With a new section being introduced this week, “The Specialists” focuses on opportunity, production and the week that was in order to look forward to what may be ahead.
Gold Standard: Thaddeus Young, F Brooklyn Nets
Last 7 Days: 20.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, 61.2% shooting
Thaddeus Young has at least one steal in every game since December 8 (10 games), but he’s been an underappreciated fantasy asset all season long. Returning top-50 value and showing no signs of slowing down, the inconsistent Nets need Young’s steady hand every time he’s on the floor. There isn’t anyone coming for Young’s minutes, and it’s not a surprise he’s flourishing on a team giving him the opportunity—and confidence—to play a lead role.
No Discounts: Elfrid Payton, PG Orlando Magic
Last 7 Days: 11.7 points, 6.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 59.3% shooting
Elfrid Payton has found a rhythm in December, averaging 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.9 steals on 49.4% shooting this month. Still straight from the Michael Carter-Williams school of jump shooting, Payton’s fantasy stock would leap to new heights if he can at least graduate to Rajon Rondo’s classroom. Payton and Scott Skiles have clearly become more comfortable with one another, and it’s resulted in (somewhat) surprising stability for Payton while Victor Oladipo searches to find his way.
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Bargain Bin: George Hill, G Indiana Pacers
Last 7 Days: 14.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.7 3PM, 48.5% shooting
Frank Vogel has called for George Hill to be more aggressive, and the Pacers are going to need more from Sisqo’s stunt double if Paul George is going to get back on track. Hill is on a solid roll over his last three averaging just a single turnover during that stretch, and you’re not going to be able to invest in Hill’s stock at this price for much longer. Given his solid enough floor and unexplored ceiling, Hill is worth a look for those in need of guard help.
Gold Standard: Will Barton, G/F Denver Nuggets
Last 7 Days: 19.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.0 3PM, 48.5% shooting
Will Barton has been taking advantage of his Denver opportunity long before Emmanuel Mudiay and Danilo Gallinari were sidelined with ankle injuries, and I’m ready to name him waiver wire pickup of the year before the first half of the season is over. Barton has raised his game across the board becoming a legitimate three-point threat in the process, and this Nugget has been rightfully firing at Will from deep. He’s the early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, and Barton is making 2.3 triples this month while averaging a whopping 5.8 per contest. He’s on pace to shatter everything he’s ever done statistically, and he’d really fit well with what the Blazers are trying to do right now.
No Discounts: Bojan Bogdanovic, G/F Brooklyn Nets
Last 7 Days: 14.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 3PM, 60.7% shooting
You know why Bojan Bogdanovic is on this list: He does one thing that helps fantasy teams, but it’s just about all he does despite logging major minutes. He’s a fine target for rosters in need of 3-point help, but you’re likely going to pay more than what he’s worth at this point if you’re still determining whether or not to act on adding him to your team.
Bargain Bin: Isaiah Canaan, G Philadelphia 76ers
Last 7 Days: 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.7 3PM, 53.8% shooting
Isaiah Canaan is a familiar name on this list, and it is more than a little weird that Bojan Bogdanovic is rostered on more than twice as many Yahoo fantasy teams. Canaan has solidified himself as the team’s starting shooting guard, and although his output will remain inconsistent, the one thing you can rely upon from Isaiah is the fact that he’ll launch the Canaan Ball from distance. He’s taken at least five shots from beyond the arc in six straight games, connecting on 18-of-38 of his attempts.
Waiver Wire Gems
Gold Standard: Devin Booker, SG Phoenix Suns
Last 7 Days: 12.5 points, 1.5 3PM, 53.3% shooting
Devin Booker’s role was very much up in the air before Eric Bledsoe’s injury, but the Phoenix Suns—a team grasping for straws that may fire its head coach before much longer—have no choice but to let Booker play now. The club needs his ability to hit the 3-point shot in the starting lineup, and the rookie has hit on an insane 20-of-34 (58.8%) of his three-point attempts this season. Brandon Knight is going to have to play all of the minutes he can handle at point guard, while Booker’s “competition” for minutes includes Sonny Weems, Archie Goodwin and Ronnie Price.
No Discounts: J.J. Barea, G Dallas Mavericks
Last 7 Days: 22.0 points, 7.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 4.7 3PM, 58.1% shooting
Chandler Parsons (knee) is finally without a minutes restriction, and he could be moving into Dallas’ starting lineup as early as Monday. With Deron Williams (hamstring) expected to miss days and not weeks, Barea is a short-term play at best. There is just too much competition for Barea to be relied upon in standard formats when he, Raymond Felton, Devin Harris and D-Will are all suiting up. Prior to exploding for 58 points over his last two games, the pint-sized point guard had just a single game of 20-plus points this season and hadn’t eclipsed 30 minutes in any contest—and that’s with a compromised Parsons.
Bargain Bin: Brandon Bass, F/C Los Angeles Lakers
Last 7 Days: 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 2.3 blocks, 62.5% shooting
Byron Scott promised to again reevaluate his starting lineup once 2016 arrives, and Brandon Bass could very well be the next man up to try his hand for a struggling Roy Hibbert. You have to be scraping the bottom of the bargain bin to be considering reeling in some Bass, but 20-25 minutes per night would give The Fish some room to swim at the back end of your roster.