NBA Waiver Wire: Week 9 Look-Ahead

NBA Waiver Wire: Week 9 Look-Ahead

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

The waiver wire isn't quite as loaded as last week, but this is still a very good week to be making moves. Several players available in more than 60 percent of leagues have solid long-term potential, and we may be nearing the end of the Knicks rotation carousel. The other recommendations section at the bottom is a little shorter than usual, but the players mentioned are better than any week so far this season. The last name mentioned, Justise Winslow, is valuable enough that he would have received a blurb in a less plentiful waiver environment.

As for next week's schedule, there are a few quirks worth noticing. For weekly lineups leagues, it's a very balanced week: 16 teams play three games, 14 teams play four games, as even a split as possible. For daily lineups, however, Monday and Wednesday are the two busiest days of the week, and both of them feature 11 games. That's busy enough that most managers will be able to fill their starting lineups without needing their waiver pickup – therefore players whose games do not fall on Monday or Wednesday have added value.

The Spurs and Rockets are the only teams to have both days off, and they both play three games. The Raptors (off Monday), Clippers (off Wednesday), Lakers (off Wednesday) and Suns (off Wednesday) play four games during the week and are off on one of those two days.

The players below are listed in the order I'd recommend adding them.

The waiver wire isn't quite as loaded as last week, but this is still a very good week to be making moves. Several players available in more than 60 percent of leagues have solid long-term potential, and we may be nearing the end of the Knicks rotation carousel. The other recommendations section at the bottom is a little shorter than usual, but the players mentioned are better than any week so far this season. The last name mentioned, Justise Winslow, is valuable enough that he would have received a blurb in a less plentiful waiver environment.

As for next week's schedule, there are a few quirks worth noticing. For weekly lineups leagues, it's a very balanced week: 16 teams play three games, 14 teams play four games, as even a split as possible. For daily lineups, however, Monday and Wednesday are the two busiest days of the week, and both of them feature 11 games. That's busy enough that most managers will be able to fill their starting lineups without needing their waiver pickup – therefore players whose games do not fall on Monday or Wednesday have added value.

The Spurs and Rockets are the only teams to have both days off, and they both play three games. The Raptors (off Monday), Clippers (off Wednesday), Lakers (off Wednesday) and Suns (off Wednesday) play four games during the week and are off on one of those two days.

The players below are listed in the order I'd recommend adding them.

As always, this article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. That said, here are some good players who might still be available in your league, and are worth checking for:

Collin Sexton, Cavaliers (59 percent rostered)
Jordan Clarkson, Cavaliers (51 percent rostered)
Terrence Ross, Magic (55 percent rostered)
Jonathan Isaac, Magic (58 percent rostered)
Larry Nance, Cavaliers (60 percent rostered)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clippers (54 percent rostered)
Danny Green, Raptors (59 percent rostered)

The two Cavaliers' point guards are borderline must-adds in almost all formats, if available. One last name to look at is Elfrid Payton (finger) (51 percent rostered), who is just about half-way through the six-week timetable he was given in mid-November. Depending on league settings, some managers should start picking him back up. I'd recommend all seven of the above before the lesser-rostered players who I go into more depth on, below.

Bobby Portis, Bulls (36 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: Sac, at Orl, at SA
We still don't know when Portis (knee) will return from his early-season injury, but he was upgraded to doubtful for Friday, which is a sign that we're getting very close. We also don't have any idea how big Portis' role will be. In his three healthy games pre-injury he averaged 31.0 minutes and 12 field goal attempts, but that was when Lauri Markkanen was out and rookie Wendell Carter was playing a smaller role. This is very much a speculative pickup, though it comes with gigantic potential upside. Last season, his per-36 minutes averages were 21.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 threes and 1.1 steals. There's no chance he plays 36 minutes per game, but if he can maintain that pace – or improve upon it, he's only 23 years old – and his minutes load is in the high 20s, he'd be a great pickup. Teammate Kris Dunn (knee) (73 percent rostered) is probably a little farther from returning, but if he's available it's time to pick him up, too.

Emmanuel Mudiay, Knicks (30 percent rostered) and Noah Vonleh, Knicks (48 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at Cle, at Cha, at Ind
I went into depth on the Knicks last week. I don't know if the rotation they've used the last three games is the one they're going to settle on, but coach David Fizdale's preseason comments indicated that this was roughly the time when the Knicks would transition into one steady rotation – as opposed to the series of short-lived experiments they've cycled through so far. Mudiay has probably benefited from the absence of Trey Burke (knee) for all but one minute of those three games. Nonetheless, Mudiay and Vonleh have averaged 35.3 and 33.3 minutes, respectively, over that span. If that workload maintains, I'd expect both to have top-100 value going forward – and that might be underselling them.

Dwyane Wade, Heat (42 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at LAL, at Uta, at Mem, at NO
Wade was bad last year, we all know that. But what if it wasn't because he was washed up, but rather it was because he – like Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas – just couldn't escape that early-season Cavaliers' stink? Crowder is back to playing similar to his pre-Cavs self, why not Wade? Wade was a top-75 player in 2016-17. Obviously I'm not expecting a 36-year-old to show no signs of decline, but he can still be a valuable contributor. Since returning to the rotation after missing seven games for paternity leave, Wade is averaging 17.8 points, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 27.3 minutes.

Cedi Osman, Cavaliers (29 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at Mil, NY, Mil, Phi
E'Twaun Moore, Pelicans (49 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: at Bos, OKC, Mia
I'm grouping these two because I've spent way too much space talking about both already. They are good players in great situations. They've had their ups and downs this season, but they belong on rosters. Evan Fournier and Moore have had almost identical seasons so far – in terms of highs, lows, inconsistencies, overall averages and overall rankings. The similarity isn't quite as strong between Osman and Carmelo Anthony, but that pair has comparable numbers in most categories. Yet Fournier is rostered in nearly twice as many leagues, and Anthony is on the same number of rosters as Osman despite being placed on paid leave. The point I'm making is that Osman and Moore are available only because they lack that "name brand" appeal, even though they are as valuable – if not more valuable – as other players you're already holding onto.

Josh Jackson, Suns (36 percent rostered)
Next week's schedule: LAC, at SA, Dal, Min
The Suns have been dealing with a host of injuries recently, headlined by Devin Booker (hamstring) missing three of the last four games. T.J. Warren (ankle) missed all four. Due to the injuries, Jackson's workload increased to 30.3 minutes per game over those four games, and he delivered 12.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Overall, Jackson has been really disappointing this season, but as long as injuries are forcing him into a bigger role, his game is very Fantasy-friendly.

Other recommendations:JaMychal Green, Grizzlies (22 percent rostered); Kelly Olynyk, Heat (27 percent rostered); Allen Crabbe, Nets (42 percent rostered); Kelly Oubre, Wizards (43 percent rostered); Juancho Hernangomez, Nuggets (31 percent rostered); Justise Winslow, Heat (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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