Moe Harkless, SF, Orlando Magic
Never get complacent with your fantasy basketball lineups. If you do, someone else in your league stands a greater chance of catching you in the standings. Furthermore, avoiding complacency doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always making moves.
Free-agent pickups may not be an opportunity to make your team better at a given time, but you won’t know whether or not they will unless you’re paying attention.
Where does your fantasy basketball team need to improve? A long-term approach would be to look ahead at teams’ schedules (from ESPN.com) and stack up on guys with more games in the NBA season’s final weeks, but that’s only if you have a fantasy playoff spot locked up.
There are a handful of short-term options that may help provide a surge to get into the fantasy postseason. These guys have been very productive lately, while providing reason to believe that their minutes may be maintained long enough to be useful in the fantasy basketball realm.
Outside of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris, all of the following players are owned in fewer than 20 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues. Feel free to pursue widely-available (9.9 percent owned) blocks specialist Jermaine O’Neal, as well.
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 68.2
Tobias Harris’ per-36 numbers this season are extremely promising. If his 15 minutes per game were extrapolated to 36, his stat line would look like this:
50.3% FG, 81.3% FT, 17.3 PPG, 1.0 3PM, 7.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.9 TOPG.
The new Orlando Magic forward is playing 28.7 minutes per game in his blue and white uniform, including exactly 31 minutes in four of his seven games with the team. Orlando seems to be happy with running Harris for extended time. He’s rewarded them with a 56.0 field-goal percentage, a 36.8 three-point percentage and a 72.7 free-throw percentage.
Harris has added:
16.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG and 1.0 3PM with 1.3 TOPG.
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 12.9
Enes Kanter opened some eyes on Mar. 1. Granted, his opponent was the 13-48 Charlotte Bobcats at home. Still 20/20 games like the young big’s 23 points and 22 boards aren’t all that plentiful in the NBA.
Since receiving 44 minutes of playing time that night—in a blowout win—Kanter totaled 53 minutes in the two following games: contests that were decided by a total of four points. Starter Al Jefferson missed all three of those games while Kanter made a bid for more playing time.
In three March appearances, the former third-overall pick shot 69.4 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line en route to averaging 19.3 points per game along with 13 boards, one assist, a block and averages of 0.3 steals and 2.3 turnovers per game.
His long-term fantasy prospects are hugely dependent on Jefferson’s playing time, but Kanter’s efficiency may keep him relevant while Jefferson works his way back from an ankle injury. Rotowire.com reported that Jefferson’s absence will end on Mar. 8 against the Chicago Bulls.
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 7.3
Moe Harkless has caught fire. He’s not getting a terribly high volume of shots (46 total field-goal attempts in his last six games), but Harkless is shooting 60.9 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from deep since Feb. 26. He has had enough peripheral stats (1.1 3PM, 0.5 BPG and 0.7 SPG) to make the scoring—in addition to 1.0 turnovers per game—worthwhile in deeper leagues.
It seems strange that the 6’8” forward’s boards (4.2 RPG) and dimes (1.0 APG) are so low, though. In his last six showings, Harkless has played 32.8 minutes per game.
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 15.7
John Salmons is averaging 29.5 minutes per game this season, but over his last seven appearances the Sacramento Kings forward is getting 32.9 minutes of nightly burn, including 33.3 over his last three. He’s dropped 23 buckets from beyond during that time (3.3 threes per game) on 51.6 percent field-goal shooting.
He’s been a fantasy non-factor on the charity stripe of late—unless he’s knocking down his free-throws. In the three games since Feb. 19 that he’s stepped to the line, Salmons has hit 10-of-10. In the other six, he totaled zero free-throw attempts.
If you’re looking for scoring (13.6 PPG in his last seven) and treys, Salmons should be a fine spot-starter until he cools off and sees less playing time. He went 1-of-5 from beyond the arc—and 2-of-9 overall—on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Mar. 6, but he played 38 minutes.
ESPN Ownership Percentage: 19.5
Thabo Sefolosha’s position in the Oklahoma City Thunder rotation is pretty secure: He has started in all 59 appearances for the 44-16 squad, averaging 28.7 minutes per game over the course of the season.
He’s been largely ignored in fantasy circles due to the fact that his impact on the NBA game far outweighs the shock value of his box score numbers, but he’s lately been a top-50 player in fantasy basketball.
That’s in leagues that don’t count turnovers. In ones that do, he’s even more helpful as a multi-categorical threat: Sefolosha has had multiple turnovers in exactly one game since the beginning of February.
The 6’7” swingman is converting a career-high 48.2 percent of his field-goal attempts on the season. He went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in February in three of his 11 games. In the other eight, he didn’t step up to the stripe at all.
Since the beginning of February, Sefolosha is averaging 1.7 steals, 1.7 threes, 0.9 blocks, 4.1 rebounds and just 0.9 turnovers per game. That makes his 9.4 points per game pretty forgivable.
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