Finding help in 3s, steals, blocks
It's always ideal to have as many quality scorers on your fantasy teams as possible, especially when they post nice percentages. However, for teams that are in rotisserie and head-to-head category leagues, peripheral stats like 3-pointers, steals and blocks weigh just as much as scoring when it comes to your championship aspirations. Every little bit helps; so let's take a look at five waiver-wire options who can help you in each of those categories.
Terrence Ross (owned in 22.5 percent of ESPN leagues), Toronto Raptors: Ross' 51-point outburst Saturday is proof that he is going to have a bright future in the NBA. However, he's still getting his feet wet, so consistency figures to be an issue. In other words, we shouldn't expect him to become a reliable scorer overnight. Despite his general inconsistency (1-for-13 during a two-game stretch last week) as a shooter, Ross has been a steady 3-point producer all month, averaging 1.9 3s per game in January prior to Saturday. His minutes and production have slowly increased all season, and if he can get comfortable, we could see Ross eventually settle in as a reliable fantasy scorer, too. He can give you 3s right now, though, and could have increased short-term value with DeMar DeRozan nursing a sprained ankle and long-term value if Kyle Lowry is traded.
Randy Foye (52.0 percent), Denver Nuggets: Foye's field goal percentage has dipped recently, but coach Brian Shaw has continued to lean on his guard, letting Foye take double-digit field goal attempts in each of his past five games. He doesn't do much for fantasy teams beyond scoring and 3-point production, but he is averaging 3.1 3s per game and has knocked down at least four 3s five times in January.
DeMarre Carroll (4.8 percent), Atlanta Hawks: There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Carroll's 3-point abilities, considering that he took only 95 3-point attempts during his first four NBA campaigns. On the other hand, with such a small sample size, perhaps Carroll simply has figured it out in Year 5 now that he's chucking 3s regularly. He's shooting a respectable 35.9 percent from beyond the arc on his 128 3-point attempts this season and that includes exactly three 3s in each of his past three games.
Josh McRoberts (6.9 percent), Charlotte Bobcats: Even before Kemba Walker went down with an ankle injury, McBob was banging down 3s. However, since Walker got hurt, McRoberts has scored at least two 3-pointers in each game. Walker may be back in the mix within a week, so McRoberts' shelf life may be limited, but he's a decent deep-league addition in the interim.
Patty Mills (0.4 percent), San Antonio Spurs: Mills also is benefiting from injuries, taking on a larger offensive role with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green out of action. In coach Gregg Popovich's system, Mills' FGAs will rise and fall based on game-by-game matchups, but he is an excellent 3-point threat (40.3 career 3-point field goal percentage, 43.6 this season) and has taken at least five attempts from deep in each of his past five games. Ride him while he's hot.
Jimmy Butler (90.2 percent), Chicago Bulls: His shooting has gone from bad to downright atrocious, as he has hit just five of his past 22 shots. Despite those woes, he's been a steals machine, averaging 2.6 SPG in January. He's also averaging 41.4 MPG and 12.0 FGA per game this month, so he's not lacking for opportunity. If you need swipes and can handle the shoddy shooting, then Butler might be your Huckleberry, as a waiver pickup or via a lowball trade. Plus, I expect him to have a good two- to three-week stretch in the second half of the season when his shot is dropping and his full fantasy game comes together. You'll be glad to have him on your roster when that happens.
James Johnson (15.1 percent), Memphis Grizzlies: Johnson may not score enough to be a truly well-rounded fantasy beast, but a SF/PF who is averaging 3.5 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.4 SPG and 0.5 3s per game is nothing to scoff at. If you're in a tight battle for steals in roto or head to head, having a power forward who can chip in 4-5 swipes a week could make a significant impact for you.
Gerald Wallace (28.7 percent), Boston Celtics: I don't expect Crash to become a fantasy fixture the rest of the season, but with Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless sidelined, Wallace's role has increased. He played at least 40 minutes in two of his past three games and racked up eight swipes during that trifecta of contests. You could do worse than ride Wallace until his role inevitably dwindles again.
Khris Middleton (3.6 percent), Milwaukee Bucks: It's not surprising that a 22-year-old on a team with an ever-evolving rotation would struggle with consistency, but when he clicks, Middleton can make a mark. He had 12 steals during a recent four-game stretch and even banged down five 3s during another two-game stretch. If he can settle into a steady role going forward, Middleton could really help deep teams in need of swipes.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (0.5 percent), Detroit Pistons: You have to give the Pistons some credit here; they really are letting the rookie learn on the fly, instead of hiding him on the bench. KCP is averaging 31.4 MPG this month and has topped the 40-MPG mark thrice in his past five games. He's taken only 7.8 FGA per game in January, so the scoring hasn't come through, yet, but he has responded by banging down a very solid 47.7 field goal percentage and 1.0 3s per game this month. Furthermore, he's proved to be as good as advertised on defense, which has been reflected by the 1.8 SPG he's posted this month and 2.8 over his past four games. If he really gets comfortable, and the Pistons start feeding him double-digit shot attempts, KCP could be a solid second-half sleeper.
James Johnson (15.1 percent), Memphis Grizzlies: Um, did I already mention that Johnson is averaging 3.5 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.4 SPG and 0.5 3s per game this month? If you're in a tight battle for
steals blocks in roto or head to head, having a power small forward who can chip in 4-5 swipes 6-7 blocks a week could make a significant impact for you.
Larry Sanders (58.9 percent), Milwaukee Bucks: Sanders simply hasn't gotten off the proverbial schneid this season. He can take a large chunk of the blame, but so, too, can his coach for his maddening rotations and the front office for creating this mismatched roster. Regardless of those factors, Sanders still has a very good chance to return to something resembling last season's form, when he averaged 3.2 BPG before the All-Star break and 12.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG and 2.3 BPG after. That sort of potential remains worth stashing, especially if you are in desperate need of an impact shot-blocker.
Taj Gibson (48.9 percent), Chicago Bulls: He's not a huge shot-blocker, but 1.6 BPG combined with 12.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, a 47.2 field goal percentage and a 72.3 free throw percentage (in January) is pretty solid for deep-leaguers. It's fair to wonder if the Bulls will be willing to give him more run in place of Carlos Boozer in the second half of the season, too, since they won't be chasing a title sans Derrick Rose. He has the potential to average something in the range of 14 PPG, 8-9 RPG and 1.8 BPG if he can get enough action.
Timofey Mozgov (3.7 percent), Denver Nuggets: The big fella has blocked at least two shots in eight games this month, including a pair of blocks in each of his past three games. Coach Shaw also said recently that he wanted to get Mozgov more involved on offense, and the center responded with games of 14 and 15 points. He's also been sneaky-good from the charity stripe: 80 percent in January.
Elton Brand (0.3 percent), Atlanta Hawks: "Wait, Elton Brand is still balling?" That was a question uttered recently by a friend of mine. I suppose that referring to a guy who has increased his averages to 6.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG this month may not be the correct usage of the word "balling." On the other hand, he is averaging 1.8 BPG during that stretch, and that's enough to help out deep-league teams in need of blocks.