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Real or Not? Misleading Stats from Guards - 2021-22 NBA Season Review: Anfernee Simons, Reggie Jackson, Spencer Dinwiddie

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We're still weeks away from the regular-season tip-off, and while there is a ton of hype about the incoming rookies, we still need to reflect on the 2021-2022 campaign and what happened just a few weeks and months ago. Things have finally settled when it comes to the NBA offseason timeline so it's time to do some evaluation of the first (nearly) COVID-free year as we prepare for the 2023 season.

When it comes down to facing a fantasy draft, two numbers are often the most sought after by fantasy GMs: current ADP and overall rank from the prior season. No matter how experienced fantasy players are, those two numbers are thought of as the ultimate all-encompassing representations of every fantasy player's value. Knowing what he did in the league the last year and where he is getting drafted this season should be more than enough to make a reasonably good projection going forward, isn't it?

Turns out, those two numbers can be way misleading. Today, I'm here to focus on last season's stats from players labeled as Guards (PG/SG) in order to assess whether those numbers should be seen as real and solid going forward, or just as outliers with slim chances to be there when all is said and done by the end of the 2022-23 season. I'll be focusing on the latter group, which is comprised of players whose statistics from last season should not be trusted when it comes to drafting them ahead of next year. Let's get to it!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Guards with Misleading Fantasy Stats Worth Fading in 2022-23

Reggie Jackson, PG - Los Angeles Clippers

Reggie Jackson is somehow entering his age-32 season. Seriously, go check that fact if you don't believe it. After playing only 23 MPG in his first full season in L.A. with the Clips, Jackson finally broke into the starting unit and played the most minutes in his career (75 starts, 31+ MPG), taking advantage of all of the injuries happening to the dimmer Staples Center inhabitant. Only four other guards saw larger increases in playing time from 2021 to 2022 than Jackson did, and he also got to start 32 more games than he did two years ago.

Of course, those ample chances at getting fantasy points paid off of RJ and he finished the year as a top-30 guard and top-60 OVR fantasy asset. That's not to say that he was good on a per-game or an efficiency basis, though. Jackson only averaged 30.3 FPPG compared to his career-best 33.1 from the 2016 season (with Detroit at age 25) and his 0.97 FP/min was just a hair above average, which has been the case for four years and counting.

Jackson averaged something close to a 17-3-5 line with 0.7 SPG. The shooting was atrocious though, as he fell below a 40-percent FG% for the first time in his career (min. 4+ FGA) and hit a mediocre 32.6% of his 6.8 3PA per game, the lowest mark he's logged since 2018.

In other words, Jackson benefited a lot from the super-large runs he got last year with no other viable point available for the Clips to use through the season and their main weapons missing ample time (Paul George) or just the entire season (Kawhi).

Jackson was, in fact, the only player with either 31+ MPG or 16+ FGA last year to post up a TS% below 49 (!) percent, which is just insane and something no coach would keep on doing/using if it was up to it or had any alternative. In the past 25 years, only Jackson last season and Josh Smith in 2014 finished a campaign with those averages and scoring fewer than 17 PPG.

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG - Portland Trailblazers

It feels like Simons has been around since 1997 yet he's just about to enter his age-23 season. It's going to be his fifth one as a pro, though, as he entered the league at the minimum possible age in 2019 and got eased into the Blazers rotation as slowly as one can imagine (also not helping that matter: Portland didn't and still does not have a G League affiliate).

Simons (maybe) finally broke out last year in the NBA as he got to start more than five games (30) for the first time in his career while also logging 29.5 MPG (his prior high was just 20.7 in 2020). Of course, the Blazers lost Damian Lillard to injury, traded CJ McCollum, and pretty much threw the year away, so if only because of the classic "someone had to do something," Simons racked up FP on a daily basis.

Whether those were enough or not, and if that is repeatable, we'll have to see once the ball gets rolling next year and the full Blazers squad is available, including Anfernee. Only Tyrese Maxey (+20.0) saw a larger increase in MPG last season among G players than Simons's 12.2, though Simons edged Maxey in terms of getting also a higher dose of FGA and a much larger USG%.

Of course, Simons made the most of his opportunity and finished the year inside the top-60 fantasy players at his position with an average of 28 FPPG. For someone playing nearly 30 MPG daily, though, the outcome wasn't that good. The 17.3 PPG jump off the page, and so do the 3.9 APG considering that the most Simons had done in the NBA was scoring 8.3 points and dishing out 1.4 a couple of years back in the pandemic season as a sophomore. Beware of the monster increase in the counting stats, though, because they're heavily volume-driven by the looks of it. With a lot of stronger options available starting next season (some coming back such as Dame, others added to the fold like Jerami Grant), odds are Simons loses some value because his usage will inevitably go down.

Josh Hart, SG/SF - Portland Trailblazers

Something very similar to what I wrote about Simons can be written about Hart--at least when it comes to his situation. Hart got moved in the CJ McCollum trade and arrived in the PDX while the team was lacking everything and pretty much getting ready for what is ahead more than whatever they could achieve in 2022. Next season, though, will be very different in Portland with Dame back and the addition of Jerami Grant (slotted as the starting PF in the depth chart), and the re-signing of Jusuf Nurkic.

Hart found himself in a terrific place last year, starting 49 more games than he did in 2021 while playing 442 more total minutes and averaging 4.5 MPG above the figure he got to a couple of years ago. The underlying numbers changed a lot for anyone to believe those were real, let alone repeatable. And that's not even mentioning how he's coming off the increase in usage and playing time.

The thing is Hart is just not going to shoot a 61 TS% on back-to-back seasons, let alone hoisting 10+ FGA as he did last season with 3.9 3PA on top of that. The 50.4% from the floor is just an atrocious outlier for a player hitting shots at a 43.5% clip historically. The rebounds went down and the dimes went up while of course, with that god-touched shooting, the points went all the way up to almost 15 PPG. The dimes raised to almost double his prior-high career-wise (4.1 in 2022) but so did the TOPG at a monster 2.1. The overall increase in production and a top-50 finish at the position, yes, but one that looks very fluky.

Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG - Dallas Mavericks

After two mediocre seasons in Detroit to kick his career off and with a foot and a half outside of the NBA, Dinwiddie got reborn in Brooklyn. By the 2020 season, the first one with KD and Kyrie in BK but missing all or most of the season, Dinwiddie had a career year, putting up a 20-3-7 line while starting 49 of 64 games and staying on the court for 31+ MPG on a daily basis. Those were all the highest of his highs, obviously, as Dinwiddie never got to average that amount of minutes, points, shots, dimes, and whatnot.

Dinwiddie played in Washington and lastly Dallas--where he'll be next season--last year, starting 51 of 67 of his games played while averaging 29+ MPG. Though close to that 2020 season usage, the truth is the production wasn't even remotely close with SD, averaging a 13-4-5 line and 28.6 FPPG compared to his 2020 figure of 36.6 FP per game.

Depending on how you look at it, maybe I should have put Dinwiddie in the "numbers to trust" column as this is much closer to the real Dinwiddie than the 2020 version of Dinwiddie we got to watch a couple of years ago. In that case, yes, you can trust Dinwiddie to do what he did in 2022 more than expect an increase in any type of way next year in Dallas.

Dinwiddie's going to play for a Mavs team that probably has the best player he's ever played with in Luka Doncic, and other interesting pieces in Christian Wood that he will be able to feed for easy dimes. Other than that, though, not a lot has changed for him. Dinwiddie has also been a historically bouncy player in most cats. One year, he has a 55+ TS%, the next one he drops below 50%. One season he dishes out nearly seven dimes, the next one is handing out fewer than five per game. Too much risk baked into this thing.

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