Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Specialists: Rolling Rivers

Monday, November 13, 2017


Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers: Steals, 3-pointers


Danilo Gallinari (glute) said that he had a hard time walking about a week ago, and we haven’t exactly received any positive updates regarding his condition going forward. It seems unlikely at best that Gallo will be ready to roll as early as this week—especially given how little information we have on the injury and the fact that he aggravated it by trying to play through it—and with Patrick Beverley (knee) still dinged up, Rivers is in a good position to continue capitalizing on his increased playing time.


There isn’t a lot of excitement when it comes to the thought of rostering Doc’s kid, but Rivers has turned himself into a legitimate NBA rotation piece and can be considered an asset for teams in points leagues or in head-to-head formats where the GM is punting the percentages. Over his last five games, Rivers has averaged 15.8 points, 2.0 steals and 3.0 triples on 28-of-67 (41.8%) shooting, exceeding 30 minutes of action in every matchup. He’s not a sexy option and doesn’t have the type of scoring upside that Lou Williams carries in the same backcourt, but Rivers’ role is not as volatile and his value as a bargain-bin specialist can be sustainable even as his teammates get healthy around him.


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Enes Kanter, New York Knicks: Rebounds, Field Goal Percentage


On a team that paid $72 million to Joakim Noah, put up $16 million to bring in Kyle O’Quinn and (smartly) invested a second-round pick into Willy Hernangomez, of course it’s Kanter that is starting at center and putting up the most fantasy value of any of those four names in the process. Simply put, the Knicks wouldn’t want us to have it any other way.


Kanter’s contributions are rarely going to jump out of the box score, but he’s cruised over his last five games—during which the Knicks have a 4-1 record and Kanter has three double-double’s—to averages of 13.2 points and 11.6 rebounds on 31-of-49 (63.3%) from the field. That’s getting the job done in rotisserie formats, especially given Kanter was likely a last-round flier or waiver wire pickup to begin the campaign. There is no reason to believe Noah returning from suspension is going to shake up Jeff Hornacek’s rotations in any way, meaning those riding Kanter should keep on keepin’ on.


Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz: 3-pointers


Instead of the Hood breakout tour that so many had expected, the biggest storyline out of Utah to date has been rookie Donovan Mitchell. But despite the Louisville product recently usurping Hood’s starting role, the veteran former first-round pick out of Duke still has under-appreciated value as a sixth man, and the Jazz is going to need everything he’s got for the next four-to-six weeks with Rudy Gobert (knee) sidelined.


The expectation game is a dangerous one to play, and perception has distorted reality for many when evaluating Hood in the fantasy landscape. Because so many have expected Hood to do more and to be more consistent, there has been frequent disappointment—not all of it always earned—in the contributions he’s brought to the fantasy table. As a result, Hood can probably be had for less than what was invested on draft day, and he still has considerable room to produce.


Since his zero-point, 0-for-11 dud on November 1, Hood has averaged 17.2 points and 2.2 3-pointers on a woeful 27-of-78 (34.6%) shooting. Although he’s never been an efficient shooter during his NBA career, Hood is better than he’s shown to date and there should be increased opportunities to collect counting stats along the way given the current state of the Jazz roster.


At a bare minimum, Hood is on pace to flirt with making 200 triples, a threshold only 11 players broke through during the 2016-17 season.


Allen Crabbe, Portland Trail Blazers: 3-pointers


We don’t know the full extent of D’Angelo Russell’s knee injury yet, but we do know that he’s expected to miss “several games,” and that’s enough to give Crabbe—a fringe player in 12-team leagues—a short-term boost. Crabbe’s usage rises without DAR on the floor, and as an outside shooter capable of getting hot in a hurry on a team that is going to be looking for offense, scooping him up and utilizing him for the week ahead is an enticing proposition on the surface.


However, a deeper examination shows a tough road ahead—defensive showdowns vs. Boston and Utah before a potential blowout vs. Golden State—and there may be more frustration than fun in store should you choose to deploy Crabbe into a weekly lineup. In daily formats, it does help Crabbe’s case that he’s eligible at PG, SG, and SF on Yahoo, but it’d be nice to see more production (37.7% shooting, career-low 34.7% from distance) before banking on potential. This is not the player the Nets envisioned upon finally landing their $70M man.


Thabo Sefolosha, Utah Jazz


Sefolosha was supposed to be a luxury signing for a deep Jazz team, but he’s suddenly become a necessity—especially on the defensive end—without Rudy Gobert available. Utah’s shallow frontcourt depth combined with Joe Johnson’s (wrist) injury should lock Sefolosha into a role with at least 25-30 minutes nightly moving forward, and that’s plenty of time for the veteran to do his damage and rack up the defensive stats.


With a career average of 1.7 steals per-36 minutes, Sefolosha can serve as a discount specialist in deeper leagues for his upside in the department of defense. This season, when Sefolosha has played at least 25 minutes (six games), the defensive-minded presence has averaged 2.3 steals per contest.



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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