When rounding out your fantasy lineup, you have roughly three options. 1) Pick up a guy who is established in the league already and will get you consistent numbers throughout the year. 2) Pick up a rookie and take a huge chance that he will get consistent playing time and produce better than an established veteran. 3) Pick up that player that has shown flashes of brilliance followed by lackluster performances hoping to find lightning in a bottle in a player that blossoms into a huge fantasy contributor. I personally prefer option number 3 and here are a few guys who fit the bill when it comes to players destined to have that breakout season.
Tyrus Thomas: This guy has been on fantasy radars for a few years now and he has made his owners very happy at times only to turn around and do nothing at all for a couple games. His inconsistency might have had something to do with the Bulls and how dysfunctional they have been recently. With Joakim Noah coming off of the bench, Thomas will get a chance to start and show the fantasy world what we have expected for the last two years. He can be a beast on the boards and a defensive presence now that Ben Wallace is gone. In his first game this year he posted these stats: 15 pts, 10 reb, 3 asst, 2 stl, and 1 blk. Not bad for a third year guy. I think there won’t be as much pressure on him this year which should allow him to bust out and have a serious fantasy season.
J.R. Smith: Toward the end of the season last year Smith went on an absolute tear from behind the arc. In March and April of last season he averaged 15+ points per game while making over 46% of his shots. His three point percentage was almost as good at 40.3% and he did all of this while only playing under 22 minutes per game. He is fighting for more playing time with Anthony carter, who is playing well to start the season but if your league has three pointers as a category, you might want to think about adding Smith to your lineup.
Jamario Moon: Last season, Moon averaged 8.5 pts, 6.2 reb, 1 stl and 1.4 blk per game. Now these numbers are not spectacular but expect him to build on these numbers now that he has a full year in the NBA under his belt. His scoring probably won’t go up much more now that Toronto has Jermaine O’Neal but it should at least stay steady. You can expect a slight bump in assists but steals and blocks are the key to fantasy success for Moon. So instead of drafting Shane Battier just because you have heard his name before, take a chance on Moon.
Mickael Pietrus: Air France has always had the skill set and talent level to be an absolute fantasy stud and he has shown it in flashes while with the Warriors as a backup. The problem for him was the system he was in. Under Don Nelson small ball rules, Pietrus was forced to play PF a lot and he is way too small to be a successful PF. A change of scenery should make a huge difference. Now that he is in Orlando, he will start at SG and he showed in his first game that he can handle a starting gig at his natural position. 20 pts, 2 threes and 1 blk were his stats. With consistent minutes scoring shouldn’t be a problem for him and his defense is an added bonus. Don’t be surprised if he averages close to 2 stl and 1 blk per game. In fact, isn’t that the reason Orlando brought him in?
Wilson Chandler: It is well documented how Mike D’Antoni feels about Chandler but is anyone else buying it. Sure he had a nice preseason but will that transfer over to the regular season? Only time will tell but I will say this, he is an extremely athletic guy who can guard most players from PG to PF. I’m not saying he is going to make the All-Star game but he can contribute to your team this year. He will get a ton of playing time in D’Antoni’s system and should excel in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks. I would not be surprised to see averages of 17 pts, 8 reb, 3 asst, 1.5 stl, and 1.5 blk this season.
Andrew Bogut: Some might say that Bogut had a breakout year last year but I think he is going to improve on those stats even more. The Bucks took him #1 overall for a reason. Bogut can rebound and has great vision and with Richard Jefferson and Michael Redd on the court his assists should start to rise and we all know that assists from a C are a welcome bonus. Now that he has had a few years in the league, he knows what it takes to pace the entire season out so he doesn’t fade due to fatigue. I can see him averaging 15 pts, 11 reb, 4 asst, 1 stl, and close to 2 blk per game this year. He could jump into the must-start category very soon and I believe this is the year he does it.
Rajon Rondo: Can a PG have a better situation to shine in? He won a championship last year, he has Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on the perimeter and Kevin Garnett inside. This kid has a chance to do some serious fantasy damage this year. He probably won’t get you points but the shots he does take will more often than not fall in seeing that his field goal % is close to .500. The possibility of assists are countless with this offense and opponents seem to just hand him the ball evidenced by his pension for forcing turnovers and racking up the steals. In game one of this year all he did was put up 14 pts on 4-5 shooting, 5 reb, 6 asst, and 3 stl. I have him in one of my leagues and expect huge stats from him this year. He has a solid chance at finishing in the top 15 in PG this year.
So, take a look at your team and see if you can use one or more of these players and start making some trade offers. Someone in your league is bound to give one of them up for an established veteran. Some of them might even be on your waiver wire. What is the worst that can happen?