Patty Mills Stepping Up | Add Zubac and Crawford
Jordan Crawford (Owned in 33 percent on Yahoo!/14.4 percent on ESPN) is back in the association after years spent righting the ship. Crawford was a prolific scorer coming out of Xavier, but it never really translated at the professional level. Yes, he had a season where he averaged 14.7 points per game, but his field goal percentage was never higher than 41.5 percent.
Crawford a spent some time in the China and the D-League, admitting it’s been a humbling experience. He’s changed his game up from then till now, however. He’s playing more mindfully and with much more efficiency. During the 2015-16 Chinese season, Crawford averaged 43.1 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting. Obviously, the (Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has much inferior talent, but his efficiency carried over to the D-League, as well. In 17 games this season, Crawford averaged 23.5 points on 47.3 percent shooting with 2.6 threes a night. His game has matured with his time away from the league.
Now he’s landed with the Pelicans, which are in desperate need for a player like Crawford. Their bench is one of the worst in the game statistically, and they need somebody to score when DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are sitting. In four games thus far, he’s averaging 15.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting with three triples and 3.3 assists a night. The efficiency will take a step back, but he’s certainly leaps and bounds better than his first stint in the NBA. He should be trusted for points, threes and a few assists in 12-team leagues or deeper.
[caption id="attachment_119943" align="alignright" width="464"] Patty Mills can provide points, threes, and assists while filling in for the injured Tony Parker. Photo Credit: Sun Sentinal/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire[/caption]
Patty Mills (Owned in 32 percent on Yahoo!/12.6 percent on ESPN) has been great recently with Tony Parker and Dejounte Murray banged up. Parker is dealing with a back injury and realistically the Spurs aren’t going to rush him back. Everybody knows the mantra with Gregg Popovich and how he likes to rest his players so they’re ready for the playoffs. It’s no different with Tony Parker and this injury.
Parker left during a game last week against the Kings, and it was that game where Mills started to take off. He scored 14 points with four triples with 10 assists in that contest. In the last two games, he’s been great as well, averaging 18 points with 6.5 assists, four threes and 1.5 steals. Kawhi Leonard returned in their most recent game against the Hawks, and it still didn’t matter.
He’s likely just a short-term pickup whose value will be hurt once Parker returns, but we’re in the Fantasy Basketball playoffs and need help now. As long as Parker is out Mills is worth adding in 12-team leagues or deeper. He can contribute in the points, threes, assists and steals categories.
Caris LeVert (Owned in 13 percent on Yahoo!/3.3 percent on ESPN) is starting to make some noise again in what has been an inconsistent rookie season. Now I say inconsistent, but it’s not necessarily his fault. Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson regularly goes deep into his bench, limiting the minutes of everybody. Couple that with the fact LeVert was being benched at least once a week and you have an inconsistent Fantasy player.
Over the last two games, however, he’s once again flashed that upside. During that span, he’s averaging 14.5 points with 4.5 rebounds, three assists and 2.5 steals. Part of what makes him such an attractive Fantasy asset is his size and efficiency. He’s 6-foot-7, but regularly plays shooting guard for the Nets. His length gives him a defensive advantage against other guards, which allows him to rack up steals in bunches. He’s got a solid 55.8 percent true shooting percentage and is averaging just 1.8 turnovers per 36 minutes.
LeVert has been more aggressive getting to the free-throw line as well, evidenced by his career-high eight free-throw attempts against the Thunder. Sean Kilpatrick also tweaked his hamstring in that game so perhaps we could see a few more minutes and usage for LeVert. He’s worth owning in 14-team leagues or deeper because of his scoring, efficiency and defensive upside.
Tony Snell (Owned in 14 percent on Yahoo!/7.9 percent on ESPN) isn’t the flashiest player, but he’s been extremely consistent for Fantasy purposes. Snell was traded to the Bucks just before the season started and has fit in seamlessly, despite having Jason Kidd as his coach. The most obvious improvement has come in his shooting, as evidenced by a career-high 61.1 percent true shooting.
On the Bucks, Snell has become more of a spot-up three-point shooter, which is fine for what the Bucks need. Having Giannis Antetokounmpo attracting so much defensive attention allows for a lot of those three-point shots to be good looks. Snell has already attempted (286) and made (118) more threes this season than ever before while shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.
Lately, he’s been even better. He’s scored 10 or more points in five straight games while recording a steal in six straight. During that span, he’s averaged 14 points with 2.8 threes per game. His minutes are safe (for now) in the 30-32 range. Snell should be owned in 14-team leagues or deeper for those who need points, threes and steals with efficient shooting.
Joe Johnson (Owned in 12 percent on Yahoo!/7.9 percent on ESPN) has played well for the Jazz since his three-game absence. The team hasn’t been getting much production from Boris Diaw and Rodney Hood, so they’ve turned to the veteran who has responded well. The best part for Johnson is that he doesn’t have to be the guy anymore, either. He can just go out there and be the team’s third or fourth scoring option, which suits him well at his age.
Over the past week, Johnson is averaging 11.7 points on 46 percent shooting with 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 threes in just over 26 minutes per game. In Utah’s most recent game against the Pistons, Johnson actually started in a small-ball lineup. Having Johnson healthy gives the Jazz some versatility and his role seems secure as well.
Johnson won’t contribute much defensively, but he’s still a safe bet for efficient scoring and threes. He should be owned in 14-team leagues or deeper down this final stretch. Johnson makes for an especially good add for those owners who are suffering from the injuries to Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.
Ivica Zubac (Owned in 38 percent on Yahoo!/13.3 percent on ESPN) is the must-own player over the final month for many reasons. First, Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng have both agreed to shut it down for the rest of the season. The two were barely playing as it is, but at least we know for sure now that they won’t get in the way. Second, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson is a fan of Zubac and has openly stated he wants him to play down the stretch. Magic, we love you.
The Fantasy Basketball industry has been clamoring for Zubac to earn more minutes because he is oozing with upside. He has great size for a center at 7-foot 1, and he can get it done on both sides of the court. On offense, he has nice footwork to go along with his post game. Not only that, he has a nice mid-range shooting stroke, which should develop the more he works on it. Defensively, he’s still learning and has to make up for a ton of his teammates’ mistakes, but the potential is there. He’s shown the ability to protect the rim and is averaging 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes.
We’ve already seen his dominance on display, too. In his latest game against the Denver Nuggets, Zubac scored 25 points on 12-15 shooting with 11 rebounds and one block in 30 minutes of play. Over the last week, specifically, he’s ranked as the 74th player overall in nine-category leagues. During that span, he’s averaging 16.3 points on 69.7 percent shooting with 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. The field-goal percentage will regress a bit, but he will be a high-efficiency scorer because he does a lot of his work in the paint. If you have a bye in the Fantasy Basketball playoffs or they haven’t started yet, make sure to get your hands on Zubac. He should be owned even in 10-team leagues as he will help in the points, field-goal percentage, rebounds and blocks categories.
All stats used before the March 15 games.
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