- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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We're approaching the Hail Mary period of the fantasy hoops season if you're attempting to make up ground in specific categories and improve your place in your league's standings. So this week I'm going to highlight players in each of the aggregate categories who are worth adding if you need a late-season boost. Many of them aren't worth a roster spot if you need an all-around contributor, but can help in at least one category, which is all that matters sometimes this late in the season. In an attempt to highlight several players in each category, I'll be brief with my analysis for each one and focus on the key stats to support their addition.
One other quick late-season roto strategy: identify excesses and modify your roster accordingly. If you're first place in 3-pointers and a hundred treys ahead of your next competitor, dropping, say, Richard Jefferson for a player who addresses a need is a completely legitimate move.
Let's take a look at some widely available options for specific categorical help:
Lester Hudson, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (37.8 percent owned): The Celtics' second-round pick from 2009 has burst on the scene in Kyrie Irving's absence, averaging an insane 23.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 3s and 1.5 steals per game over his past four. He can produce in several categories, but is featured in points since they're so difficult to find on the waiver wire. Although Irving's return will diminish his minutes, the fact he's played this well when given the opportunity almost certainly means he's secured a larger role with the team going forward. He averaged 27.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.3 steals and 3.3 3s per game his final season at the University of Tennessee-Martin, so the skill set is there, he's just finally getting the opportunity to show the world.
Michael Redd, SG, Phoenix Suns (1.1 percent owned): Redd still has some game left , as his 35.2 points per 48 minutes this month illustrates. That rate ranks fifth in the league, and the vet has hit double digits in five of his past six games, averaging 13.6 points and 1.4 3-pointers per game this month. His role as a bench scorer will result in some inconsistency, though he's still got the ability to average double-digit scoring the rest of the way.
Ed Davis, PF/C, Toronto Raptors (28.0 percent owned): Davis has undeniable talent, two straight double-doubles and the third-best rebounding rate in the league this month. He's averaging 8.9 rebounds per game over his past seven contests, and is clearly a major part of the Raptors' future, so he should see considerable run down the stretch. He has the game to put up several more double-digit rebounding efforts to close out the season.
James Singleton, PF, Washington Wizards (0.5 percent owned): The Wizards' lineup is a carousel that benefits players who perform when given the chance. This makes it hard for players to be consistent, but Singleton has played well in his stint in D.C., with 7.8 rebounds per game over his past four contests and 14.8 rebounds per 48 minutes this month. With Andray Blatche and Trevor Booker out of the lineup, he's stepped up alongside another unheralded big in Kevin Seraphin, and given the meritocracy in Washington, as long as he keeps performing the minutes and considerable boards should continue.
Nick Collison, PF/C, Oklahoma City Thunder (0.5 percent owned): He's not flashy, and won't put up double-digit rebounding efforts, but consistently gives you a handful of boards per night -- he's snared at least five in seven of his past eight contests. He won't help you make up much ground, but will help you hold steady in deeper leagues, and gives you about a half a block and half a steal to boot.
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Los Angeles Clippers (0.2 percent owned): He's an absolute athletic freak, which translates into stats when given a chance to see the floor. His minutes have increased to 17.5 in April from 10.5 per game in March, and is putting up 3.3 assists and 1.7 3s per game in that span. Those are fantastic per-minute numbers, and if he continues seeing around 20 minutes per night even with Mo Williams back in the picture, he's a deep-league option.
Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Utah Jazz (0.1 percent owned): Dimes can be so scarce on the waiver wire that third-string point guards like Tinsley become an option in deeper formats. The cagey vet is averaging 3.7 assists per game this month, and should continue to give you 3-4 per night. His 11.6 assists per 48 minutes is sixth in the league, so even though he doesn't get many minutes, when he does he accrues dimes at a high rate.
Cartier Martin, SG/SF, Washington Wizards (0.2 percent owned): He's played in Turkey, China and been a D-League All-Star. He averaged 17.1 points and 2.2 3s per game in his final season at Kansas State, has honed his game through several professional avenues, and now has put up 1.8 3s per game in his past five games for the Wizards, shooting 41.0 percent from downtown this season. He has at least one 3-pointer in all but two games with the Wizards, and should be a lock for more than a trey per game if his minutes continue.
Luke Babbitt, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (0.1 percent owned): The Blazers' frontcourt is a mess, with LaMarcus Aldridge out for the season, Gerald Wallace in New Jersey and Marcus Camby in Houston, which has opened up PT for Babbitt, who has drained at least one 3-pointer in 10 of 11 contests, averaging 1.8 3s per game in that span. He won't provide much else, but has become a legitimate long-range threat in deeper formats.
Kenyon Martin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers (0.8 percent owned): With 1.4 steals per game over his past five contests and 3.0 steals per 48 minutes this season, Martin still has the ability to put up solid defensive stats. In his past 10 games, he's averaging 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, but is featured here because the steals from a power forward are a bonus, and accruing stats from atypical roster spots is a nice way to make up ground.
Ivan Johnson, PF, Atlanta Hawks (0.1 percent owned): He has shown the ability to score sporadically, with recent games of 16 and 17 points, but with 0.7 steals per game in just 15.5 minutes, and 1.2 per game over his past five, swipes are his best stat. Like Martin, he gets them from the power forward position, so in deeper formats if you're looking to dig yourself out of a steals hole, Johnson is an option.
Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks (5.7 percent owned): The change in scenery hasn't affected his ability to affect shots, as he's swatted 2.6 per game over his past five games. He's also at 1.9 per game for his past 10, and 1.7 per game on the season in just 21.6 minutes per game, with 0.7 steals per game as well. Udoh's rebounding has improved with the Bucks as well, up to 5.2 per game from 3.8 in Golden State, and he has four games of eight or more boards already, compared to just three all season by the Bay. But blocks is where he makes his money, and despite the fact he comes off the bench, he's one of the most consistent sources of swats in the league.
Anthony Randolph, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (3.3 percent owned): His raw ability has had fantasy owners and NBA GMs alike drooling for years, but he's never been able to put it together into any sort of consistent package. But Kevin Love's concussion opened up an opportunity, and Randolph has exploded for 22.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game in the past two contests. For his career, he's averaged 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.6 steals per game in just 17.3 minutes, so it's not insane to believe he could average 10 boards, two blocks and a steal per game with starter's minutes, especially now that he's apparently matured. He's just 22 years old, and as we've seen with Gerald Green and Brandan Wright this season, players who fizzle early in their careers can turn it around. If you're looking for a high-upside option and need blocks, jump on Randolph, who should put up impressive numbers at least as long as Love sits.
Robin Lopez, C, Phoenix Suns (0.5 percent owned): Another player who contributes only defensively, Lopez has been putting up solid steal/block totals in limited minutes, with 0.8 steals and 2.2 blocks per game in his past five. He's one of the better per-minute shot-blockers in the league, averaging 3.1 blocks per 48 minutes, one of 16 players seeing at least 10 minutes per game to do so. If Udoh and Bismack Biyombo are off the board and you're looking for a blocks specialist Lopez is a viable option available in nearly every league who will also provide some boards and steals in his limited playing time.
Josh Whitling goes category-by-category to find helpers on the waiver wire for the final two weeks of play.