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NBA Waiver Wire: The View from the Baseline

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on About.com, MSG.com, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

Had the good fortune to watch the Nets and Pistons from just behind one of the Barclays Center baskets last Sunday. This was my first visit to Barclays. It's nice. REALLY nice. Surprisingly open and airy - you can see the court just after you get past the security/ticketing area. It's also laughably easy to access via public transportation - but in New York, that's a requirement.

A couple of observations from the game itself:

  • The Nets look horrible on offense. Neither of their point guards - they were featuring Shane Larkin pretty heavily as Jarrett Jack couldn't stay in front of Reggie Jackson at all - had much success initiating offense in the half court.
  • That meant that most of Brooklyn's offense came off isolations and dribble penetration. That's good for guys like Joe Johnson, whose Iso-Joe nickname is well-earned, and Wayne Ellington, who was probably the Nets' most effective bench player in that game (and may have earned himself a bigger gig in the process - more on him in a moment.)
  • Unfortunately, that makes life a lot more difficult for Brook Lopez and the Nets' bigs, who cannot create their own shots. Lopez had a good game Sunday from a fantasy perspective, with 15 points, nine boards, four steals and six blocks. But he shot just 6-of-18 from the field, a dismal performance from someone usually near 50 percent.
  • Andre Drummond is a man-beast. But you knew that already. The Reggie Jackson/Drummond pick and roll combination is largely unstoppable.

Now, if I'd watched the game without the benefit of a scoreboard, I would have assumed that Detroit won by 10 or 12. But the Nets managed to keep things close, especially when Drummond and Jackson were on the bench, and managed to steal the game late.

That brings me to my next point. Detroit's bench is… just… yikes. The drop-off from Drummond to Aron Baynes might be the most dramatic starter-to-backup drop in the entire NBA. (No, I haven't researched this, and I'd love to hear your nominees.) And Steve Blake is a quality pro, but he can't break down a defense the way Jackson does.

That makes me wonder what Brandon Jennings' role will be when (if?) he comes back. Detroit could certainly use a player like Jennings, with his scoring ability, to key their otherwise-dismal second unit. And that return could come by the end of this month; Jennings just returned to practice this week.
Please note: after all I've written about Wes Matthews and how hard it is to return from an Achilles' injury, I'm certainly not recommending you pick up Jennings at this point - just that you monitor his situation closely.

Charlie's Generic Team Update
Not a good week for Charlie's generic auto-pick Yahoo team. George Hill has been ice cold after starting the season red-hot. Markieff Morris hasn't played to expectations - possibly because he's nursing a knee injury. And last week's gamble on Ty Lawson seems to be coming up snake-eyes.

Marvin Williams, on the other hand, looks like a keeper.

I'm going to attempt to right the ship this week by picking up D'Angelo Russell (69 percent), who has picked things up recently, to replace Lawson. I'm also putting in a claim on Kosta Koufos (37 percent), who should get a bump in playing time with Willie Cauley-Stein (dislocated finger) out for a month or more.

Picks for the Week
As always, we're shooting for a cross-section of players who will be available for the taking in both shallow and deep talent pools. Percent-owned stats are based on a default Yahoo League with roto scoring; your mileage may vary. If you have a question about a specific player feel free to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @charliezegers.

Tony Wroten (19 percent) - Making his return this week from a torn ACL. He'll be brought along slowly, but should provide some badly-needed offensive punch from the Philly backcourt.
On a related note, Kendall Marshall (1 percent) is about a week away from returning. I'm not sure that Marshall will be worth playing in most fantasy formats (though he's been a good assists play in the past), but his passing ability should make life easier for Jahlil Okafor (88 percent). If Marshall looks like his pre-injury self when he returns, upgrade the troubled-but-talented rookie.

Jae Crowder (71 percent) - I'm leery of playing most of Boston's frontcourt options, just because there are so many of them. But Crowder is turning out to be the best of the bunch, producing across-the-board fantasy numbers reminiscent of Andre Iguodala.

Joffrey Lauvergne (15 percent) - The latest shakeup of Denver's rotation moved Lauvergne to the starting center position and Darrell Arthur (3%) to the four; both responded with impressive performances and keyed a win over the Raptors, and both should be strong plays until Kenneth Faried (ankle) and Jusuf Nurkic (knee) are back to full strength.

Andrew Nicholson (6 percent) - I don't generally like investing in Scott Skiles' players, as the Orlando coach is highly unpredictable when it comes to rotations and distribution of minutes. But Nicholson seems to have carved out a solid niche coming off the bench behind Channing Frye and is producing in all the categories you want from a power forward.

Rodney Stuckey (5 percent) - Coming off two straight strong games, logging 30-plus minutes in each, Stuckey could be a very strong short-term add if Monta Ellis (shoulder) is sidelined for any length of time.