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NBA Category Strategy: Go Grab Gordon

J.J. Calle

J.J. Calle is a fantasy basketball prognosticator with mesmerizing hair who also aggregates obscure stats. Allegiances reside with the New York Knicks, New York Mets, Houston Texans, Penn State Nittany Lions, St. John's Red Storm, and Gael Monfils.

The Warriors play two games this week while every other team competes three or four times. In fact, the Warriors only play four games before the All-Star break, the fewest of any team. The Pelicans play seven times before the intermission, and every other team plays five or six times.

The chart ranks teams based on most games remaining, fewest back-to-backs (B2B), most quality games (QG), most games during default fantasy playoffs (WK 21-23) and most home games (Home). You can use it as a tool to position your team for the stretch run.

As noted, the Jazz/Wizards game postponed due to Winter Storm Jonas hasnít been rescheduled. Nonetheless, I included that unscheduled game in the final tally. If the game is never played, the Wizards will shift down to 36 games and 15 home games and the Jazz slide down to 35 games and 18 road games. I didnít manipulate the last three columns because Iím unsure if or when the game will be played, but thereís a good chance it happens on the first or second night of a back-to-back set sometime in mid-March. Itís possible, however unlikely, that one of the teams must play three games in a row to fit it in before the end of the season. If the league waits until after the final day of the regular season and the game doesnít affect the standings, there wonít be a reason to play it. Most fantasy leagues will have concluded by that point, and I donít think rotisserie leagues would benefit if the game is played on April 14.

February Notes

Outside of October and April, February is the shortest month of the season. The All-Star break offers a week-long hiatus and in most instances, fantasy host sites combine the week before and after the All-Star game into one matchup.

The Cavaliers, Pacers and Wizards play a league-high 13 games. Alternatively, the Hornets, Mavericks, Warriors, Rockets, Lakers and Suns play a minimum 10 games. Nine of the Sunsí 10 games occur at home, where Devin Booker is shooting 46 percent on three-pointers, T.J. Warren sinks 49 percent of his threes and P.J. Tucker and Alex Len improve their field-goal accuracy by eight percent.

The Bucks and Knicks play 11 times; seven of their games occur on nights with no more than eight games, the most among all teams this month. On the other end of the spectrum, the Hornets, Bulls and Grizzlies only play one game on days with fewer than eight games, minimizing their streamability.

The Bulls, Spurs and Wizards are scheduled for a maximum four back-to-backs, the most in February. The Spurs end the month with their Rodeo Road Trip, an eight-game excursion that begins Feb. 9. They will go 24 days between home games, with eight of their 12 coming against teams currently outside the playoff picture. Expect plenty of rest over the next 29 days.

Most importantly, the trade deadline expires on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 3:00 p.m. EST. There are no games between the All-Star break and the deadline.

Jeff Green (SF)

On Jan. 14, Green was replaced in the starting lineup by Zach Randolph. In the subsequent eight games, Green averaged 18.8 points on 53.3 percent shooting in 28 minutes per game. Coming off the bench has led to a 28 percent usage rate, up from 19.5 percent in his 31 starts. Greenís doing a tremendous job attacking the basket and finishing through contact. Many of his points have been scored by driving past his defender after receiving a screen at the top of the key or cutting backdoor for an emphatic dunk. Iím reminded of a similar run Green had after Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in the 2012-13 season. I canít guarantee the Grizzlies donít trade him before the end of the week, but while heís rolling as a reserve, itís advisable to ride the hot hand. If you missed out on Green, acquire Dion Waiters. Since replacing Andre Roberson (knee) in the starting lineup three games ago, Waiters is averaging 15.7 points in 36.5 minutes per game. It pays to play next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook instead of subbing for them.

Aaron Gordon (SF/PF)

In four games as a starter, Gordon has pulled down 8.5 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game. The Magic are 1-12 in January, and that may evoke lineup changes. I do know that Mario Hezonja wonít get regular minutes until he improves on the defensive end. That leaves Evan Fournier as the main reserve capable of pilfering Gordonís playing time, but both have played the same number of minutes over the past four games. Because Gordon guards opposing power forwards, his proximity around the rim, combined with his athleticism and Nikola Vucevic actively boxing out, allows him to secure plenty of rebounds to keep your fantasy team competitive. If Gordon was already claimed, focus on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Heís one of the best rebounding small forwards in the league, and he pulled down seven in his season debut.

Evan Turner (SF)

Turner has recorded at least five assists in seven of the last eight games as the primary playmaker in the second unit. A third of his assists in that time have gone to Kelly Olynyk. Eight different Celtics are averaging at least 2.0 assists per game since Jan. 16, and the team is second in the league with 28.0 assists per game over that span. Even when Turner shares the court with All-Star Isaiah Thomas, coach Brad Stevens utilizes Thomas off the ball more than he did earlier in the season, increasing Turnerís assist opportunities. Turner boasts a higher assist percentage than Thomas in the 167 possessions they shared in the last eight games, making Turner a solid assist option moving forward. Mario Chalmers is your fallback option, as he has 35 assists in the last six games backing up Mike Conley.

Thabo Sefolosha (SG)

Sefolosha has recorded at least one steal in eight straight games and played at least 23 minutes in the last seven. The Hawksí opponents this week are the Mavericks, Sixers, Pacers and Magic. Earlier this month against the Mavericks, Magic and Pacers, Sefolosha recorded eight combined steals. The Sixers, a team leading the NBA with 17.7 turnovers per game, boosts Sefoloshaís projected steals this week. Wesley Johnson is averaging 1.9 steals in 24.2 minutes per game in January, adding him to the list of viable options. However, since the Clippers play three times and donít begin their week until Wednesday, you can delay adding Johnson until necessary.

Nikola Jokic (C)

Iíll assume Willie Cauley-Stein was already added in your league, especially after DeMarcus Cousinsí right ankle sprain Saturday night. Jokic has thoroughly outplayed his center counterparts on the offensive end, and it helps when Jusuf Nurkic is improving his conditioning eight months after knee surgery. Jokic noticeably struggles on the defensive end, but his overall contributions force you to take notice. He throws beautiful passes out of the high post and disrupts passing lanes. His minutes have oscillated violently based on the matchup, foul trouble and injuries, yet heís averaged 11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 0.7 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game over the last 10. The blocks ebb and flow, but itís tough to complain when adding a well-rounded center.

Gary Harris (SG)

Harris is widely available and playing 32.2 minutes per game in January, second only to Danilo Gallinari on the Nuggets. Heís made at least one three-pointer in 18 straight games, converting at a 42 percent clip, and he procured 15 steals in the last six games. Most of Harrisí damage occurs in the first and third quarters when he plays almost the entire period. The fourth quarter offense typically runs through Will Barton, and thatís when Harris tends to blend into the background. Harris is the prototypical rotisserie player, and he possesses longevity in all formats. If you want to take advantage of the schedule in daily moves leagues this week, three of the Knicksí four games occur on nights with fewer than six matches. Itís prime real estate to deploy Langston Galloway or Lance Thomas for a weekly romp. Thomas leads the team in three-point percentage (41.7 percent) and Galloway is starting for the injured Jose Calderon (groin).