In a recent contribution I made to SI.com I outlined some strategies that can be employed by teams that are locked in to make it to the playoffs and by teams that are scrambling, struggling, battling it out for those precious last few qualifying spots for fantasy’s post-season.
As a generality I recommended that teams in comfortable leads in their respective league standings, should invest in key players who are returning in time for the playoffs.
Now in this post I will throw out some personal recommendations of players who should be added and dropped as we get into the home stretch of the race for the last playoff spots.
*Anyone whose injury status puts them beyond day-to-day. And even they and the details of their injuries should be scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb. Healthy and reasonably productive players are what the doctor has ordered. Every game played logged for your fantasy team counts. No exceptions.
J.R. Smith G/F, New York Knicks – A few of us had some high hopes that he would be a reasonable three-point shot and steals contributor after he was signed by Knicks straight out of free agency from China. The results of that speculative experiment are in, and they’re not looking too good. While his skill set does fit the team’s system, it is very clear that he is not very high in the team’s rotation (for now). He’s proven to be largely inconsistent and unreliable to be plugged into lineups for a weekly basis. Move on. If he heats up later on, his timeshare at the two position caps his upside considerably.
Spencer Hawes C, Philadelphia 76ers – Hawes is still a ways away from returning and it has already been reported that his floor time will be capped when he does return.
Stephen Jackson G/F, Milwaukee Bucks – He’s dealing a sore hamstring, or something. Or was it his diva ego? He is one of the prime candidates in the Bucks roster to be moved before the trade deadline. Until he finds a team where he can “be happy” and productive once again, S-Jax is simply dead weight on any fantasy roster.
Boris Diaw F, Charlotte Bobcats – His relationship with the team and head coach Paul Silas has deteriorated considerably. In fact, he’s currently racking up more and more DNP-CDs as we speak. His team status should be monitored closely, his value can do a 180-degree turnaround, depending on what team lands him.
Dorrell Wright G/F, Golden State Warriors – He’s worn out his welcome in most fantasy teams by now, and if he’s still giving you migraines as you start him for your fantasy team, it’s definitely time to pop two aspirin, drop him and move on. He’s barely scraping late-round equivalent value when he does achieve the slightest fantasy relevancy, and for a three-point shooting specialist who is dropping enough bombs it’s time to look for someone who is currently more successful.
In the SI piece I mentioned both Steve Novak (F, Knicks) and Matt Bonner (F/C, Spurs) as pick-ups if your team needs a boost in 3PTM without taking a hit in shooting percentages and turnovers. Novak is the Knicks’s designated long-range sniper off the bench (not J.R. Smith) and is generally good to average about two treys a game on any given week. Matt Bonner, on the other hand can be expected to get some extra burn with DeJuan Blair playing through a bruised knee and Tim Duncan likely to have his minutes and production capped to preserve him for the NBA’s real-life post season.
George Hill G, Indiana Pacers – He’s come back from injury and is on track to surpass the form he was in when he was 100% healthy. He has the coach’s trust and is guaranteed 22+ minutes an outing moving forward. He’s a good source of PTS, 3PTM, and some steals with very respectable FG% and FT% to go along with those contributions.
Kenneth Faried PF, Denver Nuggets – At this late stage in the game good, big men are tough to find. This athletic rookie has emerged as suitable contributor of big man numbers over his list five games. He looks like he’s going to get some solid minutes moving forward as the Nuggets are inclined to see him develop his game sooner rather than later.
Alonzo Gee G/F, Cleveland Cavaliers – He’s had three starts for the Cavs and has scored in double digits in each of those outings. As the newly christened starter, Gee is averaging 1.6 treys and 1.6 steals.
Evan Turner G/F, Philadelphia 76ers – A recent slump by former incumbent starting SG Jodie Meeks opened up a starting opportunity for Turner. He’s always been a versatile player capable of distributing the ball or driving to hoop. His only problem in the past was that he wasn’t getting enough playing time as a back-up to Andre Iguodala. He’s had only productive outing as a starter so far, but it was a VERY productive one as he scored 26 points and grabbed nine boards. Now if we were to briefly put our speculative caps on for second here, Turner’s move into the starting lineup may not just be the result of Meeks spending time in the coach’s doghouse, but in fact it’s highly possible that he’s being groomed to eventually take the place of Iguodala as the team’s swing-man play facilitator. Iguodala has been in many trade rumors as early as last season. It’s just very possible that the Sixers are finally close to pulling that trigger. Even if Andre is not moved by the trade deadline, Turner is talented and productive enough as a starter for him to worth owning in most fantasy formats.
Brandon Bass F/C, Boston Celtics – Bass is a deep league recommendation. He’s been productive ever since he’s started at PF for the Celtics, with Kevin Garnett moving to the five spot. He’s a good booster for your team’s REB and BLK categories if you’re desperate for some big mand numbers. As long as a starter, Bass should retain some reasonable fantasy relevance.