Anyone can score. It's how you fill out the rest of your box score that counts.
Fantasy is rife with players who go a round or two (or three) too high in drafts due to their points per game totals. These tend to be players who give off the sense that they're going to "get theirs," greater good be damned.
Some people call these players "shooting guards." In my world, I call these guys "Empty Points" players.
Why am I lukewarm on Nikola Pekovic? He's an Empty Points center poster child. He gets you 16 points, nine rebounds and a passable field goal percentage (for a big man). Everyone drools over the points. But Pekovic helps you nowhere else. You would expect someone who is 6-foot-11 and averaging 33.2 minutes a game to contribute more than 0.4 blocks per game.
It's the holiday season. Everyone loves a redemption story. So I'm here to tell you that, yes, Virginia, some players can rehabilitate their empty point reputations.
Take a look at DeMar DeRozan. Two seasons ago, he averaged 16.7 points per game but added only 0.8 steals, 0.4 3-pointers and 0.3 blocks to the pot. This season, he's added a 3-point shot (1.2 per game) while becoming more respectable in the blocks (0.5 per game) and steals (1.0 per game) departments.
DeRozan is, against all probability, on the verge of entering the ranks of one of my favorite types of fantasy producers. He's nearing what I refer to as "1+1+1" consideration.
A 1+1+1 player is someone who is capable of delivering a 3-pointer, a block and a steal per night on a regular basis.
In a statistical basketball universe that can make all sorts of numerical combinations and connections, finding someone who can bring these scarce, volume-based numbers across three categories is a tall order.
The pluses are obvious. Targeting 1+1+1s keeps you away from having to employ specialists on an everyday basis in your lineup. Ideally, you want players who can at least chip in to the other volume categories, even if they are dominant in a single stat.
Broad-based distribution of blocks, steals and 3-pointers inoculates your team from injury while giving you flexibility when considering trades or waiver-wire adds.
1+1+1 players are rarer than you think. Lots of players average at least a steal and a 3-pointer. But it takes a special kind of producer to add +1 block capability to the mix. It's the top-heavy aspect of the distribution of value across the blocks category that makes a 1+1+1 such a precious commodity.
Let me put it this way: How many NBA players are actually averaging a 1+1+1 this season?
Now, two of those players -- Smith and Gay -- are having subpar seasons. But the fact that they're still chipping in with the 1+1+1 combination shows that they are bringing something to the table. The question is whether your percentages can stand it.
But even if you don't own one of those four players, you can still be on the lookout for players with 1+1+1 potential. As I said regarding DeRozan, younger players can develop other areas of their statistical portfolios as their careers unfold.
Because I care (too much, I'm told), I cracked open one of these Venn diagrams to show you where the potential is with the current market.
As you can see, the potential mostly lies with players already averaging over a 3-pointer and steal per night. All they have to do is start gambling a little more on defense. However, it is also possible for certain younger big men to add 3-pointer or steal capabilities to their résumé.
Paul Millsap is a player who has teased with some improved 3-point performance this season. Amir Johnson, now free of Rudy Gay, has the green light to launch the odd 3-pointer. Even Serge Ibaka has shown an inclination to launch the occasional deep ball.
Some players show 1+1+1 potential across the board and require a boost in minutes to reach the benchmark. Draymond Green, a summer league favorite of mine, is an example of a player who, given the right circumstance, could land on the 1+1+1 radar.
Let's take a look at some player-specific 1+1+1 situations.
Wesley Johnson, SF, Los Angeles Lakers: Even after losing his starting gig to Kobe Bryant, Johnson has displayed a certain numerical tenacity. Over his past five games, Johnson has averaged 8.0 points, 1.2 steals, 1.0 3-pointers and 1.0 blocks while still logging 30.0 minutes a night.
While it may be hard for him to ever justify going No. 4 overall in the 2010 draft, I've been impressed with how Johnson has reinvented himself as a 3-point shooter the past couple of seasons (40.5 percent from deep in 2013-14). This season, he has upped his defensive numbers as compared to his career averages, doubling his blocks per game (from 0.7 to 1.4) and nearly doubling his steals (0.7 to 1.2).
And he's in a Mike D'Antoni system (note Shawne Williams' presence on the above diagram). D'Antoni is the 1+1+1 Godfather. His system has transformed Johnson into a nice bench player in deep leagues and a nice situational add in medium leagues.
Amir Johnson, PF/C; DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF; Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors: Teams dealing high-profile, high-Usage Rate players, teams looking to tank, teams with young athletic upside and teams with short rotations are all fertile situations for evolving 1+1+1 production. The Raptors already check all four boxes, and it's only mid-December.
Channing Frye, PF/C, Phoenix Suns: I missed Frye last season. He's always displayed 1+1+1 chops, and any big man averaging over a 3-pointer a game is usually just a half steal or so away from reaching the threshold. Owners might bellyache about Frye's occasional clunker. Averaging only 27.3 minutes a night will ensure those happen on occasion. But Frye's special statistical potential -- and center eligibility -- make him one of the most underrated fantasy players.
Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Orlando Magic: Oladipo is still finding his footing, and he's already at 0.8 blocks, 1.7 steals and 0.8 3s per game. Oladipo's special sauce this season has been his dual eligibility at point guard and shooting guard. The decision to play Oladipo at the point is one of the top five coaching decisions of the season from a fantasy perspective.
Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Bobcats: Walker is a player who lost a bit of fantasy value because he lost SG eligibility. But when you adjust against the curve for point guards and their blocks per game, Walker is basically a 1+1+1 player due to his 0.6 swats per night. How many point guards are averaging over a half a block per night? Five.
Kelly Olynyk, C, Boston Celtics: He's disappointed. He's been hurt. He's in a timeshare with Vitor Faverani. But Olynyk has quietly posted five 1+1+1 games in his injury-truncated rookie campaign. Brad Stevens' system is already displaying some mini-D'Antoni potential. This is a 1+1+1 situation to monitor as Olynyk looks to re-establish himself after a couple of weeks on the shelf.