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The Specialists

The Specialists: Marked Man

by Ethan Norof
Updated On: December 3, 2018, 6:08 pm ET

Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: Steals

Kawhi Leonard being on the court hasn’t stopped Slo-Mo, and that’s a good thing for those in a deeper format that have come to need his services. Anderson, who is still rostered in less than 20% of Yahoo leagues, has averaged 6.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals, and 2.0 turnovers on 47.2% shooting over his last seven games. Although Anderson hasn’t been as efficient shooting the ball this month as he was last, the UCLA product has seen his other numbers rise, rendering him a useful but underappreciated fantasy asset that is often floating freely on the waiver wire.

It can be a near non-negotiable to have Anderson on your roster if your team is built around Leonard due to the existing injury concerns, but it’s a harder sell for those not relying on Kawhi due to the lack of long-term/second-half upside. And because Anderson isn’t a sexy stash, he’s easy to miss when assessing the other available options. Rudy Gay’s (heel) eventual return will be worth monitoring, but the Spurs have been tight-lipped about his progress and noncommittal on his timeline, so the veteran’s availability does not appear to be an immediate concern.

Rajon Rondo, New Orleans Pelicans: Assists

Rondo does just enough to remain intriguing both on and off the court, but he’s a bigger headache than he’s worth in 12-team (or smaller) formats.

Since Rondo’s 25-assist outburst—even with two double-digit assist games since—the enigmatic point guard has averaged a decent but not irreplaceable 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.8 turnovers on 31-of-64 (48.4%) shooting over his last eight contests. And if you take out his two games with a combined 27 assists, Rondo has averaged just 4.0 dimes in the other six games. With a capped ceiling, inconsistent production on a game-to-game basis and fluctuating minutes on a nightly basis, I’d much rather dedicate a roster spot to someone like Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Rondo brings real value to these Pelicans, but most of that is rooted in his connection with DeMarcus Cousins.

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J.J. Redick: Points, 3-pointers

It was really easy to poke fun at the Sixers giving Redick $23 million for a single year, but Philadelphia had money to burn, the shooting guard looked a perfect fit for the starting five, and the steadying hand of a veteran leader is always important on a young team. Fast forward halfway into the season and Redick is averaging a career-high in points (17.4), 3-pointers made per game (2.7), free throw percentage (94.5), rebounds (2.7), and assists (3.3).

In other words, Redick is having exactly the season the Sixers projected for him when signing the deal.

It’s not hard for Redick’s contributions to be overlooked on a team commandeered by the infectious personality of Joel Embiid and the scintillating sensation of a rookie in Ben Simmons, but the shooting guard has been on fire since the start of the new year and is a deserving part of the storyline. With averages of 21.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.7 triples, and just 1.3 turnovers on 54.3% shooting—including an absurd 52.4% from distance and 93.3% from the charity stripe—over his last few games, Redick has been a top-40 player over the last two weeks and is inside the top 75 for the season. Not bad for a guy who was routinely selected around pick 100 behind names such as Willy Hernangomez, Markelle Fultz, Dwyane Wade, and Gorgui Dieng.

Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: Points, 3-pointers

Here’s an interesting comparison to kick off our 2018:

Player A (six games) — 20.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals 0.7 blocks, 2.7 3PM, 49.5% FGs

Player B (seven games) — 19.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.7 blocks, 3.9 3PM, 52.1% FGs

Player A is Klay Thompson. Player B is Markkanen.

Zach LaVine’s return to action means the rookie will have to adjust, but the big man has been nothing but impressive since being pressed into sooner expected action to begin his successful inaugural campaign. There is little reason to believe that Markkanen is suddenly going to face of the fantasy Earth, and with the Bulls looking to trade Nikola Mirotic sooner rather than later, it’s not as if the Arizona product is going to face stiff competition for minutes anytime in the near future.

This is not a situation where I’d be looking to sell high, especially given the initial investment. The Bulls are officially interesting in the post-Jimmy Butler era, and if Markkanen can sustain an improved shooting efficiency, he’ll elevate his fantasy ceiling to an entirely new level. In dynasty formats, Markkanen, who won’t be 21 until May, certainly looks like an elite long-term asset.

John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks: Blocks, Field Goal Percentage

It’s a little weird how Henson has fallen off of the radar in some leagues—the lanky lefty is currently on a smaller percentage of rosters than Rudy Gay, Ersan Ilyasova, Jeremy Lamb, Ryan Anderson, and even Markelle Fultz—since he’s been on a solid run over his last five games with averages of 9.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks on 21-of-38 (55.3%) shooting. With Henson’s ability to swat shots, steady playing time, and nobody coming for his minutes, Henson is a nice third center whose previous inconsistency has been a non-issue this year.

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