My next lesson to teach is looking at teams that seem to not have a shot at making the playoffs. At this point, you can start to separate teams and determine what it will take for them to make the playoffs. How does this affect you? Teams that seem out of the playoff picture will open up their rotation and utilize players who have not received any love. Take a look at those teams and see which players have had a recent increase in playing time. Those players are competing for their coach's attention and can be beneficial to your fantasy team.
Stephen Curry, guard, Golden State Warriors: When healthy, Curry is one of the most lethal shooters in the league. His style is the old school pick and pop, just like his dad used to burn teams from long distance. Curry has been easily a top 10-fantasy basketball player this season. He scores 22.2 points per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the field. He takes over 17 shots per game. He scored an NBA season-high 54 points a week ago versus the New York Knicks. Curry also shoots 90.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Curry is also very aggressive on defense, as well, as he grabs four rebounds per game and swipes the ball 1.6 times. A key statistic: He has contributed 6.6 assists a game. He makes at least three three-pointers per game, and as long as his ankle holds up there is not a hotter shooter in the league at this time. Count on spending top dollar if you're looking to trade for him.
Bradley Beal, guard, Washington Wizards: The Wizards look like a whole different team when at full strength. With John Wall back in full force, it has taken a lot of the shooting pressures off of Beal. Teams have been leaving Beal open when Wall runs down the floor with lightning speed. In the last two weeks, he has scored 20.3 points per game, shooting 49 percent from the field. For the season, he had been scoring 14 points per contest. Beal has also contributed a couple of assists per game, as well.
On the defensive side of things Beal has grabbed 6.9 rebounds per game over the last two weeks. He also has stolen the ball 1.1 times per outing during this stretch. Now that Beal does not have to be the facilitator on offense anymore, fantasy owners are finally getting to see the best of Beal. He is a very confident shooter; he will stop the break and take a shot from the elbow, if open. There is a reason he was a top-five pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Tobias Harris, forward, Orlando Magic: The Magic are one of those teams that seem out of the playoff picture. As their rebuilding continues, the Magic has given Harris almost 29 minutes of playing time per game since trading J.J. Redick, and he has taken full advantage. Harris has scored 16.8 points while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor. He has also contributed by grabbing a steal per game during that stretch.
Harris has a lot of endurance, if a player falls asleep, especially on transition, Harris will beat them. He has grabbed 6.2 rebounds per game over the last two weeks. Harris does not hurt your free-throw percentage, since he has shot 83.7 percent from the stripe this season. To go from not being a name to catching the attention of many, especially from a fantasy perspective, Harris has indeed been an absolute beast. There is still time to pick him up, as he is owned in only 41 percent of leagues polled.
Vince Carter, guard-forward, Dallas Mavericks: If this season has done anything for anyone, it has surely given Carter life in the twilight years of his 15-year career. Carter has definitely earned a contract for next season on both NBA and fantasy teams. Carter has fully transitioned his game from being a player who drives the lane drawing the double, to being a strict jump shooter. He has scored 13 points per game this season, shooting 43 percent from the field. Carter is an 81 percent free-throw shooter and makes at least two three-pointers per game.
Carter does help slightly in other categories as he has grabbed 3.8 rebounds and dished 2.1 assists per game. He grabs a steal in most games and plays only 25 minutes per game. Carter has had multiple games in which he has scored more than 20 points per game. The old man still has a bit left in the tank and can prolong your fantasy basketball season.
Al Horford, forward-center, Atlanta Hawks: After being out most of the 2012 season, Horford is back to full form and has been exceptionally dominant as of late. In fact, over the last two weeks he has scored 24.1 points per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. Those statistics alone make him a fantasy basketball beast. Horford has also grabbed 11.3 rebounds per game during this stretch.
Horford also helps in some of the more scarce categories. Over the last two of weeks, he has committed 1.5 steals and blocked 2.1 shots per game. For those who drafted Horford late in the second round or even in the third round of your drafts, you pulled off a steal. Horford also helps slightly in the assists category, since he has dished 3.2 per game this season. While Josh Smith grabs all of the attention, Horford contributes just as much, if not more, on a nightly basis. You might be able to land him at a discounted price if some owner is sleeping on his versatility, but expect to play a hefty sum for him in most formats.