This article is part of our Category Strategy series.
CATEGORY STRATEGY - FIRST HALF ALL-STARS
Each week, this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues who can help in specific roto categories. While each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.
I don't get to write about really good players very often in this space as it is intended to point out potential waiver-wire pickups, but in the spirit of All-Star weekend, I want to highlight the players who have been the best in each category relative to preseason expectations.
Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors
Thompson's breakout season is not happening because he is shooting more (just 1.4 more shot attempts per game than last season), it's happening because there has been legitimate skill growth here. He has been much more aggressive, shooting 3.6 free throws per game versus 2.3 per game in 2013-14. His 47.1-percent field-goal percentage and 44-percent three-point shooting percentage are also easily career bests. This has led to Thompson giving fantasy owners 22.1 points per game while aiding in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, and three-pointers. He's ranked eighth on Yahoo!'s player rater at the All-Star break.
Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Timberwolves
Dieng was a late-round flier at best in standard drafts this year, but he had been a beast on the glass prior to Nikola Pekovic's return from injury. In 28.7 minutes per game, Dieng is averaging 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting almost 49 percent from the field and 79.1 percent from the charity stripe, which is excellent for a center. For context, Al Jefferson is averaging 8.5 boards and Kenneth Faried is averaging 8.7 boards, and both of those players were taken early in drafts specifically because of their ability to offer close to 10 rebounds per game. Dieng's minutes and overall fantasy stock may be trending down, but he was a major asset for fantasy owners in the first half.
Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets
Lawson was pricy on draft day, but it would have been hard to imagine him being one of two point guards (John Wall is the other) to average 10-plus assists. His accompanying stats aren't doing much to suggest he was drafted too low in most leagues, but when you can bank those assists, that makes such an impact that everything else is gravy. Lawson has increased his assists per game from 6.9 to 8.8 to 10.1 over the past three seasons, so it will be interesting to see whether he is topping out this season or if there is even more room for improvement in 2015-16. It's also pretty impressive that Lawson is doing this despite playing on a subpar Nuggets team.
Draymond Green, PF, Warriors
Paul Millsap deserves an honorable mention here, but Green needs to be talked about in one of these categories, and I passed over him when talking about rebounds. Green is the type of player that everyone who passed on complains about not drafting. He had a two-game stretch last week where he had 32 points, 33 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, two steals and three three-pointers. That's what he brings to the table. Green is an asset in every category other than field-goal and free-throw percentage, and he will be a big part of a lot of teams that win fantasy championships this year.
Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz
Hassan Whiteside was also considered, but he has only been a fantasy force over the past month. On the other hand, Gobert has been a top-5 shot-blocker since the beginning of the season. He gets mislabeled as a rim-protector, but he is much more than that. Gobert is a legitimately great overall defender. He is averaging 2.2 blocks per game, and should begin to earn more minutes as the season goes on, as it's clear he is an upgrade over Enes Kanter.
Robert Covington, SF, Sixers
Covington is just not going away. In fact, he's really starting to come on strong. For owners who scooped him up off waivers when he was brought up from the D-League, the willingness to buy into his initial success has paid off. The recent stretch I mentioned is highlighted by 18.8 points, 6.6 boards, 2.6 steals and 3.6 three-pointers per game over his last five contests. The key is the minutes and the role, and Covington has emerged as a legitimate go-to scorer for the Sixers, and he is seeing around 30 minutes per night.