Happy MLK Day! Please practice common sense and compassion out there during these tough winter months: get vaxxed, get boosted, and try to help others who may be suffering from the cold. We save each other.
Every team in the NBA has played at least 40 games, so we’re basically halfway through the season. We’ve seen enough from most players to know whether they’re worth our time in fantasy, either as keepers or streamers. The impending trade deadline in February could change things for some players; or, we could have a quiet trade season, and not much changes, at all.
With all that in mind, let’s look at some players who are, in my opinion, MUST ADDS. These are players I’d have have no problem giving a roster spot to for the rest of the season, unless injury/trade/spontaneous combustion, etc. Not much is guaranteed in life right now, but the players below have proved their worth. Pick them up and play them with confidence.
ANFERNEE SIMONS, POR, SG/PG, 40% ROSTERED (OPPORTUNITY ADD)
Breaking our first rule right away, I’m here to tell you to pick up Simons THIS VERY MOMENT. Stop reading, go check your league’s waiver wire, and then add Anfernee if he’s available. Simons is now the starting point guard for the cratering Portland Trail Blazers. Maestro Dame Lillard will be out after abdominal surgery, probably for the rest of the season (especially if the Blazers continue to lose). Simons, presumably, will receive all Dame’s minutes, and a helluva lotta his shots. CJ McCollum should return this week, perhaps even on Monday, but having another elite scoring threat next to him will most likely make Simons’s job easier.
In the month of January, this third year player is averaging 28-2-8. His rostership has skyrocketed 25 points in ESPN leagues, and that will probably continue to climb in just a few weeks if this is the type of production we can expect from him. A 20 points per game scorer with lots of dimes doesn’t usually just materialize out of thin air in fantasy, UNLESS a star goes down. Simons doesn’t have a track record with playing big minutes, but his opportunity here cannot be ignored. Simons could have MASSIVE counting stats power for the rest of the season. I doubt he’ll maintain at this high a level, but we’ve seen a lot of unexpected shit the past few coupla years. Let’s not dismiss opportunities when they present themselves. Anfernee’s been a top 25 player the past two weeks, by the way. Not bad for a player rostered in less than half of ESPN leagues.
HERB JONES, NOP, SF, 15% ROSTERED, #69 PLAYER RATER (SEASON)
Herb Jones, a top 75 player on the season, has been a top 30 player the past month. He’s one of Brandon’s adds from our Long 2 podcast this week. The 6’7” rookie is averaging 9-4-2 on the season, BUT with a block and a steal per game, as well. As of this writing (prior to Monday’s games) only two players in the entire NBA have amassed 38 total blocks and 57 total steals: Robert Bob Covington and Young Herb. Young Herb is one of only 15 players to average at least 1 BPG and 1 SPG. That’s fantasy gold! Defensive counting stats are tough, and this rookie Pelican is accumulating them at an elite rate. Since December 1st Jones has averaged 11-5-2 with 1+ SPG, 1+ BPG, and 1+ 3PM on 50% shooting from the floor. Young Herb is combining efficiency with defensive stats, that’s why he’s been a top 75 player this season. Add him IMMEDIATELY. If his scoring maintains, his player rating could continue to climb.
JAE’SEAN TATE, HOU, SF/PF, 30% ROSTERED, #81 PLAYER RATER (SEASON)
Sophomore Tate averages 12-5-3 for the season on better than 50% shooting from the floor. Is that sexy? Nope! What it is, though, is SOLID. Only NINE players are doing that this season: Tate (30% rostered on ESPN), Josh Hart (44% rostered, see below, also add him immediately), Bam Adebayo (94%, who may be returning soon from injury), Domantas Sabonis (99%), Karl-Anthony Towns (99%), Nikola Jokic (100%), Giannis Antetokounmpo (100%), LeBron James (99%), and Kevin Durant (99%). Look at those roster percentages! Tate’s not scoring like the big boys, obviously, but he’s providing counting stats and efficiency that keeps them in their company in fantasy. Tate’s a top 100 player on the season, there’s no reason to let him languish on the wire.
Over the past two weeks Tate’s averaged 12-6-4 with a block per game and a 57 FG%. He has a secure role on a bad team, which is one of the best fantasy situations an owner can ask for. Tate’s the kind of fantasy glue guy that playoff teams need.
JOSH HART, NOP, SG/SF, 44% ROSTERED (ESPN), #93 PLAYER RATER (SEASON)
Josh Hart, a top 100 player on the season, and #65 over the past month, averages 13-7-4 this season on 51% shooting from the floor, along with a steal per game and a 3PM. Only 17 players in the NBA average 7 rebounds per game and 4 assists per game, did you know that? And, Hart is the ONLY ONE who isn’t rostered in at least half of all leagues. Hart averages the 6th most RPG for the guard position; any time you can get counting stats out of position, like assists from a center or rebounds from a guard, you have to take advantage of it because THOSE are the stats that can help you win a matchup. Having trouble finding enough boards on the wire from bigs? Pick up Hart instead! He has more total rebounds than Jaren Jackson, Jr., to give you some context. And, Hart’s efficiency is no fluke: he’s one of only 29 players in the NBA to average at least 8 field goal attempts per game AND have a true shooting percentage of 60% or better.
The past two weeks Hart’s given you 15-8-3 with 1+ 3PM. He’s another player to pick up right now, a widely available top 100 player with efficiency and upside.
PATTY MILLS, BK, PG, 21% ROSTERED, #96 PLAYER RATER (SEASON)
Well, we thought Patty’s role might diminish once Kyrie Irving started to play, but now Kevin Durant is out for at least a month, possibly longer. Mills’ minutes and role will probably maintain for the foreseeable future. He’s another top 100 player on the season, but he’ll give you low scoring nights occasionally. He’s one of the most prolific 3PM fantasy players out there, fourth in total 3PM this season, and that should be enough to keep him on your roster. This is basically another opportunity play, but minutes are like water in fantasy, they make everything else grow. While Patty gets his minutes and his shots, especially in games that Kyrie can’t play because he’s unvaxxed, he simply must be rostered. He’s on my team, for what it’s worth. (As is Durant, alas.)
AARON GORDON, DEN, PF/SF, 44% ROSTERED, #101 PLAYER RATER (SEASON)
This one surprises me a bit. Why isn’t AG rostered in at least half of all leagues? Gordon’s counting stats this season are 221 total rebounds, 91 total assists, 39 total 3PM, and he’s shooting 52% from the floor. Here’s the list of other players with those totals and a 50+ FG%: KD, Giannis, Joker, LeBron, the Big KAT, Jonas Valanciunas, and AG. So, four MVP contenders, one of the most offensively skilled bigs ever, another elite big, and Aaron Gordon. I know he’s not a top 100 player on the season, but he just put up 20-7-6 against the vaunted Utah Jazz, and he’s averaged 14-6-2 with a 3PM on 57% shooting the past two weeks. AG is another solid fantasy player with ELITE counting stats. If he’s available in your league, ADD HIM. If you can lowball trade for him, DO IT. Just look at the list he’s on! Four MVP candidates! Of course, he’s not providing you the PPG but we’re trying to gain approximate value of fantastic fantasy players, and AG certainly does that.
GARY HARRIS, ORL, SG, 6% ROSTERED, #40 PLAYER RATER (LAST 30 DAYS)
Golden Gary Days are here again! Gary is a top 50 player recently, and he’s averaging 16-2-1 with 3 3PM and over a steal per game the past two weeks. The steals and the 3PM are the really nice combo there, but Gary’s IMMENSE role on Orlando is even nicer. Over the past month Golden Gary’s played THE MOST minutes for the Magic. Whether they’re auditioning him for a trade, or whether they’d like to keep the still-only-27 years old former elite defender, the Magic are showcasing Golden Gary. Ride this wave while you can! He’s basically free off the waiver and he’s providing top 50 production. I know you’re not watching any Magic games, but Harris isn’t some old vet: he’s still in his prime and was once considered a great 3D player. If he’s finally, FINALLY, healthy after several years of injury, then perhaps he’s actually a top 75 player for the next few years? Is Golden Gary all the way back? It costs you nothing to find out. Add him and keep him until he proves otherwise.
MALIK MONK, LAL, SG, 23% ROSTERED, #44 PLAYER RATER (LAST 30 DAYS)
Eventually, all things flow into one, and a river runs through it. That river is LeBron James. LeBron’s (successful) playoff teams surrounded him with perimeter threats and guards he could play off of. Russell Westbrook isn’t that guy, unfortunately. Perhaps the Mad Monk is? Monk’s really gelled with Bron recently. He’s averaged 18-4-3 the past two weeks with FOUR 3PM per game, and a block per game. He’s also one of the players on that elite true shooting percentage list I mentioned above, so Monk’s scoring is efficient and necessary. The Lakers aren’t going anywhere without shooting around LeBron, and Los Angeles knows it: Monk’s played the third most MPG and taken the third most FGA per game for the Lakers the past 30 days. He’s a cheap player in a great position to succeed, and the Lakers NEED HIM. Enjoy the efficiency and the PPG.
CAM JOHNSON, PHX, SF, 12% ROSTERED, #51 PLAYER RATER (LAST 30 DAYS)
You probably don’t know who Cam Johnson is but he’s one of THE BEST perimeter threats in the entire NBA this season. He’s currently out with an ankle injury, but he’s averaged 18-5-1 the past two weeks with 3+ 3PM, and a 52 FG%. He, too, is one of the players on that true shooting All Stars list from above. He gets to play off of Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, AND Devin Booker. Cam and Mikal Bridges are a dynamic duo on the wing for these intimidating Phoenix Suns. His rostership will only increase as his role grows, so invest now in one of the best outside shooters in the game today. He’s taken the third most shots on Phoenix the past month, and he’s sinking those shots at an elite rate.
These are the dog days of the NBA, and we’re searching for dependable fantasy value. These players, especially the ones with elite True Shooting percentages, are in prime positions to deliver counting stats with efficiency. While other fantasy managers overlook them, you should be adding them, or at least streaming them, as half a season has proven their worth.
(All numbers and stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball-Reference.com, and ESPN.com. Thank you!)