At this point in the fantasy basketball season, you must look at the complete player. Seeing that a player kills it in one category should not make him an automatic add. Some players will hurt you in other categories. If you pick up a player who has been averaging 10 rebounds per game over the last month but is shooting horribly from the field and free-throw line, then you are not doing yourself any favors and your team will be affected negatively.
If you want to pick up a player that exhibits that kind of production, spot-start him. You must check the player's opponent. Sometimes the best way to avoid a late-week collapse is not to over-think it. Do not make a move out of paranoia. Your team has gotten you this far. If you are down by a ton and have to make up a lot of ground with limited time, that is a different story.
Here are some of the players that have been playing terrifically down the stretch that you can still find on your waiver wire.
Maurice Harkless, forward, Orlando Magic: Harkless was the best-kept secret two months ago, and despite his multi-category production that he provides, he is still owned in only 39 percent of leagues polled. Now is the time to pick him up. The Magic have found their spark in Harkless, and he has been rewarded.
In his last six games, he has played 38.4 minutes per game and has gotten a lot more offensive opportunities. Harkless has scored 15.1 points and grabbed 6.7 rebounds per game during this stretch. He has also stolen the ball 2.9 times and even blocked a shot per game. He has shot 45.8 percent from the field.
Why is this guy available? The only issue with Harkless is his poor free-throw shooting. He has shot 55.1 percent from the line this season. I think that the positives outweigh the negatives, and Harkless would be a great addition to your team.
Jimmy Butler, guard-forward, Chicago Bulls: Just for the record, I am not including Butler on this list because of that posterizing alley-oop slam he made over Chris Bosh when the Bulls snapped the Heat's 27-game winning streak. Butler has been brought up in this article before.
Butler can play both inside and outside on offense. He has scored 12.7 points and added 5.2 rebounds per game in his last seven games. Butler has been playing 32.4 minutes per game during this time, and those were minutes that he was not getting earlier in the season. Butler has shot 50 percent from the field during this stretch and is a threat from long distance.
Butler is also a phenomenal perimeter defender. In his last seven games he has been just as effective on defense as he has been on offense. Butler has contributed 1.2 steals and a block per game. He will even contribute a couple of assists. Butler has grown a ton this season as a ballplayer, and if you are holding out on picking him up because of the possible return of Derrick Rose (knee), you are way too paranoid and over-thinking fantasy basketball. Butler is owned in only 13 percent of leagues polled.
Shaun Livingston, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers: We are going back to the gift that keeps on giving in fantasy basketball: the Cleveland Cavaliers. If you need a point guard, you better pick Livingston up now and get good use out of him before he gets hurt again. Livingston has contributed 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game in his last six games. He has been playing 32.1 minutes per game, which shows the confidence the Cavaliers have in his health.
Livingston has also become a scoring threat as of late. He has scored 12.8 points per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the field in his last seven games. Livingston will also bolster your free-throw percentage as he has shot 86.8 percent from the stripe. Livingston has never been afraid to drive the lane, and he has been getting to the free-throw line at least once per game. Livingston is owned in 14 percent of leagues polled, and like most other Cavs, he will help you win your week or league.
Garrett Temple, guard, Washington Wizards: John Wall is not the only guard performing well on the Wizards. Remember when I said that non-playoff teams often expand their rotations to see what kind of depth they have? Temple barely had any focus, but in the last two weeks, he has been a big fantasy spark, however, it does not seem that many fantasy basketball players have taken advantage. During that time Temple has scored 9.6 points, grabbed 3.0 rebounds and dished 3.5 assists per game.
I realize those statistics do not jump off the page, but the fact that the Wizards are playing him 36.1 minutes per game does stand out. Temple's 2.1 steals per game over the last two weeks also stands out. Temple is owned in 3 percent of leagues polled and has been shooting 46.9 percent from the hardwood over his last six games. Temple is quick and aggressive, and, until you see his playing time go down, stick with him. He has provided tremendous balanced statistics that do very little harm to your overall totals and percentages.
Dante Cunningham, forward, Milwaukee Bucks: Even before looking closer at Cunningham's statistics, the fact that he has scored 8.4 points and grabbed 5.1 rebounds per game this season does impress me. He also grabs a steal per game as well. Despite Cunningham scoring 10.5 points and shooting 50.6 percent from the field in his last six games, he is playing fewer minutes per game than his season average.
Cunningham has committed multiple steals in several games this season. Cunningham does not turn the ball over or hurt you in shooting percentages. Just because the Bucks will not fully commit to him does not mean you have to ignore him. Cunningham is a good short-term solution. He is owned in 5 percent of leagues polled, meaning you can stream him - pick him up and see how he produces. Throwing him back out on to the waiver wire after a couple of games should not affect your team negatively. As I have said before, minor production in multiple categories is more beneficial than major production in one category and no production in others.
About Justin "Fensty" Fensterman
Fensterman covers fantasy basketball for KFFL and joined the team in 2012. He is a Sports Radio Producer on SiriusXM's Fantasy Sports Radio channel, the first channel dedicated solely to fantasy sports. An avid fantasy basketball player, Fensty's biggest accomplishment in the fantasy sports world was in 2004 when he had an undefeated season in a Yahoo! Sports Fantasy NBA league and was ranked in the top 30 among all players in the world.
A native from Oyster Bay, NY, Fensty left New York to study Broadcast Journalism at American University in Washington D.C. in 2005. Fensty has previously worked for MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, MTV and News 12: Long Island.
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