Reb, 8.3 Ast, 2.5 Stl, 0.5 Blk, 2.8 TO, 2.3 3PTM, 43% FG%, 75% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (28) / Current Player Rater (Avg) (8) / Upside Surprise +20

I wouldn't call this one a huge surprise, but the man who is currently ranked #8 based on averages & #3 based on totals wasn't even one of the top 5 PG's selected; he was 8th in Yahoo's average draft position, or 28th overall. As compared to last season, his scoring has increased by around 2 PPG, his steals have increased by about 0.5 per game, he's hitting about 1 more 3PTM, his rebounds are up by about 0.5 per game, while his turnovers are slightly down & his percentages have remained about the same.

Baron is always an injury risk, as is evident by the fact that he hasn't played an injury free season since playing all 82 games in 2001-02 while in Charlotte. His aggressive game brings more injuries than the average point guard, but if he can keep himself healthy, he'll continue to put up great numbers the rest of the year, especially considering the high powered nature of the Warriors offense.

If you're interested, you can check out Baron's blog here.

-Jose Calderon (PG), Tor - Seasons stats: 12.1 PPG, 3.2 Reb, 8.6 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 1.0 3 PTM, 1.6 Ast, 51% FG%, 92% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (143) / Current Player Rater (21) / Upside Surprise +122

Calderon's play this year has surprised some out there, but his production is actually very similar to what he did last season in his 11 it doesn't come as a complete surprise. His numbers have been stealer across the board, although what is amazing is his incredibly low turnover rate. Combined with his high %'s, he is the 6th highest rated PG in Yahoo based on averages, placing between Steve Nash (at 5) and Deron Williams (at 7). Expect him to continue to put up similar numbers if he continues to start in place of TJ Ford. They'll share time when Ford returns, which will make Calderon still worth owning, although it will diminish his top PG value.

Some sports writers & analysts north of the border up in Canada chime in on the Raptors point guard debate in this Calderon or Ford roundtable; good read by experts who follow the Raptors. Hear from Jose himself on his website & blog.

-John Salmons (SG, SF), Sac - Season stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.5 Reb, 3.2 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 51% FG%, 82% FT%, 0.6 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (150) / Current Player Rater (62) / Upside Surprise +88

Salmons has excelled when given consistent playing time this season. When in the starting lineup, he has averaged 18 PPG, 5 board, 4 assists, 2 steals, with excellent shooting %'s. Unfortunately for Salmons owners out there, both Ron Artest & Kevin Martin are both back to the lineup...meaning less PT for John. He's still a solid bench player for your roster in deep leagues out there, and he's a must add if Artest or Martin miss any more time. In shallow leagues, he's not worth holding right now but hopefully you've benefited from his strong run in the starting lineup.

The guys over at Sactown Royalty, a Sacramento Kings blog, check out Salmons as a sub vs. starter; good read & good advice to both John & to the Kings coach, Reggie Theus.

-Beno Udrih (PG), Sac - Season stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.5 Reb, 4.4 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 2.5 TO, 45% FG%, 85% FT%, 1.1 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (253) / Current Player Rater (102) / Upside Surprise +151

Beno has been a very pleasant surprise this season, as he filled in nicely at the PG position when Mike Bibby was out with an early season injury. Unfortunately for Beno owners out there, his playing time has come down substantially since Bibby's return, and he probably won't have too much value the remainder of the season unless another injury occurs. The good news is the 4th year point guard has proven that he can be a solid starter in the league.

As a side note, do they still sell Beano, the anti-gas product? Just curious...

-Rudy Gay (SG, SF), Mem - Season stats: 19.7 PPG, 6.1 Reb, 1.7 Ast, 1.5 Stl, 0.9 Blk, 47% FG%, 78% FT%, 1.8 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (92) / Current Player Rater (19) / Upside Surprise +73

Gay has been a stud this season. The only category he's not helping teams in is assists; otherwise, he's providing value across the board. It's interesting that he was traded for Shane Battier two years ago, since both players are part of the select group of players who average around 1+ steals, blocks & 3's per game; only Gay is providing much more offensive spark. If you were lucky (or smart) enough to pick him this season, enjoy his continued excellent season...and maybe more sick dunks, like this one over Yi:

-Grant Hill (SG, SF), Pho - Season stats: 15.2 PPG, 4.4 Reb, 3.4 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0.8 Blk, 51% FG%, 87% FT%, 0.7 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (127) / Current Player Rater (35) / Upside Surprise +92

Grant has had an excellent renaissance this season in Phoenix. His numbers haven't been too flashy, but he's quietly had a wonderful first half this season. He's another one of the guys that simply helps across the board, and he serves as a great glue guy for your roster. He's nearly back at full strength after his appendectomy, so he should have a strong second half.

By the way, his website is very well done, if you want to check it out.

-Jamario Moon (SG, SF), Tor - Season stats: 8.1 PPG, 6.3 Reb, 1.1 Ast, 1.0 Stl, 1.5 Blk, 0.4 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (Undrafted) / Current Player Rater (81) / Upside Surprise +Really good value

Full moon rising in Toronto...Jamario has been an incredible find this year, as he's proven to be a spark for the young Raptors lineup. He's had his ups & downs like many rookies (although he is 27 & much more experienced than most rookies), but he's added surprising value on the defensive end (specifically, blocks & steals). Owners have likely been frustrated by his recent inconsistent playing time, but keep an eye on him in the second half. I'm not sure I'd recommend all managers out there pick him up, but he'll provide help in rebounds & blocks...just don't expect much scoring or assists.

-Brad Miller (C), Sac - Season stats: 14.1 PPG, 9.0 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 1.0 Blk, 0.4 3PTM, 46% FG%, 86% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (94) / Current Player Rater (44) / Upside Surprise +50

Wow, that was unexpected...welcome back the old Brad Miller. After a down 2006-07 that really caught fantasy owners by surprise, he's back & better than ever. He is playing 8 more minutes per game this season, but he just seems comfortable again in the Kings offensive flow. If you were wise enough to draft him this year, enjoy his consistent play, since it will likely continue.

-Chris Kaman (C), LAC - Season stats: 17.2 PPG, 13.9 Reb, 1.9 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 3.0 Blk, 48% FG%, 74% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (90) / Current Player Rater (26) / Upside Surprise +64

So all it took was a new haircut to re-energize Chris' game? Why didn't he make the change sooner? Kaman has surpassed all expectations this season, even from the most optimistic of experts. Brand's absence has given Kaman more opportunities both at the offensive end & on the rebounding front, and he's stepped up. He's also been a monster blocking shots this year, currently placing 3rd in the NBA, only behind monsters Marcus Camby & Josh Smith; very nice. Throw in his 3rd in the league rebound per game average, and you have quite an impressive season thus far.

And now for my mid-season surprise awards:

Midseason rookie surprise - Jamario Moon, Tor: Came out of nowhere & has played very well in a starting role in Toronto.

Midseason veteran "return to form" surprise - Brad Miller, Sac: This was a close vote between him & Grant Hill, but Miller gets the award. Many thought his best years were over after last season's declines, but he has proven those pessimists wrong. Seeing how he was the 25th center drafted on average, he's been an amazing find.

Midseason surprise of the year - Chris Kaman, LAC: He has put up solid, if unspectacular, numbers in prior seasons; but did anyone expect this type of breakout this year? I know I didn't (although I was wise enough to draft him in one league). His scoring has been a pleasant enough surprise, although the rebounds & blocks are what really put him in a league of his own. If you polled fantasy owners before the season if Chandler or Kaman would average more rebounds per game, 99% would have picked Chandler. In your face, experts!

That's all of now; I'll be discussing this season's mid-season disappointments in my next post.

What do you think? Who are your first half surprises? Who is missing from this list? Leave a comment or email us at with your thoughts.

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