Jordan Crawford, G New Orleans Pelicans: Points, 3-pointers
Steez is back in style.
Crawford’s minutes have gone up in every game he’s played so far for New Orleans, and while that could be construed as a sign of Alvin Gentry’s growing trust, the reality is that the Pelicans need Crawford’s scoring in the backcourt. Outside of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday, the well-traveled, freshly signed scorer is the only other player on the roster capable of creating his own offense. That alone makes him a near-lock to stick around for the rest of the season despite currently operating on a 10-day contract, and it’s not like he’s got a lot of competition for minutes with Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans in Sacramento.
Since his stateside re-arrival, Crawford has averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.3 3-pointers on a surprisingly efficient 19-of-35 (54.3%) shooting, including a scorching 10-of-18 (55.6%) from distance. He’s not going to stay stroking it like that forever, but Crawford has bought himself an extended opportunity and has done enough to hold standard league appeal with the fantasy playoffs either here or right around the corner.
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Ryan Anderson, F/C Houston Rockets: 3-pointers
Anderson is on pace to drain over 200 triples, yet he’s a guy who routinely generates add/drop questions regardless of league format. Some might call that a head-scratching scenario, but Ryno’s maddening inconsistency is the driving force behind the mounting frustration.
You’re no longer holding out hope that Anderson is going to suddenly start doing more—we abandoned that idea before 2017’s arrival—but his inability to be relied upon is firmly under the microscope during the most crucial juncture of the season.
Anderson’s last four games serve as a perfect microcosm for the $80 million man’s first season in Houston. Despite scoring 20-plus points—with six triples in each of those contests—twice in his last four outings, Anderson combined for 10 points and two 3PM in the other two showings, dragging his averages down to 13.5 points and 3.5 treys in those four matchups.
The Ryno is still an asset as a 3-point specialist, but that’s all he is and his roller coaster game isn’t going anywhere.
John Henson, F/C Milwaukee Bucks: Blocks
Jason Kidd’s rotations are more unpredictable than Dennis Rodman’s hair color on any given day, but Henson is back in the mix and anytime he’s on the court the lanky lefty is a threat to block shots. Although he’s played just 40 combined minutes over his last two games after four straight DNP-CD in the box score, Henson has responded by being ready for his new (old) opportunity by averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 boards and 3.0 blocks on 9-of-13 (69.2%) from the field.
At this stage of the game, potential difference-makers in any category are worth examining closely, and those playoff-ready teams with an extra roster spot in need of swats should give Henson a lengthy look, especially given Milwaukee plays four times in each of the next three weeks. Just be ready to move on if (when?) Kidd decides to put him back on the bench.
Marquese Chriss, PF Phoenix Suns: Blocks, Steals
Chriss has definitely become more than just a stash, but let’s not kick it to hyper drive with the 19-year-old rookie just yet. Coming into Sunday’s matchup vs. Portland, the kid—that word is appropriate when your birth year is 1997—was averaging 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers with just 1.1 turnovers on 57.1% shooting since the All-Star Break. Those numbers should get your attention, but it’s also worth noting that the big man has scored 18 points or more just once during that stretch and has only scored 20 or more points twice all season. We’re not high on Chriss because of his scoring ability, but it would be nice to see him get more offensively involved than he currently is with consistent shot attempts in the double digits.
Some might call Chriss a defensive specialist with averages of 1.0 steal and 2.2 blocks over his last five (entering Sunday), but he’s got room to be so much more than that if his offensive involvement and output moves in the right direction.
Tony Snell, G/F Milwaukee Bucks: 3-pointers, Steals
This is the bargain bin option.
No disrespect to Mr. Snell, but he simply hasn’t shown the necessary consistency to be labeled with the other choices. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t hold value in the right situation.
Khris Middleton is back in the mix, but Michael Beasley remains out indefinitely, Mirza Teletovic is gone at least temporarily and it’s still unclear why the Bucks even signed Terrence Jones if they had no plans to play him. As a result, Snell has seen at least 30 minutes in three of his last four—he played 28 in the sole outlier—and has responded in meaningful fashion by averaging 15.0 points, 5.3 boards, 1.8 steals 3.0 3-pointers.
Feel free to take a shot if you need a streamer—Snell plays four times this week—and he can help you with the playoff push, but the difference between Snell’s floor and ceiling is like asking Yao Ming and Muggsy Bogues to stand back-to-back.