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Category Strategy: Corbin's Jazz

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.

Tyrone Corbin is one of those guys who I want to take it easy on because I feel like I've said so many bad things about him, but in reality most of those sentiments were probably just thoughts percolating in my mind that never made it to the Internet. That's my first convenient assumption that makes me feel better about writing this. My second assumption is that the Corbin family are the type of fantasy sports savants who don't subscribe to RotoWire, so they won't be reading these words.

One of two things needs to happen in Utah:

A) The head honchos need to sit Corbin down and explain that winning isn't his goal this season. Developing the young talent should be the team's first, second and third priority right now. Enes Kanter needs to play. Trey Burke needs to play. The term "talent" applies loosely to Alec Burks, but he needs to play too.

B) The brass need to replace Corbin with someone who will execute option A if he is unable to get on board with this line of thinking.

There's a pretty fine line here between coaching/teaching and managing every game like its your last, with no regard for the development of players. For instance, Corbin benched Trey Burke in the second half of Friday's game because he didn't like the rookie's energy level against Damian Lillard. I'd be willing to give Corbin the benefit of the doubt on this, but his track record for getting impatient with young players is so rich that I'm dubious about Burke's effort against the Blazers being a real issue.

Here's a more likely scenario:

Upon looking up at the scoreboard early in the second half and not liking the fact that his team was getting undressed by Portland (they lost by 32) coach Corbin decided it was time to give the bench their shot.

The flaw with this line of thinking is that it suggests Corbin went into a game on the road against the 17-3 Trail Blazers, who just recently dispatched the best team in the league (Indiana), and planned his night around trying to get the Jazz a win.

The Jazz weren't going to win that game. Plain and simple. So what was accomplished by giving Burke just 16 minutes? He was up against Lillard, a stud point guard Burke will be matching up with for the next 8-to-12 years if everything goes well. What could have been a great learning opportunity and a chance for Burke to continue to battle against Lillard (who is basically a better, more seasoned version of Burke) was instead turned into the Dionte Garrett show (he finished with 25 minutes, second most on the team).

Saturday's game was a different story, as all of Utah's young, healthy core players saw 37-plus minutes, and Burke fell three assists shy of a triple-double.

Maybe there is hope for Corbin yet.

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

Tony Wroten, PG, Sixers
This is a pretty obvious call, and he probably just got scooped up in all your leagues, but if not, Wroten is likely the best option for well-rounded production on waiver wires. In six games as a starter this season, he is averaging 19.8 points (44.6 percent shooting), 4.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 36.3 minutes per game. Michael Carter-Williams is bedridden in a hospital with a bizarre skin infection around his right knee, and there is no timetable for his return, which should continue to open things up for Wroten. MCW's owners should be willing to open up their pockets in free agent auctions, as this is one of the best replacement opportunities that is likely to be available this season. He is owned in less than 15 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. Stay away from Nick Young and other guards on the Lakers here, as Kobe Bryant's return squashes their value.

REBOUNDS

Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Pelicans
Last season Aminu averaged 7.7 rebounds per game at small forward, trailing only LeBron James (8.0 rpg) and Kevin Durant (7.9 rpg) at his position. He was dropped in a lot of leagues early this season as coach Monty Williams experimented with different rotations, but he's back now to being a relatively useful option at the three. His offensive abilities are pretty limited, but he hauled in 21 rebounds last week against the Mavs, and bookended that performance with nine-rebound and 10-rebound games, respectively. He averages 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per-36 minutes for his career, so as long as he continues to see significant run, he is worth owning in most category leagues. Aminu is owned in just 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 3.4 percent of ESPN leagues.

ASSISTS

Jose Calderon, PG, Mavs
Acquiring Calderon would require swinging a deal in most leagues, but I think he's an interesting buy-low option. He is averaging just 5.5 assists per-36 minutes this year, which is by far the worst rate of his career. Calderon averaged just 7.0 dimes per-36 in his rookie season and was at eight or better in each of his next seven seasons, up until this campaign. Obviously this coincides with a dip in his usage rate, down to 15.2 percent from 17 percent in 2012-13, but I think there's definitely some room for improvement here. Monta Ellis has been dominating the ball, but Calderon can probably be had for much less than the going rate for a starting point guard who also offers great shooting percentages. Other than Wroten, guys like Andre Miller are the best options for assists you'll be able to find on waivers in most formats, so it makes sense to look for a trade to fill this category.

STEALS

Patrick Beverley, PG, Rockets
It's pretty perplexing that Beverley is available in almost 80 percent of ESPN leagues and 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but that's the situation. Even when Jeremy Lin (knee) returns, I don't see Beverley's value falling off a cliff, and he'll certainly remain a solid option for steals. He has two steals in each of his three games so far in December, and his 1.6 steals per-36 minutes this season are actually a little behind the 1.9 per-36 he averaged last season, so there's room for improvement. Wroten and Aminu are also great options here.

BLOCKS

Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls
Hey, John Henson is almost owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues! Progress! Gibson is another hot option on the waiver wire, thanks to averaging 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game over his last five contests. But blocks is the category where Gibson will generate the most fantasy value moving forward. He's been at 1.3-1.4 blocks per game in each of his first four seasons, all while seeing less than 27 minutes per game. If his recent offensive output helps him see more run, or an injury befalls Joakim Noah (not a bad bet), Gibson should be able to block 1.5 shots or more per game.

THREE-POINTERS

Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks
For some reason, Middleton has averaged 31 minutes per game over his last five contests, and as long as coach Larry Drew's peculiar fondness for the bland wing option continues, he will be able to produce some counting stats. He is shooting 48.1 percent from behind the arc this season, and has averaged 2.4 makes from long range over the last five games. His efficiency should drop a little over the rest of the season, but right now he's available in more than 90 percent of ESPN leagues and 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, while offering eligibility at both forward spots in some formats.