Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire - Week 17 Recommendations

Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire - Week 17 Recommendations

This article is part of our 30 Days, 30 Teams, 30 Facts series.

Welcome back. The NBA trade deadline is six days away.

The trade deadline is one of the most fun times to be a basketball fan. The news comes fast -- the takes and jokes come faster. Books worth of content are created in anticipation of possible trades that will never happen, only to be immediately followed by an almost equal amount of post-trade assessments of how teams and the league have changed. It's all great fun. (Usually, unless your team name begins with a "K")

It's also a critical moment in the fantasy season. Fortunes change in the time it takes Woj to press "Tweet." 

What can we do before the deadline to prepare for this event? The honest answer, unfortunately, is very little. Pre-deadline stashes rarely work out. The Fantasy managers who win the trade deadline react quickly and with savvy. We can do a few small things, which I'll get into below, but your best bet for the next few days is to keep focusing on which players are producing right now.

As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.

Adds for all leagues

Tari Eason, Rockets (54% rostered)

Pre-deadline stashes rarely work out, as it's almost impossible to predict what trades will happen and who will benefit from them ahead of time. That said, sometimes a popular pre-deadline stash candidate also happens to go on a hot streak in the days before the deadline, as is happening here. In those cases, absolutely prioritize a player who is both producing well now and has a chance to see his value boosted by a deadline deal. Eason is in the midst of the best three-game stretch of his career right now, taking advantage of absences from Jalen Green (calf) and Eric Gordon (knee) to put up 18-11-2 with 2.7 stocks. His extra minutes should continue while Green and Gordon work through their injuries, extending Eason's Fantasy viability. And if either Gordon (30% rostered) or Jae'Sean Tate (33% rostered) get traded – both are featured heavily in rumors – then Eason's extended workload could last throughout the remainder of the season. (If a trade does happen, it's possible that Gordon or Tate could become Fantasy pickups, but they are not worth adding preemptively.)

Kenyon Martin, Rockets (51% rostered)

Kevin Porter's (foot) re-evaluation date came and went, and we still have no information about when he might return. A report from Tuesday said that he is still not doing basketball-related drills. As long as he is out, Martin should be added and started in all leagues. Reading the tea leaves, Porter might be out a while.

Jeremy Sochan, Spurs (67% rostered)

Even if Sochan is already rostered in your league, he's worth some attention. He left Wednesday's game after seven minutes due to a back injury and is set to sit out Friday. Some impatient managers may drop him, despite the rookie's strong recent play. Before the injury, he's scored double digits in seven straight, averaging 18-6-3 in that span. He'd started turning a corner before that, with his field goal attempts and free throw efficiency increasing with every passing month. If this is a short-term injury (we don't know yet), then Sochan is worth adding and holding.

Drew Eubanks, Trail Blazers (16% rostered)

Jusuf Nurkic (calf) got hurt and will be out through the All-Star break. Eubanks will fill in as the starter, putting up your classic replacement-level big man platter – lots of rebounds and blocks, some points, great FG%, bad FT%, close to zero assists, steals, and threes. With the news that Nurkic could be sidelined the same amount of time as Western-Conference-center rival Steven Adams, the stability of Eubanks bumps him ahead of Brandon Clarke's more tantalizing skillset but inconsistent role.

Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies (61% rostered)

Unfortunately, my fear that Clarke would split work with Xavier Tillman (9% rostered) during Steven Adams' (knee) absence was well-founded. Adams has missed six games so far and will remain out for another 2-4 weeks. In those six contests, each player has started three, with Tillman having a slight edge in minutes, 23.2 to 21.3. It's probably going to continue this way, with Clarke getting the edge some nights and Tillman others. That said, Clarke's per-minute numbers are good enough that he's worth rostering, especially in daily lineups leagues where you can focus on the nights when he's starting. The big man put up 16-6-2 with 2.4 stocks across his three starts. Tillman is an option in deeper formats, though he's not good enough for standard leagues. 

Other recommendations: Deni Avdija, Wizards (64% rostered); Daniel Gafford, Wizards (40% rostered); Seth Curry, Nets (28% rostered); Rui Hachimura, Lakers (62% rostered); Pat Connaughton, Bucks (19% rostered); Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (9% rostered)

Deep League Special

Kendrick Nunn, Wizards (10% rostered)

While it was Rui Hachimura and the Lakers who got most of the attention after the first trade of the 2022-23 season, the other side of that trade is also making an early impact. Nunn's new role is bigger than his old one, as he's put up 12-3-2 in 20.0 minutes over his first three games in D.C. Nearly half of his field goal attempts have been from behind the arc, and he's making 1.7 per game. It's not exactly league-winning upside, but it's a solid baseline for deep league managers.

How to prepare for the trade deadline

Turn on Twitter alerts for key reporters

This is especially important this year, as Twitter's new verification policy makes it much easier for fake accounts to imitate real reporters. If you have alerts on for the correct accounts, then you'll be protected against falling for fakes. The most crucial account to follow is ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. I hesitate to promote The Athletic's Shams Charania, but for Fantasy purposes, he's the next most vital account to follow. He frequently engages in unethical reporting behavior by failing to source other reporters who get scoops before him. Still, that same behavior means he'll post every trade, and he gets a ton of scoops on his own. Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes and independent journalist Marc Stein are probably two of the next most prominent names to follow.

Watch Twitter Thursday afternoon

I understand this isn't possible for everyone due to work, school, childcare, or whatever. That said, the best thing you can do before the trade deadline is to clear your schedule for Thursday mid-day. Though a few trades will likely happen before Thursday, the overwhelming majority will be announced between noon and 4 pm EST (the deadline is 3 pm, but some last-minute deals take a bit longer to get reported). If you can monitor the news closely during this window, you're giving yourself a better chance to react quickly if a trade has enormous waiver wire implications.

Pre-deadline Stash candidates

As stated above, stashing players before the deadline rarely works out. Predicting trades is nearly impossible. Even when we accurately identify a player on the move, the destination or return package could completely upend what we'd hoped would be a promising Fantasy outcome. That said, people often ask for players to add preemptively, just in case. With that in mind, here are the top names I'd consider (after Tari Eason, listed above, who is valuable enough right now that he would be addable regardless of the pending trade deadline).

Mark Williams, Hornets (22% rostered)

Hopefully, the Hornets' front office pulls that move from the movie Moneyball where they trade away a player (Mason Plumlee) to force the coach to start using a potential star that's currently stuck on the bench. Williams is good, but the coaching staff refuses to play him enough. Plumlee's contract is tradeable, and he'd be a good fit on several playoff teams. 

Isaiah Jackson, Pacers (18% rostered)

A per-minute Fantasy star, Jackson just can't get enough minutes while the Pacers' frontcourt is healthy. Myles Turner's contract extension is tradeable or could signal a willingness to move on from Jackson. All he needs is 22-ish minutes to be a Fantasy factor. A trade here is unlikely, but the upside is huge if the right trade happens.

James Wiseman, Warriors (23% rostered)

He might not be good at basketball. But he might be good! That's also possible! If he got traded to a tanking team without much frontcourt depth, I'd be interested in adding him. However, it would have to be a deep league for me to consider preemptively stashing him.

Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks (30% rostered)

One of the most common names in rumors. If the forward gets traded, it's more likely to hurt his value than help, but it's conceivable he will find himself in greener pastures.

Schedule Notes

There are fewer games than usual in Week 17. Overall, the schedule is relatively balanced, but Friday's slate is on the large side (11 games), while Thursday's is small (4) and Sunday's is tiny (2 games).

The Pelicans are the only team with two games. Only nine teams have four games: the Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Pistons, Kings, Spurs, and Jazz.

The four teams on Sunday's tiny slate are the Grizzlies, Celtics, Raptors, and Pistons.

Daily lineups leagues

This week's focus should be maximizing value from Sunday's small slate. However, what that means can change depending on league settings. In leagues with a weekly games max, managers should try to skip Sunday's games entirely and fill their starting lineups on Saturday (unless you roster Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, or Pascal Siakam, who play Sunday). These managers will want to play extra games early in the week to get close to the games max Friday and then load up their Saturday starting lineup. On the other hand, managers without a weekly games max should prioritize adding players with Sunday games during the week. All four teams also play Friday.

If you have an additional acquisition to use late in Week 16 that you want to use to help Week 17, the Cavaliers and the Kings each have a Sunday-Monday back-to-back. For the Kings, that's part of a busy nine-day stretch that starts Friday (the day of publication, 2/3) and goes through Saturday of Week 17. They have six games across that stretch, including Sunday-Monday and Friday-Saturday back-to-backs. 

The Nets and Bulls are the only teams to start the week with a 3-in-4 set. Both teams also play Saturday, meaning their 3-in-4 is part of a larger 4-in-6. They are also the only teams to start the week with a back-to-back.

No team ends the week on a back-to-back or a 3-in-4. Nine teams play a Wednesday-Saturday 3-in-4: the Hornets, 76ers, Pacers, Heat, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Kings, Spurs, and Jazz. For the Hornets, 76ers, Pacers, and Heat, those are their only games this week.

Weekly lineups leagues

With so few four-game weeks, the players with that extra game can really make a difference in Week 17. The damage done by starting a Pelican during their two-game week is minimized.

The Nets' schedule stands out among teams with a four-game week, as they play all four at home, though they face a few formidable defenses (Clippers, Suns, 76ers). The Celtics' schedule is also favorable, with three games at home and two soft opponents (Pistons, Hornets).

As for the teams with three games, the Wizards get three home games and an extra day off in the middle. The Raptors, Trail Blazers, and Magic also play all their games at home and avoid back-to-backs. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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