Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I've spent the last few months being astonished at certain things I've seen in NBA box scores, and now that the halfway point of the season is here it finally makes sense to write about some of them.
Here are my top surprises of the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season so far.
Nick Young and D.J. Augustin are useful - Neither Young nor Augustin was in high demand after both had pitiful 2012-13 seasons, and they had to settle for one-year deals with the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors, respectively. Augustin only played 10 games with his new team before it realized he wasn't very good (shooting 29 percent from the field helps a team quickly form an opinion) and waived him. When the Chicago Bulls picked him up off the scrap heap in the wake of Derrick Rose's most recent knee injury, fantasy owners weren't exactly rushing to the free agent wire to pick him up, but Augustin has averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 assists, 2.1 threes and 1.4 steals over his last 18 games. Meanwhile, Young is living it up in a "Kobe-less" Los Angeles, getting all the shots he could ever ask for and actually doing something with them. The guard has averaged 20.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 threes and 5.3 free throws with a .916 FT% over his last 18 games. And, oh yeah, he's even found time to hand out 1.4 assists per game.
The health of Andrew Bogut, Eric Gordon, Nene and Wilson Chandler - The most surprising thing about the stat sheets of the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets is that Bogut, Gordon, Nene and Chandler have actually been IN them. While there have been a few setbacks along the way, all four players have remained in the lineup for at least 80 percent of their team's games. The quartet missed a combined 58.4 percent of their games over the previous two seasons.
Michael Carter-Williams is the top rookie - Coming out of Syracuse, the 6- foot-5 Carter-Williams was viewed as a raw offensive player with a below- average shot and questionable decision-making. Both of those knocks have proven to be correct, as he has shot .414/.279/.695 FG/3P/FT while turning the ball over 3.4 times per game. Still, the 22-year-old has been given plenty of chances to flash his athleticism for a Philadelphia team playing for the future and that has translated to fantasy success. MCW has averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Not bad for the No. 11 overall pick in his first 30 NBA games.
All-Star Afflalo - Afflalo seemingly maxed out his potential last season in the post-Dwight Howard Orlando, averaging a career-high 16.5 points per game. Nope, Kendrick Lamar's former high school classmate had more in him. Afflalo has attempted career highs in field goals, three-pointers and free throws this season while also shooting .467/.425/.847. He has averaged 20.9 points, 4.6 boards, 3.9 assists and 2.1 threes per game to complete the transition from role-playing wing to No. 1 scorer.
Channing Frye's comeback - After missing all of last season due to an enlarged heart, Frye could have come back and played 15 minutes per game and his return would have been deemed both successful and inspirational. But he has started all 40 Phoenix Suns games this season while logging 28 minutes per game. He has been one of the top three-point gunners in the NBA, drilling 41.4 percent of his 5.4 attempts per game and averaging 12.4 points. Frye has warmed up considerably in January, hitting 3.1 threes per game and recording 16.6 points per contest.
Terrence Jones steps in - In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets had the 13th-, 16th- and 18th-overall picks and selected Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones. The first two never played a game for the organization (Lamb was traded in a package for James Harden and White was dumped due to issues with the team surrounding his anxiety disorder), but Jones is making sure Houston GM Daryl Morey still looks back on that draft class with fulfillment. After the Omer Asik-Dwight Howard pairing was a bust and Asik essentially quit on the team, Jones took over as the starting power forward and has averaged 12.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 0.7 steals and 0.5 threes per game as the starter. In January, Jones has generated 16.9 points, 11.4 boards and 1.9 rejections per game.
Andrew Bynum wears out his welcome in Cleveland after two months - Just kidding, the chances of this one happening were about as large as Bynum's bowling shoes.