Hill, Delfino provide scoring and 3s
Among best-available players helpful in multiple categories
Welcome to the third week of the Working the Wire miniseries focusing on specific categorical helpers, drawing from a wider player pool (players owned in fewer than a third of ESPN leagues) in order to provide assistance to owners in leagues with varied depth. I've covered rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, and this week it's points and 3-pointers.
These two categories are relatively simple to address through the waiver wire, so I make it a habit to never target specialists in these areas, since it should be possible to find a player who fills that need and brings more to the table. The players featured this week must provide 3s, but it cannot be their only way of scoring points, and each must have at least one other attribute that qualifies him as more than a one-category wonder or one-dimensional scorer.
George Hill, PG, San Antonio Spurs (1.8 percent owned): Act fast on this one. The sophomore from IUPUI has scored 15 or more points in four of his past five contests, and with news that Tony Parker will miss several games with an ankle sprain, Hill's worth an immediate add in all formats if you're looking for short-term value and have a roster spot. He impressed as a rookie role player last season, but now he's a crucial part of the rotation, hustles on the defensive end and isn't afraid to take his shots (nine 3-point attempts in a recent contest). He's also showed marked improvement in two critical areas, shooting and turnovers. Hill improved his field goal percentage from .403 last season to .461 this season, and he's currently averaging the same one turnover per game as he did last season despite an increase in minutes from 16 to 25 per game. His numbers have improved across the board, most notably in scoring average (5.7 in '08-09, 10.1 this season). Perhaps most importantly, he's averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 3s and 0.6 steals while shooting 46.0 percent from the floor and 73.5 percent from the line as a starter. Another promising stat? He's hoisted 23 3-point attempts in his past five games, and is shooting 38 percent from downtown on the season. Hill has played well alongside Parker (the tandem averaged 34.1 points per game in the five games leading up to Parker's injury), meaning he has value regardless of Parker's injury. Gregg Popovich won't hesitate to rest Parker enough to ensure he's fresh for the playoffs, which should mean increased PT for Hill even when Parker returns.
Carlos Delfino, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks (23.3 percent owned): He's long gone in many formats after a scorching couple of weeks: 17.9 points, 2.3 3s and 1.2 steals while shooting 51 percent from the floor during the past 15 days. Delfino has had value in the 3-point department in the past, but has never averaged more than 23 minutes per game, and he hovers around 40 percent shooting. But he's found a prime opportunity in Milwaukee with Michael Redd sidelined for the rest of the season, and since his uptick in productivity coincided with Redd's injury, it should continue. Delfino becomes a no-brainer worth adding in all formats if you need efficient scoring with excellent 3-point totals. In addition, as a crucial part of the Bucks' offense, he should contribute more across the board than in past seasons, with the obvious 3s along with decent boards and steals as well as a career-high .783 free throw percentage. He's starting, and as he finds his niche with the team, his minutes should continue to increase and he should continue to produce.
Anthony Morrow, SG, Golden State Warriors (22.2 percent owned): "Bone" Morrow is about to return, and even though the available minutes in the Bay are limited, it's difficult to ignore Morrow's prolific accuracy from downtown during the past season-and-a-half (career 45.6 percent on 3-pointers). If you're in a league with an impatient owner who dropped Morrow, grab him and stash him; it'll be hard for the fickle Don Nelson to keep his deadly shooting off the court if he continues to display the aforementioned accuracy. Don't be surprised if he's nailing two 3s per game again soon, and his return will likely balance the minutes of Stephen Curry (averaging 45 minutes per game in his past seven contests), Monta Ellis (returning from a bone bruise in his right ankle) and others who have seen heavy run in the Warriors' backcourt lately.
J.J. Redick, SG, Orlando Magic (2.7 percent owned): I'm on pins and needles in anticipation for the drop of his hip-hop album, but for now 11 points, two 3s and 90 percent from the stripe while getting key minutes in crunch time will have to do from this fierce emcee who spits hot fire on the microphone and from downtown. MC J.J. has increased his free throw attempts from 1.5 per game last season to 2.6 this season, meaning his 83 percent from the stripe actually has some impact. He's got sneaky value, especially in deep turnover leagues where he averages a miniscule 0.7 per game. Vince Carter has elicited boos from Orlando crowds in a variety of ways -- poor shooting and careless turnovers, to name a couple -- during his recent uninspired play, as a nagging shoulder injury has limited his explosiveness. There always seems to be an excuse for Carter, and in his past seven games, VC has more single-digit scoring efforts than double-digit ones, and he played just two more minutes than Redick in the Magic's last contest. Crunch-time minutes are a good sign for a player, and often an indication that increased overall minutes are to follow.
Arron Afflalo, SG, Denver Nuggets (1.8 percent owned): The Nuggets have leaned upon Afflalo this month for a consistent scoring punch off the bench, and he has responded with averages of 12.0 points and 2.2 3s on 52 percent shooting from the floor and 83 percent from the stripe in January. He's shooting 45 percent from downtown on the season and an unconscious 52 percent in January, and those 2.2 3s per game this month are tied for seventh-best in the league. His defensive stats (0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks) are just existent enough to be noticeable, making him a nice deep-league add if you're primarily looking for 3s but don't want to waste the spot on a player who provides nothing elsewhere or hurts your shooting percentage.
Marcus Thornton, SG, New Orleans Hornets (1.7 percent owned): In his past 10 games, Thornton is averaging a head-turning 15.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 3s and 0.9 steals while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the stripe. He played the most minutes of any Hornet on Wednesday night, and is amid his second stint of high value this season, as he averaged 12.0 points and 1.5 3s in November, then saw those numbers cut in half in December. This is the best he's played in his short career, and ever since the Hornets pulled a Whitney Houston and eschewed Bobby Brown, Thornton is the new addition you want for help in point and 3s.
Goran Dragic, PG, Phoenix Suns (1.7 percent owned): I've regularly touted Dragic as one of the best "if the starter in front of him gets injured" players due to his superb per-minute averages in assists and 3s, and the lucrative context for fantasy point guards that is Phoenix. He's averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 assists and 1.7 3s per game in the past 15 days with Steve Nash around, highlighted by Monday's 32-point effort, with six 3s and three assists. Dragic is experiencing the most productive statistical stretch of his career, and his value has increased to the point that he's more than a speculative "what-if" add, contributing points, 3s, assists and steals in limited minutes.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.