Late-season roster moves reveal potential fantasy playoff saviors
Klay Thompson and Nate Robinson will score more with Stephen Curry hurt
O.J. Mayo's upcoming five-game weeks could be crucial in NBA fantasy playoffs
Kenneth Faried has become a consistent rebounder, may get more without Nene
The fantasy, and more important, the NBA season, is not over yet. There are still players trending up, and others headed down; decisions to be made on who to start and who to bench; even who to drop and who to replace them with.
Last week, we talked about which NBA teams had good and bad playoff schedules. The Bobcats and Cavaliers led the way with games played, but they offer few quality fantasy players, making it incredibly difficult to find someone worthy of a free agent pick-up. After that were the Spurs, Heat and Grizzlies, all laden with fantasy talent, but do they have players who can make a contribution and weren't picked in fantasy drafts at the start of the season?
On the other end of the spectrum were the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets. We'll stay away from those teams as we look for players who might be able to take a final inbounds pass and a sink a shot to carry your team through the fantasy basketball playoffs.
Nate Robinson, Golden State Warriors: Robinson should have been snapped up in every league as soon as Stephen Curry hurt his ankle (for the 1,000th time). The Warriors traded for the already-injured Andrew Bogut, so they're clearly looking forward to next season already. Even if they do end up bringing Curry back (most likely very slowly), Robinson will continue to score in the double-digits with a good number of assists and steals, and even a three per game.
Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors: Like Curry's influence on Robinson's value, Thompson should have been picked up as soon as the Warriors sent Stephen Jackson to the Spurs. Thompson is more of a pure scorer than Robinson and won't contribute as much in counting categories like assists or steals, but he's been scoring, helped by threes and a high free-throw percentage. In the unlikely event that Curry comes back, Thompson will still start at shooting guard, playing 30-plus minutes per game.
Alonzo Gee, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs may not have many great fantasy prospects, and perhaps that's why the ownership numbers on Gee remain low. Still, he has notched double-digit scoring in nine of his last twelve games (through March 14). Not only does he play for the team with one of the best fantasy schedules in the league, but he's shooting in the high 40s from the field, grabbing five rebounds a game while contributing a solid number of steals without turning the ball over very much.
Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG, Toronto Raptors: Bayless is a bit less of a lock than Robinson or Thompson, since his recent spike in value comes with Jose Calderon's injured ankle. That said, he's a Top 10 player over the last two weeks according to Give Me The Rock's Player Rater, so you're not going to find someone available in two-thirds of leagues playing better than he is right now. Toronto only plays five games from the April 16-26, but anyone whose season ends before that will enjoy a steady supply of four-game weeks from the 19th of March to the 15th of April.
O.J. Mayo, SG, Memphis Grizzlies: If you can hang on to Mayo through the Grizzlies' three-game week on the 26th, then you're in for two straight five-game weeks from a guy who contributes double-digit points and nice rebounding, assists, steals and threes.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Sacramento Kings: In a similar vein to Mayo, Thomas doesn't have the best schedule, but even if Tyreke Evans comes back from his ankle injury, Thomas has shown he's a big contributor to the Kings' offense.
Jason Thompson, PF, Sacramento Kings: Thompson has the same schedule as Thomas, and while he hasn't surged to the same kind of steady output, Thompson has averaged 27 minutes per game over the last month. He's a risky add because his minutes are inconsistent. When he gets those big minutes, though, Thompson puts up big points, rebounds, and blocks.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets: While Thompson has tremendous potential, Faried has been getting it done under the radar, in the shadow of Nene's injuries all season. If you want a near-guaranteed nine boards, Faried is your guy. When more of those rebounds come on the offensive end, Faried will give you a boost in points as well as rebounds. And like his former teammate, Nene, Faried gives you a bit of both steals and blocks.
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks: Even though he comes off the bench for the Bucks, Dunleavy uses three-pointers and shot selection to score with tremendous efficiency. With Monta Ellis on the Bucks now, defenses will be focused on the duo of Ellis and Brandon Jennings, leaving plenty of opportunities for Dunleavy to knock down shots.