By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
As the regular season winds down and the fantasy playoffs draw near, focusing on areas of need becomes incredibly important. Paying attention to which categories your team is lacking in and making moves to shore up those weak spots goes a long way.
As usual, to avoid repetition, most of the players who were recommended in recent weeks will not be touched on, with a few exceptions.
ALREADY ON THE RADAR
Justin Holiday, Pacers (44% rostered)
Holiday is hitting a career-high 2.4 threes per game this season and continues to log plenty of minutes (31.4 MPG) for Indiana. The vast majority of his shot attempts come from beyond the arc, so he won’t help your team’s overall field goal percentage. Nevertheless, for those in need of threes and defensive stats, the oldest Holiday brother is worth a look, as he has averaged 1.5 steals across the last 12 games while recording six rejections across the last eight.
Daniel Theis, Bulls (44% rostered)
Over the last five contests, Theis is averaging 13.0 points on 60.0 percent shooting, to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.4 minutes. His ability to soak up minutes at two positions makes it easier for him to earn ample playing time, both as Nikola Vucevic’s primary backup and alongside him in bigger lineups.
Luguentz Dort, Thunder (44% rostered)
Dort dialed up career highs in points (42) and made threes (seven) while also contributing seven boards, four steals, and three assists in his most recent outing against the league-leading Jazz. Despite being an average outside shooter (34.2% 3PT), Dort has the greenest of green lights from beyond the arc, as evidenced by his season averages of 2.1 made threes on 6.0 attempts per game. Though he’s an extremely impressive defender, capable of mirroring the best offensive players, Dort is better at containing opponents than racking up steals and blocks. As such, Dort isn’t the most consistent option for fantasy purposes, but the upside is there.
Jae Crowder, Suns (41% rostered)
During the last 10 contests, Crowder is cobbling together averages of 10.4 points, 4.5 boards, 2.6 threes, 2.3 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 27.6 minutes per game. He is prone to the occasional dud but can also fill it up on any given night, as shown during Monday’s matchup against Houston, in which he canned a career-high eight treys.
Darius Bazley, Thunder (41% rostered)
Bazley has been inefficient offensively this season (40.3% FG, 1.5 assists versus 1.9 turnovers), but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills down the stretch. He totaled 22 points and eight boards across 28 minutes during Wednesday’s showdown against a strong defensive team in Golden State, albeit in a blowout loss. With several friendly matchups — Pistons, Raptors, Wizards (twice), and Pacers — on tap in the five-game week ahead, Bazley will be in line to produce ample counting stats.
Saddiq Bey, Pistons (39% rostered)
Playing on a rebuilding team, Bey is one of the few players who Detroit is clearly committed to developing during the final month of the regular season. Over the last five games, the rookie wing is averaging 18.6 points on 52.4 percent from the field, as well as 3.8 threes, 3.6 boards, and 1.6 steals in 30.8 minutes.
Nicolas Batum, Clippers (38% rostered)
The Clippers continue to be cautious with stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to keep them fresh for the playoffs, and Batum has been helping keep the team afloat. Batum has scored in double figures in three of the last four games while combining for 19 rebounds, 10 treys, 10 blocks, and four steals during that same stretch. Batum was so bad the last couple of years that it’s no surprise he’s so widely available. Nevertheless, the veteran forward has performed admirably all season long and could prove useful for those in need of a fairly well-rounded two-way contributor. If you need scoring, Marcus Morris (31% rostered) is another Clipper wing who has stepped up of late, averaging 16.5 points over the last six games.
Malachi Flynn, Raptors (36% rostered)
Kyle Lowry briefly returned to the lineup last weekend. However, he’s expected to be rested for the third straight game on Friday versus the Magic. Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet (hip) might be back in action. It’s unclear whether Lowry will rejoin the Raptors’ rotation for Sunday’s matchup against the Thunder, but regardless Toronto doesn’t seem to be overly aggressive in its pursuit of a spot in the play-in tournament. Unless Nick Nurse switches gears and starts playing his starters heavy minutes going forward, Flynn is a player who could swing fantasy leagues over the next few weeks. Across the last eight games, he’s averaging 14.5 points, 5.8 dimes (1.9 turnovers), 4.8 boards, 2.5 threes, 2.0 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 33.3 minutes.
Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (28% rostered)
We’ve reached the point in the article where I lay out my weekly case for Jalen Brunson. He has earned 30-plus minutes in five of the last seven games and makes his mark on the stat sheet on an almost nightly basis, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. With per-game averages of 12.7 points (52.6% FG, 39.2% 3PT, 78.9% FT), 3.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists versus 1.3 turnovers across 25.7 minutes per game, Brunson holds plenty of value in most formats.
The sooner his rostered percentage rises above 50 percent, the sooner I stop suggesting him. The ball is in your court, folks.
Reggie Jackson, Clippers (28% rostered)
Jackson has scored at least 23 points in three of the last six games while dishing out exactly seven dimes twice during that same stretch. Fellow Clippers point guard Rajon Rondo (4% rostered) may be a better bet if you’re strictly searching for assists, but Jackson has been more productive overall since Patrick Beverley (hand) underwent surgery. Like Batum and Marcus Morris, Jackson has also been asked to shoulder a larger load with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George receiving plenty of nights off lately. If that trend continues over the final month of the regular season, Jackson may continue piling up considerable counting stats.
Tomas Satoransky, Bulls (27% rostered)
Satoransky is listed as probable (back) for Friday’s game against the Grizzlies and has been held to single digits in scoring in five of the last six games. Still, with Zach LaVine (protocols) slated to miss several games, Satoransky will likely see an increase in offensive usage in the short term; and he has already been a consistent source of assists and steals lately, handing out 6.4 dimes per night across his last seven appearances while snatching 13 steals over the last 11 games.
Khem Birch, Raptors (13% rostered)
Birch has made an immediate impact since joining Toronto, averaging 13.5 points (11-15 FG), 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 27.0 minutes across the last two contests. The center position has been by far the biggest hole in the Raptors’ rotation this season, as Aron Baynes hasn’t been impactful, and coach Nick Nurse has been hesitant to heavily rely on small-ball lineups featuring Chris Boucher or Pascal Siakam at center. As such, Birch just might be a consistent contributor for the remainder of the season.
Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (8% rostered)
Thybulle hasn’t scored in double figures for over a month. Nevertheless, the sophomore forward continues to produce eye-popping defensive stats, turning in 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks in only 21.6 minutes per game since the All-Star break. Those in desperate need of steals and swats need not look any further than Thybulle.