'Specialists' Biyombo, Novak can help us

February, 23, 2012
Two players who had big nights Wednesday happen to be pretty much useless in fantasy except for the one category in which they dominate. Bismack Biyombo of the Charlotte Bobcats and Steve Novak of the New York Knicks are as different as night and day. All Biyombo does is play defense and all Novak does is shoot 3s, but both guys might be useful if you need help in the area in which each excels. More importantly, both are available in almost all ESPN.com fantasy leagues.

Biyombo had another six blocks for the Bobcats against the Pacers, and it's definitely time to pick him up if you need help in that category. He's going to kill you from the line - he's a 31.6 percent free throw shooter over his past five games -- but there aren't many guys who can provide the blocks he'll give you. Since he's playing a steady 26.6 minutes per game over his past five games, there would seem to be little risk of him suddenly disappearing from the rotation. Again, you have to weigh the pros (blocked shots and rebounds) against the cons (atrocious foul shooting), but if you need a boost in the "big man" stats, he'll help you out.

Meanwhile, this Novak thing in New York is getting ridiculous. He made another five 3-pointers against the Hawks and is averaging 3.0 3s over his past five games. His field goal percentage might scare you off, but remember this: Almost all his shots are 3s. He's averaging 9.8 field goal attempts over that five-game stretch, and 7.6 of those attempts are 3s, so he's getting the most out of every shot he takes. He won't really do anything else for you -- although his one steal per game over his past five has been a nice surprise -- but if you're desperate for 3s, he's definitely worth a shot, at least for as long as he keeps playing 20 or so minutes per game.

Looking back

Brandon Knight is carving out a larger role for the Pistons, averaging 35.8 minutes per game over his past four games. Still, it's what he's doing with those minutes that is most impressive. Over that stretch, he is averaging 18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 3s per game and is 11-for-11 from the foul line. The backcourt rotation has been in flux all season for the Pistons, but Knight should maintain 30 or so minutes per game the rest of the way.

Nikola Vucevic has been a good player all year for the 76ers, but with Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes out against the Rockets, Vucevic got 28 minutes and managed 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. He's a good guy to start as long as Brand remains sidelined, even though he isn't in the starting lineup.

• The final pick of the 2011 NBA draft, Isaiah Thomas, continues to play great basketball as the starting point guard for the Kings in their three-guard alignment alongside Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton. He had 18 points and six assists against John Wall and the Wizards on Wednesday night. Thomas is averaging 18.4 points, 6 assists and 1.8 3-pointers per game with 50 percent shooting from the floor and 88.2 percent shooting from the line over his past five games. I'd be worried about Thomas' future production more if he were getting these minutes because of an injury to Evans or Thornton, but since the Kings seem to be starting games with all three playing together, I'm a believer. He's owned in most leagues, but if he's still available in yours, you should change that ASAP. And if you have him, he should definitely be in your lineup.

Looking ahead

• With Joe Johnson out for the Hawks, it looks as if there will continue to be big minutes available for Willie Green. Green is not someone who should be on fantasy rosters in any but the direst circumstances, but he did put up 16 points, four rebounds and four assists on Wednesday night and could put up similar numbers against the Magic on Thursday.

J.R. Smith had another nice game for New York on Wednesday night, and while the Knicks face a tough matchup against the Heat on Thursday night, I would make sure Smith is in my lineup. Remember that Smith averaged 27.5 points (27 in one game and 28 in the other), five rebounds and five assists against the Heat last season when he was with the Nuggets and should have no trouble getting up for them this time around.



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