NBA Fantasy Basketball: 5 Best Players Still Available
The halfway point of the NBA season is fast approaching, forcing fantasy basketball owners to quickly shore up their lineups before the fantasy playoffs arrive. Few fantasy rosters are chock full of fantasy stars—players who are owned in 100 percent of leagues—and there are lesser-owned guys who can make a positive impact on fantasy teams with a specific makeup.
There’s Patrick Patterson, who has shown that he has the coveted ability to shoot a high percentage from the field (51.1 percent) as well as knocking down a noticeable number of threes (0.8) per game this season. Andre Drummond isn’t hitting threes all the time—he only shot two and made one this year—but he is connecting on 59.3 percent of his shots and blocking 1.6 of the opponents’ per night.
While the two bigs have vastly different fantasy games, they have something in common as well: Each is available in the majority of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues. The widely available fantasy free agents are ranked by their availability—not desirability—as assessing the desirability of a particular fantasy player is a case-by-case proposition.
Stats used in this article are accurate prior to games played on Jan. 8, 2013.
5. Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston Rockets
ESPN.com Ownership Percentage: 43.4
Patrick Patterson’s minutes have been down since he returned from a foot injury on Dec. 29. He played 29 combined minutes in his last two games of 2012, but his efficiency has returned in the new year: Patterson’s shooting 71.4 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line while hitting 1.3 shots from distance nightly.
Despite still putting up single-digit shot attempts in 23.3 minutes per game this January, Patterson is averaging 16 PPG to go with 6.7 RPG, 1.7 APG and one TOPG. If you need offense, Patterson is a solid option.
4. Andre Miller, PG, Denver Nuggets
ESPN.com Ownership Percentage: 42.4
Don’t let the fact that Andre Miller is a point guard fool you into thinking he’ll get you buckets from beyond on a regular basis; he went the entire month of December without connecting from deep once. Of course, because he doesn’t shoot terribly often from there (27 attempts in 36 games), Miller’s field-goal shooting is a bit more reliable: He’s shooting 46.2 percent from the field this season.
Miller’s 88.2 percent free-throw shooting is also attractive, as are his assists numbers. He’s averaging 5.9 on the season and 9.5 since the calendar flipped to 2013.
3. Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks
ESPN.com Ownership Percentage: 43.4
Kyle Korver’s reputation as a sniper has not been hindered at all with his new team, the Atlanta Hawks. He has knocked down 2.6 of his 6.1 three-point attempts in 29.1 minutes per game. In eight of his past 10, Korver converted on three or more threes in addition to 86.7 percent free-throw shooting—when he actually gets there.
Of course, a high volume of threes translates into a healthy number of points per game even on limited shots, but Korver’s turnover numbers haven’t spiked along with his scoring. Korver managed to avoid turning the ball over more than once in eight of his past nine appearances.
2. Ersan Ilyasova, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks
ESPN.com Ownership Percentage: 34.1
Once a popular sleeper candidate, Ersan Ilyasova has fallen on hard times—or, more appropriately, little playing time. He averaged 22.8 minutes per game through the Milwaukee Bucks’ first 32 contests. Nevertheless, Rotoworld reports that Ilyasova will be a starter for the foreseeable future following Milwaukee’s firing of Scott Skiles.
The Turkish forward has shot better than 45 percent from the field, 53 percent from deep and 87 percent from the line since the beginning of December. His threes have not been attempted sparingly: Ilyasova has connected on at least one in 13 of his past 16 games. He also rebounds quite well (5.6 RPG) for an SF-eligible fantasy player.
1. Andre Drummond, PF/C, Detroit Pistons
ESPN.com Ownership Percentage: 33.7
Andre Drummond has already carved out a fantasy niche in limited minutes. Despite playing 19.8 minutes per game, the Detroit Pistons' rookie big man is shooting 59.3 percent from the field, pulling down 7.2 boards per game and blocking 1.6 shots a night.
His 39.7 percent free-throw shooting is not for the weak-hearted—but he isn’t Dwight Howard-esque in terms of vaporizing your fantasy team’s charity conversion rate. Although Dwight shoots a better percentage (50.8) from the line than does Drummond, the rookie’s woeful shooting comes with a weight of just two attempts per game.
Howard goes to the line 10 times a night; his raw number of misses per game (4.9) is quadruple Drummond’s (1.2).
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