NBA Waiver Wire: Week 22 Look-Ahead

NBA Waiver Wire: Week 22 Look-Ahead

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

We're starting to enter the home stretch. Only four-and-a-half weeks remain this season. Regardless of format, the time to focus on "overall value" has past, and managers need to focus on how waiver wire candidates might fit within their specific rosters.

Avery Bradley is one of my top pickups this week, but he's not useful for a team punting points and need of blocks. Luke Kennard is a fantastic pickup if you need three pointers, but otherwise you should probably pass. These are the weeks when championships are won and lost, so make sure you're not wasting valuable roster spots on incompatible players.

Schedule-wise, the Warriors and Grizzlies play only two games this week, while 10 teams play four games. That's the exact same breakdown as Week 21 (two teams with two games, 10 teams with four).

The teams that play four games are: the Nets, Cavaliers, Pistons, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, Kings, Jazz and Wizards. By day of the week, the schedule is very unusually balanced – every day has between six and eight games. This is a week where attentive managers can gain a big advantage from streaming.

As always, we'll focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. Players are listed in the order I'd recommend them, assuming all are equally good fits for your team.

Avery Bradley, Grizzlies (43 percent rostered)

Next week's schedule: at Atl, at Was

When the Grizzlies sent away Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack at the trade deadline,

We're starting to enter the home stretch. Only four-and-a-half weeks remain this season. Regardless of format, the time to focus on "overall value" has past, and managers need to focus on how waiver wire candidates might fit within their specific rosters.

Avery Bradley is one of my top pickups this week, but he's not useful for a team punting points and need of blocks. Luke Kennard is a fantastic pickup if you need three pointers, but otherwise you should probably pass. These are the weeks when championships are won and lost, so make sure you're not wasting valuable roster spots on incompatible players.

Schedule-wise, the Warriors and Grizzlies play only two games this week, while 10 teams play four games. That's the exact same breakdown as Week 21 (two teams with two games, 10 teams with four).

The teams that play four games are: the Nets, Cavaliers, Pistons, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, Kings, Jazz and Wizards. By day of the week, the schedule is very unusually balanced – every day has between six and eight games. This is a week where attentive managers can gain a big advantage from streaming.

As always, we'll focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. Players are listed in the order I'd recommend them, assuming all are equally good fits for your team.

Avery Bradley, Grizzlies (43 percent rostered)

Next week's schedule: at Atl, at Was

When the Grizzlies sent away Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack at the trade deadline, it was immediately clear that there was an opening in the Grizzlies' backcourt. Bradley didn't immediately claim that role – his first game was pretty disappointing – but it didn't take long before he started reminding managers of the guy who was a top-40 producer for most of the 2016-17 season. Since his second game as a Grizzly, he's averaging 18.1 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 threes in 32.4 minutes.

I know the whole introduction was about "make sure the player you're picking up works within your roster," but there are very few teams that wouldn't benefit from picking up Bradley. At this level of production, only playing two games is not a concern. He's shown this level of production in the past, and he's got the opportunity now. He should be almost universally rostered.

Luke Kennard, Pistons (32 percent rostered)

Next week's schedule: at Bkn, at Mia, LAL, Tor

The farther we get from the trade deadline, the more Kennard has asserted himself as the small forward to add in Detroit. Though Kennard is still coming off the bench behind recent signee Wayne Ellington, Kennard is playing more minutes, and he's doing more with his time. Since the Pistons traded away their top two small forwards, Kennard is averaging 15.5 points and 3.1 threes in 28.5 minutes per game. In an interesting wrinkle, Kennard has been so efficient from behind the arc (50.8 percent) that, until Wednesday, he had been shooting better from three than from two. Interesting trivialities aside, not only is Kennard a great source of threes and points, but he's also very helpful in field goal percentage.

Landry Shamet, Clippers (11 percent rostered)

Next week's schedule: Bos, Por, Chi, Bkn

Shamet was a part of the Clippers return packing in the 76ers deadline deal to acquire Tobias Harris. While Shamet's on-court play has attracted some attention this season, his box scores have shown little evidence of his increasing buzz – until last week. Last week, he posted 20 and 21 points in consecutive games. He's started the last eight for the Clippers, and he's averaging 28.8 minutes in that role, which is more than enough to become a fantasy contributor.

The rookie's current hot streak, averaging 17.7 points and 5.0 threes in 31.7 minutes over his last three games, may turn out to be just that – a hot streak. But rookies are more unpredictable than veterans, and sometimes their breakouts hit suddenly and forcefully without much warning. The safe bet is that Shamet's production cools off soon, but there is a legitimate chance that he can maintain some of this momentum through the finishing stretch.

Wesley Matthews, Pacers (37 percent rostered)

Next week's schedule: NYK, OKC, at Den

There's no "replacing" Victor Oladipo, but Matthews has come as close as anyone is going to this year. He's started every game since he joined the Pacers, averaging 32.6 minutes per game. After taking a few games to warm up and acculturate to his new settings, he became a key contributor. His areas of fantasy value are exactly the same as they've always been for the 11th year vet, but the Pacers have needed him to fill a bigger role that what he was recently doing in Dallas or New York. He's up to 14.5 points, 3.1 threes and 1.3 steals, with the usual spattering of rebounds and assists. If you're interested in Shamet, but want someone more reliable (albeit with a lower ceiling), then Matthews is your guy.

Other recommendations: Patrick Beverley, Clippers (48 percent rostered); Robin Lopez, Bulls (43 percent rostered); Frank Kaminsky, Hornets (12 percent rostered); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clippers (24 percent rostered); Damyean Dotson, Knicks (16 percent rostered); Noah Vonleh, Knicks (20 percent rostered); Allonzo Trier, Knicks (19 percent rostered); Jeff Green, Wizards (35 percent rostered); Bam Adebayo, Heat (31 percent rostered); Mikal Bridges, Suns (24 percent rostered); Joakim Noah, Grizzlies (31 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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