Underrated 1+1+1 players
I don't really relish ripping players and highlighting the negatives. So I felt a little guilty writing last week's column, calling out otherwise productive players who could, across a small sample size, absolutely destroy your team's season.
So this week, I want to flip the script and focus on a favorite group of players who are here to help, especially for those of you still involved in the fantasy season (and if you're reading this, I assume you are), and readily available on waiver wires everywhere.
A type of player who offers something his owners every night without relying on just points scored.
I'm talking about some of the rarest, most elusive, subtly statistically rewarding players out there.
I'm talking about 1+1+1s. A "1+1+1" is my personal shorthand for a player capable of posting at least one 3-pointer, one steal and one block per box score.
(Please note the use of the word capable. If I were to write about players actually averaging a 1+1+1 for the season, this would be reduced to a brief, poignant sonnet on Kevin Durant.)
Here's a quick list of some 100 percent-owned players who have logged more than 10 1+1+1s to date (thanks for counting these, ESPN Stats & Information):
Kevin Durant: 25
Danny Granger: 19
Nicolas Batum: 17
Rudy Gay, Paul George, Josh Smith, Channing Frye: 16
Luol Deng: 14
Jason Richardson, Brandon Rush, Jeff Teague, Dorell Wright: 12
Randy Foye, Antawn Jamison, Markieff Morris: 11
Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, James Johnson, Deron Williams: 10
Basically, this a short list of my most favorite and most underrated NBA players, and Carmelo Anthony.
While it's important to keep these guys in mind when drafting, it's just as vital to pay attention to them in the latter stages of the season, the stage where the waiver wire is your only friend.
You always want to hold on to as great a degree of versatility and flexibility as your lineup will allow. Versatility -- whether via multipositional eligibility or well-distributed box scores -- is key because it opens you up to more avenues to improve your roster in-season.
In head-to-head situations, it also allows you to shape your lineup choices and match up strengths based on your opponent's stats. When you're in a playoff push, and trying to maximize your game limits in the most efficient way possible, these players will be your best friends.
These players are also valuable because they don't require heavy minutes or points scored totals to be productive. If they get them too, that's wonderful, but many of these players can help owners even when stuck in the 22-27 MPG range.
By definition, they offer out-of-position production. Unless you're an elite small forward (who offers many variations of deep and diverse production), any other position that can offer 1+1+1 potential is going to give you a rare statistical boost. We're talking about guards who can block shots. centers who can hit 3s, and power forwards who generate steals. 1+1+1s inoculate your lineup against injury, suspension, and one-dimensional players such as DeMar DeRozan.
Because many of these players aren't known for their scoring, they can be a little off the radar, which means many of them are on the wire. Let's talk about some who still might be available in your league.
Channing Frye, PF/C, Phoenix Suns (98.7 percent owned, 16 1+1+1s): Centers are the hardest 1+1+1s to find, the rarest of the rare. Frye might be averaging only 10.7 points on the season, but he's also throwing up 1.5 3s, 0.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks in just 26.6 minutes per game. He's had an off shooting season, but has been warming up as of late, and just posted another 1+1+1 Wednesday.
Jason Richardson, SG, Orlando Magic (37.5 percent owned, 12 1+1+1s): Yes, Richardson is gimpy, and may be a long ways removed from his statistical heyday, but he's a great example of a glue guy who can help you in a single-game pickup. He's posted two 1+1+1s in the last week alone. He seems to actually be upping his game in the blocks department, and any shooting guard generating blocks is worth owning, even if just for an occasional game.
Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors (44.5 percent owned, 12 1+1+1s): There isn't a better shot-blocker at shooting guard than Rush. Unfortunately, just like his stint with the Pacers, he's mired in a time-share, meaning peaks and valleys in his box scores. He's just winding down from a huge tear (11.1 PPG, 1.7 BLK, 0.5 STL, 1.5 3PM over his past 10 games), but he still has time for one more hot stretch over the final month of the season.
Markieff Morris, PF, Phoenix Suns (1.4 percent owned, 11 1+1+1s): Next to Kenneth Faried, Morris has been my favorite rookie sleeper this season, more based on 1+1+1 potential than actual production. I think Channing Frye has rubbed off on him a little; he's hitting 0.7 3s in just 18.7 MPG, but would get more minutes if he rebounded a little better. But he's someone to watch, as I think he could be in line for a larger role once the Suns start shutting it down. It's very, very impressive he's generated 11 1+1+1s in such a limited role.
James Johnson, SF/PF, Toronto Raptors (25.7 percent owned, 10 1+1+1s): I've discussed Johnson so many times this season, so I'll just throw out his current per-36 minute numbers; 12.6 PPG, 0.4 3PM, 1.7 STL, 2.0 BLK and 2.7 AST. He's still only 24 years old, and his PER has risen every season.
Metta World Peace, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (3.4 percent owned, 9 1+1+1s): There's a plane-load of baggage to navigate when discussing Metta World Peace, but keep one key stat in mind: He's averaged 30.0 MPG over his past 10 games. His minutes have subtly been on the rise in the Ramon Sessions era, and he's eking together just enough stats to warrant consideration in deeper leagues. His 3-point shot is heating up as well, as it's up to .356 over his past five games after being stuck at .282 for the season.
Courtney Lee, SG, Houston Rockets (13.0 percent owned, 9 1+1+1s): Lee's numbers are obviously way, way up in the wake of Kevin Martin's shoulder injury. The only surprise here is that Lee isn't owned in more leagues, perhaps due to Martin's nondescript, day-to-day injury status.
Wesley Johnson, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (1.6 percent owned, 8 1+1+1s): Johnson's current and future value is tied to one thing: his confidence in his ability to hit shots. When his 3 is falling, it suddenly turns him into a serviceable fantasy player. Look at his line Wednesday versus the Warriors: 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 2 3PM, 2 STL, 3 BLK. If he can smooth out his shot and figure out how to get to the rim with more frequency, there could be some mini-Evan Turner upside here.
Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (96.8 percent owned, 7 1+1+1s): If you're in the 3.2 percent of leagues where Hayward is still available, you need to find some more competitive friends. And while he didn't manage a steal or a block Wednesday, he did eke out his first double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) while adding two 3-pointers as icing. The rising assist totals are also a nice bonus.
Gerald Green, SF/SF, New Jersey Nets (12.0 percent owned, 6 1+1+1s): I've been plugging Green since his callup -- he's in a perfect situation for someone with his skill set and athleticism -- but I've been pleasantly surprised by his defensive numbers. He's averaging over a block, a steal and a 3-pointer in his last 10 games.
Chris Singleton, SF, Washington Wizards (0.2 percent owned, 5 1+1+1s): I will own up to being a little too much in the tank for Singleton. But we're talking about a defensive stopper who's a consistent jump shot away from being a real fantasy threat.
Wilson Chandler, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets (34.9 percent owned, 2 1+1+1s): It has taken Chandler a couple of weeks to remind us in Fantasyland why he's been such a favorite, yet still so frustrating to own. He logged two 1+1+1s in his first two games, then turned around and pulled his groin. Owners have been tripping over themselves to drop Chandler, but with Danilo Gallinari on the shelf, Chandler's going to have to gut it out sooner than later.