NBA Waiver Wire: More Injuries, More Opportunity

NBA Waiver Wire: More Injuries, More Opportunity

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

This weekend was a tough one for the NBA. Around the league, star after star fell like dominoes, decimating rosters – and leading to a bountiful waiver wire. 

Luka Doncic (ankle), Blake Griffin (knee), Eric Bledsoe (leg) and P.J. Washington (finger) headline The Fallen – all except Griffin seem likely to miss at least two weeks, and we don't yet have a firm timeline for him, though there's a chance he'll play Monday night. Needless to say, this article will look a lot different than it would have had it been published Saturday morning.

In addition to all the injuries, we have the typical assortment of players trending up and down. Taken altogether, there are a lot of waiver options worth considering.

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

Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks (25 percent rostered)

When Khris Middleton missed seven games in November, DiVincenzo stepped up, averaging 10.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 3s, despite being in the middle of one of his worst shooting slumps of the season. DiVincenzo has also served as one of the Bucks' primary backup point guards this season, along with George Hill (15 percent rostered), and both DiVincenzo and Hill should benefit from Bledsoe's upcoming two week absence. DiVincenzo will probably get more minutes than

This weekend was a tough one for the NBA. Around the league, star after star fell like dominoes, decimating rosters – and leading to a bountiful waiver wire. 

Luka Doncic (ankle), Blake Griffin (knee), Eric Bledsoe (leg) and P.J. Washington (finger) headline The Fallen – all except Griffin seem likely to miss at least two weeks, and we don't yet have a firm timeline for him, though there's a chance he'll play Monday night. Needless to say, this article will look a lot different than it would have had it been published Saturday morning.

In addition to all the injuries, we have the typical assortment of players trending up and down. Taken altogether, there are a lot of waiver options worth considering.

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

Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks (25 percent rostered)

When Khris Middleton missed seven games in November, DiVincenzo stepped up, averaging 10.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 3s, despite being in the middle of one of his worst shooting slumps of the season. DiVincenzo has also served as one of the Bucks' primary backup point guards this season, along with George Hill (15 percent rostered), and both DiVincenzo and Hill should benefit from Bledsoe's upcoming two week absence. DiVincenzo will probably get more minutes than Hill, and he's the better all-around pickup, though both players are likely to be rosterable. In his first game back in the starting lineup Saturday, DiVincenzo put up 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and one 3.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (61 percent rostered) and Jalen Brunson (11 percent rostered), Mavericks 

There's no "replacing" Luka Doncic, but someone has to pick up his 33.5 minutes, 20.4 field goal attempts and 9.3 assists per game. Hardaway had already seen a big uptick in his workload since entering the starting lineup last month, but he's the guy who seems most likely to take on more scoring responsibilities. Brunson should take on the bulk of the passing duties, and he was the biggest beneficiary of Doncic's early exit Saturday. Doncic only played two minutes, and Brunson ended up with 18 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes off the bench. The Mavericks haven't given an official timeline yet, but they've announced that Doncic has sprained his ankle, so we should expect at least a couple weeks on the sidelines.

Three other players who will probably see some benefit from Doncic's absence are Delon Wright (23 percent rostered), J.J. Barea (1 percent rostered), and Seth Curry (5 percent rostered). Wright has been borderline rosterable most of the season and should see his minutes increase once he's fully back from his thigh injury. Barea has been high been highly productive on a per-minute basis, both this season and throughout much of his career, but he's seen a lot of DNP-CDs this year. With Doncic out, he's likely to remain a steady fixture at the end of the rotation, making him viable in many deep leagues. Curry didn't see much benefit Saturday, which is slightly concerning, but he's such an effective 3-point shooter that the team could ask him to play more to help keep the offense afloat while it is without it's best player.

Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (19 percent rostered)

Already one of the best defensive specialists in the league, the 76ers' rookie seems to have finally worked his way out of the doghouse. The 76ers have one of the shallowest rosters in the league, so Thybulle should see tons of minutes as their sixth man as long as he can keep himself in good standing with the higher-ups. He's played at least 26 minutes in each of his last six healthy games, averaging 2.5 3s, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks He doesn't do much outside of those three categories, but he's so good as a 3-and-D specialist that he's addable anyway.

Kent Bazemore, Trail Blazers (33 percent rostered)

I've never had the same optimism about Bazemore's long-term prospects as some other NBA and Fantasy analysts, and his production this last week has been disappointing. That said, he has enough ability to be a factor with regular minutes, and I expect him to see tons of minutes now that Rodney Hood (Achilles) is done for the season. Bazemore immediately moved into the starting lineup with Hood out, averaging 29.3 minutes over the first three Hood-less games – and, frankly, I expect that total to increase and settle closer to 32 or 33. His production this past week was rough (part of why I think his minutes will increase), but the Blazers don't really have another option who can pick up Hood's vacated 29.5 minutes, almost all of which were at small forward. They can try some three-guard lineups or make a trade, but otherwise they need Bazemore. Even if Bazemore stays at 30 minutes per game the rest of the way, here are his season-to-date averages prorated to 30 minutes: 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.7 3s.

Christian Wood (12 percent rostered) and Markieff Morris (18 percent rostered), Pistons

Through all of Saturday night's wreckage, Blake Griffin is the big name with the best chance to emerge unscathed. He left the game with "knee soreness", which could mean he doesn't even miss a game. That said, given Griffin's history, we should at least prepare ourselves for him to miss a few games. Morris isn't exciting, but he has been deep-league rosterable for much of the season. He's averaging 27.0 minutes in games without Griffin, compared to just 17.4 when Griffin is active. That boost should be enough to make Morris addable, though his upside is low. So far this season, Griffin's availability has had no impact on Wood's workload, but logic dictates that Wood's recent play would earn him extra run during a Griffin absence. Wood put up an 11-point, 12-rebound double-double in just 22 minutes Saturday, and he's shown some aptitude for blocks and 3s. Wood is the upside pick here.

Other recommendations: Norman Powell, Raptors (47 percent rostered); George Hill, Bucks (15 percent rostered); Marquese Chriss, Warriors (16 percent rostered); Nerlens Noel, Thunder (27 percent rostered); Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies (57 percent rostered); Duncan Robinson, Heat (32 percent rostered); Kris Dunn, Bulls (33 percent rostered); Ben McLemore, Rockets (35 percent rostered); Garrett Temple, Nets (31 percent rostered); Ish Smith, Wizards (36 percent rostered); Delon Wright, Mavericks (23 percent rostered); Mikal Bridges, Suns (18 percent rostered)

Long-term Prospects

Kevin Huerter, Hawks (45 percent rostered)

I don't think Huerter is good enough to be relied upon as a regular Fantasy contributor – yet. He's been under a minutes cap since he returned from a shoulder injury, but even when that cap is removed, I'm not sure he's someone every 12-team league manager needs to roster. That said, he's good enough for some teams, depending on their category needs, and I expect him to keep improving. If you play in a league where the settings allow you to hold onto a player that you don't need to start every game, then he should probably be added. I expect him to eventually average around 30 minutes per game, maybe a hair more. Per-30 minutes, he's averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.1 3s per game. He's also a drain on FG%. If you need assists and 3s, then he's a solid pickup, but otherwise, most managers will need him to get a little better before he's an every night play. I think he probably gets there by the end of the season.

Other recommendation: Kevin Porter Jr., Cavaliers (10 percent rostered)

Deep League special


Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers (15 percent rostered)

I may have been over-ambitious when I declared Simons an all-leagues add a few weeks ago, but the combination of some improved play and the Rodney Hood (Achilles) injury has him back in my good graces – especially in deeper settings. He's up to 24.7 minutes per game since Hood's injury, a 15% jump in workload. Simons is a scorer and a 3-point shooter who does little else, though his good assist-to-turnover ratio should be noted. The sophomore is considered on of the most important long-term pieces for the Blazers, so they should continue to give him opportunities and help him improve. He's a limited specialist right now, but I'm optimistic he can continue to improve as the season rolls on.

Other recommendations: J.J. Barea, Mavericks (1 percent rostered); Seth Curry, Mavericks (5 percent rostered); Monte Morris, Nuggets (5 percent rostered)

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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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