As you probably guessed from the headline, the players discussed below aren’t ones you should definitely be running to add today. They’re players currently stuck in limited roles who could make a big impact down the stretch if things break right. We’ll talk Evan Fournier in a minute, but we begin with…
Shane Larkin (1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues): He’s been quiet since his 18-point, five-assist game last Friday, and he’s currently fighting Devin Harris for backup minutes behind Jose Calderon. That’s technically the bad news, but if you consider Harris’ and Calderon’s injury histories, it could also be considered good news. After all, Harris has proven that he can’t stay healthy for a prolonged stretch at this point in his career, and Larkin’s bigger obstacle to playing time (Calderon) is no stranger to a lengthy absence himself, having missed an average of 13 games the last five years.
Unfortunately, as dynamic as Larkin is, I do think injury is really his only realistic path to a breakout this year. As much as I’d like to think that Rick Carlisle could make the switch, acknowledging that Larkin gives his offense a fast-paced dimension that Calderon doesn’t have, that’s probably not too realistic. What’s more realistic is that owners in deeper leagues can wait for the inevitable Harris injury and hope it sends Larkin into the 20-25 minute range consistently, while owners in shallower leagues can hope that Calderon (only one missed game so far this year) is inevitably due for an injury sometime in the not too distant future.
Bottom line: I can understand if you don’t have the patience to stash Larkin and wait for injuries that may not happen, but it’s a roster stash with a pretty intriguing ceiling if Calderon indeed breaks down.
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Evan Fournier (3 percent): So far in his brief career, the No. 20 overall pick from 2012 has played 20-plus minutes 15 times. In those 15 games, he has averaged 13.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg and 1.6 3s. It’s a scattershot collection of games dating back to April of last year, and certainly some of those games included garbage time, but it still gives a sense of what the 21-year-old could do if given extended run on a regular basis. Unfortunately, he still has Randy Foye (and Wilson Chandler) ahead of him, and Foye happens to be on fire at the moment (17.0 ppg, 3.2 treys per game, 46.8 percent from behind the arc this month). Even so, Fournier is already a potential play in deeper formats (11.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.9 3s in 22 minutes per game this month), and has a chance to step into some standard league value before the season is over, especially once Foye cools down, and if/when the Nuggets fall further out of the playoff picture in the West.
Ben McLemore (37 percent): He was already going to make this list before Rudy Gay injured his Achilles (severity TBD) Wednesday night, and now moves up a notch after playing 35 minutes (his most since early December) with Rudy out of the lineup. Granted, McLemore didn’t do much with those minutes (11 points, three treys on 3-of-10 shooting), and the game featured a lot of garbage time, but he’s still a player I’m watching closely as the season progresses. His bad games have been really rotten, but his best box scores (and his jump off the screen athleticism) have forecast plenty of fantasy potential for the No. 7 pick in last year’s draft. There are obviously no guarantees that a breakout happens this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on a run before the season is over.
Other names to consider stashing/keep on your watch list…
Giannis Antetokounmpo (16 percent): He has struggled lately (7.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg in his last four games), but I still like him to be posting good all-around stats in March and April as 8-33 Milwaukee continues to descend into the toilet.
Martell Webster (35 percent): He’s still getting plenty of run, but is averaging just 10.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.4 spg (and 2.1 3s) in 19 games since Bradley Beal returned to action. I don’t expect anything to change as long as Beal (and Trevor Ariza) are healthy, but I also don’t fully trust Beal and Ariza to make it the rest of the way without getting hurt.
Mike Scott (4 percent): He’s providing some deep league value with 12.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.8 spg and 1.0 3s in 21 minutes per game this month, but would need an injury to Paul Millsap or Pero Antic to see his value take off. Given Millsap’s durability (19 missed games in his entire career), Antic pulling a hammy looks like the best hope for Scott to reach 25-30 minutes per game.
Update: A couple hours after I published this, word came down that Antic will miss 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury. (I swear I wasn't trying to jinx him.) Now hopefully the Hawks will give Scott a bump in minutes, and you can pretty much disregard what I wrote about Antic in the next paragraph.
Other Random Thoughts: I thought about mentioning Jordan Crawford as a player to keep in mind in the event of a Stephen Curry injury, but you’d have a hard time convincing me that Curry is much of an injury risk at all at this point. Aside from the lockout season, when he missed 40 games, he has played in 94 percent (272 out of 289) of his team’s games (including 40 out of 43 this year). … I mentioned Pero Antic before, so it’s worth noting that his last three games have produced 12.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.3 treys. There’s not much hope for defensive stats here, but the 3s make him more than just a two-dimensional fantasy option, and an intriguing play for owners in deeper leagues.