- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Welcome to Part 2 of the "Working the Wire" three-part special event. (Holding for you to get amped up )
Last week I examined players who help in 3-pointers and the percentages; this week is points, assists and turnovers. I'll cap it off next week with rebounds, steals and blocks.
The points, assists and turnover categories are often intertwined because they typically involve the players who have the ball in their hands the most. This often makes points and assists hard to find on the waiver wire; those players with the opportunity to accrue those stats are often so heavily involved in their teams' offense that they've made enough of a name for themselves to already be owned. There are options out there, though, and even more have surfaced with all the trade-deadline activity; the wheeling and dealing has altered the fantasy landscape and bestowed certain players with newfound value. Let's take a look at some widely available options in points, assists and turnovers:
Marcus Thornton, SG, Sacramento Kings (31.4 percent owned): Thornton has been a regular in this column, flirting with fantasy viability off and on during his disappointing second season. He was huge as a rookie, especially late in the season, averaging 20.3 points and 2.0 3s per game after the All-Star Game, evidence that he can score when given the opportunity. Well, with Tyreke Evans out for the next several weeks, Thornton should immediately get more opportunities to show off his ability to put the ball in the bucket at a high rate.
Thornton was underused in New Orleans, getting around 16 minutes per game, a number that should increase in his new digs. With around 25 minutes per game, Thornton should be able to average around 15 points and 1.5 3s per game, numbers that make him a valuable addition to fantasy teams in most formats. Keep an eye on how he's used in Sacramento, although all indications point toward a spike in value.
Toney Douglas, PG/SG, New York Knicks (6.2 percent owned): The Knicks traded much of their depth away to acquire Carmelo Anthony, so even though Douglas will remain on the bench, he should receive an increase in touches and, if the new-look Knicks' first game is any indication of what's to come, his value should be bolstered. He played 29 minutes off the bench, scoring 23 points with three 3s and two steals, and was already having a solid February, averaging 12.1 points and 1.9 3s per game in 21.8 minutes per contest.
Even if Douglas' minutes don't spike dramatically, the Knicks should rely upon him to score more with several of their primary offensive options wearing baby blue and yellow, so look for Douglas to average between 13-15 points per game and be a primary scoring option when Carmelo is resting. As such, Douglas should be a nice source of points, 3s and steals, and get enough of a post-deadline boost in value to make him a good addition for fantasy teams looking for cheap offensive punch.
Willie Green, SG, New Orleans Hornets (2.6 percent owned): The converse affect of Thornton being traded away is that Green should get even more minutes; he was already getting increased run lately, posting averages of 17.0 points and 1.4 3s per game in 32.4 minutes over his past five contests. After his minutes hovered around 20 per game for much of the season, he's averaging 27.4 in February, a number that should increase with Thornton out of the picture. His scoring average of 13.3 points per game this month easily eclipses his mark in any other month, and he should be able to maintain that pace, with at least a 3-pointer per game to boot. Green's situation has improved greatly over the past week, so look to add him in deeper leagues if you need points.
Kirk Hinrich, PG/SG, Atlanta Hawks (36.3 percent owned): Hinrich might not be the player he once was, but his mediocre averages this year have a lot to do with sharing time with John Wall in Washington. Now he's the starting point guard for the Hawks and should get a dramatic increase in playing time and touches. He has always been able to provide a nice combination of assists, 3s and steals when given the opportunity, and should be able to average around 15 points, 5 assists, 1.5 3s and a steal per game in his new role. With Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford to dish the ball to, and the disappointing Jeff Teague as his primary competition for minutes, Hinrich should see a notable bump in value. The Hawks deliberately secured his services for the stretch run, and Hinrich should find the ball in his hands way more than he did in Washington. He should be owned in all formats and is suddenly a solid starting fantasy point guard, able to help in multiple categories, especially assists, which are a scarce find on the waiver wire. If he's available, grab him immediately.
Jose Juan Barea, PG, Dallas Mavericks (2.9 percent owned): Barea has become a key player for the Mavs, averaging 13.0 points, 4.1 assists and 1.2 3s per game over the past 30 days, in 22.3 minutes per game. His 9.6 assists per 48 minutes in February is higher than many starting point guards (including Chauncey Billups and Darren Collison), and Barea gets enough run to have an impact in the category. He's also providing scoring, and has secured his playing time through steady play off the bench. As mentioned, assists are hard to find on the waiver wire, and Barea should continue to tally around four per game. You won't find much better than that available in most leagues, so if he's unowned and you're in need of assists, target Barea.
Will Bynum, PG, Detroit Pistons (1.4 percent owned): Bynum saw increased run when Rodney Stuckey was sidelined but is still playing well off the bench for the Pistons, averaging 4.5 assists per game in 20.2 minutes in February. That's good for 10.6 assists per 48 minutes, and he recently had consecutive games with seven assists, proving he's still able to provide value even with Stuckey in the lineup. He doesn't provide much in the way of 3s, but he's averaging 1.3 steals per game this month and has been a steady source of assists. Despite the fact he likely won't average 30 minutes per game, Bynum is producing in limited minutes, and has become a viable option in deeper formats.
C.J. Miles, SF, Utah Jazz (14.5 percent owned): Miles has been a consistent scorer off the bench all season for the Jazz, although the most impressive part about his 12.5 points per game is that he has been able to do it while averaging just 1.0 turnover per game. With Deron Williams gone, the Jazz gave up a chunk of offense that Devin Harris alone won't be able to fill. That could increase Miles' responsibility on the offensive side of the ball.
Miles is averaging 13.3 points per game in February, which is worth noting if you're in need of points in any format. The more notable thing, however, is that he's done it while averaging a ridiculous 0.4 turnovers per game. If you need points and 3s but can't handle the increase in turnovers that typically comes along with players who provide in these categories, Miles is a must-add if he's still available in your league.
Shane Battier, SF, Memphis Grizzlies (11.3 percent owned): Battier has been a mainstay in leagues with turnovers for years, regularly contributing 3s, blocks and steals with negligible turnovers. He's doing it again this year, with 1.5 3s, 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals, with just 1.1 turnovers per game, and it looks as if his role should be similar in Memphis as it was in Houston, especially with Rudy Gay sidelined.
Battier won't give you points or rebounds, but his ability to provide in several of the less glamorous categories, with few turnovers, makes him a perfect "glue" player in leagues with turnovers, and he's ranked No. 46 on the Player Rater if you factor in turnovers. Battier is a must-own in turnover formats, so if he's available, ignore the fact his numbers don't jump out at you and look more closely at his ability to help in several areas without harming your team elsewhere.
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Mavericks (4.6 percent owned): Peja has been completely off the fantasy radar for most of the season, battling injuries while being a non-factor in New Orleans and Toronto. But he's back to his old ways, and after being claimed off waivers by the Mavs, he has played at least 20 minutes in six of the past seven contests. With Stojakovic, that's enough playing time to undoubtedly have an impact in points and especially 3-pointers, and he's averaging 15.5 points and 3.0 3s per game in his past four contests. The great thing about Peja's role as a spot-up shooter, though, is that he's able to put up numbers like that without having to put the ball on the floor, thus he barely turns the ball over. He has averaged less than a turnover per game in each of his past three seasons, and should continue to do so with the Mavs, while still helping in points and 3-pointers.
Josh Whitling discusses helpers in the points, assists and turnover categories as you look to make a move in the standings.