We're almost at the halfway point in the season, meaning statistical averages are pretty much to the point of cementing your players' values.
Use this time to assess your team's strengths and weaknesses and find ways you can improve, whether through free agency or trades. Fantasy is more fun when you take chances, so don't be afraid to leave a couple spots on your roster for weekly pickups or clear space with two-for-one trades. NBA lineups will be in flux for the rest of the year as teams decide to either make a run or tank for a lottery pick, so your Fantasy roster should reflect that same flexibility. For those of you in category-specific formats, here are some notable factoids that might help you gain an edge in areas of need. We'll continue to validate and debunk trends on a weekly basis in this column going forward.
(All stats up to date through Jan. 15 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)
Nikola Pekovic has outscored Kevin Love over the last two weeks. He's shooting 54.7 percent and ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring over that span at 21.1 points per game. This run of success is coinciding with a Love slump, so as Love gets back to normal output, I expect Pekovic to come back to earth. ... A 26-point outing Tuesday against Cleveland has Jodie Meeks averaging 19.6 points per game over the last two weeks. How this guy is still available in 36 percent of leagues is beyond me, because he's also getting you 3.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.7 made three pointers in that span. Grab Meeks now while his value is peaking and before the Lakers get their injured guards back. ... Avery Bradley is scoring a lot. He's gone over 20 points in four of his last five games. He's also an adequate rebounder and occasional steal guy, but the points seem destined to drop once Rajon Rondo returns Friday. ... Consider Randy Foye a Meeks-type whose job isn't in jeopardy. After being benched for a three-game stretch, Foye made it back into Brian Shaw's starting five Jan. 3 and he and the Nuggets have benefited from the move. He's averaging 17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 made threes per game during that eight-game stretch, and he's likely to remain a starter as the Nuggets won six of those eight games. At 56 percent owned, Randy Foye is a must add for category leagues. ... If the Knicks somehow find a trade partner for J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. will become a consistent source of points for the rest of the season. He's averaging 16.1 points per 36 minutes on the year, so keep tabs on what's happening in New York in the near future. ... The 76ers are still far and away the worst defensive team in the league, but the Lakers are slowly catching up. L.A. is giving up 105.9 points per game on the season, including 121.3 points per game to the last three opponents. Philly is still all alone though as the only team allowing opponents to score more than 110 a night on the season.
One of the best things about Darren Collison's run as starting point guard for the Clippers has been his efficiency. He's shooting almost as well as teammate DeAndre Jordan from the field over the last two weeks at 63.1 percent. I doubt that he'll continue to hit two thirds of his shots, but he does enough in other categories to be considered a must start. ... David Lee might be the hottest player in the NBA right now. He's averaging 23.1 points per game on 60.9 percent shooting over the last two weeks. ... It's rare that you find a shooting specialist who's also efficient from the field, but that's what Marco Belinelli has been for the Spurs as of late. He's hitting 56.6 percent of his shots from the field over the last two weeks and will continue to get steady minutes for the next month while Danny Green recovers from a fractured hand. ... Enes Kanter has played well lately, logging three double-doubles over his last five games while making more than half of his field goals. ... Keep an eye on Mason Plumlee's minutes, as the Nets could look to him to start at center with Andray Blatche struggling to embrace the role. He'll be a guy who pretty much only dunks, just like his brother, meaning his 62.4 percent from the floor is sustainable even with more minutes.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (47 percent) made his return from injury Tuesday and grabbed seven boards to go along with eight points. Rebounds will be vital to MKG's value, as he hasn't proven to be a reliable scorer just yet. He logged 30 minutes in his first game back, but only 17 in his second. Still, he could prove valuable down the road as forwards are hard to come by. ... Ersan Ilyasova (77 percent) finally showed what he's capable of with his best start of the year, scoring 29 points and grabbing 9 rebounds Monday. He followed that up Wednesday with a 13-rebound performance against the Grizzlies. He's only averaging 5.3 rebounds per game on the season, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. ... Elsewhere on the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo (52 percent) has totaled 19 rebounds over his last three games. He has the potential to record a variety of stat lines, but consistent rebounding could put him over the edge as a guy you're starting rather than just stashing. … It's been hard to count on Nene for rebounds this year. He's only averaged 5.7 per game so far and only has produced double-digit rebounds three times in 30 games.
Getting traded to Golden State might spell the end of Jordan Crawford's impressive assist average. He likely won't be getting the 30 minutes per game that afforded him his 5.7 dimes per, so keep your finger on the drop button as he debuts for the Warriors. ... Speaking of the Celtics, Rajon Rondo is set to make his season debut Friday, but it's looking like he'll only play about five minutes per quarter. It's hard to gauge what Rondo's stat lines will look like with the rebuilding Celtics. On one hand, he's crafty enough to get anyone an open shot, as evidenced by his 11-plus assist average in the past three seasons. On the other hand, he's no longer surrounded by hall-of-famers. Instead, he'll be dishing to Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Only time will tell, but it's not out of the question that Rondo hands out six assists in 20 minutes Friday, so consider starting him despite the initial limitations. ... If J.J. Redick (75 percent) is still available in your Roto league, stop reading this and pick him up. Go! Do it! Did you do it yet? You know what you're getting from him in terms of three-point shooting and free-throw mastery, but without Chris Paul, Redick also becomes a viable playmaker for the Clippers as well. Redick will be logging 30-plus minutes from here on out, and expect four or five assists at least until Paul returns. He dished out five in 31 minutes in his second game back Wednesday, while still finding time to score 33 points and hit seven threes. Pick him up! ... D.J. Augustin (53 percent) just will not go away. He's averaging 7.0 assists per game over the last two weeks. He's your best bet if you need assists from a free agent. ... CJ McCollum's debut hasn't affected Mo Williams (29 percent). In fact, he's been more productive lately, dishing out 6.0 assists in 25 minutes per game over the last two weeks.
I already told you about Randy Foye (56 percent), but just in case the message didn't get through to you, he's starting, he's shooting and he'll do a little bit of everything. He's fifth in the league over the last two weeks at 3.1 made threes per game. ... Looks like I was right about C.J. Miles flaming out. He's only managed six made threes over his last four games after hitting an improbable 10 on Jan. 7. If you picked him up, it's safe to drop him as Luol Deng will be taking and keeping most of the minutes Miles was getting before. ... If you're streaming shooters, look for guys with Miami, Sacramento, Cleveland and, of course, Philadelphia on the schedule. The 76ers are the only team allowing opponents to hit 10 threes per game on average. Meanwhile, you'll have a hard time succeeding with shooters who play Indiana, Portland, Phoenix, Boston and Chicago -- the best teams at preventing the three ball.
Brian Roberts hasn't been anything special filling in for the injured Jrue Holiday, but he has been great at the free throw line, shooting 92.5 percent on the season. ... James Johnson (28 percent) has been an intriguing Roto pickup for the last several weeks, and that intrigue extends to the charity stripe, where he's a shade under 90 percent for the year. He also put together a solid 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, 2 steals and six blocks Wednesday against the Bucks. He contributes in just about every category, so why not take a flier on him? ... Kris Humphries (56 percent) has been getting more court time with the Celtics while hitting 88.0 percent of his free throws so far this year. ... Consider picking up one of the guys I've just mentioned if you're regularly starting Andre Drummond, Andrew Bogut or DeAndre Jordan -- the three worst free-throw shooters in Fantasy. Free throws have also been a struggle for J.R. Smith, who's received his second DNP -- coach's decision in four games Tuesday, yet is still owned in 81 percent of leagues.
Steals are kind of a crapshoot. Just about everyone in the league averages between 1.0 and 2.0 per game. Even the best thieves -- Ricky Rubio, Michael Carter-Williams and Chris Paul -- all average fewer than three per game. The best way to make up ground in this category is by looking for teams who get robbed the most. For instance, the pace and offense of the Lakers and the 76ers leads to more steals by opponents than any other team. And at the other end of the spectrum, the isolation-heavy brand of offense played by New York and Charlotte leads to very few steals. Turnovers, on the other hand, are very easy to diagnose. Whoever gets tasked with handling the ball for his team will have the most. Stars like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James and John Wall lead the league simply because they run their teams' offenses and are talented enough to take lots of chances with the ball. Therefore it's smart to pair these guys up with players who shoot just about every time they get it. Guys such as Wilson Chandler, Tobias Harris, Terrence Ross, Kenneth Faried, Robin Lopez and Andrea Bargnani are good handcuffs to turnover-prone stars. There are plenty others, but the safe bet is to look for either spot-up shooters or physical post players who mostly get the ball from pure hustle rather than play design.