By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s waiver wire column features a few surprise players who have been great in categorical formats this season. For instance, Marco Belinelli ranks 12th in total threes. Al-Farouq Aminu is in rare company with his production in blocks and threes. Courtney Lee is one of only 19 players matching or besting his steals and threes numbers.
Let’s dive into it.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets (25%)
With starting guard D’Angelo Russell (knee) possibly out until late November, Dinwiddie will take on the majority of the team’s ball-handling duties. In Russell’s first absence Tuesday against the Celtics, Dinwiddie provided 12 points and 11 assists in 34 minutes against one of the league’s stingiest defensive squads. That’s certainly not a fluke, either, as he’s averaging 15.4 points and 8.3 assists (and only 1.7 turnovers) per 36 minutes this season. While his 37.2 percent success rate from the field is certainly a drag, he’s helping to make up for it by shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc to the tune of 2.3 made threes per 36 minutes. Snagging him off the waiver wire will likely only produce significant gains for a week, maybe two if Russell doesn’t progress particularly well, but he wasn’t a complete dud before Russell went out either. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Dinwiddie was averaging 9.8 points and 4.9 assists across 22.4 minutes per contest, including two 20-plus point outings and an 11-assist game.
Marco Belinelli, Hawks (33%)
What Belinelli lacks in rebounds (2.1) and assists (2.5) production, he makes up for dramatically in threes. On the year, he’s averaging 2.4 made threes per contest and ranks 12th in the league in total threes made. The veteran has also been a better defender than in years past, racking up 1.3 steals per game, which would be a career high if averaged across the entire season. Though his 45.0 percent success rate from beyond the arc probably isn’t sustainable, he’s been a 40-plus percent three-point shooter twice in his 11-year career (plus two more seasons at 39 percent). If you’re an owner in a categorical format, Belinelli can drastically help you in three-pointers.
Courtney Lee, Knicks (42%)
There are only 19 players averaging at least 1.7 threes and 1.4 steals per game this year. Courtney Lee is one of them. So, while his box scores generally don’t pop, Lee is more useful in categorical formats than his ownership percentage would suggest. He’s also a legitimate starter with a safe role – something that’s hard to find on the waiver wire at this point in the season. There’s a chance his three-point accuracy (47.2 percent) is unsustainable and that he’ll regress to the mean for steals (1.1 per game last season). But, for now, Lee is making his case as a more valuable fantasy asset than it may appear at first glance.
Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks (52%)
Dedmon, at 52% owned, is somewhat of a rule-breaker for this week’s column. Normally, we try to target players under 50% owned, but Dedmon is very close and is still vastly under-owned. His subpar workload (24.0 minutes per game) may be scaring off folks, but he’s been consistently been producing at quality levels, especially as of late. Over the past six games, Dedmon is averaging 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest – more than (Marcin Gortat, 88% owned) is posting on the year. At this point in the season, it seems safe to ignore his minutes and just focus on the production.
JaMychal Green, Grizzlies (21%)
Green has played only 21 minutes this year after suffering a foot injury four minutes into the Grizzlies’ season opener and making his return Wednesday. He hasn’t proven to be much of a scorer through the first three years of his career but should bring fantasy value to the table in the form of rebounding, as he grabbed 7.1 boards in 27.3 minutes per game in 2016-17. Per 36 minutes last season, Green averaged 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds on 50.0 percent shooting – numbers that don’t seem out of the question this season with another year of development under his belt and likely an expanded role given the departure of Zach Randolph. Unfortunately, Green hasn’t shown much upside as a passer or defender, so fantasy owners will have to find a way to work around that.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Trail Blazers (42%)
Aminu (ankle) is currently injured but is expected to be back before the end of November. Like Courtney Lee, his numbers are far from eye-popping, but he provides a rare combination of stats that boost his fantasy value. Aminu, DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol are the only players in the league averaging at least 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 threes and 1.3 blocks per game. Aminu’s 43.3 percent success rate from beyond the arc is unsustainable, but he was a solid, 34.9 percent three-point shooter over the previous two seasons and it seems reasonable to think he’s made some improvement in his eighth year in the league. Aminu’s blocks could taper off somewhat, as well (0.7 per game in 2016-17), but until that happens, Aminu is worth a look on the wire.