Sample sizes are still relatively small, but players and teams are starting to find their identities in this young season. For those of you in category-specific formats, here are some notable factoids that might help you gain an edge in areas of need. We'll continue to validate and debunk trends on a weekly basis in this column going forward.
(All stats up to date through Nov. 12 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)
Alec Burks (66 percent) and Gerald Henderson (75 percent) are averaging more than 13.5 points per game and have both been in double figures in all their games except one this season. ... Roy Hibbert has been a monster in the blocks category, but he's averaging just 9.9 points per game. He started slow in the scoring column last year as well but picked it up as the season went on -- averaging 9.7 points per game in the first half of last season as opposed to 14.1 in the second half. ... The 76ers, Wizards, Lakers and Clippers are allowing opponents to score more than 105 points per game on average -- the four worst in the league. The Lakers allowed the Timberwolves to score a season-high 47 in the first quarter November 10, so they clearly have vast potential for getting scored on. ... Meanwhile, the Pacers are only giving up 84.5 points per game to opponents this year, so avoid them if you're looking for a spot-start scorer. The Bulls and Spurs are also allowing fewer than 92 points per game. ... One thing Andrea Bargnani will do with his time in the Knicks' starting lineup is score. He's been in double figures both games he's started, including a 25-point outing against Charlotte. Look for him if your team is lacking in points the next few weeks. ... It's still a bit early, but keep Heat forward Michael Beasley on your radar going forward. He played a season-high 20 minutes last night, leading to a season-high 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting off the bench. I wrote about Beasley as a sleeper in the preseason, and while it's not quite time to awaken yet, there's a good chance he'll be a cheap source of points down the road.
John Henson has been benefitting from Larry Sanders' absence, averaging 10.8 points and 1.4 blocks for the Bucks. Most of his shots comes close to the rim, and his 7-foot-6 wingspan makes it very easy for him to dunk, which has led to a 61.5 field goal percentage to start the year. Sanders will be out for six weeks, so go ahead and pick up Henson, who's still available in 36 percent of leagues. ... Nene has been well-balanced to start the season, making 58.5 percent of his field-goal attempts while averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assist, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest. He's still not owned in 18 percent of leagues so check your free agent pool if you want an efficient big man. ... Rudy Gay's 19.3 points per game come at a hefty price for Roto players, as his field goal percentage is among the worst in the league at 35.6. Gay's inefficiency was in full effect November 11 against the Rockets as he scored 29 and still managed to miss 26 shots. ... Portland is the only team allowing opponents to shoot better than 51 percent on average. The Trailblazers also lead the league in points in the paint allowed per game at 49.7. The Warriors play both Portland and the Jazz in Week 4, so you can browse their fringe options if you're playing catchup in field-goal percentage. ... The No. 1 and No. 3 teams holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage face off Saturday when the Bulls host the Pacers. There's bound to be some bad shots being forced up in that slugfest, so be sure to roll out your most efficient shooters for the rest of your lineup if you plan on starting anyone in that game.
Jordan Farmar (26 percent) is tied for 8th in rebounds per game among point guard-eligible players at 3.9 a night. He flirted with a triple-double Tuesday night against New Orleans, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, eight assists and one block. His numbers should continue to go up as Nash will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a back issue. ... Mike Miller (10 percent) has been scrapping his way to 4.7 rebounds per game to go along with his two made threes per contest. Not a bad option if you're lacking in both categories. ... Brook Lopez has been a disappointing rebounder so far, only managing to grab 6.0 a night for the Nets. This number isn't likely to increase anytime soon as the Nets have some of the league leaders in rebounding percentage (Rockets, Raptors, Trailblazers, Bobcats) on their upcoming schedule. ... DeJuan Blair continues to be an intriguing Roto option, as he's averaging more rebounds than Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter at 7.9 per game, while only playing 20 minutes a night. His 2.1 steals per game are also good for third in the league among center-eligible players. ... Caron Butler is only owned in 51 percent of leagues, but he's been a fairly productive option at the very shallow small forward position. He's averaging 6.2 rebounds per game to go along with 12.2 points.
With Steve Nash out, category players might take a look at Steve Blake for assists. Blake dished out a season-high 10 assists Tuesday night and he's averaging 5.6 assist per game while making 2.4 three-pointers a night. Those numbers could increase as the Lakers rely more heavily on Blake and Jordan Farmar to lead their Nash-less backcourt. ... Jordan Crawford is averaging an improbable 4.3 assists per game for the Celtics -- a big shock if you're familiar with his ball-hogging antics. He's never finished a season averaging more than 3.9 so maybe just roll Crawford out there while he's still passing the ball. ... The 76ers' risk-oriented zone defense is meant to maximize steals and fast-break opportunities. A side effect of this style of play is lots of easy baskets off assists, evidenced by their league-leading 27.5 assists allowed per game. ... Conversely, the Pacers are huge and content to stay home on defense, forcing teams to play lots of one-on-one offense. They're only giving up 16.0 assists per game on average.
The rim-missing free throw attempt that allowed Jeff Green to steal a game form Miami on November 9 wasn't the only free throw attempt Dwyane Wade's botched this year. In fact, Wade has only hit 65.8 percent of his foul shots so far this season. ... Andrew Bynum is averaging more than two free throws per game and has converted on 92.9 percent of them so far. He'll reportedly miss the next two games for a personal issue, but keep an eye on Bynum going forward, as he received his first start of the season November 11, going a perfect 6 for 6 from the free-throw line while logging a season-high 21 minutes against the Bulls. ... Brandon Bass has been logging 30.0 minutes per game for the Celtics while shooting 90.0 percent from the charity stripe. He's also averaging 12.7 points per contest. ... J.J. Redick continues to be the quintessential free-throw ace, shooting 96.0 percent while averaging more than three attempts per game.
Gerald Green may have finally found a home in Phoenix, and he's at least shooting well enough to stay in the Suns' rotation. Green is tied for eighth in the league, averaging 2.4 made threes per contest. ... Jodie Meeks is starting to pick up his production for the Lakers, averaging 2.2 threes and 13.0 points per game. ... The 76ers' zone is also leaving tons of space for three-point shooters, as Philadelphia is giving up 12.0 made threes per game -- the worst rate in the league. Look for shooters who play them to gain an edge in that category. ... The Celtics, meanwhile, are still defending the three-point line better than any other team, giving up only 4.4 made threes per game. ... The Wizards are attempting a league-high 27.8 threes per game, making Martell Webster a nice streaming option if you're in need of a long-range shooter. He's currently averaging 1.8 made threes per game. ... If for some reason Kyle Korver isn't owned in your league, you should go ahead and grab him. Making close to three triples per game while shooting close to 50 percent from downtown is totally realistic for Korver over the span of a season. He finished last year netting 2.6 made threes per game while converting on 45.7 percent of them.
Bucks guard Nate Wolters leads the league in assist-per-turnover rate, averaging just 0.8 turnovers a night while dishing out 5.7 assists -- good for 18th in the league. ... The 76ers and the Lakers have been the sloppiest ball-handlers so far this year, with opposing teams averaging more than 10 steals per game against them. ... Mario Chalmers (67 percent) is tied for fourth in the league in steals per game at 2.3. He's also scoring 10.4 points and dishing out 5.3 assists. ... Corey Brewer has been using his long arms to pick up his steals production, as he's come up with 11 in the span of his last five games. He usually scores on a run-out whenever he steals the ball, so his 13.4 points per game could see an increase as he becomes more active on defense. ... Metta World Peace has done a good job of not turning the ball over, only doing so an average of 1.3 times per night. He's also taking the ball away 1.7 times a night while scoring 11.5 points and grabbing 4.0 boards. ... Derrick Rose is finally averaging more assists than turnovers, but neither number is very impressive. He's tied for third in the league with 4.2 giveaways per game, while only dishing out 4.5 assists per night. ... John Henson has been a model of ball security, averaging less than one turnover per game. This number might increase as he takes on a larger role filling in for Larry Sanders, but go ahead and grab him for efficient play around the rim to go along with a few blocks per night.