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NBA Waiver Wire: Working the Wire

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

When is a Replacement Not a Replacement?

Sometimes, injury replacements are easy to identify -- when news of Jameer Nelson's injury hit the wires, fantasy owners immediately started placing claims on Jason Williams. But sometimes, figuring out which player to grab requires more than a cursory glance at the ol' depth chart.

Consider the curious case of Wesley Matthews.

An undrafted rookie guard out of Marquette, Matthews scored 16 points -- and shot 3-of-4 from long range -- in his first NBA start, helping the Jazz top Philly, 112-90 on Friday night.

How did Matthews ascend from "guy unlikely to win a roster spot" to starter?

The Jazz played that game without C.J. Miles, Ronnie Price or Deron Williams. That pushed fellow rookie Eric Maynor into the starting role at the point, leaving coach Jerry Sloan with no one to distribute the ball when the second unit was on the floor. So Sloan shifted Andrei Kirilenko -- an adept passer from the wing -- to the bench, moved regular two guard Ronnie Brewer to small forward and suddenly found himself with an all-rookie starting backcourt.

The alignment worked well enough that Sloan is going to keep Matthews in the starting five -- at least until C.J. Miles and/or Kyle Korver are ready to play again. (Miles is expected back in early December, Korver mid-next month.)

That makes Matthews a pretty decent play for the next two weeks and possibly beyond.

The Most Added

The most popular adds in ESPN Leagues this week:

The most-dropped:

Picks for the Week

The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers. The third batch of players will be guys I've mentioned in previous columns that still seem to be available in a lot of leagues and worth a look.

All "percent owned" stats are taken from ESPN Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.

Standard Leagues:

Corey Maggette (37.9% owned) - After trading Stephen Jackson and losing Kelenna Azubuike and newly-acquired Raja Bell to potentially season-ending injuries and C.J. Miles to swine flu, the Warriors went into Tuesday's game with a league-minimum eight players in uniform. All of the Warriors' established players are going to have to step up at this point, and aside from Monta Ellis, Maggette is probably the best of the bunch. People are probably giving up too soon on Stephen Curry (41.4% owned) for the same reason.

Chris Douglas-Roberts (23.5% owned) - Finally back after a battle with the dreaded H1N1 virus, CDR is option 1a in New Jersey's offense -- at least until players like Devin Harris and Courtney Lee come back from injury. He scored 27 in Tuesday's loss to the Pacers.

Dahntay Jones (20.2% owned) - Jones arrived in Indiana as a defensive specialist, but he's been highly productive on the other end of late, scoring 17 or more in five of Indiana's last six games. His productivity may drop off when the Pacers get healthy, but who knows when that will be?

Jason Williams (3.1% owned) - As I mentioned above, interest in "White Chocolate" is high with the news that Jameer Nelson will miss four-to-six weeks after knee surgery. Even after missing all of last season due to premature retirement, Williams should be a good source of threes and assists.

Deep Leagues:

DeJuan Blair (4.9% owned) - Blair is leading all NBA rookies in boards and field-goal percentage... and he's going to get a tryout as the Spurs' starting center this week.

Vladimir Radmanovic (0.3% owned) - See Corey Maggette, above. Radmanovic was thrown into the starting lineup (over highly-touted Anthony Randolph, by the way) in his first game as a Warrior and finished with 11 points despite missing five of his six attempts from long range. Even Mikki Moore (0.1% owned) might be worth a look if you're desperate for frontcourt help -- he'll get extended minutes until Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf are healthy.

Marcus Thornton (0.2% owned) - One of the reasons given for Byron Scott's ouster in New Orleans was his hesitance to use young players like Thornton and Darren Collison. The rookie has averaged 14.6 points and 1.6 threes in three games since the coaching change.

Darren Collison (1.2% owned) - Speaking of Collison... obviously, there's no way to replace a player of Chris Paul's caliber. But Collison has been a credible fill-in so far, averaging 12.5 points and two steals per game in his last four.

Marco Belinelli (0.5% owned) - He's something of a specialist, but if you need threes you could do worse. He's scored in double-figures in three straight games, making three treys in each.

A Second Look:

Ty Lawson (18.7% owned) - but be wary of a minor calf injury

Toney Douglas (2.6% owned) - doesn't sound like the Knicks will sign Iverson... if you believe the New York Post, that is.

Brendan Haywood (40.2% owned) - Haywood's new contract drive is in full swing.

Article first appeared on 11/18/09