Category helpers going forward
Randy Foye, Tony Allen, Kenneth Faried can provide a boost
We're reaching the point in the season where you have to address the holes on your roster before it's too late to make up ground. With more than half the season behind you, you should be well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your particular roster, and that means you can deal from strengths to cover up weaknesses.
Sometimes, this means pursuing flawed players simply because of their ability to help you in one area. We'll look at a few such players here, organized by the category in which they can help. These are all players who should either be available via the waiver wire or by trade, and we'll focus only on the counting stats, and not the percentages. We'll start with 3-pointers, where there are two players you might want to target in the coming weeks.
(Ranking in category, based on per-game stats, in parentheses)
Randy Foye, PG/SG, Utah Jazz (11): Foye's 2.2 3s per game aren't without their fringe benefits. He shoots a good percentage from the line, and making a lot of 3s means he's not totally worthless as a scorer. Additionally, because so many of his field goal attempts are 3s, he makes the most out of each attempt. His 42 percent shooting from the floor hurts your team, but it doesn't hurt as much as Brandon Knight's 42 percent shooting, simply because Foye takes fewer shots. Ideally, someone like Foye, who finishes well at the rim and makes a lot of 3s, would give up the midrange game entirely, but that's probably not realistic. As it stands, he's a player who is available in most leagues, and can absolutely help you gain ground in 3s.
Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets (17): Johnson has been a major underachiever this season, at least based on his past performance, so he's a player who could probably be had at a discount if you're willing to trade for him. Despite some obvious decline in his game overall, he's on pace to make the most 3s he's made in a season since he was playing alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix. He's still a decent contributor in assists, who also makes his free throws, too. Ultimately, while there's no chance that he's going to match his top-50 average draft position this season, he should probably be a little better than he's been so far, and if that happens, he's definitely worth trading for if you could use a bump from long range.
Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies (17): In all the trade talk surrounding Rudy Gay, there has been very little mention of Allen. On a certain level, that's because the Grizzlies understand how important Allen is to their style of play. Allen wreaks havoc on defense, but he's not anyone's idea of a floor spacer. His 1.6 steals per game (in just 27.0 minutes) is a constant, but he ends up getting added and dropped all the time in fantasy leagues. Right now, he's mostly available, but that's in large part because he hasn't been scoring much. Really though, January has been his most productive month so far this season, and if Gay gets traded, it could mean even more playing time. If you need steals, he really needs to be on your roster.
Bismack Biyombo, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats (13): Biyombo's 1.7 blocks are impressive, and the 7.0 rebounds he grabs per game don't hurt, either. However, his overall contribution is, amazingly, a negative: he doesn't get steals, he doesn't get assists, he can't shoot from the floor, and he can't shoot from the line. For a guy who runs 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Biyombo doesn't even shoot a high percentage at the rim. So far this season, he's shooting a worse percentage on shots at the rim than point guards like D.J. Augustin and Avery Bradley. If you're solid in the percentages, though, perhaps you can stomach having him on your team, which could be worthwhile if you could benefit by gaining ground in blocks.
Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Utah Jazz (32): There aren't a ton of players who can really help you in assists and are also available just to pick up in standard fantasy leagues. Guys who get assists usually do other things well -- shoot 3s and get steals, specifically -- that are of value in fantasy. Tinsley has no such problem. Sure, he'll throw in a steal or so per game, but he doesn't make 3s, and actually, he barely scores at all. What he does do is get lots of assists, and with Mo Williams still out indefinitely, Tinsley is going to keep racking up assists until the Jazz make a trade to get a better point guard. If you can afford to have Tinsley on your roster, he's definitely the cheapest source of five-or-so assists per game you can find out there.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets (14): Like Joe Johnson, Faried was supposed to be better than he's been this season. He has been a bit exposed on the offensive end, as his per-minute scoring has taken a hit from where it was during his rookie season, but he's still averaging better than 13 rebounds per 40 minutes. That's the category in which he made a name for himself in college at Morehead State, and that's the category in which he's an elite contributor in the NBA. He still has some upside, so it could take some doing to pry him away from someone else in a trade, but given how much worse he's been than the preseason expectations, perhaps you can get him for fair value. You'd like to see him block more shots and make more free throws, but it's hard to argue with 9.7 boards per game.
DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors (26): There aren't many players for whom scoring is their best category in fantasy. Great scorers tend to get there in ways that make them great across the board. Kevin Durant's best category is actually free throw shooting, and LeBron's is actually field goal percentage. Guys like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving all boast scoring as their best category, but they're elite in so many other areas that it would be difficult to acquire them at this stage of the season. DeRozan, however, is a special case in that his game is almost entirely without fantasy value save the 17-or-so points he scores every night. Yes, his free throws have been better this season, but it's scoring where he accumulates most of his marginal overall value. If you can deal away someone who is a little more well-rounded but a little less trigger-happy -- maybe someone like Wesley Matthews, for instance -- you'd lose a little value overall, but you might be able to help yourself in this particular category.
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