In-Season Strategy: Christmas Day Waiver Adds, News & Notes
In-Season Strategy: Christmas Day Waiver Adds, News & Notes

This article is part of our In-Season Strategy series.

After a full day off Sunday, the NBA returns with its marquee, five-game Christmas Day slate.

The 76ers and Knicks kick things off from Madison Square Garden at noon Eastern Time, followed by the Cavaliers/Warriors (3:00 PM ET), Wizards/Celtics (5:30 PM ET), Rockets/Thunder (8:00 PM ET) and Timberwolves/Lakers (10:30 PM ET).

Below are a few of the top waiver wire adds for Week 11, as well as some news, notes, stats and general ramblings to consider heading into the day-long marathon:

Waiver Wire Targets

Isaiah Canaan, Suns (22% owned): The Suns have finally found a functional backup point guard, and they felt strongly enough about Canaan to waive Mike James over the weekend.

Jordan Bell, Warriors (33% owned): The second coming of Draymond Green is playing so well that Zaza Pachulia (shoulder) may not have a starting job to come back to by the time he's healthy. Bell has played at least 22 minutes in each of the last six games, and while that number could come down once Pachulia is healthy, the Warriors will have trouble justifying keeping Bell off the floor if he continues to play at this level. The rookie has double-digit rebounds in back-to-back games and handed out eight assists and 24 minutes in a win over Dallas earlier this month.

Trey Lyles, Nuggets (58% owned): The Nuggets have shifted their Paul Millsap-less rotation, and Lyles is the new beneficiary. Over the last eight games, Lyles is averaging nearly 29 minutes, which he's translated to 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and, most importantly, 2.5 made threes per game.

Wayne Ellington, Heat (10% owned): The sharpshooter is widely available, but that won't last for long if he continues to shoot the three at nearly a 43 percent clip. Ellington erupted for 28 points, including eight made threes, in Friday's win over Dallas.

Ekpe Udoh, Jazz (8% owned): Blocks are so rare, and Udoh gets so many, that the value gained in blocks is worth the minimal production everywhere else, particularly in deeper formats.

Mason Plumlee, Nuggets (46% owned): If you missed out on Lyles or Udoh, Plumlee is a decent consolation prize. The return of Nikola Jokic from injury hasn't impacted his role, and Plumlee is averaging 8.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game in December.

News and Notes

- Philadelphia enters Monday having dropped nine of its last 10 games, but seven of those losses have come by seven points or fewer, including one in triple-overtime.

- Joel Embiid has missed five of the last 10 games, including three straight before he returned for Saturday's blowout loss to Toronto

- Ben Simmons enters Monday averaging 17.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Only four players, not rookies, in NBA history – Russell Westbrook, Fat Lever (3x), Magic Johnson (2x), Michael Jordan – have met each of those benchmarks over the course of an entire season.

- After a hot start and a lucrative extension, Robert Covington has gone cold of late. Over the last five games, Covington is shooting 30.3% from the floor and 27.1% from three (9.6 3PA/G).

- Enes Kanter is coming off back-to-back double-doubles for the fourth time this season. In Friday's loss to Detroit, Kanter had a season-high 22 points to go with 16 rebounds, three assist and three blocks – also a season-high. In the NBA's standard scoring system, Kanter is the 67th-ranked player, overall.

- The Knicks will be without Tim Hardaway, Jr., who will likely miss a few more weeks with a leg injury. Courtney Lee, a regular starter at shooting guard, is considered questionable after missing practice Sunday for personal reasons. If Lee sits, Ron Baker and rookie Frank Ntilikina would stand to benefit most.

- Ntilikina is averaging 22.5 minutes per game in December, but his production hasn't warranted ownership in most standard leagues. While he's been a reasonably strong source of steals (1.3 per game), Ntilikina simply doesn't contribute enough in other categories at this point.

- LeBron James is the No. 2 overall player under the NBA's standard scoring system, averaging 55.5 Fantasy points per game, 0.6 fewer than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

- Through 33 games, James is enjoying arguably the best statistical season of his career. He's shooting 57 percent from the field, 41.1 percent from three, and 78.5 percent from the line – all career-bests by a decent margin. James is also adding 28.4 points, 9.2 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, marking the first time in eight seasons that he's averaged at least one block.

- Like James, Kevin Love is shooting a career-best from the floor (47.8%), and he's approaching a career-high from three, as well. Love is making better than 40 percent of his threes for the first time since 2010-11, when he made his first All-Star appearance for the Timberwolves.

- On the injury front, the Cavs will still be without Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Iman Shumpert. Stephen Curry will remain out for the Warriors, while Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia each carry questionable designations. Green returned from a four-game absence Friday against the Lakers and played 33 minutes in Saturday's loss to Denver. He emerged from that contest with an elbow injuries, but X-Rays came back negative and all signs point to Green playing Monday.

- With Pachulia and Green in and out of the lineup, Jordan Bell has averaged nearly 25 minutes per game over the last six contests. In that span, the rookie is putting up 9.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting nearly 70 percent from the field. Steve Kerr suggested last week that Bell will have a larger role going forward, and it wouldn't be a shock if he ultimately unseats Pachulia in the starting five on a long-term basis.

- After a torrid, 22-4 start, the Celtics are 5-5 over their last 10 games. While they crushed a suspiciously competent Bulls team by 25 points Saturday night, Boston's defense has started to regress a bit. The Celtics still lead the league in defensive rating (102.7), however.

- Boston will, of course, still be without Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Morris, Semi Ojeleye, and Shane Larkin are listed on the injury report as of Sunday. Of the three, Ojeleye is the most likely to be held out after he aggravated a back injury Saturday night.

- Washington is coming off of a 27-point drubbing of the Magic on Saturday, a game that came less than 24 hours after a 35-point loss to the Nets in Brooklyn. John Wall (10) and Kelly Oubre (13) were the only two Wizards in double-figures in that loss.

- On a per-game basis, Wall ranks as the 19th-best player under the NBA's standard scoring, while Bradley Beal checks in at 33rd. Boston also has two players – Kyrie Irving (23) and Al Horford (42) – in the top 50.

- For as up-and-down as Russell Westbrook has been thus far, he's still a top-five player under the NBA's scoring system, which does not take into account shooting percentages. While Westbrook leads the league in assists and is nearly averaging a triple-double again, he's shooting just 41.3 percent from the field, his lowest mark since his rookie season. Westbrook has also regressed from beyond the arc (31.8%) after shooting a career-best 34.3 percent last season.

- Paul George (25) is also a top-50 player, while Carmelo Anthony ranks 63rd, four spots behind Steven Adams (59), who's in the midst of the best season of his career.

- The Rockets enter Monday leading the league in offensive rating, per-game scoring, made threes, three-point attempts, and made free throws. Houston also ranks second behind Golden State in True Shooting percentage.

- Houston's' 14-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday by the Lakers, and the Rockets fell again Friday against the Clippers for their sixth loss of the season. James Harden, the early-season MVP frontrunner, averaged 51.0 points, 8.5 assists and 16.0 made free throws in the two losses.

- Chris Paul is very much questionable to play Monday after straining his left adductor Wednesday night. Paul was held out Friday, enabling Eric Gordon to start alongside Harden. Gordon put up 28 points Friday and is averaging 19.5 points per game on the season, his highest since 2011-12, Gordon's first season in New Orleans.

- Jimmy Butler currently ranks third in the NBA in minutes per game, trailing only Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James. He's one of three Timberwolves in the top-15 – Andrew Wiggins (9), Karl-Anthony Towns (14) in that category.

- Lonzo Ball will not play after the Lakers announced Sunday that he'll miss at least a week with a shoulder injury. The Lakers lost Brook Lopez to an ankle injury last week, and he's expected to miss at least two more weeks. Brandon Ingram is considered questionable to play Monday after missing Saturday's game against Portland with a bruised quad.

- For the season, Lonzo Ball's shooting numbers remain horrendous, but the rookie seems to have turned a corner of late. Over the last seven games, Ball is hitting 44 percent of his field goals and knocking down 44.2 percent of his 6.1 threes per game. During that span, Ball is averaging 14.4 points, 7.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks. Chances are, Ball's shooting will continue to fluctuate rather drastically as he irons out the kinks of his clunky jumpshot, but Ball has looked noticeably more comfortable shooting off the dribble in recent weeks.

- Since Lopez went down against Golden State, Kyle Kuzma has seen a bump in minutes, as the Lakers have pivoted toward more small-ball lineups. Kuzma's string of three consecutive 25-plus-point efforts was snapped Saturday night, but he still managed 18 points and seven rebounds in a loss to Portland. Over the last four games, Kuzma is averaging 27 points and 8.5 rebounds while hitting 4.0 threes per game.

- Meanwhile, Julius Randle hasn't seen much of a boost in playing time in Lopez's absence. Randle saw only eight minutes in a win over Houston on Wednesday and followed up with 24 and 23 minutes, respectively, in the Lakers' two most recent games. While that's certainly frustrating for Fantasy owners, Randle has proven he can be productive in limited minutes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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