Genius NBA Fantasy Pickups for Injury-Plagued Teams
Free-agent additions can make a huge impact on a hurting roster, and you sure want to grab hot free agents in your fantasy league before your competitor does.
While we aren’t seeing anywhere close to the amount of injuries this year compared to last year’s injury-riddled, lockout-shortened NBA season, there are plenty of key players that have suffered early season aches and pains.
From Amar'e Stoudemire to Dirk Nowitzki to Kevin Love, there are quite a few marquee names that have had the injury bug strike.
If your fantasy team is also suffering from the injury bug, then the free-agency pool has likely become your new best friend.
Relying on the waiver wire is not something you aim for in fantasy sports, but finding a free-agent gem can give your team a huge boost.
Every league is different in how deep it is or what categories hold more weight, but here are some smart free agent pickups for your fantasy team to hold you over while you await your star players to return.
If you agree or have different thoughts, follow me on Twitter: @TheNBAllen
Stats used in this article were accurate as of 11/19/2012.
Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats
When looking for fantasy help, your first inclination probably isn’t to look to the Charlotte Bobcats.
However, at 4-4, the Bobcats are already three wins away from matching last season’s total victories, and Ramon Sessions has been a big part of their early success.
Sessions is averaging a career-best 15.8 points per game to go along with 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. While his three-point shooting is weak, and he is a little turnover-prone, he makes up for it by shooting 41 percent from the field and nearly 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Sessions is currently only 49 percent owned, and the journeyman is averaging 17 points and five boards per game in his last three games.
Sessions is a good addition to your team if you need a boost in scoring and will give you great rebounding for a guard.
Luke Ridnour, Minnesota Timberwolves
Luke Ridnour is benefiting from a depleted Minnesota Timberwolves backcourt, which has seen both Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea spend time on the sidelines.
With the increased playing time, Ridnour has averaged 12.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game over the last week and a half.
The veteran guard can provide a solid boost in most categories and would be well-suited for a rotisserie league.
He’s slightly inconsistent with his three-point shot this year, but he gets it done in most areas of the box score, and he even has three blocks this season.
Ridnour will get the job done for you and is someone to consider keeping longer than temporary with his well-rounded capabilities.
Shane Battier, Miami Heat
Shane Battier isn’t exactly a stat machine, but he will help you out in two very important categories: three-point shooting and defense.
Battier is thoroughly benefiting from the Miami Heat’s increased dedication to the "pace and space" system, which relies on spacing the floor and getting the ball to open shooters on the perimeter.
With Heat teammates more than willing to pass the rock, Battier is lighting it up from downtown, averaging a career-high 47.1 percent from beyond the arc so far this season. He’s also shooting a respectable 46.6 percent from the field.
Defensively, Battier averages one block and 0.6 steals per game.
The swingman is averaging 4.6 three-point attempts per game, and has poured in 15 long balls over the past four games, including going 6-of-7 in Miami’s win over Denver last week.
Battier isn’t a long-term solution, but he’s playing way better than his 15 percent ownership indicates and will give you a significant lift in shooting and blocks for the time being.
Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
Depending on the depth of your league, Metta World Peace may or may not be available in free agency. Given the fact that he’s surrounded by four potential Hall-of-Famers, many people expected his numbers to be low and likely didn’t draft him.
The smallest name in the Los Angeles Lakers illustrious starting lineup is putting together his best season in recent memory.
World Peace is averaging nearly 13 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He seems to be experiencing a blast from the past recently, with four games of 15-plus points.
He has posted 15.4 points, five rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in his last five contests, while shooting decently from beyond the arc.
His ability to rebound and get numerous blocks and steals on any given night makes him a worthy free-agent addition.
Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers
Alonzo Gee is not owned at a high rate in many leagues, but the young forward plays 32 minutes a game and is a major part of the Cleveland Cavaliers offense.
Gee is averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 boards per game, but the stat that jumps out the most is his two steals per contest.
Gee’s play as of late is definitely eye-opening, as he has averaged 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals over his last five games.
Gee gets a lot of minutes and can be depended on to put up numbers on a Cavaliers team that lacks a lot of firepower.
Samuel Dalembert, Milwaukee Bucks
Samuel Dalembert isn’t exactly the sexiest name when it comes to free agents you're trying to scoop up to improve your squad.
However, Dalembert is putting up numbers in the rather low amount of playing time he gets.
In just under 17 minutes per game, Dalembert is averaging 7.4 points on nearly 70 percent shooting to go along with five rebounds and 1.1 blocks per.
With the Bucks frontcourt extremely thin, Dalembert could certainly see his playing time increased, especially if he continues to perform like he has recently.
The Haiti native is only 49 percent owned but has posted solid numbers of 12.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his last four contests. However, it’s his incredible 70 percent shooting from the field over the last four games that should take him off the market quickly.
If Dalembert’s minutes start to escalate, he could easily be a steal due to his outstanding efficiency, rebounding and shot-blocking abilities.
Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
It’s not easy being a point guard on a team that already has Chris Paul and possesses an extremely deep backcourt, but Eric Bledsoe is someone to watch for on the free-agency market.
His teammates dubbed him “Mini LeBron,” which shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially in fantasy because that would imply he fills up a stat sheet.
While he won’t give you LeBron James numbers, Bledsoe is a complete player for a backup and is only owned at 12 percent. He averages 10.6 points, 2.8 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while also shooting nearly 51 percent from the floor.
If your team has Steve Nash or Kyle Lowly, Bledsoe will act as an adept replacement for the time being. He has been in double-digit scoring in his last three games and shoots the ball very efficiently, while also guaranteeing you at least one steal per game.
If that doesn't open your eyes, then his rejection of a potential Dwyane Wade posterization last week should do the trick.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tristan Thompson is having a solid sophomore campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If your frontcourt is weak and you need rebounding, Thompson is someone to consider.
The big man is thriving in his first full season in a starting role, averaging 9.2 points, eight rebounds and 1.2 steals per game so far this season, while only being owned at a 27 percent clip.
His free-throw percentage (54.3) is awful, but he doesn’t get to the line that often.
Thompson’s numbers as of late are very encouraging. He’s posted 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in his last five ball games, and seems to be making big strides in his game.
You shouldn’t rely on him for scoring, but he’s proficient in cleaning up the glass and getting steals. Make sure to pick him now before his improved stats get him too noticed.