At this point in the season, I like to take a beat and correlate new arrivals in a fantasy category I actually created: 1+1+1 players. Players averaging, or capable of averaging a steal, a block and a 3-pointer per contest.
Regardless of format, 1+1+1 players are always nice to have in your lineup, sitting on your bench, or available on your waiver wire. Because players with less top-heavy, more diversified statistical portfolios tend to be undervalued. And at a point where we're plumbing for streamer value? Compiling 1+1+1 players into their own category is a little bit of fantasy shorthand that still benefits me.
"1+1+1" is a term I started using in the early aughts. It first popped in my head while comprehending the fantasy possibilities of a player named Eddie Griffin.
If you're as old as I am? You'll remember Griffin. For his NBA potential, and for some unfortunate, ultimately tragic circumstances.
(This is a fantasy column, so I won't digress into Griffin's personal story.)
I still think about Griffin with a frequency that surprises me. But it really shouldn't. Because when I first started seriously analyzing NBA statistics for fantasy purposes, and then began to write about it, Griffin was a small obsession. Because Griffin was ahead of his time. An advanced signal of where the NBA would ultimately head.
If you check out Griffin's career stats, you may need a second look to spot the connection. For his career, Griffin only averaged 7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds across five checkered seasons. But in the season that triggered my attention, his 2002-03 campaign, Griffin (a PF/C) averaged 8.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 3s... in only 24.5 minutes per game.
Griffin's fantasy legacy: he was the player that literally inspired the coining of the term "1+1+1." And whenever I see someone using it in reference to Robert Covington, Derrick White, or Nicolas Batum? I think, "I see you, Mr. Griffin."
Here are six less-rostered players either new to the category or knocking on the door to the category. To give you more of an up-to-the-minute snapshot, I'm only using stats from the last month.
To you serious 1+1+1 aficionados, I recommend only thinking of players across our three key statistics. Comprehending points per game, turnovers per game, or field goal percentage? A mistake. Other categories will only add cognitive dissonance to the process.
And Boucher is a player that already generates a lot of signal noise. Because when everything is clicking for Boucher, he looks like a fantasy powerhouse. Not a "future" powerhouse. I mean he's dominant right now.
I know I just told you not to look at other categories. But when a player is one week removed from a game with 38 points, 19 rebounds, a block, a steal, and 3 3s, I would be remiss not to mention it.
One would think Boucher's role is locked in for the duration. Sure, he's inconsistent. But the upside is seismic.
One issue is role. Another is position.
Boucher has spent a lot of the season coming off the bench, playing out of position at the five. But to have a larger role, and lock in as a starter, Boucher will need to compete at PF.
For fantasy purposes, I love it when PFs play C. It usually leads to improved offensive stats. But it looks as if Boucher's longterm growth will be more impactful at power forward. So, let's hope Nick Nurse sees fit to play Boucher and Khem Birch together whenever possible down the stretch.
Thybulle entered the NBA fantasy radar as more of a steals specialist. A streamer for roto teams that required emergency assistance in that single category.
Thybulle is still only a rotational player. Someone for Marianas Trench-deep league consideration. But when you just examine Thybulle in our three categories, we can see he is making some real statistical progress.
Thybulle's other stats are so low to the ground, non-Philadelphians may not notice him. Even when he starts, his scoring output remains in the middle distance. But Thybulle is subtly developing into a quintessential 1+1+1 player. He just requires more minutes, in the right situation.
Alexander-Walker is hurt. He won't be back until next weekend at the earliest. But that may have dimmed his profile just enough to land him on your waiver wire. And if you have a spot on your bench to spare, Alexander-Walker makes for an excellent endgame roll of the dice.
Alexander-Walker is a prototypical endgame late-bloomer. The conditions are all right there. The Lonzo Ball injury cleared a path to big minutes for the second-year guard. He's a former first round pick. The Pelicans would love to see how smart they were in drafting him. And the more they play Alexander-Walker, the smarter they look.
In terms of fantasy opportunity, the man's ankle just needs to heal with all available haste (but also heal completely.) Because this is the right player in the right place at the right time.
McDaniels has been a tough player to justify rostering on a night-in, night-out basis. But he's posted a couple of nice, solid fantasy runs over the past couple of months. The most recent being in late March. McDaniels is not the kind of player you stop talking to wife to go pick up. He's not that high impact. But he's the kind of player you at least look at in-between Zooms.
Since we're talking Eddie Griffin, it feels right to wrap up with the son of another player from Griffin's era.
Of course there are differences. For a few years, Kenyon Martin was a full-blown fantasy star. And Martin racked up a long, fruitful career. So long that you might have to think a little to remember Martin's first few years, where he was a reliable 3-point shot away from also being a 1+1+1 player.
Cut to today. And if you follow fantasy hoops with my kind of granularity, I don't need to hype Martin Jr.'s potential to you.
I'm traditionally skittish about overvaluing players somehow connected to other players (brothers, sons, etc.) But Martin Jr. has some real, definitive upside. It's just a question of where his actual ceiling resides. Perhaps it's his box score from March 14 in a garbage time-tactic effort against the Celtics: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, two steals and two 3s.
It's way too early to tell. But a la Griffin... there are certain nights Martin Jr. puts it all together and blows the doors off.