2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Roto specialists
Sometimes going for the guy who does one thing really well is the way to go. Our Joe Polito breaks out a list of players who could put you over the top in a Rotisserie league.
As the sport of basketball continues to evolve, we're getting closer to the day when everybody in the NBA does a little bit of everything. Centers shoot threes, point guards grab rebounds and small forwards dish out assists. These stat sheet fillers are great for Fantasy purposes, but in the Rotisserie format, there comes a time when you need someone who's great at one thing rather than good at several things.
That's where these guys come in.
Below is a list of players who aren't flying off draft boards, but should still prove useful in a long Roto season. Maybe Andre Drummond and Larry Sanders have you crushing the competition in blocks and rebounds, but you'll need a lights-out free throw shooter to make up for their deficiencies. Or maybe James Harden and Jrue Holiday are scoring in bunches but ruining your turnover category. Depending on how your season unfolds, you might think it wise to punt on certain categories in favor of maintaining others. But if you decide to try to maintain balance between all the relevant stats consider using one of the guys below to counteract your stars' weaknesses.
Poster Boy: Nick Young , Lakers
Similar Options: MarShon Brooks , Celtics; Jordan Crawford , Celtics
This is for the scenario where you've filled your roster with team-first guys, who put up all sorts of numbers but might not be selfish enough to put you over the top in points. Enter Nick Young -- a guy who for 30 minutes per game is capable of thinking he's Kobe Bryant . His usage peaked between 2010 and 2012 with the Wizards, when he averaged more than 14 field goal attempts per game. Young should get back to those levels with the Lakers. When you look at the rest of his career stats, you see why he has had trouble sticking on a team and why he made it onto this list. He averages 1.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.5 steals per game for his career. So if you're comfortable in other categories, consider Young a cheap source of points on one of the more talent-deprived teams in the West. Somebody has to lead L.A. in scoring while Kobe's out, and Nick Young is just the guy to do so.
Poster Boy: Brandan Wright , Mavericks
Similar options: Nick Collison , Thunder; Kosta Koufos , Grizzlies
Some of the best Fantasy options have to take a lot of shots to succeed. This group of bigs should come in handy if the majority of your Roto production comes from inefficient scorers, such as Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis . Mavericks' backup Brandan Wright has the highest potential for blocks and points, but all three of these guys are good at only shooting from point-blank range. Wright's youth alone should garner him some playing time, as he'll be one of the guys backing up Drik Nowitki, who missed 29 games last season. Collison will likely lead these three in playing time, but his basketball value falls more into non-stat categories, like setting screens and swinging the ball. All three have hovered around the 60 percent mark the last two seasons, so consider them strong candidates to help revive your field goal percentage category.
Poster Boy: Reggie Evans , Nets
Similar options: Jason Thompson , Kings; Omer Asik , Rockets
Just because a guy is tall, doesn't mean he's a natural at snatching rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh both shoot a high percentage and can score, but neither is known for their rebounding. That's why you might pair them with Reggie Evans . This guy epitomizes the title of "specialist," and is in the league for only one reason: He's a scrap-tastic rebounding machine. If there's one thing the revamped Nets team will need, it's hustle, which Evans brings in droves. He grabbed 20 or more rebounds in nine games last year while averaging 11.1 boards in 24 minutes per contest. He's one of the few dirty work experts left in the league, and he should have plenty of opportunities to take out the trash on an older team with long-term aspirations. Once again, this is the only reason he'll see the floor, so consider Evans an "in case of emergency" option – only smash the glass if you're desperate, because his 10-15 boards will cost you in every other category.
Poster Boy: Shaun Livingston , Nets
Similar Options: Beno Udrih , Knicks; Pablo Prigioni , Knicks
After a year of isolation offense found them bounced in the first round to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, it's not a far cry to say the Nets could use some ball movement. Surrounded by proven scorers and finishers, Shaun Livingston finds himself in the perfect scenario to have one of his best years. The Nets added big-time shot takers in Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry , and their new coach has the second most assists in NBA history. Deron Williams sidelined by ankle issues, Livingston is already showing some promise by leading the Nets in assists so far this preseason. Their third point guard, Tyshon Taylor, still has a ways to go before he's able to lead a playoff caliber lineup like Brooklyn's. Livingston's skill set makes him a good fit to help run the offense while Williams is hurt or resting. If you find yourself in need of assistance, you could do worse than a pass-first guy on a team of shoot-first veterans.
Poster Boy: Greg Stiemsma , Pelicans
Similar Options: Bismack Biyombo , Bobcats; Terrence Jones , Rockets
Some big men score and grab rebounds, but don't do much for you in the shot blocking department – we're looking at you Kevin Love and David Lee . Luckily, there are a few guys in the league who earn a living solely on the defensive end. Greg Stiemsma is one of these guys. New Orleans brought him in to replace Robin Lopez , and the 6-foot-11 center has shown the ability to anchor defenses in the past. In his two years playing NBA ball, Stiemsma has averaged 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes, so a larger role with the Pelicans should improve his block totals. Biyombo is another one of these block specialists, but he'll be stuck behind Al Jefferson in the Bobcat's lineup, making him more of a desperation play. Terrence Jones , on the other hand, isn't your stereotypical block guy, but he's talented enough to swat a few while contributing to other categories.
Poster Boy: Corey Brewer , Timberwolves
Other Options: Avery Bradley , Celtics; Mario Chalmers , Heat
Fitting the mold of a steals guy, Corey Brewer has long arms, quick feet and a relentless motor on defense. He averaged 1.4 steals per game in a reserve role for the Nuggets last season, so that number should increase as he takes on a larger responsibility with the Timberwolves. Minnesota will again be without Chase Budinger , so Brewer is looking like a lock for the starting job. While he's always been an erratic, yet willing three point shooter, Brewer did shoot 49 percent from two-point territory last year, and sharing the court with Ricky Rubio should only help his scoring. The 6-foot-9 guard has the length to be a menace in the passing lanes and the quickness to finish at the other end, making him a nice option for steals and low-end scoring.
Poster Boy: Chauncey Billups , Pistons
Similar Options: Francisco Garcia , Rockets; Jodie Meeks , Lakers
When you've made 89.4 percent of your 5,017 free throws, you've earned yourself the title of specialist. Chauncey Billups is the kind of fringe player you might want to own if you also start Dwight Howard , DeAndre Jordan or any other perennial free throw clanker. Billups is set to play a larger role, especially given injuries to fellow Detroit guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings . He's one of the most proven free throw shooters in the NBA, and should help out with a few steals and three pointers from time to time. Francisco Garcia and Jodie Meeks are two other free throw aces who can help you out with threes and points.
Poster Boy: Randy Foye , Nuggets
Similar Options: Dorell Wright , Trail Blazers; C.J. Miles , Cavaliers
If the majority of your points are coming from stars like Tony Parker , Dwyane Wade or John Wall , chances are you're going to need some help from beyond the arc. Randy Foye finished 7th in the league last year with 178 made three pointers, making him a strong candidate to help out your Roto team from downtown this season. He'll be one of the Nuggets' few options for fire power off the bench, so one can reasonable expect him to keep pace with his last year, when he averaged 5.4 three point attempts per game. What separates Foye from other run-of-the-mill shooters is the fact that he can be a volume shooter and still hit at a high percentage. He'll likely be given the green light to fire away playing alongside non-shooter Andre Miller of Denver's second unit, so look for Foye if you need some help from deep.
Poster Boy: Steve Novak , Raptors
Similar Options: Matt Bonner , Spurs; Thabo Sefolosha , Thunder
When you consider the fact that Rajon Rondo , James Harden and Kobe Bryant led the league in turnovers per game last year, you can see why it might be hard to keep this number down while thriving in other categories. That's why you employ the help of these one-trick ponies (or two if you count Thabo Sefolosha defense). All three of these guys take good care of the basketball simply because when they get it, they're usually sitting in the corner ready to shoot. Steve Novak is the Michael Jordan of not turning the ball over, averaging just 0.2 giveaways per game for his career. All three will help you keep turnovers down while giving a slight boost in shooting categories.