Consistency is a good thing for fantasy basketball. Sometimes it is not about exceeding expectations but meeting them. You do not need a player who leads the league in a category on your team. You can be just as successful having players who are consistently helpful all season long. A player who has averaged eight points and eight rebounds throughout the year is just as much of a help. Depth and consistency are what you need for your team to win a championship.
Derrick Favors, forward-center, Utah Jazz: With Al Jefferson (ankle) and Paul Millsap (knee) hampered by injuries, Favors has finally earned his spot in the Jazz rotation and has not looked back since the early part of the season. If you look at his statistics over the last few weeks, Favors has been averaging a double-double scoring 10.7 points and grabbing 10.3 rebounds.
When looking at Favors' season statistics you will see that he is essentially a 10-point- and six-rebound-per-game player. The consistency Favors has provided prior to the recent increase in productivity has been helpful to fantasy owners. He has shot 47 percent from the field this season. An important statistic that comes into play for Favors is his shot-blocking ability. Favors has rejected 1.6 shots per game this season and 2.7 shots per game in the last two weeks.
Jamal Crawford, guard, Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have so much depth that they do not need to play one of their biggest scoring threats in Crawford for 30 minutes per game. Crawford is definite finalist for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, and his shooting percentage has not suffered as it has in past season. Crawford has scored 17.2 points per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field.
Crawford's free-throw percentage has also helped fantasy owners as he has shot 85.8 percent from the line. Crawford has shot 38 percent from three-point territory this season and makes nearly two per game. He has shot better from the field this season than his previous two from both in front and behind the arc. Crawford also contributed by swiping the ball 1.1 times per game.
Nikola Pekovic, center, Minnesota Timberwolves: With Kevin Love (hand) out all season and Andrei Kirilenko having trouble staying healthy, Pekovic has been a big part of the Timberwolves' inside presence. Pekovic has scored 15.9 points per game, shooting 50.9 percent from the floor. Pekovic has also contributed a steal and block per game in the majority of games this season.
Pekovic is a big help under the basket as he has grabbed 8.8 rebounds per game. His scoring and rebounding have been slightly under average over the last two weeks, but his steals and blocks have improved over that time period. Over the last two weeks, Pekovic has stolen the ball and swatted shots 1.5 times per game over the last two weeks. He has been shooting 58.8 percent from the field over the last two, although scoring fewer points. Sometimes less really is more.
J.R. Smith, guard-forward, New York Knicks: If you do not know by now that Smith loves to shoot, you have been out to lunch all year long. Yes, Smith has scored 16.5 points per game this season while shooting 40 percent from the field. That is not why I bring him up as a fantasy beast. If you look beyond his zest for shooting, you will see that he is a major help in other categories. Smith is not afraid to drive the lane and play in the paint. Often, he switches off of his defender at the perimeter to guard the post. By switching defenders and playing more inside, it allows Smith to utilize his athletic ability in other ways.
Smith has learned to use his leaping ability to grab rebounds on the defensive end. He has grabbed five boards per game this season. Smith has had multiple games in which he has grabbed more than 10 rebounds per game. Smith also helps in the steals category, swiping the ball 1.3 times per game. His interior and exterior defense have completely balanced out his NBA game and fantasy productivity.
Kawhi Leonard, guard-forward, San Antonio Spurs: Leonard has been a major help in every standard fantasy basketball category this season. The Spurs have found players to keep them at the top of the Western Conference. Leonard has scored 11.3 points by shooting 49.2 percent from the field this season. He makes at least one three-pointer per game and, just like last season, shoots over 36 percent from beyond the arc. Leonard has shot 84.1 percent from the free-throw line. He contributes 1.4 assists per game, as well. When watching him play, you can see that Leonard makes smart decisions with the basketball. He knows when to pass and not just force up a shot. That is often a difficulty of younger shooting guards and small forwards as they learn the ways of the league.
Leonard has also grabbed 5.4 rebounds and stolen the ball 1.8 times per game this season. He has shown that he is a great perimeter defender and the Spurs reward him for it by playing him at least 30 minutes per game. Remember, they have Danny Green, who plays virtually the same position as Leonard and provides similar productivity. Leonard also averages half of a block per game this season, which means that he blocks a shot every other game.