Happy New Year! I hope this year brings you fortune, wisdom, and joy. And, hopefully, victory. To that end, here are some suggestions for players to add to your fantasy basketball team in this young year.
Tomas Satoransky, G, WAS, 0.1% rostered on ESPN
This is a no-brainer: Satoransky replaces Dr. John Wall, and takes all, or nearly all, of his minutes. In Washington’s first game without Wall, Satoransky played 33 minutes, scored 20 points, made 4 threes, and had 6 assists.
When Satoransky filled in for Wall last season, he was a top 100 player. I’m surprised his ownership hasn’t skyrocketed yet. If he’s a free agent in your league, pick him up immediately.
Trevor Ariza, F, WAS, 8.4% owned
Ditto Ariza. Since joining Washington, Trevor’s scored around 15 points per game, with 4 assists, 5 rebounds, and a few steals per game, along with 2.7 3PM. His role will either increase with Wall’s absence, or he’ll be traded soon. Either way, he should be much more owned than 8.4%. He’s been a top 75 player in ESPN basic over the past month.
Marcus Smart, G, BOS, 7% owned
Smart’s line of 8.5 PPG, 3+ RPG, 4+ APG, 2+ steals per game, and 1+ 3PM over the last 30 days can be matched, on the season, by only 4 other players: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, James Harden, and Chris Paul. Smart’s the 104th ranked player on ESPN Basic for the season, but his counting stats, especially his steals, make him one of the more valuable players you can have on your team, especially since he qualifies for both guard positions. If he’s available, pick him up, and enjoy his contributions (just don’t look too much at his shooting ratios and his PPG).
Joe Harris, G, BKN, 1.5% owned
Over the past month 57 players in the NBA have averaged 2+ 3PM per game. Of those 57 players, Joe Harris has the best overall field goal percentage, 54%. He’s also tied for 12th with most 3PM per game, 2.7. He’s been a top 100 player on the season, and he’s been even better over the past month, averaging 14+ PPG, 3+ RPG, 2+ APG, and 2+ 3PM. 63 players have averaged at least 5 three-point attempts per game on the season. Of those, Joe Harris has the BEST 3PT% in the entire NBA at 48.3%, and he has the SECOND BEST overall shooting, at 50.9 FG% (LeBron’s #1, 51.8 FG%). Joe Harris has been a beast this year, and he should be treated like a top 100 player the rest of the season.
Gary Harris, G, DEN, 53.4% owned
Speaking of a sharpshooting Harris, Gary returned from injury last night, and he should ramp up his minutes back to their regular, starting level within a few games. His season line of 16-3-3 is actually worse than last season, but again, he’s been injured, and he should return to fine form in short order. He’s a good, valuable, young player. If he’s avails on your league’s waiver wire, or if you can buy him cheaply from another owner, go for it. After all, less than 30 players this season can match 16-3-3 with multiple steals and threes per game.
Jusuf Nurkic, C, POR, 79% owned
Nurkic probably isn’t available in your league, but I did want to point out what he accomplished against the Kings last night. When I saw Nurkic’s line of 24 points, 23 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 5 blocks, I assumed it was one of the single greatest lines I’ve ever seen. I wondered if that was actually true, so I checked Basketball-Reference.com (a wonderful site, please visit it) for games with similar numbers. I didn’t find a single one that could match Nurkic’s points, boards, steals, and blocks (back to the early 80s). So, I lowered the number of steals and blocks by one, and looked for a line of 24-23-4-4. I only found two others: Hakeem the Dream against, who else, the Knicks in 1986, and Ralph Sampson against, haha!, the Kings in 1984.
Nice job, Sacto!
Uncle Marvin Williams, PF, CHA, 0.5% owned
Uncle Marv’s been a top 100 player over the past month, somewhat justifying the (my) preseason hype around everybody’s favorite player who will lend you $40 at Thanksgiving, and let you borrow his car, and knows every lyric to Electric Relaxation by A Tribe Called Quest. He tells jokes that upset your parents for being too adult, and he stretches the floor as a big man.
Over the past 30 days, he’s scored 12+ PPG, 6+ RPG, and 2+ 3PM. Here’s the entire list of players who can say likewise across the entire season so far: Marcus Morris, Lauri Markkanen, Nikola Mirotic, Luka MFing Doncic, Danilo Cincinnatus Gallinari, ‘Dipo, Blake Griffin, Paul George, and LeBron God Damn James. Uncle Marv’s shooting percentages are down a bit from last season, too, so there is room for improvement. Regardless, top 100 is top 100, and Marv’s been making as many threes as Bradley Beal recently. He costs nothing and will make you better.
Noah Vonleh, PF/C, NYK, 3.5% owned
Did you know that Noah Vonleh was averaging 9 and 9 over the past month? He has the 16th most rebounds over that period. He’s 20th in total rebounds on the season. 20th! He has more rebounds than Big Spain, Marc Gasol!
Vonleh’s been a top 100 player on the season (basically the same value as Donovan Mitchell), and no one seems to care about him on ESPN. I know, I know: Knicks. Also, less than 10 points per game. But lemme blow your mind real quick: only 33 players in the NBA are averaging 8+ PPG, and 8+ RPG on the season, and Vonleh’s one of them! Galaxy Brain: last season, only 13 guys averaged a double-double with points and rebounds, and only 17 guys averaged 9 and 9! Last season, only 27 people averaged 8 rebounds per game!
Vonleh’s been valuable, and there’s no reason to think he can’t keep up his production (he’s third in total minutes this past month for New York). Pick him up while you can; he’s a player with pedigree who’s finally looking good. Will he continue to get better?
Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, IND, 24.6% owned
Nemanja Bjelica, PF/SF, SAC, 3% owned
C.J. McCollum, SG, POR, 98.5% owned
I placed these three together because they’ve all produced the same amount of value over the past month. Bojan and Nemanja combined aren’t even a third of McCollum’s ownership. If you have Bjelica and Bogdanovic on your team, congratulations: you have the 12th (PF) and 11th (SF) best players at their respective positions. They’re both top 75 on the season, and they can probably just be picked up off the wire. Amazing.
Justise Winslow, SF/(PG?), MIA, 0.9% owned
If Miami continues to play Winslow at the point, then he might gain PG eligibility soon. Over the past four games, Justise has scored 20+ points three times, 3+ assists four times, 6+ rebounds three times, and at least a steal a game. Less than 20 players are averaging 15 PPG, 5 RPG, and 3 APG. He’s averaged 19/6/4 over his past four games. Just sayin’, Justise has pedigree, too. If he’s finally turned it on, or at least been given free rein of the offense as the team’s point forward, then his value will most likely go sky high, along with his ownership. This is a speculative add, for sure, but it costs you nothing, and could reap huge rewards.