NBA Waiver Wire: Post-Deadline Edition

NBA Waiver Wire: Post-Deadline Edition

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

Thursday closed one of the most thrilling trade deadline periods in recent memory. Literally dozens of players changed teams. And yet, somehow, not a ton of waiver wire prospects emerged.

Make no mistake – there were definitely some winners. But after a day when NBA twitter was afraid to go to the bathroom for fear of missing something, the list of fantasy winners is surprisingly small.

Nonetheless, stay tuned. The trade deadline passing marks the unofficial beginning of buyout season. Over the next couple weeks – and, in some cases, the next few days – we'll receive official word on where players like Wesley Matthews, Enes Kanter and Robin Lopez will finish the season. Some of those players could land places that provide a lot of value.

The NBA All-Star game is next weekend, which changes the schedule a bit. For head-to-head leagues, most host sites, including Yahoo, treat the weeks before and after the break as a single prolonged period. Over the course of the double-week, the Knicks play five games, while the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Jazz play only three.

Every team plays two games in the mini-week after the break, so the only differentiation comes next week – i.e., before the break, the Knicks play three games, while the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Jazz play once.

There are only three games on Thursday, so managers in daily lineups leagues can pick up some value by focusing on teams that are active on that day:

Thursday closed one of the most thrilling trade deadline periods in recent memory. Literally dozens of players changed teams. And yet, somehow, not a ton of waiver wire prospects emerged.

Make no mistake – there were definitely some winners. But after a day when NBA twitter was afraid to go to the bathroom for fear of missing something, the list of fantasy winners is surprisingly small.

Nonetheless, stay tuned. The trade deadline passing marks the unofficial beginning of buyout season. Over the next couple weeks – and, in some cases, the next few days – we'll receive official word on where players like Wesley Matthews, Enes Kanter and Robin Lopez will finish the season. Some of those players could land places that provide a lot of value.

The NBA All-Star game is next weekend, which changes the schedule a bit. For head-to-head leagues, most host sites, including Yahoo, treat the weeks before and after the break as a single prolonged period. Over the course of the double-week, the Knicks play five games, while the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Jazz play only three.

Every team plays two games in the mini-week after the break, so the only differentiation comes next week – i.e., before the break, the Knicks play three games, while the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Jazz play once.

There are only three games on Thursday, so managers in daily lineups leagues can pick up some value by focusing on teams that are active on that day: the Knicks, Thunder, Hornets, Magic, Hawks and Pelicans.

Ivica Zubac, Clippers (29 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at Min, Pho
Zubac appears to have finally landed himself a stable starting gig, making him the deadline's biggest waiver wire winner. Zubac plays better when he gets more minutes – something that's not true of a lot of players. Compare Zubac's per-36 averages below:

When he plays at least 27 minutes: 23.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
When he plays between 10 and 20 minutes: 17.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

Stepping into a stable starting job where he is likely to consistently play at least 25 minutes per night – if not closer to 30 – makes him a must-add in almost all settings.

Monte Morris, Nuggets (48 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: Mia, Sac
We've spent a lot of space on Morris in recent weeks, but he's still widely available. He's providing a ton of points and assists, and Gary Harris (groin) is still without a clear timeline to return. Morris should be added.

Tyler Johnson, Suns (37 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at LAC
After years of fighting through the crowded Heat depth chart, Johnson finally has a job of his own. After getting traded to the Suns, Johnson figures to be their primary point guard – a role which could come with a ton of minutes. That's the good news. The bad news is that while Johnson has shown a lot of "good", he's never approached "great", and his fantasy contributions have never been overly exciting. He's unlikely to provide a ton of value in any single category. Assuming he gets roughly 30 minutes per game, he'd be a decent source points, rebounds (for a point guard), assists and threes. He's worth picking up, but don't give up anything too valuable for him.

Jerryd Bayless, Timberwolves (18 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: LAC, Hou
Bayless' (toe) roster rate is in free-fall after he followed up Tuesday's bad game with an early-exit-due-to-injury on Thursday. His status for Friday is in question, and even more teams will drop him if his does not play. But Bayless has always been a guy who throws in the occasional stinker, so we shouldn't overreact to one bad game. He's a much better option than Isaiah Canaan (1 percent rostered) or Josh Okogie (2 percent rostered). We still have no useful information about the potential return dates for Jeff Teague (foot), Derrick Rose (ankle) or Tyus Jones (ankle) – and as long as they are sidelined, Bayless is worth starting.

Wesley Matthews, TBD/Pacers (24 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: Cha, Mil
The expectation is that Matthew will get bought out by the Knicks and join the Pacers, but that's not yet officially official – if it was official, I'd bump Matthews up this ranking, at least above Johnson. The Pacers would be a perfect landing spot for Matthews. He'd be rejoining his old coach, and stepping in for a team that still hasn't figured out a good way to replace Victor Oladipo (OK, so you're never going to "replace" a top-20 player with a buyout guy, but you know what I mean). Matthews is a three-point specialist, but he does enough elsewhere that he doesn't kill you in any one category.

Wayne Ellington, Pistons (8 percent rostered), Luke Kennard, Pistons (4 percent rostered) or Svi Mykhailiuk, Pistons (1 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: Was, at Bos
These are speculative pickups. Ellington is currently a free agent, expected to sign with the Pistons after clearing waivers. Kennard has not impressed through his first season-and-a-half, albeit in varying workloads. Mykhailiuk averaged only 10.8 minutes per game as a Laker. But the Pistons sent away both Reggie Bullock (to the Lakers) and Stanley Johnson (to the Pelicans), leaving a giant hole at small forward.

All three of Ellington, Kennard and Mykhailiuk are potential long-range sharpshooters, and one or the other is likely to end up with a large role going forward. Ellington is most likely to be the big winner here. He's struggled a bit this season, but he had multiple 15-game runs last season during which he averaged more than three threes per game on better than 40 percent from behind the arc.

Other recommendations: Kevin Huerter, Hawks (35 percent rostered); Collin Sexton, Cavaliers (40 percent rostered); Bryn Forbes, Spurs (22 percent rostered)

Positions to Watch

Following the trade deadline, here are three situations to monitor. It's not yet clear which players will benefit most, but they're each worth keeping an eye on.

Clippers backcourt: Patrick Beverley (37 percent rostered); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (32 percent rostered)

Grizzlies frontcourt: Ivan Rabb (27 percent rostered); Bruno Caboclo (1 percent rostered)

Grizzlies backcourt: Justin Holiday (43 percent rostered); Delon Wright (11 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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