It's time for fantasy basketball managers to roster the Time Lord. The Boston Celtics have been looking for a productive pivot for some time now, but they just might already have him on their roster. While he's still only a part-time contributor for Boston, Robert Williams III played a season-high 23 minutes last night while producing three blocks in a win over the Toronto Raptors.
Williams has impressively averaged 2.0 blocks during the last 10 games along with nearly 1.0 steal per game. Add in an absurd 71.4% shooting rate from the floor (plus respectable rebounding) and you have a player with some real fantasy value even in a limited role. Williams has played just 18.9 minutes per game over this stretch.
In an offense-centric season rich with 3-point attempts, defensive opportunities at the rim are even scarcer than they have been in previous campaigns. Blocks have always been a difficult stat to source beyond the top handful of rim protectors, which makes Williams' strong swat production more meaningful. Will Williams earn more playing time in the second half of the NBA season? That would certainly be nice. However, for those participating in deeper category and roto formats, he's proving to be valuable even in his current complementary role.
Gary Trent Jr., Portland Trail Blazers: 7 points (2-11 FG), 1 rebound, 2 assists
Dillon Brooks of the Grizzlies produced a huge line in last night's close loss to the Bucks. Brooks delivered a season-high seven dimes and made a season-high eight three throws, positive signs of creation for a player best known as a shooting specialist. Brooks is a free agent in roughly 58% of ESPN leagues and could make for a strong second-half addition to fantasy rosters.
Jrue Holiday secured yesterday's victory for Milwaukee with a game-winning shot. The clutch shot marked his fourth career go-ahead field goal in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. The big shot is especially notable since Holiday has been playing a limited role while struggling in his return from a COVID-19 diagnosis. It could be a good time to make some modest trade offers for Holiday, before his comeback is fully completed.
Denver's Michael Porter Jr. notched 24 points and 11 rebounds in a win over the Pacers last night, marking his fifth double-double in the last six games. "MPJ" began the season very slowly with a few long stretches in the league's health and safety protocol, but has since warmed up. He is one of the more promising breakout candidates for the second half of the season.
At least until Mitchell Robinson is fully healthy, it's wise to roster New York's Nerlens Noel in fantasy leagues. Last night, Noel delivered another awesome defensive performance with four steals and two blocks in a game-high 42 minutes of play.
Injuries of note
Rookie standout Tyrese Haliburton missed another game for the Kings due to a calf injury. The All-Star break could be a good time to float trade offers for Haliburton, as his value is likely at its nadir amid an otherwise brilliant debut season.
Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been cleared for contact practice as he continues to recover from a left foot fracture. The Blazers also issued an update on Jusuf Nurkic, saying the center is making progress in his recovery from a right wrist fracture and has continued to increase his on-court activity. Nurkic is rostered in just 50% of ESPN leagues and is a great stash.
Analytics advantage for the All-Star break
This season, 39.4% of all shots have been 3-point attempts, on pace to be the highest percentage in NBA history. The current highest percentage was 38.4% last season. Just 10 seasons ago, 3-point frequency was only 22.6%. It's not just volume that is up, as teams are successfully making 36.8% of these shots, on pace for the highest efficiency of all-time.
In correlation with the 3-point barrage, teams are averaging an average of 112.1 points, which would be the most in any season in the last 50 years. Even the lowest-scoring team, the Cavaliers, are averaging 104.6 points. That would have ranked first in the NBA just 10 seasons ago (2011-12).
The demand for high-end scoring and shooting from our fantasy stars has never been higher, but I'd also advise fantasy managers to pay attention to elite defensive options such as Robert Covington, Noel, and even the aforementioned Williams, as a means to diversify production in a season where so many players are enjoying career shooting and scoring success.
Top player to target during the All-Star break
It could be a good time to roster Cleveland's Kevin Love. With rumors swirling that the team would like to move Love by the trade deadline, it's likely we will see the stretch forward back on the floor soon. While he's missed most of the season with a calf injury, Love was an elite fantasy option as recently as last spring and merits some attention thanks to his long history of offensive proficiency.