NBA Waiver Wire: Pick-Ups and FAAB for Week 7

NBA Waiver Wire: Pick-Ups and FAAB for Week 7

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

I didn't wake up with the intention to write about players owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues; it just happened. As we continue to cycle through the NBA's reserves, you'll notice many of them furnish limited fantasy value and will be inconsistent from game to game. My one piece of advice: don't chase stats. Players don't evolve overnight, and we generally know who they are and what they can produce. If someone has an abnormally great game, consider the opponent, minute's distribution, and unavailable players who normally would've attempted those shots.

Point Guard

C.J. Watson, IND: (watch list); FAAB: $0
My favorite C.J. Watson anecdote occurred last season during the Pacers' precipitous drop in the standings. He was sidelined for almost all of March with a right elbow sprain and right hamstring strain. People theorized his absence was a huge reason for the team's tailspin. When broached with the hypothesis, Watson asked, "Do you guys want to give me the MVP trophy?" Watson made his season debut last week, effectively absorbing Donald Sloan's minutes. George Hill (knee) isn't expected to make his debut until at least next week, extending Watson's leash off the bench with Rodney Stuckey starting at point guard. In 24 minutes per game, Watson is averaging 9.8 points and 4.0 assists in five games. He's more familiar with the offense than Stuckey, and his career 38 percent mark from downtown gives him the edge as a floor-spacer.

Zach LaVine,

I didn't wake up with the intention to write about players owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues; it just happened. As we continue to cycle through the NBA's reserves, you'll notice many of them furnish limited fantasy value and will be inconsistent from game to game. My one piece of advice: don't chase stats. Players don't evolve overnight, and we generally know who they are and what they can produce. If someone has an abnormally great game, consider the opponent, minute's distribution, and unavailable players who normally would've attempted those shots.

Point Guard

C.J. Watson, IND: (watch list); FAAB: $0
My favorite C.J. Watson anecdote occurred last season during the Pacers' precipitous drop in the standings. He was sidelined for almost all of March with a right elbow sprain and right hamstring strain. People theorized his absence was a huge reason for the team's tailspin. When broached with the hypothesis, Watson asked, "Do you guys want to give me the MVP trophy?" Watson made his season debut last week, effectively absorbing Donald Sloan's minutes. George Hill (knee) isn't expected to make his debut until at least next week, extending Watson's leash off the bench with Rodney Stuckey starting at point guard. In 24 minutes per game, Watson is averaging 9.8 points and 4.0 assists in five games. He's more familiar with the offense than Stuckey, and his career 38 percent mark from downtown gives him the edge as a floor-spacer.

Zach LaVine, MIN: (speculative add); FAAB: $4
Mo Williams is dealing with back spasms. As such, Corey Brewer has been designated the backup point guard, meaning we could see 40+ minutes a night from LaVine while Williams recovers. He's athletic enough to get his own shot, but raw enough that you'll pull out your hair when the inconsistencies win out. The Timberwolves play three of the top seven teams in terms of defensive rating and close out this week against the Lakers. LaVine scored a career-high 28 points against the Lakers just over a week ago, adding optimism should Williams return sooner rather than later.

Cory Joseph, SAS: (short-term deeper league add); FAAB: $2
Joseph is averaging 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 29 minutes over the past four games while shooting a comforting 53 percent from the field. The Spurs play eight games over the next 12 days, not ideal for the trio of Tony Parker (hamstring), Manu Ginobili (shoulder), and Tim Duncan. Their opponents this upcoming four-game week consist of the Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, and Nuggets. Parker missed the previous game with a mild hamstring strain. Could coach Gregg Popovich award the 32-year old guard a mini-vacation? Sure, if he trusts Joseph enough along with the rest of the supporting cast. In any case, it won't just be Joseph controlling the ball. Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, and Ginobili are capable playmakers who can walk the ball up the court when called upon.

Others to consider: Dennis Schroder is averaging 13.3 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 59 percent from the field in 19 minutes per game over the past six contests. The Hawks play four games this week, including one against the Sixers and two against the Magic.

Shooting Guard

Rodney Hood, UTA: (watch list and deep league speculative add); FAAB: $2
With the news Alec Burks (shoulder) will miss at least two weeks, the Jazz's upcoming consecutive four-game weeks grants plenty of opportunity. Six of those eight games will come on the road, where he's shooting 17 percent from the floor, but the two-game sample size provides enough relief to make a bid. He shot 42 percent from deep in college and 39 percent from behind the arc during summer league, pinpointing his only true value in fantasy leagues. If the shot isn't falling, he doesn't contribute enough elsewhere to warrant consideration in standard leagues.

Jeremy Lamb, OKC: (watch list); FAAB: $0
Lamb waited until Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant returned to flip the switch. In his last four games, Lamb connected on 21-of-27 shots and 10-of-12 three-pointers. It's noteworthy in that it's unsustainable. With Kevin Durant on a 30-minute per game limit, Perry Jones' return last Friday night, and Anthony Morrow playing more minutes per game, Lamb's utility may have sailed away before you could roster him. You can attempt to ride the hot streak while it lasts, but jettison Lamb as soon as the shooting swoon surfaces.

Marco Belinelli, SAS: (watch list); FAAB: $0
I LIKE MY MEATBALLS SPICY! And no, this isn't an overreaction to last night's 20-point outing. I know that Manu Ginobili (shoulder) and Tony Parker (hamstring) didn't play in the aforementioned game. However, Belinelli, much like the rest of the Spurs' guards, converts at the rim and behind the three-point line with laser-like precision. He shot 69 percent in the restricted area last season, third among all guards, and made 43 percent of his triple tries. His value will ebb and flow as the season progresses, but as long as Patty Mills (shoulder) remains sidelined, Belinelli should have ample opportunity to perform. Also of note, Belinelli started the second half of Saturday night's game over Danny Green. Popovich added, "I think he is getting his rhythm. He didn't come back in great shape. At this point, he is starting to feel pretty good. The [strained right groin] held him up after he was trying to get into shape. He is just beginning to start the season really."

Others to consider: Shabazz Muhammad leads the Timberwolves in usage rate (26 percent) since Kevin Martin's wrist injury. He's scored 66 percent of his points in the paint and 21 percent of his points from the free-throw line in that span, parlayed into a clean 52 percent field goal mark. Also, consider Ben McLemore because the Kings, aside from the Rockets, face the Jazz, Lakers, and Pistons this week.

Small Forward

P.J. Tucker, PHO: (dependent on need); FAAB: $5
Tucker supplanted Marcus Morris in the starting lineup three games ago. In that time, he's averaging 9.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals, while shooting 48 percent from the field in 30 minutes per game. He can also hit the corner-three ball at a remarkable rate. The 7.3 rebounds per game leads all guards over that three-game span. Because of Isaiah Thomas' (ankle) absence, it remains unclear if the minutes will stick. If your team is in dire need of rebounds and steals, and K.J. McDaniels isn't available, consider Tucker as someone you can throw into your shooting guard slot.

Robert Covington, PHI: (watch list and deep league darling); FAAB: $3
Extensive research indicates Covington earned the D-League's All-Star Game MVP and Rookie of the Year honors with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season, the Rockets' affiliate that attempted a league-high 45 three-pointers per game. Covington leads the 76ers in three-point shooting at 53 percent over the past 11 games, while hitting at least three three-pointers in his past four games. He's classified as a pure scorer who'll occasionally grab rebounds. With Tony Wroten's (knee) cloud looming over the collective usage rate of the entire team, don't go dropping someone with long-term appeal. The Sixers don't play again until Wednesday, Wroten's presumed return date. If coach Brown decides to bring Wroten off the bench alongside Covington, expect a spiral in shot attempts because Wroten eats possessions the way Pac-Man eats yellow dots.

Rasual Butler, WAS: (watch list); FAAB: $0
The Wizards waived Drew Gooden and plan on limiting Nene Hilario to 16-18 minutes per game for a while. While they don't play the same position, Butler has averaged 27 minutes per game over the last five games. Four of those games have been blowouts, allowing coach Randy Wittman to rest Paul Pierce. Butler is second in scoring at 16.2 points per game over that span, while converting 57 percent of his shots. It's uncharted territory for the 12-year veteran, but playing alongside John Wall, the preeminent open three-point creator, has allowed Butler to shoot a career-high 53 percent from downtown, almost 20 percent clear of his career-mark. Trevor Ariza went through a similar resurgence last season. Butler's emergence is important because it appears he's leapfrogged Otto Porter in the rotation, but then again, the blowout nature of the Wizards' recent games could explain the disparity. Glancing at the upcoming schedule, the Wizards face the Celtics. Magic, Clippers, and Jazz. It's one of the better opponent amalgamations this week.

Other to consider: K.J. McDaniels is owned in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 32.7 percent of ESPN leagues. Don't ask me why. [Editor's note: As J.J. touches on, McDaniels should be owned in all standard leagues right now. The only reason not to pick him up is if your team is stacked to the point you don't have anyone you can drop.]

Power Forward

Boris Diaw, SAS: (deep league consideration); FAAB: $2
He's not a guy you want to own. Nevertheless, games against the Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, and Nuggets this week are why you should reconsider. Even though he looks like he's playing himself back into game shape, he's one of three Spurs who have played in all 20 games this season. While I can't guarantee that trend continues, the scheduled opponents yield enough tantalizing appeal to use him in deep leagues. He'll combine quality percentages with just enough points, rebounds, and assists to quench your thirst. Tiago Splitter (right calf) could make his return this week, submarining Matt Bonner's value in the process.

James Johnson, TOR: (deep league consideration); FAAB: $2
Power forwards were thin this week, and Johnson is still not owned in enough leagues. Everyone waiting for a huge scoring explosion to add him shouldn't hold their breath. He provides just enough across the board to warrant ownership in most leagues. You have to remember that he's still getting over the ankle injury that sidelined him nine days in the middle of November. His versatility allows coach Dwane Casey to play him at power forward most nights and center when Jonas Valanciunas doesn't fit the matchup requirements.

Others to consider: Donatas Motiejunas was shyly recommended last week. With the news that Kostas Papanikolaou (sprained knee) could miss 10-15 days (3-7 games), surely Motiejunas' minutes will hold, even when Dwight Howard returns. Conversely, the Rockets only play three games this week and next week, so weekly leaguers may want to look elsewhere.

Center

Ed Davis, LAL: (preemptive standard league acceptance); FAAB: $10 (only if he overtakes the starting job Sunday)
Coach Byron Scott is ready to shuffle up the starting lineup. In the Lakers' previous game, Davis played 28 minutes to Carlos Boozer's 18 minutes. While not definitive, I believe Davis replaces Boozer soon. In 22 minutes per game, Davis leads the Lakers with 1.3 blocks per game and 64 percent accuracy from the field. Two seasons ago, he averaged 13.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting nearly 55 percent from the field during his final month with the Raptors before being traded in the Rudy Gay deal. In Memphis, Davis became a member of the witness protection program, averaging 15 minutes per game over a season and a half. I believe the best part of his situation that no one mentions was the apprenticeship going up against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in practice. How does one not get better facing those two on a daily basis? It has to be one of the best internships for an aspiring NBA center. Davis will drain your free-throw percentage (career 58 percent), so tread lightly in rotisserie leagues.

Rudy Gobert, UTA: (watch list and deeper league single category specialist); FAAB: $0
Gobert is averaging 1.5 blocks per game in 16 minutes per game off the bench. That may not sound like much, but it's tied for 17th in the NBA with the likes of Joakim Noah and DeMarcus Cousins. Even in limited run, Gobert is grabbing five rebounds per contest and shooting 59 percent from the field. The limitations in his offensive game and playing time remove him from standard league relevance, so only add him with the goal of boosting your blocks for a one-week matchup.

Kyle O'Quinn, ORL: (watch list and deeper leagues); FAAB: $1
I suggested keeping an eye on Kyle O'Quinn two weeks ago. Nikola Vucevic's lower back sprain vaulted O'Quinn into the starting lineup, where he's producing top 80 per-game value. The boost is clearly not minutes derived since he's only playing 18 minutes per game in those four starts. It's a nice silver lining, however, since that is the amount of time you'd expect him to play when Vucevic returns, edging closer to 20 minutes per game as the season progresses. Opposing bigs are still afraid to venture out on O'Quinn, who claims a solid mid-range game. The cushion also allows him to display his passing skills. The Magic don't play until Wednesday, affording Vucevic sufficient recovery time. Add on top of that the three games for the Magic this week and O'Quinn becomes a soft add in most cases.

Others to consider: Tyler Zeller had a career game against a porous Lakers' defense Friday. Since he's still in the starting lineup and will get to face his brother, Cody Zeller, and the Hornets later this week, consider him a flier for the time being. However, I find it's best to zig whenever Bradley Stevens zags. [Editor's note: Stevens lauded Tyler Zeller for his physicality and how he plays with Rajon Rondo on the pick-and-roll. Zeller's continued growth over the last two seasons also points to his production not being a complete fluke. If Zeller shows up well in Sunday's game against the Wizards and plays 28+ minutes in regulation time, he becomes a must-add flier for at least this week and is worth a minimum of a $4 FAAB bid.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J.J. Calle
J.J. Calle is a fantasy basketball prognosticator with mesmerizing hair who also aggregates obscure stats. Allegiances reside with the New York Knicks, New York Mets, Houston Texans, Penn State Nittany Lions, St. John's Red Storm, and Gael Monfils.
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