Tim Hardaway, G/F Atlanta Hawks: 3-pointers
Talk about a change in circumstances.
It looks like Junior is going to play a familiar role in Atlanta—one most are immediately familiar with once names like Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford are mentioned—and that means he’s going to be counted upon to bring instant offense off of Mike Budenholzer’s bench. Atlanta has invested plenty into Hardaway’s development since trading a first-round pick (Jerian Grant) to acquire his services, so there should be some added incentive to see him play with Kyle Korver now in Cleveland.
In three of his last four games, Hardaway has played 25-plus minutes; it feels like the opportunity is going to continue to be there. He’s put up numbers during that stretch, averaging 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, a ridiculous 4.3 triples and just 1.3 turnovers on a scorching 59.6% shooting, including a jaw-dropping 65.4% from distance. Tim’s son is obviously not going to stay ghost pepper hot forever, but Hardaway warrants attention as a 3-point specialist capable of filling it up in a hurry in standard leagues and anything deeper.
Lucas Nogueira, C Toronto Raptors: Blocks
Those relying on John Henson as a blocks specialist have to be frustrated, right? The big man has held steady to his starting role, but his production has basically fallen off a cliff and should not occupy a roster spot in 12-team leagues. Greg Monroe’s minutes are finally moving in a logical direction, and Henson’s blocks are actually down considerably this season compared to what we’ve seen prior. Since Christmas—a stretch of eight games—Henson has just six blocks total, and that’s just not going to cut it when he’s bringing nothing else to the table.
Regardless of whether or not he’s starting, Bebe’s role is set to grow moving forward. The Raptors have found success with the pairing of Jonas Valanciunas alongside Nogueira, and Dwane Casey needs to keep pushing that pedal, especially until Jared Sullinger (foot) shows capable of contributing anything. He’s the true definition of a specialist—fantasy GMs only roster him if in very specific need of a boost in swats—but the minutes are there and he’s worth a look if you need him.
T.J. McConnell, PG Philadelphia 76ers: Assists, Steals
Sergio Rodriguez’s ankle injury gave T.J. McConnell another opportunity to show the Sixers why he should play more, and it sounds like that’s exactly what is set to happen with McConnell the believed starter moving forward.
It’s not like McConnell’s rest of season outlook is set in any kind of stone—he’s just a flier worth taking right now if you need assists, especially if you lost Rajon Rondo—but it is amazing how seemingly every time the Sixers try to push other backups ahead of the Arizona product, he just keeps finding a way to continue living.
Jerryd Bayless (wrist) is done for the season, and Rodriguez—averaging 9.7 points, 6.7 assists, 1.7 3-pointers and a steal with 2.4 turnovers on 40.8% shooting in 29 games as the starting point guard—hasn’t exactly set the world aflame with his performance, especially when you factor in his horrific defense.
With 36 minutes in each of his four games with averages of 9.0 points, 5.3 boards, 9.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 turnovers on 39.5% from the field, it’d be like Rondo’s production never left your team.
By the way, the Sixers are 3-1 in their last four contests with a four-point road loss to Boston as their only defeat. Not bad.
Tyson Chandler, C Phoenix Suns: Rebounds, Field Goal Percentage
Maybe the Suns are auditioning Chandler for a trade—ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Portland could have some interest—and that’s the reason he’s playing so much more than Alex Len, but it’s also possible that Phoenix could keep him and grow Len’s role as the season progresses. The point is that although Chandler’s long-term outlook remains uncertain, his short-term utility has been wonderful for those in need of what he brings to the table.
Entering Sunday’s matchup vs. Cleveland, Chandler had double-digit boards in four of five games and had averaged 7.0 points and 13.6 rebounds on 10-of-14 (71.4%) shooting in the process. The upside is not really there and Chandler can really slug along sometimes, but he’s a fine second center in deeper formats if you can get your blocks elsewhere.
Robert Covington, F Philadelphia 76ers: Steals, Blocks, 3-pointers
We all know RoCo’s shooting has been horrendous. That’s not the story here.
Despite the dip in his offensive efficiency—and don’t get me wrong, it’s been really bad with a significant decline from distance and in overall field goal percentage—Covington’s defense as well as Brett Brown’s trust have kept his minutes steady.
Lord Covington has started 2017 with a bang with 12.3 points, 8.0 boards, an absurd 3.7 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 3PM, and no matter what kind of deck shuffling his head coach does with the rest of Philly’s lineup, Covington is going to remain a constant so long as he’s healthy. Welcome him onto any squad that punts field goal percentage weekly.