The NBA’s trade deadline is behind us, the postseason push is here and fantasy GMs will be forced to make team-shaping decisions down the final stretch. Whether trying to supplement a strength or attempting to build out an area of weakness, holding categorical perspective is a major key toward making a real run at the crown.
We’re looking for difference-making players. Past contributions don’t matter, and rest-of-season outlooks can change dramatically over the remaining six weeks.
Trevor Ariza, G/F Houston Rockets: 3-pointers, Steals
Maybe Trevor Ariza’s 2016 contributions have been lost in Houston’s drama because he’s simply not getting the credit he deserves. After averaging 14.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.9 triples (0.8 TO) on 46.2% shooting in January, Ariza has followed it up with a strong February performance: 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.5 3-pointers (2.2 TO) on 45.5% from the field.
Outside of Dwight Howard, Ariza is the only sure thing in the Rockets’ frontcourt rotation and it’s no accident that he regularly logs 35-plus minutes. Now with 100-plus 3-pointers (127) and steals (109) for the third straight season, it’s time for Ariza to be valued like a good investment should be: Protected.
Aaron Gordon, F Orlando Magic: Steals, Blocks
Aaron Gordon’s impressive athleticism is now worldwide news after the Slam Dunk Contest he should have won, and Orlando didn’t ship out Tobias Harris to minimize AG’s growing role. While I understand some of the concern regarding Ersan Ilyasova’s arrival, Gordon is an impressive defender capable of providing game-changing plays, and that’s not something Ghostface Ilya has on his latest mixtape.
Heading into Sunday’s contest vs. the Pacers, Gordon had averaged 8.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.8 blocks (1.0 TO) over his last four games. Despite Ilyasova’s presence, there is no reason for Gordon not to flirt with a nightly double-double while providing the defensive stats that often separate mediocre teams from the elite.
*Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. Play now.*
Kent Bazemore, G/F Atlanta Hawks: 3-pointers, Steals
Kent Bazemore just hasn’t been the same player in February, and his struggles have actually extended beyond just the last eight games. With averages of 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 3-pointers on 35.1% shooting this month, Baze hasn’t even been a top-150 player over the last 30 days. He’s clinging to relevance due to his contributions in threes and steals, but Bazemore has been reduced to a bargain bin specialist after previously looking like he could be much more. Given the time of season and what he’s currently producing, moving on makes sense if someone like Danny Green, Gary Harris, Matt Barnes or Robert Covington is somehow still floating on the waiver wire.
Kyle Korver, G/F Atlanta Hawks: 3-pointers, Steals
It obviously took significantly longer than expected, but Kyle Korver is back to being the player he was drafted to be before the season began. After back-to-back months shooting sub-40% from the field, Korver is enjoying a very productive February with 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.6 triples. Averaging 13.2 points, 2.8 3-pointers and 2.0 steals on 51% shooting across his last five contests, Korver’s track record suggests his new (old) form is here to stay. Prior to the 2015-16 campaign, Korver had shot at least 41.5% from distance every season since 2009-10.