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Roundball Stew

The Late-Round All-Stars

by Matt Stroup
Updated On: February 27, 2021, 12:41 pm ET

I’m no longer surprised (and never really was in the first place) when Terry Rozier puts up a big line.

I’ve accepted the reality — which would have been somewhat laughable prior to the season — that in 2021, Kyle “Slow Mo” Anderson is a must-roster/must-start player.

And as strange as it sounds to say, if you didn’t take Mason Plumlee toward the end of your drafts, you missed out.

These are just a few of the remarkable late-round values that were available, on average, after 120th in fantasy leagues, and today I shall highlight 10 of them — and their outlook moving forward…

(A quick note: I had to be a little ruthless with who I included here, so if you’re Kevin Huerter or Keldon Johnson, and you got drafted after 120th and are ranked 100th or 114th on the season, that’s wonderful news, but you don’t make the cut.)

Terry Rozier — Yahoo ADP: 128.8

The undisputed king of late-round glory this season, Rozier has been a top-35 fantasy player in 9-category leagues (as always, per BasketballMonster.com), thanks to a stellar combo of 20.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.3 spg and 3.4 3s — on a career-best 49.0 percent from the field. The mistake many of us made here was assuming that LaMelo Ball would storm into Charlotte and engulf every guard in his path, when in reality we should have looked at the Hornets’ roster and seen Rozier as clearly one of the team’s three most talented players (along with Ball and Gordon Hayward). Regardless of how explosive Ball becomes in the second half, Rozier’s role and production look very safe.

Chris Boucher — ADP: 130.4

Boucher has cooled off a bit since his torrid start (16.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 1.8 3s through his first 13 games), but his last 20 games still include 11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg and 1.6 3s. If that’s the floor, it’s a very appealing one, and Boucher’s combined work for the season puts him inside the top-40 of 9-category leagues. That ranking is a little bit deceptive because of his extremely low turnovers (0.7), but there’s no doubt he has been and should continue to be an incredible value compared to where he went in drafts. If anyone has become bored with his slightly muted production over the last month, I’ll gladly take him on my roster(s) so please send me offers thank you.

Kyle Anderson — ADP: 135.6

There were some signs during the preseason that Anderson might be on his way to a bounce-back/breakout year, but it would have been understandable to ignore them after the dismal year Anderson had in 2019-20: 5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.4 3s. 

Cut to: Now, and Anderson is putting up career-best averages in points (13.6), rebounds (6.2) and assists (3.7), adding in 1.1 spg, 0.7 bpg and another career-best with 1.6 3s (the first time he’s averaged more than 0.4 in his career). Clearly, improving his outside shot was a priority before this season, and it has helped to make Slow-Mo a top-70 fantasy player. 

Also, if you’re thinking this is a case where he’s inevitably going to lose steam after a fast start, I offer you this:

First 13 games — 12.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.5 3s

Last 14 games — 14.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.8 3s

Yes, it can be argued that Slow Mo is gaining steam.

Enes Kanter — Yahoo ADP: 132.5

I want to leave him off because he’s just so boring as a fantasy player, but it feels like it would be a glaring omission to exclude a guy who’s currently sitting 77th in 9-category formats, thanks to 11.7 ppg, 11.4 ppg and 0.7 bpg. He’s eventually going to see his value obliterated by the return of Jusuf Nurkic, but the latest report (via The Athletic) indicates that Nurkic hasn’t participated in shooting drills yet. For now, please continue to enjoy your extraordinarily boring and solid contributions from Kanter.

Tyrese Haliburton — Yahoo ADP: 142.4

Here’s an infusion of excitement, and a reminder: If in doubt, when it comes to fantasy draft evaluation, bet on the player/talent beyond any doubts you have about the team fit and role. We saw it with LaMelo Ball* (the idea of he might be coming off the bench behind Graham and Rozier seems laughable now), we also saw it with Rozier (LaMelo Ball might hurt his production!!) and we’re seeing it with Haliburton, where the player’s ability has quickly squashed concerns about our inherent Kings skepticism, and the presence of De’Aaron Fox at the same position.

So what’s been the net result? A top-40 fantasy player, and one who’s only getting better as the season goes on. Haliburton has five 20-plus-point games this season, all in his last 12 games, a stretch that has seen him average 17.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.5 bpg and 2.9 3s (52.3 FG / 93.3 FT / 1.4 TOs). He may never post enormous counting stats, but Haliburton is set up to be the ultimate fantasy glue guy for years to come. And in no way am I upset that my hometown team drafted a guy who can barely crack the rotation (Onyeka Okongwu) ahead of him. Not bothered in the slightest. 

*Additional note on LaMelo: I know I was terrified of his percentages as well, and didn't see him shooting this well in any way, shape or form, so it wasn't just the Rozier/Graham concerns. The bottom line is I don't think we should blame ourselves for not drafting him. Just give credit to those who did. And again — let talent and upside be the ultimate tiebreakers.

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Mason Plumlee — ADP: 138.2

Handed $25 million (over three years) and a starting job in Detroit, Plumlee has responded by posting 10.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 0.9 spg and 0.9 bpg, while also shooting a career-high 70.5 percent from the free throw line. Like Slow Mo, he’s showing zero signs of losing momentum right now, with 13.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.4 bpg through his first 10 games of February. 

The only real concern here — and it is a valid one — is that Plumlee could lose minutes to dynamic rookie Isaiah Stewart as the season goes on. With that in mind, I would absolutely trade Plumlee (82nd overall) for a player who’s ranked in his vicinity — let’s say Kelly Oubre, who’s 90th overall — but my guess is that an offer along these lines would get laughed out of the boardroom by the manager who has Oubre, which tells me my best course of action is just to keep Plumlee around and hope that the Stewart-crushing-his-value scenario doesn’t come to pass.

Jordan Clarkson — ADP: 138.3

It’s hard to make a run at mid-round value as a points-and-3s-only guy these days, but much like the recently-suspended and also late-round fantasy pick Malik Beasley (ADP: 142.4), Clarkson is riding volume in those two main categories (18.3 ppg, 3.3 3s) all the way to 68th overall on the 9-category leaderboard. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

Darius Garland — ADP: 138.7

I debated leaving him off because he’s actually 150th on the 9-category leaderboard, but that number jumps to 99th if you punt turnovers (2.8), and overall I like what I’m seeing from Garland, who’s averaging 16.9 ppg, 5.9 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.7 3s (shooting 44.8 and 81.5) over the last 15 games. Aside from the turnovers, that is a quietly solid PG stat line, with a lot of room to grow for a player who just turned 21 in late January.

Harrison Barnes — ADP: 138.6

I’m waiting for what feels like an inevitable fade from relevance, but just when you see Barnes post a couple of eight- and four-point duds, he comes out with a huge stat line like the one he posted Thursday night: 22-7-5 with two steals and three 3s. Overall in February, he’s churning out 15.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.8 3s in 35 minutes a game, with four or more assists six times in his last 10 games. As long as he’s this involved as a passer — and there’s little sign of that slowing down — I like Barnes’s chances of remaining a mid-round fantasy contributor.

Derrick Jones Jr. — ADP: 140.7

There are a number of other players I could have put into the 10 spot here, but I’m choosing DJJ for a few reasons:

1. I liked him quite a bit as a late-round sleeper coming into this season

2. He didn’t actually fulfill those expectations early

3. He is fulfilling those expectations right now.

Over his last five games, Jones Jr. is averaging 12.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.6 spg, 2.0 bpg and 1.2 3s, shooting 64.1 percent from the field in 29 minutes a game. It may prove to be just an isolated hot streak, but because DJJ is the rare/only player on this list who might actually be available on waivers (he’s rostered in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues), I wanted to highlight him here so you can get him on your roster if possible. You won’t find many players with this kind of potential in 3s/steals/blocks sitting on the waiver wire, and if this proves to be a blip, you send him back to waivers and move on.

Missed the Cut: Robert Williams (a must-stash as the Celtics reportedly plan to up his minutes later in the season), Justin Holiday, Kevin Huerter, Keldon Johnson, De’Andre Hunter (injured), probably others. For more on some recent fantasy trends, including shootings slumps for Jayson Tatum and Buddy Hield, check out the latest episode of the Roundball Stew podcast below:

Matt Stroup

Matt Stroup has covered basketball for NBC Sports Edge since 2008. You can find him on Twitter here .