Fantasy sports: Hidden value in hoops

Marc, not Pau Gasol, is currently a top-5 fantasy player.

Chicks dig the dunks, points, rebounds and assists. Winners want the guys with the knee pads diving on the floor.

Fantasy basketball is a category game, not a raw points game. Winning rebounds is nice, but it’s not worth anything more than winning free-throw percentage. If we build our team around the less glamourous categories, we’ll be ahead of the game.

Use the player rater
If I told you Marc Gasol is a top-5 fantasy player, would you be surprised? Only three players are averaging at least 2.0 blocks, 1.0 steals and shooting at least 50 percent from the field: Gasol, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Sneaky categories rule the player rater.

Attack with defense
Adding a pure scorer to your team isn’t going to generate much movement in the points category. But adding an elite thief or shot-blocker can turn things around in a hurry. While 23 players are clustered between 16.0 and 22.0 points per game, just nine block 2.0 shots or more. And only six nab 2.0 steals a night.

Key percentages   
Although one player can’t win you free-throw or field-goal percentage, one guy can lose it for you. We should be simply ignoring high-volume gunners like Stephen Jackson, Danny Granger and DeMar DeRozan. And if a guy gets to the line five times a game, he better be shooting at least 70 percent. Howard, Blake Griffin and Josh Smith are category-killers.

Baseball bullpens

Wrapping our brains around who will get the saves is vital to a successful season. Some closers in new homes:

1. Jonathan Papelbon, PHL
— The Phillies gave Paps $50 million to be their ninth-inning man. His career 2.33 ERA and 1.02 WHIP will fit well with Ryan Madson gone.

2. Sergio Santos, TOR — This Blue Jays team won 81 games a year ago and is getting better. Santos, acquired in a trade with the White Sox, will have plenty of chances.

3. Andrew Bailey, BOS
— It’s all about health with Bailey. When available, he’s among the most dominant relievers in the game.

Top NBA pickups

Drew Gooden

C, Bucks
With Andrew Bogut (ankle) possibly done for the season, the Bucks’ offense will revolve around Gooden. Averaging 17.3 points and 8.9 boards as a starter this year.

Roddy Beaubois
G, Mavericks
Jason Kidd is breaking down in terms of both health and effectiveness at age 38. The future is now for Beaubois, who once scored 40 in a game back in 2010.

Trevor Booker
PF,?Wizards
Even if Andray Blatche (calf) was healthy, Booker would be pushing him. The second-year man plays the right way, leading to blocks, steals and strong field-goal percentage.



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