As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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Whether it’s fair or not, Trae Young will always be compared to the future MVP-caliber player Luke Doncic. It’s not his fault that Atlanta made that draft day trade. While there were some seriously shaky runs earlier in the season, Trae has been on fire recently. He is just barely standard league relevant for the season, but over his last three games, he’s clocking in at a fresh #14 ranking in standard 9-cat leagues, averaging 31.7/3.7/8.7 with 4 3’s. He’s also shooting 93.9% on an insane 11 free throws per game. While he may never be at Doncic’s level, he can still make for an elite fantasy player and is showing off at the moment.

Trae Young

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
17/35 9/11 6/13 49 8 16 1 1 9

So close. I was hoping he could get the 50 mark in this one, but this is an otherwise amazing performance. The 49/8/16 is enormous. The efficiency and 6 3’s are killer. In fact, he is the first rookie to go for 45 points and 10 assists since MJ. The 9 turnovers are whack, but that’s the price you pay for playing a mind-boggling 55 minutes. Hopefully they can set him up in the hyperbaric chamber to recover.

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A month or so ago, in this very fantasy corner, a young center of the New York Knicks was featured as a buy candidate. He began the year as the 3rd option behind Enes Kanter and Luke Kornet and had the occasional foul-plagued game but, and I’m quoting myself from the aforementioned article, “As long as he can stay on the court, he is both a great stash for the second half of the season and immediate help for boards and blocks.” I hope you took that advice because the second half of the season is upon us and Mitchell Robinson is beasting, averaging 10.3/0/8.2/0.4/0.8/3.3/0.4 on 71%/62.5% shooting. The blocks are outright RIDICULOUS! He even improved his per-36 stats and with DeAndre Jordan’s contract expiring this summer, he is already very high on my draft board for next season.

When taking a quick look at last article’s suggestions, Dion Waiter’s name pops out as the big hit, as he is having a great scoring month both from the paint and from beyond the 3pt line. The duo of Landry Shamet and Allen Crabbe have contributed in points and triples, with the former offering higher rest of season upside. Finally, Tobias Harris is proving me wrong by keeping his usage in Philly and scoring at his usual clip. This is a situation to monitor going forward, and we have to take into account that Joel Embiid was sidelined, but my projections of a top 50 finish look a bit pessimistic now.

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This year’s trade deadline moved talent to the East, which strengthened the talent level of the Conference. The Bucks, Raptors, and 76ers improved their rosters and, with the always strong Boston Celtics, form a formidable group of teams that could produce great playoff battles. It is a welcome change from the Lebron-dominated era and one I’m greatly looking forward to watching. If anyone wants to talk basketball besides fantasy, drop a comment below about which team you think ends up with the Eastern Conference title. Due to the nature of last week’s article there is no review of the suggestions, so off we go to the new ones.

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Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mitchell Robinson, Fizdale loves you more than you will know. Last night he went 15-7-0-0-3-0 on 7-of-9 shooting and made his lone FT. Played 22 minutes off the bench against the Raptors, and the Knicks almost pulled off the improbable victory. The infusion of new talent has given them a boost and for their sakes, I hope they don’t win too many games and miss out on Zion Williamson. That being said, there should be plenty of opportunities for the young guns to get playing time to show they’re worthy of a roster spot next year. One Knick, who’s part of the future plans is Robison. He’s averaging two blocks on the season in under 18 minutes per game. He’s also “shooting” nearly 70% on the year. His one caveat is the 51.7% FTs. He’s really in the DeAndre Jordan ilk, which makes the addition of Jordan seem like a smart move by the Knickerbockers. Hopefully, he can mentor the rook and show him how to become a great NBA center.  If he listens to his free throw shooting advice, he’ll be shooting 67.7% by his 11th season. Not too shabby! Anyway, here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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The NBA trade deadline is upon us! There are already some deals that have been finalized and more are sure to be done by tomorrow, so this week’s article will be structured in a different format than usual. Instead of looking at Buy/Sell players individually, we will review each trade for fantasy winners and losers, in chronological order. But first, as per usual, let’s take a quick look at last week’s suggestions.

Patrick Beverley has been a steady contributor for the short-handed Clippers and only stands to benefit without Tobias Harris (more on this trade later). Another trade influenced Trey Burke’s value but unfortunately, he takes a huge hit in Dallas and is an easy cut candidate. Shabazz Napier and Jerryd Bayless had good performances this past week and will continue to produce until their respective teams get healthier. Finally, I still maintain that D’Angelo Russell is a prime sell candidate and his shooting this past week only reinforced this belief.

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KRS-One was one of the greatest to ever do it. He never won a Grammy, and didn’t win a Tony, yet he smashed rappers and made girls go “Illllll!” He made you bob your head from side to side, and up and down, but ultimately he made you think about what was said, as Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everybody. At the core, though, he brought it to those MC’s that acted like they didn’t know that KRS was willing to go toe for toe and made them hope that their defense mechanism could divert his heat-seeking lyricism. Joel Embiid is the KRS-One of the NBA. He puts victims in a body bag both on the Twitter machine and on the court. Last night…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 13 3 0 1 4 4/6 10/17 7/8

In only 27 minutes, as the 76ers body bagged the Timberpuppies, 149-107. On the season, Embiid is the #10 player, averaging 33.5 minutes, 27 points, 1.2 threeecolas, 13.3 boards, 3.4 dimes, 0.5 steals, and 2 blocks on 48% shooting from the field and 80% from the free throw line on 9.9 attempts. The usage rate is 32.1! Such a boss. As KRS said, “If you don’t know me by now, I doubt you’ll ever know me.” Embiid gonna keep trying, though.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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One of the beautiful things about the English language is its vast nature. One of the worst things about the English language is its vast nature. Take the word crane for example. It can describe a type of bird, a machine that lifts objects, or a specific type of neck movement. How about Derrick Rose saying “kill yourself” the other day? In a vacuum, it’s a terrible thing to say, but if you delve into the context, it does make some sense. It’s basically slang for “shut the F up.” Now, what about the expression “god damnit?” It’s usually used to express frustration or angst, but it’s also a military expression of encouragement. Thanks urban dictionary. Anyways, I’m going through all of this because of what Landry Shamet did last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 3 1 1 0 1 8/14 8/15 5/5

In 24 minutes off the bench! God Shamet! Am I calling Shamet a God? Am I expressing awe and amazement? Am I frustrated because I did not play him in DFS? It’s all about context, right? At the same time, I could answer yes to all three. Gotta love the English language. Shamet has appeared in every game this season, so he has the trust of the coaching staff and fills a specific need for the Sixers, which is to space the floor and knock down shots. From a fantasy perspective, he doesn’t have that much value, as he doesn’t play enough minutes or jack up the necessary shots. On the season, he’s averaging 4.4 threeecola attempts per game and, outside of last night, he had only one other game with more than 10 attempts. With that said, it was nice to have him as the lede, as it was getting boring talking about the same guys over and over. In addition, he’s someone to monitor if injury strikes or he does take on a more significant role as the season progresses.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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I remember watching Reggie Miller at UCLA and being mezmerized. Man, oh man could he shoot. Chants of Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! would reverberate throughout Pauley Pavilion. Then, he got drafted by the Indiana Pacers and the same chant was sung. One of the greatest shooters I’ve ever witnessed. He was a career 39% shooter from downtown. At the zenith, he attempted 6.6 while making 2.8 threeecolas per game. Back then, those were amazing numbers. The game certainly has changed, as Steph Curry leads the league with 11 threeecolas attempted with 5.1 makes per game. What hasn’t changed, though, is the Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! chant, only this time it’s for Reggie Bullock.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 1 1 0 0 7/12 12/21 2/2

Played 43 minutes in an overtime game. Bullock missed five games due to an ankle injury earlier this month. Since returning three games ago, he’s scored 15, 24, and 33 points and shot 4-for-10, 5-for-7, and 7-for-12 from downtown. Did the Pistons go all Steve Austin on him or something? Bullock is a 40% shooter from downtown, but this most recent heater of 55% is something else. He’s been a top 30 player for fantasy over the three-game stretch without contributing much in any other category! Now, the efficiency is obviously going to come in, unless the Pistons truly did turn Bullock into the modern day, six million dollar man. With that said, he’s been getting a ton of open looks because defenses have to sag down on Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond down low. There will be adjustments, so the volume of threeecolas will come back down. On the season, Bullock is averaging 5.6 attempts per game. Until then, enjoy the ride and chant at the top of your lungs, Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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