Fantasy Basketball: Finding Stats In Unfamiliar Places
Fantasy Basketball: Early Season Disappointments
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy basketball is somewhat unique in fantasy sports in that any position can rack up stats for your team. It’s possible for your center to hit threes and your point guard to block shots. By contrast, in fantasy baseball, only pitchers can get you strikeouts, in fantasy football, only quarterbacks can get you passing yards, etc.

Yet, sometimes we still get locked into stereotyping certain positions when we look for specific categories. We focus too much on what a particular player should give us, and that can cause value to go unnoticed.

In general, guards are supposed to get free throw percentage, threes, assists, steals, and points while bigs are expected to rack up field goal percentage, rebounds, blocks, and points. Wings will usually do a few things extremely well but can be weak in one or two areas (like be solid in rebounds, steals, blocks but not assists), unless it’s Kevin Durant, who just dominates everything.

However, finding players who can provide stats that you wouldn’t normally find at that position can be the difference between winning and losing in fantasy basketball. After all, a center who can hit one three per game adds 82 onto your total, just as a guard who gets above-average rebounds can put you over the top in that category.

Here are a few players who fly under the radar and provide stats you wouldn’t expect from them:

Mason Plumlee, Blazers
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Mason Plumlee (Assists): After spending his first two seasons in the NBA playing with the Brooklyn Nets, it appeared that Mason Plumlee was well on his way to being a solid high-energy big man. He was fairly versatile defensively, could rebound the ball, and would occasionally toss in a block or steal for good measure. After landing in Portland last season, Plumlee showed a solid ability to make decisions on the court and find teammates for open looks. This year, he’s fully in distributor mode, and his average of 4.7 assists per game is the most for any center-eligible player not named Draymond Green.

Trevor Booker, Nets
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Trevor Booker (Steals): For the majority of his career, Trevor Booker has dutifully played the role of a reserve power forward, playing within the system in Washington and then Utah. This offseason, he signed with the Brooklyn Nets to replace Thaddeus Young as their starting power forward, and in their fast-paced system, Booker has been turning heads. While he is providing excellent across-the-board production, his 2.0 steals per game rank behind only Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard in power forward-eligible players. It’s early, but as of now Booker is a sneaky source of steals that could really be a difference maker if he keeps it up.

Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Nets, Grizzlies
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Marc Gasol and Brook Lopez (Threes): Ok, neither of these guys fly under the radar, but no one expected two traditional centers to suddenly morph into three-point shooters this season, but that’s exactly what has happened. Gasol and Lopez essentially didn’t shoot threes before this season, but now they are averaging 1.4 and 2.0 per game, respectively. Beware the corresponding drop in field goal percentage, but when you add them to young bigs who can shoot like Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid you can see why some are saying that the center position is becoming en vogue again.

George Hill, Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

George Hill (Field Goal Percentage): Perhaps no player in the league has taken to his new team the way George Hill has. After being traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Utah Jazz over the summer, Hill has been absolutely on fire. A thumb injury cost him some games, but he is having a career-year for the Jazz, and his 55 percent from the field on nearly 14 shots per game is a welcome addition to any fantasy team, particularly since he is providing 2.7 threes as well. We will see if he can keep it up.

Monta Ellis, Pacers
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Monta Ellis (Blocks): It’s easy to overlook a stat like this because 0.7 blocks doesn’t exactly jump off the page at you, but Monta Ellis is currently second among guard-eligible players in blocks. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a massive lead for first place, but he isn’t sliding under anyone’s radar. Ellis is good enough in steals and assists to make him worth a spot on your roster, and if you happen to have a low-block big man like Nikola Vucevic or Blake Griffin, Ellis is a sneaky-good way to make up for that deficiency.

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