Deep-league options with potential
Several noteworthy waiver-wire options have emerged recently who are capable of providing fantasy teams with a considerable boost in the standings. I've highlighted many of them this season: Larry Sanders, Ed Davis, Jarrett Jack, Bradley Beal, Jared Dudley, Danny Green, Matt Barnes, Chandler Parsons the list of undrafted players-turned-fantasy starters is mounting.
Problem is, in deeper leagues, those players are long gone. So this week I'm going to focus on players who are owned in fewer than two percent of ESPN leagues to satisfy the deep-league contingency. This includes those who have been performing well lately or whose play in limited minutes might warrant increased playing time as the season progresses. Even if you're not in a deep league, and these players aren't worth owning in your format, many of the players below exhibit definite potential and are worth monitoring closely in all leagues, just in case more statistically fruitful circumstances are bestowed upon them.
Toney Douglas, PG/SG, Rockets (1.8 percent owned): Douglas has legitimate scoring chops, as evidenced by his 12.2 points and 2.4 3-pointers per game in December in 24.3 minutes per game, including 17 points with five 3s and four assists Wednesday night. Last season was a disaster for Douglas in New York, marred by personal issues, the emergence of Iman Shumpert and Jeremy Lin, and woeful 23.1 percent shooting from downtown. But his first two seasons, Douglas boasted a 38.9 and 37.2 3-point percentage, respectively, illustrating his ability to hit 3s. As Rockets coach Kevin McHale has sought to determine his ideal rotations, Douglas' minutes have increased, which makes sense given the roster makeup. James Harden is so effective in the pick-and-roll that surrounding him with shooters who can space the floor and play defense on the other end, such as Douglas, is the best way to exploit the superstar's talent. With consistent minutes in the mid-20s, Douglas can average double-digits while flirting with two 3s and a steal per game, warranting ownership in deeper formats.
Alan Anderson, SF, Raptors (1.5 percent owned): Anderson returned from injury at an opportune time, with Andrea Bargnani sidelined on a "week to week" basis and the Raps looking for somebody to replicate the floor-spacing and length that Bargnani provides from the wing. Anderson scored 24 points with 3 3-pointers Sunday, 18 points with 6 3s Tuesday and 16 points with 3 3s Wednesday, averaging 27.7 minutes per game over that span. His 3-point acumen is legit; he averaged 1.4 3s on 39.3 percent shooting from downtown in 17 games last year. But his career has been ravaged by injuries, so he's never been able to establish himself for an extended stretch. He has the perfect chance to do so in Toronto, and if he can stay healthy, he's an option beyond just deeper leagues for owners craving 3s.
Lamar Odom, PF, Clippers (1.1 percent owned): Speaking of disastrous seasons, Odom's campaign with the Mavs last season qualifies for the "Train Wreck Hall of Fame." He entered this season back in the city he loves, but he returned with too much extra weight and lousy conditioning, which hampered his early-season production. He's part of the Clippers' fabled bench crew that is winning them games, and despite the fact that he hasn't notched 30 minutes in a game this season, he did play 29 on Monday and is averaging 22.7 minutes per game this month, compared to 12.7 in November.
As he rounds into shape, Odom's multi-dimensional skill set will help him produce fantasy stats if he's getting minutes in the mid-20s, and he's already averaging 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals per game this month. He has been especially effective on the glass recently, averaging 15.2 rebounds per 48 minutes in December, which is good for 15th in the league among players averaging at least 20 minutes per game. His 3-point shot is insanely bad, as he's shooting 15.4 percent from downtown, but as that number trends toward his career mark of 31.5, he should provide a handful of 3s to go along with his rebounds, steals and blocks.
Greg Smith, C, Rockets (0.4 percent owned): This undrafted beast out of Fresno State honed his game in Mexico before playing in the D-League last season. There he was one of the best bigs in the league, averaging 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 66.8 percent from the floor. He spent the summer in the gym and has earned playing time due to his sure-handedness around the rim, solid rebounding and ability to disrupt shots. He's shooting 63.1 percent for the season, buoyed by his 67.2 percent at the rim, where he takes 74 percent of his shots. He's averaging 18.6 minutes per game in his past five, posting 10.0 points on 71.4 percent shooting, with 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. There's compelling upside here, especially in field goal percentage, and despite the cluster of young bigs in Houston, he's one of the few legitimately capable of playing the five and should continue to see his minutes steadily increase given his surprisingly dependable performance.
Cartier Martin, SG/SF, Wizards (0.4 percent owned): Martin got some attention last season by averaging 1.7 3s per game in 17 games for the Wizards and is once again draining treys at an impressive rate, averaging 10.5 points and 2.3 3s in 25.8 minutes per game in eight December contests. With Trevor Ariza and A.J. Price sidelined, an opportunity for him to score off the bench has come up and he has capitalized, exhibited by his 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 3s Wednesday night. Don't expect much more than 3s, but he has touch from downtown, boasting a career 39.6 percent mark from 3-point range and legitimate catch-and-shoot ability.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, Magic (0.4 percent owned): Nicholson has an intriguing combination of skills and physical attributes. He's strong as well as long (7-foot-4 wingspan) with the ability to score at the rim (64 percent shooting) as well as face up (44 percent from 16-23 feet). He's producing abundantly in limited time; his 24.8 points per 48 minutes is higher than players like David West and David Lee. In his past five games, he's averaging 10.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in 20.6 minutes, and those numbers should go up as he gets more acclimated to the league. If the Magic shift into a mode in which they're looking toward the future, he should get more minutes, as he has more potential and is a better fit in the Magic's long-term plans than Josh McRoberts or Gustavo Ayon. For now, enjoy the efficient field goal shooting and handful of boards, steals and blocks.
Jimmer Fredette, PG/SG, Kings (0.3 percent owned): Sacramento is bogged down by a slew of players who are at their best with the ball in their hands, so Fredette isn't in the ideal situation to showcase his fantasy skill set. But in limited time, he is still lighting it up this season, averaging 29.6 points per 48 minutes, sixth most of any player averaging more than 10 minutes per night. His limitations on defense and running the offense hold him back, but he's a spectacular shooter, and as he grows more comfortable with his role of gunner off the bench, his minutes could increase, especially considering the trade rumors in Sacramento.
Marquis Daniels, SF, Bucks (0.3 percent owned): Daniels claimed a starting gig when Mike Dunleavy got hurt and hasn't relinquished it, even since Dunleavy's return. This season, Daniels is doing what he has done in years past: putting up dependable steal rates with decent blocks from the guard position (0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks in 21.2 minutes per game).
He's averaging 28.9 minutes per game in December, has scored in double digits in six of his past eight contests and is even averaging a 3-pointer per game this month, a skill that has largely eluded him throughout his career. If he continues to add 3-point accuracy to his repertoire, Daniels becomes a nice steal/block/3-pointer contributor who even throws in decent scoring and rebounding numbers when logging the minutes. Nothing too flashy, but in fantasy a little bit of everything goes a long way in deep leagues.
DeMarre Carroll, SF, Jazz (0.1 percent owned): Carroll's athleticism and hustle causes him to jump off the screen when watching the Jazz play, as do his 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks in just 18 minutes per game. He's still transitioning to playing the wing and developing his 3-point shot, but his combination of inside/outside play and potential for contributions in 3s, steals and blocks make him worth stashing if you have a roster spot on the off chance he gets more playing time due to injury or trade.
Draymond Green, SF, Warriors (0.1 percent owned): Green is a unique player for his size. He boasts strength, ball-handling ability, shooting and hustle, which creates a multifaceted statistical skill set. A quick look at his numbers as a senior at Michigan State (16.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.4 3s per game) is indicative of his potential in the fantasy game. He is beginning to demonstrate some of that statistical versatility in Golden State, where he's averaging 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game in his past five contests, although he's a long way from being a finished product. His efficiency is a serious question mark -- he has never shot especially well from the field or line at any level -- but his ability to contribute in several other statistics endows him with fantasy aptitude that makes him worth keeping a close eye on as the season unfolds.
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