With the fantasy playoffs approaching, here are some guys you should look to pick up.
Alexey Shved, G New York Knicks
It has come to this. This is where we are.
This is where the New York Knicks are, and as a team that has fewer than 15 wins, without a legitimate building block on the roster outside of Carmelo Anthony, there’s nothing but opportunity for literally anyone on the roster. After all, that’s how Alexey Shved got here.
An absolute afterthought in the NBA since David Kahn had to have him for his Minnesota Timberwolves team, Shved is getting a legitimate opportunity to contribute with his newest team. Entering Thursday, Shved has seen at least 25 minutes of action in all of his last three games. Over that stretch of time, Shved has also taken at least 12 shots in each of those contests.
To put that all into context, allow me to present Shved’s March averages (five games): 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 triples on 40.4 percent shooting. While his line doesn’t have the look of a traditional guard, there’s no denying those are numbers that can help just about any team because of his ability to contribute across the board offensively.
The return of Jose Calderon (Achilles) isn’t going to matter much considering what New York is playing for over the final month of the season. This is a club in firm evaluation mode. And with just Langston Galloway, Shane Larkin and Tim Hardaway Jr. fighting Shved for minutes, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the opportunities don’t keep coming in Alexey’s direction.
Dennis Schroder, PG Atlanta Hawks
Mike Budenholzer has bought into the growing legend of Dennis Schroder. Although the German point guard most often draws comparisons to Rajon Rondo, Schroder promises to become a much more complete player if he continues developing on his current arc.
While Jeff Teague isn’t going to take a back seat just because the Atlanta Hawks are in the postseason, Budenholzer has shown an increased trust in his second-year stud. Before back-to-back blowouts (one win, one loss), Schroder went on a run of four straight games with at least 24 minutes of action. Through five games in March, Schroder is averaging an impressive 14.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.2 triples on 43.1 percent shooting. In addition, Schroder is shooting a blistering 50 percent from downtown (2.4 attempts per game). That’s not even something that could have seemed possible after Schroder posted an anemic 23.8 percent clip from downtown in his rookie season, but he has evolved from distance in his second go-around with the Hawks as he checks in at 35.4 percent (up 11.6 percent) for the 2014-15 season to date.
There’s good reason to believe that Budenholzer, a noted proponent of player-related maintenance programs, gives some of his core talent some time off before the postseason begins, and any time off for key contributors should mean good things for Schroder’s fantasy stock and production.
To provide an idea of what Schroder can do when he gets extended minutes, here are his numbers in a starting role: Over six games, Schroder is averaging 12.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.0 dimes, 0.8 steals and 0.5 triples on 45.2 percent shooting over 28 minutes per contest. When one factors in his improved three-point prowess into the equation, it’s easy to see where the appeal lies with this particular player: scoring, assisting, stealing & the long ball. Those are four categories Schroder is helping you in, and we haven’t even touched on the fact that he’s shooting 81.1 percent from the free throw line (up from a Rondo-esque 67.4 percent at the line in his rookie campaign).
The Schroder breakout is coming, and while it’s unlikely to happen in full force with the time remaining in this regular season, it’s very difficult to find a player with this much upside who’s still so readily available in the majority of leagues at this point in the schedule.
Danny Green, G/F San Antonio Spurs
It’s pretty weird that Danny Green isn’t a more desired fantasy basketball commodity, and it’s even stranger that he’s not universally owned at this point in the campaign.
A player who finds himself in the one/one/one club (one steal, one block, one triple) should very rarely (if ever) be on waivers, and Green is a member of that group who also plays a prominent role on his team. In other words: There’s no reason this player should be available.
Green has scored in double-digits in each of his last five games. If we go a couple games further out, it’s six of his last seven where he has hit the mark. Of course, scoring isn’t what makes Green valuable on his own, so let’s go a little deeper. Over those same five games, Green has made a total of 15 triples. On top of that, the North Carolina product has four steals and six blocks to his name as well. Combine all of that, and here’s what we’re left looking at: 13.2 points, 0.8 steals, 1.2 blocks and 3.0 triples. That’s a lot of production from a player many look at and view as a “marginal talent.”
Sometimes, all it takes is a small roster tweak to bring the entire picture into balance.
If Green is somehow still available in your league (available in almost 50 percent of ESPN standard leagues), run—don’t walk—to add him to your team.