Saturday, January 19, 2008

Categorical Help - Steals & Blocks

No matter how strong your fantasy basketball roster is, there is always room for improvement. If you have a well rounded team, the easiest area you can provide specific categorical help is in steals & blocks. Today, I'm going to take a look at a few the players who might be available in your league that will provide some help in these categories.

Each of these players reside in the top 20 in these respective categories in the past 30 days, with their rank in parenthesis (using ESPN's player rater).

(11) Brevin Knight (PG), LAC - Brevin has contributed 1.67 steals over the past 30 days. He has also chipped in an average of 4 + assists in more than 20 minutes per game. If you're looking for steals, you could certainly do worse than Knight...and the 4 assists don't hurt. I would keep an eye on his minutes per game, as he's played a low of 15 and a high of 28 minutes in January.

(12) Larry Hughes (PG, SG), Cle - Larry has averaged 2.1 steals per game thus far in January. Unfortunately, the rest of his game hasn't been quite as strong. Averages of less than 9 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, on 36% shooting from the field don't necessarily justify his $12M + salary in 2008.

(13) Marquis Daniels (SG, SF), Ind - Marquis has been averaging more than 2 steals per game this month in just over 22 minutes per game. He also always has the ability to just go off & have a great all around game, as evident by his 26 point, 3 rebound, 3 assist, 3 3's, 1 steal, 1 block game on December 19th against Phoenix.

(15) Shane Battier (SF), Hou - Shane is the only player who shows up on both of these top 20 lists (he's also 12th in blocks). He has averaged almost 1.5 steals & 2 blocks per game so far this month. He's a guy who always gets drafted in the middle rounds, plays his normal game, and gets dropped at some point throughout the season...only to finish the year respectable on the player rater. He won't hurt you anywhere, although it would be nice is he had more games with double digit points.

(8) Darko Milicic (PF, C), Mem - Darko has averaged 2.7 blocks per game thus far in January. I'm still a little concerned about his health this year, but even on quiet games, he can still help in blocks. Last night's game against the Sonics is a perfect example, as in less than 19 minutes, he 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 blocks...nice help for those looking for swats.

On a side note, check out Free Darko, interesting commentary, or as they put it, providing the best in Slovenian farm league analysis and reporting since 1968.

(9) Eric Dampier (C), Dal - Dampier has been putting up solid numbers of late. This month, he's averaging 9 points, 8 boards, and more than 2 blocks per game. Is that production worth $11 million per year? Probably not...but he's playing solidly now, so if he's around & you need center help, you could do worse.

(18) Sean Williams (PF, C), NJ - Sean has been playing solid in around 20 minutes per game this month, averging 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. If only he could keep his fouls down & get more playing time...speaking of which, you can check out a good post from my friends at Empty the Bench talking about Sean Williams & 9 others with untapped potential who should get more playing time.

Fantasy Strategy:
One of my favorite draft strategies each year is to focus on at least one player who will help you in both steals & blocks. I'll talk more about these contributors in a future post, but some of these include:

-Gerald Wallace (2.1 steals, 1.0 blocks)
-Shawn Marion (1.9 steals, 1.7 blocks)
-Josh Smith (1.8 steals, 3.3 blocks)
-Rasheed Wallace (1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks)
-Andrei Kirilenko (1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks)

Using one or more of these players as building blocks of your roster allows you to focus on building a balanced team that has the ability to be competitive across the board (depending upon how well you draft the rest of the way). I think of it as getting 20-20 or 30-30 guys in baseball - having a few David Wright & Alfonso Soriano types makes it much easier building a strong team.

That's all for now, but I'll be back soon. Thanks for reading!

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