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The Specialists

Here Comes The Ryno

by Ethan Norof
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

As we open February and the unofficial start point of the NBA’s second half arrives, there are less than a couple of months remaining in order for you to solidify the standing of your fantasy team. Nikola Jokic wasn’t ranked ahead of—let alone anywhere near—Blake Griffin when the season began, but the deck has been reshuffled, restacked and there is a new set of cards lying on the table.

 

Examining what a player has achieved in the first half is just a small part of piecing together his second half puzzle, so it’s important to keep that in mind when buying and selling talent on the open market as your league’s postseason picture begins to take shape.

 

Ryan Anderson, F/C New Orleans Pelicans: Points, 3-pointers

 

No Tyreke Evans (knee), no Eric Gordon (finger), no problem for Ryan Anderson, who has gone absolutely berserk over his last three games. As illustrated with averages of 27.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 4.3 triples on 46.7% shooting, Ryno is going to get fed everything he can possibly eat while the smorgasbord is on the table for consumption. It didn’t hurt that Anthony Davis was dealing with a concussion and missed 1.5 games during Anderson’s hot stretch, but he no longer needs a trade to a new destination to become the asset so many GMs believed they were drafting before the season began. 

 

Trevor Ariza, G/F Houston Rockets: Steals, 3-pointers

 

Trevor Ariza was a second half stud last season, and 2016 has started in similar fashion. Enjoying his best month of the season in January, Ariza averaged 14.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.9 triples over 16 games. He’s been red-hot since the Rockets decided to move to a smaller lineup and keep him at power forward, averaging 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 3.8 triples over his last four games. A candidate to again rack up 150-plus 3-pointers and steals, Ariza is worth paying for even though it may seem like he’s currently being sold at an inflated rate. 

 

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Marcus Smart, PG Boston Celtics: Steals

 

I would be a lot more excited about Marcus Smart’s role if Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley weren’t logging heavy minutes in front of him, but the Celtics best lineup includes all three players on the floor alongside Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson. The Celtics know Smart’s value to the team defensively, and it’s not an accident that he’s played at least 29 minutes in five straight contests. He’s been especially solid over his last four (entering Sunday) with averages of 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 44.4% shooting, but his fantasy ceiling (this season) won’t extend to its ultimate height so long as his role in the offense remains limited, and it’s hard to see that changing with Thomas named to his first All-Star team, Crowder returning top-40 value with ease and Bradley finding his footing now that his health is in order. Smart is currently fifth on his team in average shot attempts with 9.0 per game, barely staying in front of guys like Evan Turner (8.7) and Kelly Olynyk (8.5).

 

Gary Harris, SG Denver Nuggets: Steals, 3-pointers

 

Gary Harris certainly isn’t the sexiest pickup or the player with the greatest upside who currently resides on your waiver wire, but there’s no denying his stabilized role, and that has resulted in consistent production. Over his last five, Harris is playing 32.3 minutes per night, averaging 13.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.6 triples on a smooth 55.8% from the floor. That’s not a new trend, either. In January—which represents a sample size of 15 games—Harris checked in with averages of 12.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 1.4 steals and 1.5 3-pointers on 47.5% shooting. Simply put: Harris should be rostered in more formats, especially after a December where he averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers. If you have someone like Allen Crabbe on your team and Harris is still available, it’s beyond time to make the switch. 

Ethan Norof
Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.