With the league preparing for the All-Star break and then the trade deadline fantasy basketball owners have a lot to look forward to. After all, it’s the moves that are made now that could ultimately determine whether you go home with your league title or spend the offseason pondering what could have been.
At this stage, fantasy basketball owners should be well aware of what categories they need help in and should be identifying players that can do just that. Last week, we took a look at a number of players who can help your team make up ground in blocks. We featured an array of players who are essentially one-category wonders, but sometimes it’s those guys who can make or break your team.
This week, we will take a look at the steals, which is the second scarcest stat to find in standard eight-category leagues. We won’t be able to focus solely on waiver-wire pickups like last week due to the lack of players who really only provide steals, but stars aren’t welcome here, so you can probably make a deal to get some of these guys on your roster.
Trevor Ariza- While several players running for the Houston Rockets have seen a statistical boost thanks to Mike D’Antoni’s go-go-go offense, it’s business as usual for Ariza. He continues to chug along, hitting open threes off James Harden’s drives and using his long arms to pick up loads of steals. Heading into Monday’s games he is tied with Wizards guard John Wall for the league lead in total steals. Poor percentages and so-so production elsewhere prevent Ariza from becoming a true fantasy star, so if you need someone to turn things around in the steals category shoot his owner an offer.
Andre Drummond- Ok, I said no stars, and I suppose it’s debatable whether Drummond qualifies, but he has to make this list simply because of how ridiculous it is that a center is currently top-10 in the league in steals with 1.7 per game. Drummond will go nuclear on your free throw percentage (33 percent on 4.3 attempts per game), so be careful before you run out to offer a trade for him. Thanks to his errant shooting at the line, Drummond is like Shaq-lite, possessing way more value in real life than in fantasy basketball. However, if you aren’t counting free throws Drummond is a top-10 player, so if you are employing a punting strategy do what you can to get him on your roster.
Thaddeus Young- For years, Young has been a jack-of-all-trades power forward. He doesn’t score, rebound, or block shots at an elite level, often leaving fantasy owners somewhat underwhelmed. His shooting from the field has been excellent this season, but it’s been somewhat negated by his plummeting free throw percentage, making it one step forward, one step back. That said, one thing Young does well is get steals, particularly for his position (1.8 per game). Aside from Draymond Green, no power forward in the league gets more takeaways than Young does, and he chips in just enough everywhere else to be an asset. Just make sure you have good free throw shooters on your team, or pair him with Drummond and punt the category.
Robert Covington- One of my favorite sleepers heading into the season, Covington hasn’t quite produced at the level that I was hoping him to. His three pointers have dropped somewhat from 2.5 per game to 1.9, which makes it more difficult to tolerate his 38 percent shooting from the field. In fact, he’s currently on waivers in just under half of ESPN leagues. However, if you need steals and can absorb his misfires, Covington can help your team, as he racks up 1.9 steals per game for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tony Allen- Sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when you are Tony Allen, it doesn’t matter. He has defended some of the best ever, and at 35-years-old, Allen is still making life miserable for the top swingman in the league. A rare player who really doesn’t contribute anything of note for fantasy basketball outside the steals category, at least you know what you are going to get on a nightly basis from Allen. Plus, if you are the type that enjoys watching the players on your fantasy basketball roster, it’s always fun to watch Allen frustrate opponents with his non-stop defensive intensity. If you are in a bind and need steals, Allen can be found on waivers in all but 15 percent of ESPN leagues.