On the cusp of March’s arrival, there is a real need to focus on team storylines in order to maximize individual value. Rebuilding clubs may be ready to turn the young guns loose, playoff-hungry squads may look to ride their superstars a little harder and those in between are worth monitoring for injury-related news.
Guys like D’Angelo Russell, Langston Galloway and Markel Brown are going to play more as the player development plan takes priority. John Wall is going to keep carrying fantasy teams at less than 100 percent while primetime stars like Carmelo Anthony (knee) and Anthony Davis (various) risk a potential shutdown the further each falls from the postseason picture.
YMCA legend Ike Diogu once singlehandedly cost me a championship over the final two weeks of the season…don’t allow that to happen to you.
Mirza Teletovic, F Phoenix Suns: 3-pointers
Phoenix officially bought out Kris Humphries on Sunday, and that’s great news for both Alex Len and Mirza Teletovic. Outside of those two, Phoenix’s options at the four include P.J. Tucker in small-ball lineups, Jon Leuer—who is clearly not in Earl Watson’s rotation—and Cory Jefferson—who hasn’t appeared in a game since January 27. It’s not a coincidence that Teletovic has seen 25-plus minutes in four of his last five games, and the only contest he dipped below that number was a 40-point blowout loss vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
Over that stretch of time, Teletovic is averaging a smooth 20.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.6 3-pointers on an impressive 50.7% shooting. Even in the shallowest formats, it’s Teletovic time. Just imagine how much better it could get if (when?) Tyson Chandler is forced to miss more time.
Wes Matthews, G/F Dallas Mavericks: 3-pointers
This just isn’t the same Wes Matthews we got used to seeing in Portland. Regularly drafted in fantasy leagues ahead of names like C.J. McCollum, Gorgui Dieng, Rajon Rondo, Jae Crowder, Jordan Clarkson and Kristaps Porzingis—just to name a few—Iron Man has been reduced to merely a 3-point specialist for our purposes.
Matthews needs to hit at least a couple of treys every time he’s out there just to be worth something, and it doesn’t help that he’s shooting a career-worst (sub-40) percentage from the floor. As impressive as his speedy return from a torn Achilles was, a full summer of healthy training could go a long way toward a bounce-back season in his second Dallas Do-Si-Do.
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Marcus Smart, PG Boston Celtics: Steals
Marcus Smart has done a very nice job carving out value despite a crowded backcourt rotation that includes Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner. Averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals while playing at least 25 minutes in his last four games, Smart offers steady though unspectacular production for a roster in need of what he brings to the table.
Smart does need to improve his stroke in a major way, but an injury to Thomas, Bradley or Turner would have significant impact on Smart. For what it’s worth, I’d rather have Smart than someone like Patrick Beverley on my team given the floor and ceiling of each player.
Gary Harris, SG Denver Nuggets: 3-pointers, Steals
This isn’t the first time Gary Harris has appeared in this column, but his return is prompted by the news that Danilo Gallinari is expected to miss the next several weeks. With The Rooster sidelined indefinitely and the Nuggets playing to evaluate their future, Harris is going to be logging major minutes on any given night. Maybe playing in Denver has allowed Harris to fly a little under the radar, but he’s been solid since the All-Star Break, averaging 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 triples (1.4 TO) on 44.3% from the field in 35.5 minutes per game. Those numbers can help any fantasy team without hurting you in any given area, and that’s the kind of piece that shouldn’t be floating on waiver wires at this stage of the season.