Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Charlotte Hornets: Steals, Blocks
Kidd-Gilchrist is an easy guy to overlook in the fantasy landscape. For most of his career, he’s been—at best—a fringe contributor for teams in competitive standard formats or strictly a deep-league (14-plus teams) asset. Rarely does MKG produce an eye-popping, stat-stuffing effort in the box score on any particular night, but he’s accumulated plenty of value since the All-Star Break (13 games) by averaging 9.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.9 blocks and just 0.6 turnovers on 52.7% from the field.
Kidd-Gilchrist’s ceiling would be significantly higher if he went to the free throw line more often or had any kind of 3-point shot, but he’s been efficient, is consistently chipping in defensively and doesn’t hurt you in any particular area in the process. To date, March has been the best month of the season for the former second overall pick with averages of 9.8 points, 5.6 boards, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks (0.7 turnovers) on 55.9% shooting. There are guys with a higher ceiling to be had at this juncture of the campaign, but MKG fits the bill as a defensive specialist if that’s what your roster needs.
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Denzel Valentine, G/F Chicago Bulls: 3-pointers
Let’s get the obvious out of the way now: Valentine probably should have been drafted higher in a class that saw Dragan Bender go fourth, Jakob Poeltl selected ninth, Thon Maker taken tenth, Domantas Sabonis tabbed at No. 11 and Georgios Papagiannis come in at 13th overall, but all of that is a separate conversation and the Bulls have to be happy with the results.
Now that he’s getting a consistent chance to play—something that won’t change with Dwyane Wade (elbow) done for the year—the rookie has been trending up over his last four contests with averages of 11.0 points, 7.0 boards, 2.8 assists and 2.8 triples with a microscopic 0.3 turnovers on 15-of-40 (37.5%) from the floor. While everyone would like to see that percentage come up, Valentine isn’t a category-killer because of his volume and that type of performance is to be expected for a first-year player getting his first real crack at an extended opportunity. Most importantly, the Michigan State product has seen between 28-31 minutes in all four contests, a very promising sign for what can be expected as Chicago’s season moves toward the finish line.
Valentine has the potential to do more than just hit the 3-ball, but he’s got real value now and the Bulls need his ability to space the floor on a team without shooters. It’s also worth noting that he’s got four games during the week ahead.
Taurean Prince, SF Atlanta Hawks: Blocks
Prince is strictly a recommendation for those in deeper formats, but it’s hard to ignore what he’s been able to do over his last four games. Although he’s got a five-point dud mixed in over that stretch of time, Prince has still managed to average an impressive 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 triples (1.8 TO) on 51.7% shooting. Those are very usable numbers, and the Hawks play four times in each of the next two weeks.
There are a few reasons it’s difficult to get more excited about Prince as a late-season pickup. He doesn’t yet have a predictable role in Mike Budenholzer’s rotation, the Hawks have some depth on the wing to work with and game-flow—as well as available personnel—have been factors in his recent performance. All of that being said, keep an eye on Prince everywhere as we march toward the finish line.
Mason Plumlee, F/C Denver Nuggets: Blocks, Field Goal Percentage
The Plumlee-Nikola Jokic connection already appears to be a better fit than Jokic-Jusuf Nurkic ever was.
Although Plumlee has enjoyed a productive seven-game stretch, he’s been on fire over his last four with averages of 10.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steal and an elite 2.8 blocks (1.5 turnovers) on 17-of-26 (65.4%) from the floor. Mike Malone appears more confident and comfortable playing Plumlee for bigger minutes, but it’s hard to see that trend becoming a pattern once Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari get back onto the floor. Keep that in mind as the Nuggets get on the court for four games during the upcoming week.
Cody Zeller, F/C Charlotte Hornets: Steals, Blocks
There is never going to be anything sexy about Zeller’s game, but there is a reason his consistency has fueled fantasy success this season.
Although he’s missed time due to various injuries, Zeller has picked up where he left off in March with averages of 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks and just 0.7 turnovers on 51.4% shooting. There is absolutely no reason he should be floating on waiver wires in any normal format. Do not let a low ceiling prevent you from seeing the value in a player with a solid floor.