Playing the percentages

Avery Bradley, Corey Brewer, Ramon Sessions can help in tricky fantasy categories

Updated: November 19, 2013, 4:04 PM ET
By Tom Carpenter | ESPN.com

Field goal and free throw percentages are unique statistics in fantasy hoops, because volume matters. All blocks are worth the same amount. All assists are worth the same amount. All steals are worth the same amount. That's simply not the case when it comes to percentages. Not all 50 percent field goal shooters are created equal.

Field goal and free throw attempts are the hidden stats behind the percentages. The impact -- good or bad -- that a player has on your team in percentages is weighted by how many shots he takes. My longtime readers know that I think Steve Nash (even when he was playing well) is one of the great examples of how some players are overrated in their percentages. It's great that two seasons ago, Nash averaged 53.2 FG% and 89.4 FT%, but those numbers carried little impact at 9.0 field goal attempts and 2.3 free throw attempts per game.

Helpful? Yes. Impactful? No.

Not surprisingly, you aren't going to find any players on waivers who will make a big impact for you in FG% or FT%. However, there are a handful of free-agent ballers available in most leagues who can at least be helpful in those categories. Granted, we need to take percentages with a grain of salt this early in the season, because one game can make a significant swing, but we have enough info to make some loose conclusions, especially when factoring in the history of a player as a shooter.

Here are some of those players who are taking enough shots to help you out in FG% or FT%.

Field goal percentage

[+] EnlargeAvery Bradley
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsAvery Bradley can help the percentage category thanks to his potentially rising volume of shots.

Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics (12.6 FGA, 45.3 FG%): He hasn't shown the least bit of consistency as a scorer this season, but he will have every opportunity to find his stroke by taking a lot of shots. Bradley ripped off 23 field goal attempts Saturday and hit a dozen of them on his way to 27 points. I think he probably will settle in around 45 percent from the field for the long haul, which isn't great, but it's strong enough to not bring your team down. Sometimes average is a good thing.

Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves (10.8 FGA, 47.9 FG%): Let's be realistic here: Brewer is a career 41.8 percent shooter from the field, so we shouldn't expect his FG% to remain this high. That having been said, he has a great rhythm right now in this Wolves offense. He has taken at least eight shots in every game and in the three contests during which he took at least 14 shots, he has banged down at least half of them. Ride him while he is hot.

Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns (10.0 FGA, 48.9 FG%): Like Brewer, Green has been a pretty shoddy shooter over the long haul of his career, but he has had stretches of success where he has shot in the upper 40s. Furthermore, only three times in nine games this season has he shot under 50 percent from the field. Plus, he has taken double-digit shots in six of his past seven games.

Mo Williams, Portland Trail Blazers (9.3 FGA, 47.3 FG%): When Williams has been in the right place and used in the right role during his lengthy journeyman career, he has sported a quality field goal percentage for a point guard. Right now, in a reserve role with the Blazers, he is taking quality shots, which has helped lead to his current 47.3 FG%. It's a nice pairing for a point to dish out five dimes and help you out in percentages, and it's a pace that Williams is capable of maintaining.

Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics (9.3 FGA, 50.0 FG%): Even if you have low expectations for what Sullinger can do as a pro, it's clear that he has enough going for him to maintain a quality field goal percentage. If he can get comfortable in the coming weeks, he could get off double-digit shots each game and have a respectable impact for your team. Obviously, the rest of his stats are lacking, but if you are struggling in FG%, he could help you out on the cheap.

Jason Smith, New Orleans Pelicans (9.1 FGA, 52.7 FG%): Unlike some of the other offerings above, Smith has proved to be a quality shooter as a pro, averaging 47.6 FG% over six seasons. He shot 49.0 percent from the field last season and 52.0 percent the previous campaign. So far this season, Smith is taking a career-high 9.1 shots per game. He has also chipped in 1.3 blocks per game, which is enough to help those teams in deep leagues.

Free throw percentage

[+] EnlargeRamon Sessions
AP Photo/Tony DejakRamon Sessions may not put up typical point guard stats, but at least he goes to the line a decent amount and hits a high percentage of free throws.

Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats (6.2 FTA, 80.6 FT%): Sessions really flies under the radar, even in deep leagues, because he's a point guard who doesn't dish out assists, drop 3s or steal many balls. However, dating back to last season, he has been one of the more underrated free throw shooters in deep fantasy leagues. He averaged 5.7 free throw attempts per game and 83.9 percent from the line in his first season with the Bobcats last year, so his current marks are right on pace. If you are struggling to get over the hump in free throws, Sessions could be the guy to push you over.

Nene Hilario, Washington Wizards (7.0 FTA, 57.1 FT%): The big fella is a bit of a conundrum at the charity stripe right now. He normally doesn't take this many free throws per game (typically in the 4-5 range), but he also normally shoots better (more like 70 percent). If he continues to get to the stripe as often as he has thus far and gets back up toward his normal rate, he could make a decent impact for teams that are trying to counter a really bad free throw shooter on their roster.

Gerald Henderson, Charlotte Bobcats (4.4 FTA, 77.3 FT%): While Henderson's numbers hardly jump out at you when it comes to his work as a free throw shooter this season, he probably will improve on these numbers in the coming weeks. Last season, Henderson took 4.6 free-throw attempts per game and knocked down 82.4 percent of them. It's a little difficult to get past the ugly 36.6 FG% he carries at the moment, but that should rise, too. Keep in mind that he has averaged at least 44.7 FG% each of the past three seasons. We know he doesn't offer much else, but you could do worse than add Henderson to pump up your team's FT%.

Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (3.9 FTA, 87.1 FT%): Unfortunately, we haven't exactly seen a breakout performance from Butler early on this season. I still think it will come, so fantasy owners should just wait it out. In the meantime, if you have to use him while waiting for the rest of his stats to come along, you can savor his success at the charity stripe. In September, I noted that free throws would be the key to Butler scoring in the teens. It wouldn't surprise me if he ends up taking more than five per game eventually. In fact, he attempted six in each of his past two games. Now, if we could just get his field goal percentage up to a respectable level.

Tom Carpenter

Fantasy and Insider
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball and football analyst, co-host of the Fantasy Focus Basketball podcast, and an NBA, NFL and NHL analyst for Insider and Rumor Central.

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