Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 19
With most fantasy hoops trade deadlines having passed last week, "A Dozen Dimes" will essentially convert into a waiver wire column from now until season's end. We'll try to keep the adding advice current, instead of continuing to harp on the fact that guys like Hassan Whiteside (79%), Rudy Gobert (70%), and Khris Middleton (69%) should have universal ownership and it's silly that they don't. If you're reading this, chances are that you're in a competitive league and those guys have long been snatched up, so you need help sifting through guys that are actually available.
As always, these moves are listed in relative order of importance. If you have any questions about which moves to make, jump into the comment section and we'll do our best to help you out.
Now, let's go win some fantasy championships.
I can't believe it's come to this, but Andrea Bargnani has officially earned must-own status for the rest of this season in standard leagues. Since Carmelo Anthony officially hung up his kicks for the year, looking for fantasy value in New York has been a mostly uninspiring venture, but Bargs has emerged as your best option. Since the All-Star break, Il Mago has been the 65th-ranked played in nine-category leagues, on the strength of 16.5 points, 0.5 triples, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.5 turnovers per contest, while shooting 50.5% from the field and 82.4% from the line. He's proven time and again over his career that we shouldn't trust him in fantasy, but the Knicks have left us with no choice. New York plays a whopping five games this week (the last before most leagues have their fantasy playoffs) and has a decent fantasy playoff schedule (4-4-3), so Bargnani shouldn't be on a single wire, despite still being available in 65% of Yahoo leagues. Ugh, that felt weird.
Much like the Knicks, there isn't a whole lot of enticing fantasy value to be had on the Sixers outside of Nerlens Noel. Isaiah Canann has been someone to keep an eye on, however, since Philly brought him in at the same time as they parted ways with Michael Carter-Williams. Canaan is currently dealing with what looks to be an upper repertory infection, so you'll have to keep an eye on his status for this week, but if he does play, his 18.3 points, 4.5 threes, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.5 steals, and 1.3 turnovers from his last four contests obviously shouldn't be on any waiver wires.
Robert Covington is another Sixer that deserves your attention, as he's recently returned from an elbow injury and should go back to putting up mid- to early-round value in no time. In 51 games this season, Covington has put up subtle 55th-ranked value for his 13.0 points, 2.3 three-pointers, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per contest. He's been criminally under-owned all season, but his current 60% ownership on Yahoo makes him even riper than usual for the picking in most leagues. Don't leave him unowned.
The injury bug has bitten Chicago pretty hard (more on that in a minute) and the primary beneficiary in fantasy leagues has been Nikola Mirotic. In the five games that the Bulls have been without backup big Taj Gibson, Mirotic has averaged a tasty 21.4 points, 1.4 three-pointers, 7.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks in a healthy 30.9 minutes per contest. The 2.4 turnovers and 40.5% shooting from the floor have pulled his value down a tad, but his 81.6% shooting from the charity stripe on a ridiculous 9.8 freebie attempts per game over that span pretty much makes up for it. His 81st-ranked value in March could go even higher if he improves on his efficiency, so he needs to be owned across the board until Gibson returns or at least has a timetable.
Speaking of Chicago injuries, both members of the Bulls' starting backcourt, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, are still weeks away from taking the floor again. We expected the fantasy beneficiaries from that situation to be Aaron Brooks and Tony Snell, but they've ranked 178th and 249th respectively in nine-category leagues over the Bulls' last four games and are proving to be hard to keep rostered at the moment. Mike Dunleavy, on the other hand, has averaged 15.7 points, 2.3 triples, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.0 turnovers per contest over his last three, while shooting 48.4% from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. The complete and utter lack of steals and blocks is a downer, but his starting job, 32.6 minutes per contest, and upside in scoring, threes, rebounding, and both percentages makes him one of the safest Bulls to own at the moment.
Ersan Ilyasova is consistently one of the most inconsistent fantasy players in the game. He's been down more than up this season -- even more so than usual -- but he's done enough to warrant ownership yet again over the last two weeks. During those seven games, Ily has averaged 14.1 points, 2.0 three-pointers, 7.4 rebounds, and a mere 0.7 turnovers per contest, while shooting 45.1% from the field and 73.3% from the free throw line. That's bordering on top-50 value in nine-category leagues over that span, similar to what he posted in both the 2011-12 (48th) and 2012-13 (43rd) seasons, so he's worth the add now to see if he can keep it going until the end of the year.
D.J. Augustin / Arron Afflalo
At the trade deadline, I said that both D.J. Augustin and Arron Afflalo had become droppable in their new situations. Consider this my attempt to backpedal and admit that I was wrong. Despite effectively being the backup to the walking triple-double machine that is Russell Westbrook, Augustin has still managed to put up close to top-100 value in a Thunder uniform. He's basically slid right into the role previously occupied by Reggie Jackson (backing up both guard positions and often playing alongside Russ) and has managed to put up 10.3 points, 1.8 threes, 3.4 boards, 3.7 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.1 turnovers in a healthy 27.3 minutes per contest in his nine games in OKC, while shooting 40.3% from the field and 83.3% from the line. Afflalo, on the other hand, will see his fantasy stock rise as a result of the unfortunate Achilles injury that Wesley Matthews suffered last Thursday. Even as a starter for most of the season in Denver, Afflalo was only barely posting standard-league value, but he'll still be a popular pickup for owners in need of points and threes.
Terrence Ross took his starting spot back from James Johnson over the last two games for the Raptors, after having lost it 21 games ago in mid-January. T-Ross is still likely to struggle with inconsistency from time to time, but the 29.0 minutes he's played over his last two and enticing averages of 14.0 points, 4.0 triples, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 0.0 turnovers, and 45.5% shooting from the floor in that span make him worth a flier. Prior to the demotion, his three-point shooting and low turnover rate were making him a late-round value, so he should be able to sustain that with mid-round upside going forward.
P.J. Tucker has posted subtle early-round value over the past month, yet is only owned in 50% of Yahoo leagues. Over his last dozen games, Tucker has posted a great all-around line of 13.2 points, 1.3 triples, 8.2 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting 46.7% from the field and 80.6% from the line. He might not give you flashy numbers in any one category, but he'll contribute across the board without really hurting you anywhere. That kind of production is always worthy of a roster spot.
Gerald Henderson, despite a mere 33% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues, has been an early-round value over the last two weeks. Over that seven-game span, he's averaged 15.3 points, 1.3 long balls, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers per contest, while shooting a reliable 50.6% from the field and 82.4% from the charity stripe. That great all-around line might take a hit when Kemba Walker returns this week, but Mo Williams is likely the only candidate to have his value killed almost entirely by that change. Hendo will likely still start and put up close to the same numbers going forward.
Jae Crowder has started the last two games for the Boston Celtics and his averages of 12.0 points, 1.0 triple, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and a mere 0.7 turnovers in a healthy 33.9 minutes per contest over his last three puts him firmly on fantasy radars. The 39.5% shooting from the field and 42.9% from the line certainly kill his overall value over that small sample, but his path to being worth ownership only requires a regression to his full-season shooting split of 42.6% and 71.9%. With the playing time he's getting and the upside in threes, rebounds, and steals, he's worth a speculative look to see what happens.
Tyler Johnson / Henry Walker
Tyler Johnson and Henry Walker have had their names pop up in fantasy leagues over the last few weeks, so they deserve to be mentioned in this space, despite their lack of long-term value. The Miami Heat have had a lot of their regular starters missing at various points recently due to injury and Johnson and Walker have stepped up from the shadows admirably to contribute. Johnson has averaged 15.5 points, 1.5 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 66.7% shooting from the field, and 70.6% from the line over his last four, but that includes a 1-point, 1-assist, 6-minute dud smack-dab in the middle. Walker has posted double-digit scoring in five of his eight games played for the Heat, but he also has a 0-point dud to his name over that span and doesn't even have a legitimate player page on Basketball-Reference.com (nor here). Both are worth spot starts in standard-sized leagues depending on the Heat's game-to-game injury report, but don't expect either to be the next coming of Whiteside.