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Category Strategy: Love Outlet Passes

James Anderson

James Anderson

James Anderson is a University of Minnesota graduate, with allegiances to the Packers, Brewers, Bucks (sigh) and Gophers (double sigh). He is an editor and scribe at Rotowire.com, primarily focused on basketball and baseball. In 2013 he was a FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are must-watch TV. There is not a more exciting, beautiful brand of offensive basketball in the league right now. TNT and ESPN will undoubtedly show 10 times more Los Angeles Lakers games than T-Wolves games this season, which is a as frustrating as it gets. But for those of you fortunate enough to have League Pass or live in Minnesota or those of you who are high in thriftiness and low in Internet morals and can find another means of watching the T-Wolves, you know what I'm talking about.

Here's a pretty good example of what you're missing.



I stumbled across this on Deadspin, where author Kyle Wagner referred to it as "basketball heroin," which is a pretty apt description.

You'll notice that Corey Brewer is on the receiving end of more than half of these passes, and it's a play, in the same way a pick-n-roll or a backdoor cut is a play. Kevin Love is such a dominant rebounder, that Brewer, will look and see if Love is in position after a shot is released, then he takes off down the court. It's not cherry picking in this instance, or at least not cherry-picking in the negative sense of the term. Brewer's job on defense is done when he takes off, and the offense can't react quick enough to do anything to stop Love's pinpoint outlet pass accuracy. These assists should almost count as an assist-and-one, with Love also getting credit for half of the points scored on the play, because it's an entirely impossible play without his rebound and quick-trigger outlet prowess.

Love is averaging 4.5 assists per game, and even though that's almost twice as many dimes as he has averaged in any other season (his previous high was 2.5 apg in 2010-11), it doesn't seem like a fluke. Not when this outlet play is being executed at such a high level and with such regularity. That video is a compilation of passes through just eight games. Not only is Love making a case to be the best player in fantasy basketball this season, he's also going to start getting some serious MVP consideration from the national media if Minnesota can make the playoffs and he stays healthy.

For those who slept on Love's ability to play at this level when healthy, myself included, a steep price is being paid, as he was readily available in most leagues at the back of the first round.

CATEGORY STRATEGY

Each week, this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific roto categories. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.

POINTS

Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics
This probably sounds pretty strange, but I think there are some common misconceptions about Bradley's game. Even when he was starting at point guard in past years, he was horrible at doling out assists. I think a lot of people took that to mean he's a bad offensive player, but in reality it was just confirmation of something we already should've known - he's not a point guard. He is an undersized shooting guard who is fantastic at guarding other team's point guards. In high school he was a top-5 player in the country for Findlay College Prep, and he even won the McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest. He was never a point guard, just a terrific athlete with great basketball instincts. In 2008-09 he averaged 18.9 points per game for the loaded Findlay Prep squad, and Cory Joseph was the point guard. Now he's finally in a situation in the NBA that allows him to be the player that every college basketball powerhouse in the country recruited. In his last five games, he has averaged 16.2 points and is shooting 53.8 percent from the field on 13 attempts per game. The Celtics are allowing Jordan Crawford to play point guard, and Bradley is thriving off the ball. He is available in 44 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 88 percent of ESPN leagues right now. It's unlikely that he shoots close to 50 percent all season, but the fact that he's only shooting 20.8 percent from three-point range, while taking 2.2 threes per game, leads me to believe there's room for improvement there. He's not a great three-point shooter, but he is a 32.1 percent shooter from long distance over his career.

REBOUNDS

Robin Lopez, C, Blazers
He is a starting center and saw 32 minutes per game last week. Lopez isn't a superstar, everyone knows that, but he could duplicate J.J. Hickson's 2012-13 season with Portland where he averaged a double-double playing next to LaMarcus Aldridge. He's owned in 26 percent of ESPN leagues and 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues and has averaged 11.7 rebounds per game over the last week.

ASSISTS

Steve Blake, PG, Lakers
Might as well make it three weeks in a row that I mention Blake here. How he's only owned in 45 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 65 percent of ESPN leagues is beyond me. I suggested to one of my buddies who I share a team with that we drop Andrew Bynum for Blake, and he thought I was kidding. I realize Blake isn't a hot name. He comes from that Kirk Hinrich, Luke Ridnour, Andre Miller school of boring point guards. But right now, he's the starting point guard on a team that is fifth in the league in field-goal attempts per game.

STEALS

Corey Brewer, SF, T-Wolves
As I mentioned in the intro, he's the go-to player in the "Kevin Love play." This will ensure that he continues to score in double figures, while maintaining a solid field-goal percentage because of all the easy baskets. He's always been a great guy for steals, and now there's some assurance that he won't have a negative effect on other categories. Brewer is owned in 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 53 percent of ESPN leagues.

BLOCKS

John Henson, PF, Bucks
Last week I recommended not dropping Larry Sanders because of his struggles, then hours later it was announced that he would be out for six weeks after undergoing hand surgery. Let me make it up to you. Go grab Henson. He's owned in 29 percent of ESPN leagues and 28 percent of Yahoo! leagues, despite being 11th in the NBA in blocks per game (1.9). He's absolutely trending upwards, as he's averaging 3.3 blocks per game over his last three contests.

THREE-POINTERS

Jodie Meeks, SG, Lakers
I'll be the first to admit that the Lakers' wing players are dicey to own, especially with Kobe Bryant likely to return to the court in a few weeks. But Meeks has staying power as a solid minutes-earner in that rotation because of how he's been shooting the long ball. He has hit a three-pointer in every game this season, and is shooting 48 percent from downtown on almost five attempts per game. He is only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 117 percent of ESPN leagues.