• Last week, I highlighted some players to target for teams that are punting a category. This week will be sort of the opposite. It’s likely that your team is solid in most spots (you’re a Hoop Ball reader after all) and that you just need a little tweak to set you up for a strong postseason run. You could try to swing a deal, but if it’s just one category you’re looking for, I advise you to take a look at which category specialists are available for free in your league.

    It’s not too difficult to discover who can help you in one category but I’ll walk through my thought process in case that helps at all. I’ve siphoned out the top 10 players in each category that are available in at least half of Yahoo leagues so we can examine them. It’s also wise to limit your search to the most recent 30 days or even 14 days to get an idea of some targets, so I’ll mix in some stats from the past month.

    I also included a highly-owned player that’s just below these ten players in each category for some perspective (and to keep some semblance of the name brand theme here). As you’ll see, there are a more than a few players here that aren’t just one-category specialists. A handful of them show up in multiple lists, making them fairly well-rounded players that can be had for free in many leagues.

    *Stats are through 1/21.

    Looking at points, it’s obvious that some of these players are only as readily available as they are because they’re on the shelf with injuries, like Luke Kennard and Rui Hachimura. And many only have numbers this good due to extra playing time while someone else was hurt (see: Jabari Parker). Jordan McRae is the leader among these available players over the past month with 17.2 ppg. With Bradley Beal back, though, McRae’s future is unclear.

    Regarding threes, Duncan Robinson is holding steady at 3.2 per game over the last month in addition to the full season. Coming in second for the month is Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk with 3.1. Pay attention to the players with declining playing time, like Garrett Temple now that the Nets have gotten healthier. Danuel House could be one to watch as his health improves, though, since his numbers are more well-rounded than most on this list.

    Ivica Zubac is up to 8.2 rebounds for the month and would make a good target if you need some center stats. Looking at assists, Kennard shows up again for the third time (it’ll be four before we’re done here). If he’s available in your league and you can afford to stash him until he’s healthy, Kennard could be a huge help down the stretch. Elfrid Payton¬†has been on a roll, putting up 6.2 assists per game over the last month, though it’s hard to trust any Knick, and Dennis Smith Jr. just returned. Shabazz Napier might be a safer pick, though be ready to drop him if the Wolves fulfill their goal of adding another ball-handler before the trade deadline.

    Kris Dunn and Gary Harris, who is up to 2.3 steals per game in the last month, stand out to me as options that help in other spots in addition to their elite steal production. JaVale McGee has rejected 2.6 shots per game for the month, and Daniel Theis just missed a few lists besides blocks, so he’s a guy to consider. Nerlens Noel (2.0 for the last month) should be snatched up until we see that Steven Adams is healthy again and then probably held at least until the deadline, if not the rest of the season. Maxi Kleber could be looking at a prolonged spike in minutes with Dwight Powell out, too.

    You’ll notice that these appear to be out of order. That’s because not all percentages are created equal and I used Basketball Monster’s player rater values that account for volume when creating the percentage lists. McGee, Noel and Zubac show up again, reminding us that a blocks specialist is often a rebounding specialist and a field goal percentage specialist as well. Recent fantasy darling De’Anthony Melton has now shown up on three of these lists, too, and is trending up. George Hill is a very safe point guard that won’t hurt you in turnovers or in either of the percentages. In fact, you can see that he’s the only guard on the field goal percentage list.

    So, look around your waiver wire. Consider who’s likely to continue their production in the spot where your team needs it and who won’t hurt you in categories that you need to hang onto. But maybe most importantly, stay vigilant. Ride the hot hand. Grab players that are getting extra minutes while the star is managing his load. You should be able to patch some holes and set yourself up well for the season’s second half.

Fantasy News

  • Draymond Green
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green's night ended early in Thursday's 86-1116 loss to the Lakers, as he was ejected in the second quarter after scoring two points with a rebound, four assists and a steal.

    Green was arguing with a ref and picked up his second tech in the middle of the second quarter which sent him to the locker room for the rest of the night. It's good news that Stephen Curry (hand) is returning, because it might mean Green will get some more space and production to work with.

  • Eric Paschall
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Eric Paschall came off the bench on Thursday and scored 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with three boards, two dimes and a triple.

    Paschall logged 26 minutes off the bench in this one and it helps that Draymond Green got ejected early in the second quarter. If Green is ever going to miss time, Paschall is the next man up, but as it stands, he can be left on the wire.

  • Damion Lee
    SG, Golden State Warriors

    Damion Lee scored 15 points with six boards, three dimes and four triples on Thursday.

    If you're in need of triples, Lee is your guy, but the scoring should dip with Stephen Curry (hand) returning on Sunday. That being said, Lee could still be in play for a triples streamer as Coach Kerr has taken a liking to him.

  • Jordan Poole
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Jordan Poole scored 16 points to go with a rebound, a game-high eight dimes and two triples vs. the Lakers on Thursday.

    This is arguably Poole's best offensive game of the year as he was efficient shooting the ball and handed out a career-high in assists. He's still far from being reliable though so don't bother adding him yet.

  • Anthony Davis
    PF-C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis had a quiet night in Thursday's 116-86 blowout win over the Warriors, scoring 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go with six boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer.

    Davis got it done across the board and was able to check out after only playing 25 minutes which is a win on all sides. It looks like the shoulder is fine so keep on plugging him in.

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma came off the bench on Thursday and scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting while adding three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer.

    Kuzma was able to pile up the points against a weak team and it helps that LeBron James (groin) sat this one out. He's a point streamer at best.

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Dwight Howard came off the bench on Thursday and scored 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks.

    Howard logged 24 minutes off the bench and was electric in tonight's win. He's shown the ability to put up efficient stat lines against mediocre teams, but the Lakers are a fantasy wasteland outside of their dynamic duo.

  • Rajon Rondo
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Rajon Rondo started on Thursday, scoring 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with four rebounds, six dimes and two steals.

    Rondo got the starting nod with LeBron James (groin) out, but he's far from being a reliable fantasy player on a regular basis. They played the worst team in the NBA, so anyone could have really produced here.

  • Draymond Green
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green has been ejected from Thursday's game against the Lakers after scoring two points with one rebound, four assists and a steal in 10 minutes of action.

    Green picked up his second technical arguing with a ref in the second quarter and has been tossed out of tonight's game.

  • Hassan Whiteside
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Hassan Whiteside put up a strong double-double on Thursday with 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Blazers fell 106-100 to the Pacers.

    Whiteside has rebounded and blocked his way to an unlikely top-10 fantasy season and at this point, that's mostly sustainable especially with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins with uncertain timelines. Keep rolling Whiteside out there.