Commentary

One-Category Wonders

Updated: October 12, 2007, 3:51 PM ET
By Josh Whitling | Special to ESPN.com

We all have our favorite one-hit wonders. When crafting mix CDs, you gotta throw in "Come on Eileen" or "The Safety Dance," and nothing shakes the karaoke bar like a rousing rendition of "Tainted Love" or "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

But in fantasy hoops, one-category wonders prove to be more valuable than a bin full of Chumbawamba CDs. Every fantasy team has categorical needs, and the best players address those needs through free agency, trade or in-draft strategic adjustment. Target the following specialists to compensate for your team's weaknesses:

Rebounds

Reggie Evans, 76ers: Evans isn't afraid to grab loose balls, just ask Chris Kaman. He led the league in rebounds per 48 minutes last season (19.6), averaging seven in just 17 minutes per game. It looks as if he'll finally get a chance for some big minutes in Philly, which means he could move toward double-digit rebounds if he logs around 30 minutes a night. Let's just hope he has the motor, because he could be in line for his best season yet.

Nick Collison, SuperSonics: Collison will backup Chris Wilcox and Robert Swift at both the 4 and 5 positions, and should get around 30 minutes per game. He's improved with each year in the league and also posts sound percentages and a low turnover rate. He's prone to committing foolish fouls, averaging 5.8 hacks per 48 minutes last season -- 20th-most in the league -- which shaves off a few minutes per game. However, given Wilcox's inconsistency, Swift's return from a knee injury and the need for a veteran presence in the frontcourt, Collison could take another step forward.

Andrew Bogut, Bucks: He's beefed up to 270 pounds after playing at around 250 last season and is in line for a breakout campaign. He doesn't block shots, which kills for a center, but that is somewhat offset by his solid three assists per game. But where he really helps is on the boards, as he averaged 8.8 per game last season. The added weight, plus a year of experience could put him into double digits, which is prestigious fantasy territory as only 12 gentlemen accomplished the feat last season. Bogut's almost a guarantee to improve again this year.

3-pointers

Raja Bell, Suns: Bell has become a model of consistency, as his past two seasons are freakishly similar statistically. An overlooked part of his game is the fact that only five players turned the ball over at a lower rate per 48 minutes last season, something you shouldn't ignore in turnover leagues. With no significant changes in the Suns backcourt, expect the same this season, about 15 points and 2.5 treys per game.

J.J. Redick, Magic: Redick broke a bone in his hand this summer, but should be ready for training camp and looked stellar during summer league play, averaging 19.8 points per game. Chalk him up for at least 1.5 threes per game this season. Trevor Ariza will likely start and be in there anytime the team needs defense, but Redick will come out shooting when he's on the floor and be a fantasy force from downtown even if he only averages around 25 minutes per night.

Luther Head, Rockets: Five. That's how many players had more 3s than Head last season. Due to a crowded Rockets backcourt, I don't see his minutes increasing significantly, but he'll continue to gun away with success. Forget the fact that he's not a starter and pay attention to his improvement from rookie to sophomore season, despite a slight decrease in minutes. He should just keep getting better.

Tim Thomas, Clippers: He set a career high in 3s last season and is a key piece to the Clippers frontcourt with Elton Brand out until after the All-Star break. He's found a nice niche with his eighth NBA team and will form an unlikely tandem at power forward with Ruben Patterson in Brand's absence. I think Patterson will start and get more minutes, but Thomas will once again provide double-digit points and over 1.5 threes per game.

Rasual Butler, Hornets: He'll backup Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic at the 2 and 3, and will continue to specialize from behind the arc. Even though he's one of those weird players whose accuracy from downtown doesn't translate into good free-throw shooting, he doesn't go to the line enough to significantly affect your standing. And with just 0.8 turnovers per game, his value is augmented if your league's scoring format counts them.

Assists

Steve Blake, Trail Blazers: He's battling Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez for minutes, so I wouldn't expect the type of numbers he put up for Denver last season when he was the starter. However, when he's in he gets a handful of steals and 3s and racks up the dimes -- and assists are a scarce commodity. He should be good for around five per game.

Boris Diaw, Suns: Two seasons ago, Diaw gave you a little bit of everything, so it might be surprising seeing him mentioned amongst non-versatile players. Last season, his 4.8 assists were his only above-average stat, though, and his minutes dipped from 35 per night to 31. Remember, Diaw's breakout campaign came when Amare Stoudemire wasn't even in the lineup, and Diaw was heavily relied upon to play multiple positions. Now that Stoudemire is healthy and with the addition of Grant Hill, I don't see much room for Diaw's playing time to increase, or for him to match his stats from two seasons ago. The dimes will still be there, though, and getting them from the forward slot is a good way to compensate for assist deficiencies from your guards.

Steals

Ruben Patterson, Clippers: The self-proclaimed "Kobe stopper" had his best season in '06-07 and was signed by the Clippers in the offseason. Patterson demonstrated the ability to play both forward positions and could start at power forward in Elton Brand's absence. His 31 minutes per game were the most of any season in his career, and it marked the first time he's ever averaged over 30. He could be closer to 35 this season, especially while Brand's gone. Mike Dunleavy will likely give him as many minutes as his 32-year-old body can handle. His free throws will hurt you, but his field-goal percentage is excellent (career 51.8 percent), and he swipes the ball with the best of them. I have a feeling he's going to start the season hot.

Smush Parker, Heat: OK, so he can hit 3s isn't a total one-category wonder, but steals specialists are rare. Last season, 92 players averaged at least one 3-pointer made while just 52 averaged a steal or more, so finding guys who just get steals is relatively impossible. In fact, it might be the most difficult category to specifically address through waiver-wire acquisitions. But Parker was 16th in the league with 1.5 steals per game last season and he'll be relied upon as the Heat's defensive stopper on the perimeter. This means he'll typically be defending the player with the ball, which should increase his chances for swipes.

Zaza Pachulia, Hawks: Pachulia has averaged 1.1 steals per game in each of the past two seasons and is one of the only centers who contributes in this category. As I said earlier, getting such stats from an unexpected position is a bonus.

Blocks

Ronny Turiaf, Lakers: With Kwame Brown out indefinitely while recovering from ankle surgery, there are some minutes to be earned in the Lakers' shaky frontcourt, and Turiaf is the type of high-energy player who could step up and produce. He averaged 1.1 blocks in just 15 minutes per game last season and should eclipse both of those numbers this season. His league-leading 8.9 fouls per 48 minutes is evidence of his playing pace, and Turiaf is a nice deep-league flier who could benefit from one more injury.

DeSagana Diop, Mavericks: Erick Dampier is out until December, which means Diop will shoulder the bulk of the minutes at center. His minutes per game will likely be closer to 25, which means he could inch toward two blocks per game. He's inept offensively and is a true one-category wonder, so he's a blocks-only option for deeper leagues. Because of Dampier's absence and the fact they'll likely limit Damp's minutes when he does return, Diop could be in for a career year. Just don't hold your breath for five points per game and hope he cut down on the fouls.

Joel Przybilla, Trail Blazers: The Vanilla Gorilla's prospects were looking grim when Greg Oden stepped into the picture, but now the team will need Przybilla to play more than the 16 minutes per game and 43 games he did last season. LaMarcus Aldridge will start, although Przybilla should see significant time as his backup, and given Aldridge's ability to play power forward there will be stretches when both are on the floor. Przybilla should get over 20 minutes per game and hover around two blocks, barring further knee issues.

Josh Whitling

Fantasy Basketball
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.