All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and NBA.com. All numbers as of 12/6/18.
Let’s take a look at 20 of the Top 100 players in ESPN Basic fantasy basketball that are owned in less than 50% of leagues. If these players are available in your league, you should check ‘em out, or at least consider playing them as streamers.
- Robert Covington, SF, MIN, #22 overall on the ESPN Player Rater, 47.9% owned
We’ve talked at length about Big Bob Covington in this space before, so TL;DR: he’s one of the most useful players in fantasy basketball since last season, he’s been TOP 15 over the past two weeks (between Maestro Dame Lillard and Bradley Kind of a Big Beal), and he is the ONLY player in the entire NBA to average 2+ steals per game and 1+ blocks per game. THE. ONLY. ONE. Also, out of the 36 players who currently average six or more 3-point attempts per game, Bob Covington has the fourth best 3PT% at 39.1%. He is, as the scientists say, MFing dynamite.
Bob’s a top 50 fantasy player, at least, and he’s not even in the top 100 of most owned players. Kris Dunn is owned more than Bob Covington; Dunn’s only played in one game this season. Jordan Bell, who is a Center for the Indiana Pacers that you’ve never heard of, and has a negative player rating on the year, is owned more than Bob Covington. And, JUST KIDDING, Bell plays for Golden State, but you didn’t know that because it doesn’t matter, he’s a completely replaceable player, and there’s no reason in THE UNIVERSE for him to be rostered more than Bob God Damn Covington. That is some absolutely ridic Warriors over-hype right there, man. Like, who’s less important than a Warriors center when everyone on Golden State is healthy? Bell’s 6’9” and averages under 3 rebounds per game, and he’s owned more than Jaren Jackson, Jr.! Get outta here with that nonsense. People are saying, “Oh gee, we were hoping that he’d run away with the center minutes after JaVale McGee left.” Que?! Run away with what? JaVale averaged 3 shots a game and 2 boards last season. What exactly is a non-Draymond center supposed to run away with on the Warriors? Even when Boogie Cousins (who I do indeed roster) returns from his Achilles injury, he probably won’t be playing 30 minutes a game and taking 12 shots, y’know? Regular season Golden State bigs (aside from Draymond Green, of course) just aren’t that valuable. People should trade Bell if they can and pick up a player who can actually get you counting stats. Like, y’know, the highly available Robert Covington.
2. JaVale McGee, C, LAL, #28 overall, 31.8% owned
Speaking of Mr. McGee! JaVale’s losing ownership, which I understand: the Lakers adding Tyson Chandler obviously ate into McGee’s opportunities a little bit. But! He’s still been a top 60 player over the past month, due mainly to his blocks (he’s top 10 in total blocks over the past month). He’s probably more useful as a sell-high player if you own him, but if he’s just sitting on your waiver wire, then please help yourself to a free top 75 player. He’s more useful than Jordan Bell, that’s for sure.
3. Justin Holiday, SG/SF, CHI, #39 overall, 12.2% owned
The return of the Finnisher, Lauri Markkanen, has probably scared some folks off from acquiring Holiday, but the imminent return of Baron Markkanen (before he actually returned) was also why I thought Holiday’s ownership was low. But, Holiday’s taken 13 and 11 shots, respectively, over his past two games. Maybe his role won’t change as much as we thought? Regardless, he’s been the 34th best player in fantasy over the past 30 days, and out of everyone who averages 7+ 3PA on the year, Holiday has the third best 3PT% at 39.1 (hey, same as Bob!). He’s also top 10 in steals over the past month. I understand why people don’t think his value will last, but at a certain point you just have to take the bar of solid gold you found outside in the street. Volume players on bad teams aren’t fool’s gold, they’re found money. Besides, what does it cost you aside from a roster spot? I bet you have some garbage players on your roster that don’t get you even a quarter of the value that Justin Holiday’s provided (I sure as hell do), but you didn’t want to give up on a fantasy boyfriend and you didn’t believe in Holiday. Well, we’re in December now, and it’s the season for believing.
4. Jaren Jackson, Jr., PF/C, MEM, #43 overall, 49.9% owned
We’ve talked about 3J before, so we won’t get into specifics, but it sure is nice to see his ownership rise as basketball nation continues to delight in the surprising Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis is in 6th place in the Western Conference (they have a better point differential than Utah and Houston), and they have the second toughest defense in points allowed per game in the NBA (behind the Pacers). Only 9 players in the NBA are averaging at least two blocks per game, and 3J is one of them. He’s been the 21st best player over the past 30 days. 3J fouls too much, but ohhhh yyyyyyyeah, he’s a rookie, so he’s probably only going to get better. If Luka Doncic didn’t exist, 3J would be up there for Rookie of the Year honors. He’s still avails in over half of leagues…
5. J.J. Redick, SG, PHI, #50 overall, 41.7% owned
JJ’s tied for 5th most 3PM on the season. He is, and he has been, one of the preeminent shooters in fantasy, and he’s doing it again this year. I imagine his lack of ownership is due to people thinking that he’s the fourth banana on Philadelphia after Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler; but, JJ’s third in shot attempts on the 76ers. Simmons is fourth. It’s important to remember that Simmons, while absolutely awesome, can’t shoot yet, and so Redick’s volume of outside shots is up: he’s averaging 7+ 3PA per game, which is his career high. Philly needs JJ and Jimmy Buckets to shoot; that ain’t changin’ while Ben Simmons runs the offense. If you can buy low on Redick, you should: even with the addition of Butler, JJ’s still a top 60 player in fantasy over the past month.
6. Joe Ingles, SF, UTAH, #54 overall, 43.9% owned
Ingles is one of the more obscure players in NBA fantasy, but this is the second season in a row that Joe’s been a top 100 player. He’s averaging 12+ PPG, 3+ RPG, 4+ APG, and 2+ 3PM this season; only 18 players in the NBA are doing that, and all of them are owned more than Ingles. Ingles has the fourth best 3PT% out of that group. He’s heating up a bit, as he’s been the 42nd best player in ESPN basic over the past 30 days. He’s a guy who raises your fantasy team’s floor every week. Very useful player to have.
7. Kent Bazemore, SG, ATL, #56 overall, 5.7% owned (!?!?!)
Okay, so here’s another good fantasy player on a bad team. Bazemore has been a Top 50 player over the past month, and almost nobody owns him. What gives? Is it because his name is Kent? Bazemore’s averaging 12+ PPG, 1+ BPG, 1+ SPG, and 1+ 3PM per game. Do you know who else is doing that? Bradley Beal, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dr. John Wall, Nikola Vucevic, Marc Gasol, Lauri Markkanen, and ROBERT COVINGTON. That’s it, in the entire NBA. And, Bazemore’s outside shot should improve: since he arrived in Atlanta in 2014, he’s never had a 3PT% under 34. It’s currently 28.7. His outside shots will start falling, and his value will improve. Now that Taurean Prince is out with an injury, Bazemore’s volume should only go up. This is my favorite pickup, as he raises your team’s floor even despite his poor shooting (which, again, will improve). Go pick him up right now, if you can.
8. Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG, BK, #72 overall, 30.7% owned
The Mayor! Dinwiddie’s been a favorite round these parts since his excellent season last year, and despite being a nominal backup (he still plays a lot of minutes, he’s fourth on the Nets in MPG), he’s doing it again this season. He’s been a top 60 player over the past 30 days. Only 18 players can meet his line of 15+ PPG, 4+ APG, and 2+ 3PM on the season. He only had one game scoring less than double digits over the past month. Dude’s legit, and if he gets traded to a team that will start him, then watch out: his ownership will skyrocket. (D’Angelo Russell is the least-owned on that list of 18 players mentioned; he’s 84% owned.)
9. Danny Green, SG/SF, TOR, #74 overall, 5.2% owned
Not really sure why people hate on Danny Green so much. Kinda seems like San Antonio sold low on him and his defense in the Kawhi-for-DeChozan trade, especially since Green fits in so nicely with the Raptors. Out of players who’ve played in at least 15 games this season, Danny Green has the best plus/minus at 11.4, followed by Giannis (!), Steph Curry, Steven Adams, and, uh, Brook Lopez (?). Regardless, Green’s been solid, and he’s another guy who can help raise your team’s floor, a hallmark of an unheralded, and under-owned, fantasy player. Green’s line on the year doesn’t pop: 9 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG, 1 SPG, 2 3PM. But! He has the second best 3PT% of people who can match that line (42.8 3PT%), and he has the sixth best 3PT% overall of players who make at least two 3s per game. Solid, but not spectacular = elite bench guys who help you win your fantasy league.
10. Terrence Ross, SF/SG, ORL, #76 overall, 2.2% owned
Ross is the 60th best player on the ESPN player rater over the past month. That should be enough to have you pick him up, but also consider this: there are only five players in the NBA who score at least 14 PPG, attempt at least 5 threes per game, and have a 40+ 3PT%. Ross is one of those five players. The others are Steph Curry, Khris Middleton, Buddy Hield, and Danilo Gallinari. Those four average 30+ minutes per game; Ross is averaging 25. Makes you wonder what he could do with more minutes…
11. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, IND, #82 overall, 18.7% owned
I’ve always liked Bojan; he seems to rise to the occasion in games. He’s currently trying to help the Pacers weather the storm while Victor Oladipo is out with injury: Bojan’s 61st overall over the past 30 days. It seems weird, but only 25 players can match or exceed Bojan’s line of 16 PPG, 3 RPG, and 2 3PM. If someone’s doing something that can’t be matched by 29 other players (so, theoretically, each of the 30 NBA teams could have one of those players), then you should pay attention to them. Bojan Bogdanovic is boring on paper, but exciting in real life, and in fantasy. How often can you say that?
12. Brook Lopez, C, MIL, #84 overall, 46.6% owned
BroLo satisfies our criteria, but I’m also just still amazed at his plus/minus this year. Jesus, that was a good signing by Milwaukee! BroLo’s made the same amount of threes as Kyrie Irving (57). He averages more 3PM (2.5) than Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and CJ McCollum. BroLo is a center and he’s seven feet tall. I mean, I don’t know what to tell you, other than if you don’t need someone who gives you elite three point production, then Cool: you probably have a sickdiculous fantasy team. For everyone else, though, BroLo’s pretty handy. He’s Top 75 over the past month, btw.
13. Noah Vonleh, PF, NYK, #86 overall, 4% owned
Vonleh’s averaging 8 and 8. “Big deal!” you say, “Lots of fantasy players do that!” Actually...only 31 players can match that line so far this season. Last year, only 26 players maintained it for the entire season. It’s rarer than you think! Plus, Vonlah’s averaging that in only 25 MPG, which ties him with Domantas Sabonis for lowest amount of minutes for dudes averaging 8 PPG and 8 RPG. (Sabonis is amazing so far this year.)
Vonleh’s been Top 100 over the past month. If he keeps it up, and his minutes start to creep up, will he average a double-double by the end of the season?
14. Evan Fournier, SG/SF, ORL, #87 overall, 35.1% owned
Fournier is another player you’ve never heard of, on a team that you don’t watch. He just had 26 points in a game where he made 6 threes. He’s averaging 15-3-4; only 16 other players are doing that. I know that you don’t care about Evan Fournier, and you probably don’t care about the Orlando Magic, but he’s one of the reasons why that team is in the 7th seed in the East (along with Vucevic and TRoss and Aaron Gordon). Fournier’s shooting the worst 3PT% of his career right now. If that improves, and his PPG goes up with his long range aim, then Fournier may be a top 75 player for the rest of the year (he’s been top 75 for the past 30 days), and the Magic might be better than we think. (If the Magic roster was actually the Knicks roster, wouldn’t Knicks fans be over the moon about Aaron Gordon, Vooch, and the sizzling Terrence Ross? Wouldn’t they cheer their guts out when Mo Bamba took the floor, and applaud their floor general, DJ Augustin? I think Orlando’s competent; it will be verrrry interesting to see how they handle Vucevic’s walk year. Will they make a big trade so they can start Bamba and tank a lil bit, and try to get one more good draft pick while they have Aaron Gordon?)
15 .& 16. Markieff & Marcus Morris, PFs, WAS & BOS, #91 and 92 overall, 10.3% and 13.8% owned
Awwww, you guys! The Morris Twins are basically tied in value, awww! That is ADORABLE. We wrote about these studs recently, so feel free to visit the Faketeams archives and read up on ‘em, but basically: the Morris Twins are great to have on your bench, they’re super cheap to acquire (maybe even free), and they’ll get you 12+ PPG and 5+ RPG, with some outside shooting. They are definitely Top 100 players. It’s nice to see that they’ve both climbed in ownership recently. Hmm, and both Washington and Boston have been playing better since the Morris Twins started playing more, hmmm…
17. Al-Farouq Aminu, PF, POR, #95 overall, 2.6% owned
The Chief Has Arrived! Aminu is a rebound specialist, but he’s been scoring this season, too. He just had two 20 point games in a row, and he’s giving solid production, a la Noah Vonleh, with averages of 9 PPG and 8 RPG on the season. Like we mentioned before, that kind of production is rare. While the points per game doesn’t shine, the boards definitely do, and Aminu’s decent outside shot (he had 4 threes the other night) means he can give you big games from time to time. Again, he’s rare, but not spectacular, and he doesn’t hurt you. Useful player, indeed.
18. Taurean Prince, SF, ATL, #96 overall, 6.1% owned
Prince is now injured, so if you can buy him even cheaper than before, you should do it. Here’s why: Prince is averaging 14+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 2+ APG, 1+ SPG, and 2+ 3PM. The list of players matching or exceeding that line this season is: James Harden, Bradley Beal, Josh Richardson, LeBron James, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, Victor Oladipo, Kyrie Irving, and Khris Middleton.
Damn good list to be on, no? Seems like his ownership should be a bit higher if he’s on a list like that.
19. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, LAC, #100 overall, 9.7% owned
SGA is averaging 10-3-3. “So?” you rudely scoff, “53 other players in the NBA are doing likewise!”
True. But, he’s also shooting above 45% from the field (as a rookie), and he’s playing less than 30 minutes per game on the year. The only other players who are doing that with so few minutes are Sabonis (he’s a beast!), DRose, Eric Bledsoe, Caris LeVert (before he got injured), and Nikola Jokic. That, too, is a damn good list to be on. Imagine this kid when he’s played in the NBA for longer than, ohhh, I dunno, 2 months. Imagine when he’s had an entire year to get adjusted to the pros! SGA is a stud, full stop, and he’s the point guard for the #3 team in the West right now. If the Clippers continue to win, it will most likely coincide with SGA’s improvement. Over the last 30 days he’s averaging 12+ PPG, and 2 steals+blocks per game.
20. Tristan Thompson, C, CLE, #92 over the past 30 days, 38% owned
Thompson’s really turned it on over the past month: he’s averaging 12 and 12 on the year, and 16 and 16 over the past week. Dub-dubs are always welcome in fantasy basketball, and Thompson has, um, zero competition for minutes in Cleveland. Thompson’s only 27 years old, and it’s not too hard to imagine a situation wherein Cleveland just depends on him as their rock for the rest of this tanking season. He’s tied for third with 11 double-doubles over the past month (along with Anthony Davis and Vucevic). Cleveland basketball ain’t fun right now, but good production on a bad team is always welcome in fantasy. Go pick him up while you can.