|ESPN.com: 2008||[Print without images]|
Best: Dwight Howard (+3.27); Worst: Jason Kidd (-2.0)
Best: Chauncey Billups (+1.94); Worst: Dwight Howard (-5.48)
Additionally, if a player hurts you in one of these categories, it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on your team, since his positive contributions might outweigh his faults. It just means you need to identify his weakness and compensate for it with other roster spots, the same way you would work around a point guard who doesn't shoot 3s or a center who doesn't block shots.
|Erick Dampier is shooting better from the field (.670) than he is from the line (.644) this season.|
Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons: (+0.80) His scoring is down slightly, but his peripheral stats have improved significantly since last year (now 4.5 assists, one steal and one 3-pointer per game), and he's shooting 49.5 percent from the floor on 15 attempts per game, which is impressive for a shooting guard. He's a percentage champ, with a career 85 percent mark from the stripe, and the fact that he finally is attempting 3s signals a turning point in his fantasy career.
Chuck Hayes, SF/PF, Rockets: (+0.51) Hayes is an example of a player whose bad free-throw percentage should be basically ignored, since he has attempted 11 all season. Granted, he has made only three of them, but 3-of-11 is just one bad night for Dwight Howard, so focus more keenly upon Hayes' excellent field goal percentage. His 55.7 percent is dominant, yet below his career average of 56.8 percent, which leads me to believe he will continue to improve. Hayes' per-48 minute stats actually are pretty incredible (13.6 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.2 blocks), and when Hayes finally gets real starters' minutes, he will be a fantasy force. For now, add him if you need field goal percentage help in deep leagues.
|After winning the NBA Most Improved Player award last season, Monta Ellis is shooting even better this season.|
Nick Collison, PF, SuperSonics: (+0.46) Chris Wilcox's recent injury and struggles on the floor have opened up an opportunity for Collison, who is averaging 32 minutes per game with 13 points, 14 rebounds and a 53 percent mark from the floor in January. Collison can score both with a midrange jumper and around the basket, as well as play power forward and center. His minutes always have been limited due to his propensity to get into quick foul trouble, and this year is no different. But his smart play and recent success have him in the good graces of P.J. Carlesimo. Although he won't average 14 boards for the rest of the season, a double-double is within reach.
Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Knicks: (-1.41) He is enjoying the best season of his career, with 19.3 points, 1.9 3s, 1.1 steals, 4.5 assists and a meaty 86.8 free-throw percentage. Stephon Marbury's personal and injury woes have created an increased role for Crawford, as evidenced by his 35 points, eight assists and two steals Wednesday night. But he massacres your field goal percentage, so if he's on your roster, get over the fact that he's overperforming and compensate accordingly.
Hedo Turkoglu, SG/SF, Magic: (-1.13) I hate to rain on the parade that is his career year, but his field goal percentage is poor and always has been, and this season, it's on a career-high 15 attempts per game. Enjoy the ride, just balance it with other roster-related decisions.
Avoid at all costs: Sasha Pavlovic (-1.69), Larry Hughes (-1.65), Sebastian Telfair (-1.35), Charlie Bell (-1.30), Mike James (-1.23), Damien Wilkins (-1.15)
Chauncey Billups, PG, Pistons: (+1.91) He's been the king of this category for years, and it's all because of the aforementioned combo of efficiency and frequency. It's difficult to view it this way, but he is to free throws what Dwight Howard is to rebounds, and if there is one guy to target in this category, Billups is still the man.
Kevin Durant, SG/SF, SuperSonics: (+1.24) If I could double-bold his name, I would; he's got efficiency and frequency from the stripe, along with unimaginable potential with regard to his combination of 3s, steals and blocks. For now, though, his free throws are his best category, and they'll only get better.
Pau Gasol, PF/C, Grizzlies: (+0.66) In the past, his name would have been a few inches down your computer screen, but Gasol's free throws suddenly are one of his strengths. The frequency always has been there, but now, Gasol seems to have figured something out. Even though his percentage likely will trend toward his average to some extent, he's sustained it long enough to prove his success isn't an aberration, especially since he showed marked improvement from the stripe last season as well. By the way, the rest of his numbers are coming around, too; January has been, by far, Gasol's best month this season (23.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 blocks, 53 percent from the floor).
Brandon Bass, PF, Mavericks: (+0.58) Keep an eye on this big guy. It might not be this year, but that size coupled with a soft touch is menacing. I can already envision casual fans across the globe watching him break out in a Mavs' playoff game, wondering who he is. The answer is: Brandon Bass.
Josh Childress, SF, Hawks: (+0.55) He and Kevin Martin are models of scoring efficiency. Childress' consistently solid overall ranking on the player rater (94th overall, by averages), coupled with the fact that he is owned in just 74 percent of ESPN leagues, demonstrates he is underrated. If you need help in either percentage category, Childress always warrants a start.
|Emeka Okafor's poor free-throw shooting puts a damper on the double-double he averages each season.|
Al Jefferson, PF/C, Timberwolves: (-0.97) His mark from the stripe has slowly improved since he jumped straight from high school, and his current 69.3 percent is a career high. Problem is, it comes on a career-high 4.8 attempts per game, and even though he could finish the season in the low 70s, Jefferson is another guy you have to plan around if you have him on your team.
Avoid at all costs: Reggie Evans (-2.72), Jason Collins (-0.93), Kwame Brown (-0.86), Renaldo Balkman (-0.82), Brian Skinner (-0.75), Aaron Gray (-0.71), Stromile Swift (-0.67)
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.