February 28, 2019, 5:48 pm
Hey Hoop Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep league owners.
Here we go again! It is about that time of year where the lucky few fantasy managers in contention for the title turn their sole focus to the playoffs. While remaining cognizant of your team’s strengths and weaknesses and streaming accordingly is important throughout the season, now it truly is time to abandon strict adherence to rankings, ADP and season-long production and focus in on identifying exactly what categories you need. Dropping a season-long top-150 player who is entering a cold spell or who is suddenly having their minutes pinched for a fringe top-250 player who helps out in a specific category of need are the tough decisions that need to be made.
With that in mind, it seemed appropriate to examine the state of the deep-league wire and identify a few players who excel in one or two specific categories. They may not be household names, but when the difference between a first-round bye and an early playoff exit may come down to a few steals, blocks or threes, I guarantee you’ll be remembering these guys moving forward.
In an effort to make this as relevant as possible to all deep-league owners, we’ll be looking at players that are roughly 10 percent rostered or less and zooming in all the way to some potential options for 30-team leagues.
Wayne Ellington (10% rostered) – Since entering the starting lineup, Ellington is hitting three triples per game while shooting 36 percent from the floor. That is not exactly a stunning image of efficiency, but if you need threes in bulk and your percentages can weather the storm, Ellington is one of your best bets.
Landry Shamet (8% rostered) – After setting Los Angeles ablaze in his first two games as a Clipper, the rookie marksman has significantly cooled off. In his last four games, Shamet is posting 1.5 threes per game on an abhorrent 32 percent conversion rate from the field. There will be some ups and downs, but Shamet’s role seems to be solidified and he is capable of raining down threes in bunches when his shot is falling.
Luke Kennard (8% rostered) – Kennard has been shooting the lights out lately, averaging 12.8 points and 2.3 triples per game in the last week on inflated 51 percent efficiency. His minutes continue to fluctuate wildly, making him a slightly less appealing option than Ellington and Shamet for consistent 3-point output. However, if you are not willing to offer up your field goal percentage as ritual sacrifice in pursuit of a few extra triples each week, Kennard gets the nod over those guys.
Darius Miller (3% rostered) – Miller won’t give you much fantasy production outside of threes, but has quietly been posting near top-150 value over the last month before going down with an ankle injury. His role appears to be pretty solidified and hit three triples in his first game back, so consider rolling out Miller if you need threes and the players listed above are already rostered .
Treveon Graham (<1% rostered) – Even in the deepest of leagues, there is still help to be found on the wire if you are weak in threes. The numbers aren’t overly flashy, but Graham has a solid 20ish-minute per game spot in the rotation and is averaging just under one triple per game. He doesn’t have huge upside as a boom-or-bust type play, but he has one of the steadier floors in terms of 3-point production available on the deep league wire.
Henry Ellenson (<1% rostered) – Ellenson has played only two games as a Knick since inking a 10-day deal roughly a week ago. One was a complete dud in which he only played four minutes of stat-less garbage time, the other was a 13 point game with three triples, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals – we all saw that coming… It looks like the Knicks will bring him back for the remainder of the season on a guaranteed deal, but it is hard to say if he will see the floor enough to be on the radar. Feel free to take a flier, but don’t expect big lines to become the norm moving forward.
Mike Scott (<1% rostered) – Since joining the Sixers in the Tobias Harris trade, Scott has seen his minutes and usage trend upward. A lot of that is due to circumstance, with Embiid and Boban missing time due to injury, but as long as the minutes are there, Scott can give you a nice boost in triples (averaging 2.7 per game over the past two weeks) and not much else.
Ed Davis (8% rostered) – Even after he retires, Ed Davis will still probably find a way to average at least six boards per game. If you need steady rebounds output, Davis is the best option potentially available on deep-league wires. Over the past two weeks, Davis is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in 20 minutes, only a slight departure from his 8.7 average on the season.
Dorian Finney-Smith (5% rostered) – Following the trade deadline, DFS has seen his minutes on the rise after solidifying a role in the starting lineup. Over the past two weeks, Finney-Smith is posting near top-175 value while averaging 7.5 rebounds per game and 1.3 steals. His minutes appear to be locked in for the remainder of the season, so if you need boards (and steals as an added bonus) take a look to see if he is available.
Omari Spellman (<1% rostered) – Spellman is not necessarily known for prolific per minute rebound production, but given his wide availability, he is a solid enough producer in that category to warrant a look in deeper formats if you need a bump in that category. Over the past two weeks, Spellman is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game, adding 0.8 threes and 0.6 blocks per game with solid efficiency to boot. His minutes were all over the place for most of the year, but his role seems to be solidifying of late.
Marquese Chriss (4% rostered) – It is hard to peg exactly what role Chriss will have moving forward, but my guess is an inconsistent 15ish-minute per night spot in the rotation – vastly exceeding that total some nights when Kevin Love sits, falling short on others due to foul trouble or Larry Nance Jr. drawing extra minutes. His production is far from guaranteed, but if you need a home-run down the playoff stretch, Chriss offers the opportunity for solid rebounding performances with some added possibility of threes, steals and blocks.
Tyus Jones (16% rostered) – After three solid games in a row since returning from injury, there is a strong chance that Jones is not around on the wire in many 16-team leagues, and is almost certainly rostered in anything deeper. Still, take a look because he is putting up some big assist and steal numbers (7.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 29 minutes over the past four games) filling in for the injured Jeff Teague.
Cory Joseph (7% rostered) – Joseph has seen increased run lately with Tyreke Evans out, but even in a smaller role Joseph can still plug a few holes in your roster if you need assists. In the last four games Joseph is averaging three assists per game, but I would expect that to creep up a bit closer to his season average of 3.9 down the stretch.
Jalen Brunson (2% rostered) – The Mavs seem interested in seeing what they have in Brunson and have provided him with a few spot starts lately. Brunson, to his credit, has made the most of the opportunity. Over the past weeks, Brunson is averaging 16.8 points on 53 percent shooting with 2.3 threes, 3.8 assists and one steal. That overall production won’t likely stick, but if you need assists, Brunson should have a pretty steady floor moving forward in that category.
Ryan Arcidiacono (1% rostered) – Given Kris Dunn’s struggles this season to stay healthy and produce consistently, Arcidiacono has managed to hold on to pretty solid value in deep leagues throughout the year. His minutes tend to fluctuate pretty wildly from game-to-game, but Arcidiacono still manages to maintain pretty steady production in assists (4.0 per game over the past month and 3.6 over the season) despite that fact.
Matthew Dellavedova (2% rostered) – If there is one thing Delly knows, it is how to rack up dimes. In the past week, he is averaging 7.3 assists per game in only 20 minutes. That sort of per-game production is not to be expected moving forward, but he can still provide a solid lift in the category and is widely available.
Isaiah Briscoe (<1% rostered) Briscoe has missed the past few contests with a concussion, but prior to the injury was a pretty nice run averaging 4.0 assists per game in 22 minutes over the last few weeks. Briscoe doesn’t have much overall upside as an add, but is worth keeping an eye on as a streamer in shallower formats and can give 20-team league managers a solid lift in assists.
Delon Wright (7% rostered) – Wright’s move to Memphis and assumption of the de-facto 6th man role there hasn’t exactly resulted in the top-100 type production that I had originally hoped (largely due to uncharacteristically inefficient shooting), but he is still managing to get it done defensively. Over the past few weeks, Wright is averaging 1.2 steals per game. His role is solidified and he is one of the more dependable producers in the category available on deep-league wires, so consider Wright if you need steals.
T.J. McConnell (5% rostered) – McConnell has been on fire defensively over the past few weeks, averaging 1.6 steals per game in only 17 minutes (with an added 3.5 assists to sweeten the deal). That average is buoyed by a handful of big three-steal games, but his floor is actually rock solid as he has only failed to register a steal in two games of his past 25.
Moe Harkless (6% rostered) – Sometimes Moe Harks less, but lately he has been Harking way, way more (sorry, that was pretty bad). In the past week, he is averaging a gaudy 2.3 steals in 28 minutes per game as a starter. That sort of production is not something to expect moving forward, but Harkless settling in around the 1.3-1.5 steals per game down the stretch seems very possible. He is still around on plenty of wires, and could be gearing up for a top-100 finish assuming he stays healthy.
Shaq Harrison (<1% rostered) – Harrison is the second guard off the bench behind Ryan Arcidiacono, making him a pretty low-upside add. However, even in limited minutes, Harrison has proven capable of getting steals in bunches, averaging 1.3 steals per game in 18 minutes off the bench. He is around in plenty of leagues, so consider streaming Harrison in or adding rest-of-season in deeper formats if you need a boost in steals.
Nerlens Noel (9% rostered) – Breaking news, Noel is a very good per-minute stat collector. In the past week, Noel is averaging 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in 16 minutes off the bench. He is probably already rostered in most deep leagues, but take a look to be sure as he is gold mine of defensive stats even in limited minutes.
Maxi Kleber (4% rostered) – Following the series of trades that opened up the Mavericks frontcourt Kleber has been a letdown, posting fringe top-175 value since the trade deadline. While his overall play hasn’t lived up to expectation, he still is a solid source of blocks (averaging one block per game in the past week) with the possibility of blowing up for some big performances from beyond the arc as well.
Khem Birch (1% rostered) – With Mo Bamba set to sit out with a stress fracture well into the fantasy playoffs, Birch is a fairly consistent option for managers needing blocks. He has only had one game where he managed to reject more than one shot since entering the rotation, but has also held a pretty solid floor by blocking at least one shot in seven of his 10 games over that same stretch.
Jonah Bolden (2% rostered) – Bolden has struggled all season with inconsistent play and an inability to defend without fouling, but has the potential to bust out a multiple-block performance on any given night. He is more of a boom-or-bust type option, but even a limited 13 minutes over the past few weeks he is managing to send back 1.2 shots per game.
Salah Mejri (<1% rostered) – Mejri is a bit of a riskier option given his sparse playing time and propensity to be out of the rotation on a moment’s notice. However, when Dirk Nowitzki sits, or the Mavericks match up against larger frontcourts it could be worth rolling the dice on Mejri in super deep formats.
March 19, 2019, 11:02 amTJ Warren - F - Phoenix Suns
Speaking to reporters in New Orleans, T.J. Warren made it clear that he wants to play before the season ends.
Warren has missed the last 22 consecutive games with what Phoenix has called right ankle soreness. He had a right foot fracture in late January of 2016 that required surgery and cut his second NBA season short as he only played in 47 games. He then played 66 and 65 games the next two seasons, respectively, but he’s only played 43 games this year, knocking down a career-high 42.8 percent of his 3-pointers after shooting a career-low 22.2 percent last season. The Suns now have only 10 games remaining for the season and Warren hasn’t returned to practice yet so hopefully you have moved on from him.
Source: Arizona Central
March 19, 2019, 10:04 amDeyonta Davis - C - Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are signing center Deyonta Davis of G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors to a 10-day contract.
With Tyler Zeller’s deal expiring, the Hawks were looking for some extra frontcourt help due to injuries to Omari Spellman, Alex Poythress and Miles Plumlee. Davis is averaging 9.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 43 contests with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G League and he is just 22 years old.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
March 19, 2019, 9:56 amCJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Damian Lillard said that he wants for C.J. McCollum to be himself when he comes back and that he is prepared to finish the regular season without him.
This is just speculation on Dame’s part but it gives us a good perspective about McCollum’s injury and how he really was able to dodge a bullet. Jack Layman started on Monday but he fell short of any meaningful production while Rodney Hood and Seth Curry were able to carry some of the offensive burden for the Blazers. With McCollum expected to be evaluated in about a week from now it’s really up in the air if he will be able to come back and help fantasy owners.
Source: Joe Freeman on Twitter
March 19, 2019, 9:43 amCody Zeller - F/C - Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller has officially been ruled out for the game against the Sixers tonight.
Zeller is going to miss his fourth consecutive game making him a tough hold in standard leagues unless you can stash him in an IR spot. Bismack Biyombo should continue to start while Frank Kaminsky has been a nice late-season surprise after spending most of the year buried in Charlotte’s bench.
Source: Hornets PR on Twitter
March 19, 2019, 1:12 amDamian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard led the Blazers to a 106-98 win over the Pacers on Monday with 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting while adding 15 assists, two rebounds, three steals, a block and four 3-pointers.
With C.J. McCollum out for the rest of the week we can expect a lot of Dame Time going forward. Lillard drained shots from all over the floor, including a 3-pointer at nearly half court, and was dishing clean dimes to his teammates in the pick-and-roll all game. He logged 40 minutes and controlled the game the entire time he was on the floor and is going to have himself a big week.
March 19, 2019, 1:09 amMaurice Harkless - F - Trail Blazers
Maurice Harkless scored 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting while adding five rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer on Monday.
Harkless came up big for Portland on the defensive end tonight and props to you if you streamed him. The Blazers play again on Wednesday and Sunday so it'll be hard to incorporate him as a streamer.
March 19, 2019, 1:09 amJusuf Nurkic - C - Trail Blazers
Jusuf Nurkic double-doubled on Monday before fouling out with 18 points and 11 boards to go with two assists.
He fouled out on a questionable offensive foul while setting a screen against Wesley Matthews, but was able to provide owners with a solid line before exiting Monday's game. Nurkic destroyed the offensive glass tonight for the Blazers and his high activity on that end kept the Blazers in the game when their offense was stalling. He's been a top-40 player over the past month and it looks like he's going to finish the season strong.
March 19, 2019, 1:08 amJake Layman - F - Trail Blazers
Jake Layman started on Monday, but laid an egg, scoring zero points on 0-of-5 shooting with three rebounds.
Layman drew the start, but put up a dud in the first half and didn't see much action in the second half. Rodney Hood (24 minutes with 11 points, one triple, one rebound, two assists, two steals and a block) and Seth Curry (25 minutes with 11 points, three triples, a rebound, an assist and a steal) took his minutes to close out the game but neither are attractive fantasy options.
March 19, 2019, 1:06 amRodney Hood - G - Trail Blazers
Rodney Hood started the second half on Monday and scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting while adding a rebound, two assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer.
Hood started the second half in place of Jake Layman and produced a solid line, but we're skeptical on his ability to repeat this in the Blazers' next two games. Portland has many capable options at the wing spot so replacing C.J. McCollum's (knee strain) production will be more of a committee approach.
March 19, 2019, 1:06 amMyles Turner - F/C - Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner led the Pacers in scoring on Monday with 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting while adding 10 rebounds, an assist, two steals and two 3-pointers.
Turner had the hot hand early for the Pacers tonight as he was hitting what seemed like every jump shot he took. 13 of his 28 points were scored in the first quarter and although his offense was on point, he blocked zero shots tonight. He had what looked like a clean block on Damian Lillard's 3-point attempt late in the fourth quarter which was called a foul, but the bright side is that owners only have to wait until tomorrow for Turner to swat some shots.