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The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling right along, and with that it is time to dive back into the fantasy basketball waiver wire for Week 8 of the campaign. Today, the focus is on sleepers of the "Category Specialist" variety that can each help out in different areas.

 

FG Percentage Specialist

Thomas Robinson (POR, PF) – 8% Owned

After Robin Lopez fractured his hand, it was largely assumed some portion of Chris Kaman and Joel Freeland – guys with experience playing center in the NBA – would start at the 5 for the Trailblazers.  Instead, shockingly, Portland coach Terry Stotts trotted out a lineup in Lopez’s first game out (December 17th against the Bucks) with Robinson starting in the frontcourt alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.

Robinson is a fourth year power forward who spent most of his first three years looking like a total bust, with two teams (Sacramento and Houston) giving up on him in the process.  He entered this year buried on the bench for Portland. He looked like a completely new player in this new opportunity, though.  It seems like he may have turned himself into the credible NBA player he looked like he was when the Kings selected him 5th overall in the 2012 draft (when there was even serious talk about him as the first overall pick, ahead of Anthony Davis).

In what was his first career start, Robinson hit 5 of 8 shots, scored 15 points, pulled down a ridiculous 16 rebounds, and added 1 steal and 1 block.  He did shoot a Dwight Howard-esque 5 of 15 on free throws, but free throw shooting days as ugly as that and with that many attempts will not come every day.  He should hover more around 50% free throw shooting and attempt more like 4 or 5 a game.

If you are seeking to add field goal percentage with good rebounding and decent defensive stats at the expense of some free throw percentage, Robinson is a great add.  And if you are punting free throw percentage (or it is not penalized in your league, such as in most points leagues) you should race to the waiver wire.

 

Blocks Specialist

Chris Andersen (MIA, PF/C) – 3% Owned

Perhaps in celebration of the new Michael Keaton movie about him (that movie is a biopic about Andersen, right?) the Birdman is getting some heavy runtime!  Andersen has had to assume a much larger role than usual for Miami of late, as they have lost Josh McRoberts for the season and Chris Bosh has been missing time with a calf injury.

While he will likely return to the bench when Bosh returns, Andersen seems likely to keep playing decent minutes for the Heat.  Birdman will not score a lot – he never does – but he will deliver an excellent field goal percentage on the attempts he does have and you can expect about 1.5 blocks a game if he can stay over 20 minutes in playing time.

This combination of defensive stats and efficiency makes him a nice streamer for blocks, as well as a good deep league add.

 

Steals Specialist

Marcus Smart (BOS, PG) – 44% Owned

Many fantasy owners have already begun to overreact to the Rondo trade by racing to the wire to add Smart.  Something about real life trades makes people really want to make moves themselves.

It is true that Smart is likely to get a ton of minutes for a tanking Celtics squad, though it may be capped somewhat by the presence of Jameer Nelson (though there is a decent chance they flip him in a few weeks, too).  However, he is still a huge work in progress on offense.  He is an absolute albatross when it comes to FG% and provides extremely low assist rates for a PG, so you should not be dropping more complete offensive starters like Courtney Lee or Jodie Meeks for him.

However, if you have other incomplete, speculative, or injured players you are comfortable dropping, Smart does make a reasonable add for his excellent steals rate, a category where he could reasonably end up as a top 5 player the rest of the way (especially with steals-god Ricky Rubio currently out).  He will also add plenty of three pointers, as the Celtics continue to let him launch the ball at a high rate.

If he is still available in your league, grab him if you have an obvious guy to drop, but do not force it if you would have to drop a productive player.

 

Three-Point Specialist

Jodie Meeks (DET, SG) – 29% Owned

As I alluded to above, I would personally rather have Meeks than Smart in standard leagues. This is because Meeks is not going to destroy your field goal percentage like Smart might.

Meeks will also improve your FT% (he has averaged over 4 free throws a game on the season so far and hit 100% of them) and turn the ball over less, two factors that are perpetually underappreciated in favor of sexier statistics.  And for as many threes as Smart as likely to hit, I believe Meeks will still hit more – he is a better shooter than Smart and he is the only guy on Detroit who reasonably should be taking a lot of three point attempts (while Boston has good three point shooters all over the court, from Jeff Green to Kelly Olynyk)

The final little factor in Meeks’s favor – one that especially comes to play in Yahoo leagues – is that Meeks is a SG – one of the more scarce positions – while Smart only qualifies at PG, which is probably the easiest position to fill right now.

If Meeks is available in your league, grab him.  He is a great source of threes with some decent steals and very nice efficiency.
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