Having also blocked eight shots back in a Jan. 21 contest, Grant’s growing reputation as a shot-blocker is once again coming into focus. You just don’t see a lot of players at his size and his position with the ability to defend the rim like he does, and that’s what we’re going to focus on when it comes to his fantasy value.
But he’s not alone when it comes to examining what’s happening in Philadelphia.
Has Thomas Robinson finally found an NBA home? It’s unlikely considering the perpetual state of uncertainty the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster lives in, but T-Rob is certainly taking advantage of an opportunity that nobody really saw coming.
Thought to be headed to the Brooklyn Nets on a 10-day deal after being given away in the Arron Afflalo trade (and then bought out by the Denver Nuggets), the Sixers surprisingly snagged Robinson off the waiver wire and brought him to Philadelphia. Now getting a chance to show what he can do on a roster that can use all of the help he can provide, Robinson has re-emerged as the per-minute phenomenon that so many projected him to be when he was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
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Jerami Grant, F Philadelphia 76ers: Blocks
Jerami Grant can play in this league.
After seeing an uneven role in the rotation for the beginning of March, Grant has emerged onto the scene over the last two games with a combined 59 minutes of action. While his shooting (37.7 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (35.3 percent) have both predictably fallen off since earlier in the season (shooting just 32.7 percent in march), Grant’s athleticism is the real deal, and his ability to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor is what’s going to make him relevant to fantasy owners down the stretch.
A freak athlete with absolute insane leaping abilities, Grant has a wingspan of seven-plus feet despite standing just 6’6” without shoes on. His standing reach is 8’11”, and both of those measures should give you an idea of his ability to be a force around the rim. There just aren’t a lot of guys at that size with that ability, and the fact that the Sixers found him in the second round is good news considering Sam Hinkie has 486,000 futures to use over the next three drafts.
With an impressive seven blocks over his last two contests, there is reason to believe the production is sustainable. When Grant has received similar minutes this season, he’s been able to make an impact in a key category that most owners are usually chasing improvement in throughout the season. And given that Grant is going to be available on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues as most prepare to enter the playoffs, that’s a no-brainer upgrade for the dead weight at the back end of your roster that you’ve been waiting to cut loose.
Grant’s not going to bring much more than what he’ll give you in the blocks department, but the Sixers appear ready to let him play a little bit as the regular season concludes, and this is a prime time for owners to take advantage of the opportunity Grant has ahead. He wants to make an impression.
Thomas Robinson, PF Philadelphia 76ers: Rebounds
With Davis finding a real role with the Los Angeles Lakers instead of an inconsistent role, Robinson is now with his fourth team (five if we count Denver) since being drafted fifth overall in 2012. With the Philadelphia 76ers providing him with a final shot of sorts, Robinson has started to come on over his last few games.
Despite the fact that T-Bone (T-Bone! Where’s the Seinfeld crowd at?) hasn’t seen more than 20.5 minutes in any of his last three contests, Robinson has a whopping 38 rebounds during that span of time. With a penchant for finding the basketball when it comes off the glass, Robinson needs to do a better job of creating easier opportunities for himself around the basket. Although his 8-of-23 from the field leaves much to be desired, Robinson doesn’t have a big enough role where his shooting will be a significant factor regardless. We’re targeting him for one reason and one reason only: Cheap rebounds virtually guaranteed to be available at an absolute bargain-bin price.
The price is right, the opportunity is there and the Sixers could most certainly use additional physicality along the front line with this cast of characters on the roster. There hasn’t been any indication that Brett Brown plans to suddenly turn him loose, but it’s good to see Robinson developing a consistent role under a coach who is quickly carving out a reputation for being able to tap into the potential of his (very) young players.
Matt Barnes, SF Los Angeles Clippers: Steals, Three-Pointers
It’s not exactly breaking news that the Los Angeles Clippers are paper-thin at the small forward position.
That bad secret has been out for a while now.
After the Clippers dealt away two backup wings at the trade deadline (Reggie Bullock, Chris Douglas-Roberts, here’s what the Clippers’ depth chart at the 3 looks like: 1) Matt Barnes, 2) Hedo Turkoglu. That’s it. That’s the entire depth chart. Yes, that Hedo Turkoglu.
I’m surprised that Barnes hasn’t received more attention this season, but I’m shocked he hasn’t been the hottest waiver-wire pickup in the world over the last four contests. With double-digits in four straight games, Barnes has also flashed his versatile skillset with averages of 17.0 points, 4.3 triples (!), 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks on 23-of-44 shooting (52.3 percent). With Jamal Crawford (calf) still sidelined and facing an uncertain timetable to return, Barnes is going to have to continue serving a larger role in the offense.
The only potential hesitation with Barnes is that he’s still nursing a right hamstring concern that could become aggravated at any moment, but the large majority of the league is playing through something at this point in the campaign. That worry alone can’t deter you from serving what Barnes brings to the table.
Through six games in March, Barnes is averaging a ridiculous 13.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 3.0 triples on a scorching 46.2 percent from behind the three-point line.
That’s the kind of production a vintage Andrei Kirilenko could only daydream about today.
Rodney Hood, SF Utah Jazz: Steals, Three-Pointers
One of the most overlooked rookies in the entire 2014 draft class, Rodney Hood is quickly establishing himself as a key member of the promising Utah Jazz future.
With a starting five that includes Dante Exum (19), Gordon Hayward (24), Derrick Favors (23) and Rudy Gobert (22), the 22-year-old Hood slots in very nicely. With an average age of just 22 years old, Quin Snyder and the Jazz are going to be causing problems in the Western Conference for quite a while as the team progresses over the next couple of years. This team is nowhere near as far away as many envision, and the turnaround has already begun swiftly with Snyder’s direction.
Although Hood has had to battle through a recurring foot injury this season, he’s picked a good time to come on strongly. Since March began, Hood is enjoying his best statistical month of the season: 11.7 points, 0.9 steals and 1.7 triples on a solid 45.5 percent shooting in 24 minutes per contest. And over Hood’s last two showings, the Duke product is averaging an impressive 16.0 points, 2.0 steals and 2.5 triples on 13-of-26 (50 percent shooting). Most notably, the rookie has played at least 32.5 minutes in both of those contests—each Jazz victories.
With his health underneath him and a clear path toward a sustainable role in the offense, Hood is one of the sneakier late-season targets for owners to consider.