2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Waiver Wire Fix — Week 11
Welcome to the week 11 Waiver Wire Fix. Be sure to check back here every week for the duration of the fantasy hoops season for more wire targets. I’ve begun breaking the column down according to player types. This should help you find the player that best fits your team’s specific needs. There will be different categories every week, so I hope you enjoy the new format. If you’re not sure if you should drop a certain player from your team for one of these targets, then shoot me a tweet and I’ll give my two cents.
I only discuss players that are owned in less that 51% of ESPN leagues. I also won’t repeat players that I’ve mentioned in a previous column unless it’s absolutely needed because they’ve leaped into an even better opportunity. This all said, if any of these players are available in your league you should grab/consider them: Mason Plumlee (owned in 52% of ESPN leagues), Trey Burke (49%), Shabazz Muhammad (46%), Nerlens Noel (44%), Louis Williams (43%), Jarrett Jack (41% – MUST OWN while Deron Williams is out), Manu Ginobili (40%), Robert Covington (38%), George Hill (35% – stash him), DeMarre Carroll (34%), Enes Kanter (33%), Kelly Olynyk (29%), Timofey Mozgov (26%), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (25%), Jusuf Nurkic (23%), Mo Williams (20%), Elfrid Payton (18%), Khris Middleton (14%), C.J. Miles (12%) and Wesley Johnson (8%).
Let’s get to this week’s wire targets.
Monsters in the paint:
Rudy Gobert (28%) – Guys, this goes beyond my admitted man-crush on Gobert and his unbelievably high upside. It’s not just because in the Fix Round Table Predictions column before the season I made a bold prediction stating “Rudy GOBERT will not only be the starting center in Utah but will also be a top-60 player from January to season’s end.” Now I may not work as a psychic in my primary occupation but Enes Kanter did only play just one January game before he was injured sliding Gobert to the starting lineup. Since becoming the starter Gobert has made it pretty obvious that even when Kanter returns, he should continue to start with Kanter coming in off of the bench. It really only makes sense to have the better defensive fit starting and the better scorer playing with the second-team, which was needing a scoring boost.
There’s also still a reasonably good chance that the Jazz will trade Kanter at some point which would fully un-cage the Gobert. In the recent four games Gobert has started he has averaged 9.8 points, nine rebounds, one assist, 1.5 steals and 5.3(!!!!!) blocks while shooting 68% from the field. The one flaw in Rudy’s fantasy game–as is the case for many big men–is his free throw shooting where he’s shot 9/16 (56%) over that same span of starts. Rudy has had 2+ blocks in 23 times in 34 games, including 14 of the past 16 Jazz games. He needs to be owned everywhere if for no other reason than to carry your team in blocks, but his ceiling is uncapped if Kanter is dealt or anytime he’s sidelined. This is your last warning to add him now or forever hate yourself for putting it off.
Hassan Whiteside (17%) – When the Heat lost Josh McRoberts for the season it didn’t figure to have a bright side for the team, but after a couple of weeks Whiteside has emerged as a potential diamond found in the rough. Over the past seven games Hassan’s minutes have ticked up slowly and his production has risen right along with it. In the past five games the 25-year-old has seen at least 20 minutes of playing time and has posted an eye-catching line of 12.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 3.2 blocks and shot an absurd 72% from the field.
Maybe more impressive of the 7-foot shot blocker is he’s doing it without getting into foul trouble. In those five games he had two or less fouls in all but one where he had five against the Clippers. The game against the Clippers was his coming out party though, jumping his fantasy ownership from 6% to 17% overnight! Whiteside played a season-high 29 minutes in the games and went bananas to the tune of 23 points, 16 boards, two steals, two blocks and shot 10/13 (77%) from the field and 3/4 (75%) from the foul line. With only Chris Andersen and Justin Hamilton competing for minutes with him at center, there’s nothing stopping the assumption that he should begin to play at least 25 minutes every night with the potential for 30. You have to add the guy right now in all formats and hope that those assumptions are correct because if they are, there is huge fantasy upside here. Also, be sure to check Sam’s Box Score Browsing from last week where he also hit on some Whiteside notes.
Zaza Pachulia (19%) – Zaza has been excellent lately starting for the Bucks, averaging a double-double over the past nine games (11 points, 10 boards) and pitching in 2.6 dimes and 1.2 steals with really good percentages of 51% FG and 87% FT. He’s really asserted himself as a legit starter and deserving of big minutes even when Larry Sanders decides that he wants to play basketball again — can you imagine knowing all you have to do is show up for the next three years and you’ll make $11 million a year and being unsure you want to do that?? Only Larry. Anyways, for now Pachulia should be owned in basically all leagues especially 12-teamers and deeper.
Marcus Smart (7%) – Now is the time to grab Smart if you’re in need of guard stats and have an easy drop. Jeff Green has been dealt to Memphis from Boston and that frees up a big chunk of minutes in the Boston rotation. In the two games they held Jeff Green out this past week, Smart saw a 10 minute uptick in playing time. As he builds experience and confidence, the rookie point-guard can easily become a nice fantasy asset as the season goes on playing 30 minutes a night. In these past two games he went for 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and two threes. With Bradley being more of a shooting guard, Turner’s inefficiency and the Celtics wanting to develop their point guard of the future, there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll step in as a starter as he matures. Now is a good time to grab and stash him if possible because once he has a big game or gets a start, he’ll be snatched up quick-like.
Ersan Ilyasova (4%) – I’m generally not an Ersan fan, but he’s due back sometime in the next week or two and the Bucks are starting Johnny O’Bryant at power forward for God’s sake. Sova is always an injury concern and that on top of a crowded group of big men and lackluster play were reasons I wasn’t advising drafting him. Now though, with Sanders out and Jabari Parker out for the season, there’s room for Sova to get added PT. As unsexy as he was this season when healthy, a look back showed me that he was at least decently successful despite limited minutes. In the eight games before the game he was injured in, Ersan averaged 15.8 points, five rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.5 treys while shooting 56% from the field and 44% from three-point land and that was with just 21 minutes of playing time. When he returns now there should be at least enough room for him to bump up to 25 minutes a game and be a legit scoring SF/PF for the end of your fantasy bench.
Evan Turner (14%) – Speaking of Turner, if your team is punting FG% or low enough that you’re thinking “what’s another spot or two,” then you should be zoned in on Turner after the Celtics traded away Jeff Green. Over the Celtics last four games Turner has run a lot of point-forward for the team and while shooting a despicable 26% from the field for only six PPG, he’s at least chipped in nicely with 7.8 boards, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals. If you’re a solid team in FG%, steer clear because the way Turner is shooting (even at just 9 FGA per game), he could sink your team faster than the Titanic in the category. Now, can he possibly continue to shoot this poorly? It’s doubtful, but don’t expect him to become a plus-player in the category either. In the past three seasons Turner has shot 42% – 41% – 43% so the history of poor shooting is there and not going to change, ever. If he could keep up the other stats and get to over 40% at still around nine shots a night, then he’d become more sustainable on more than just FG% tanking teams.
Gerald Henderson (12%) – As long as Lance Stephenson is out of commission due to his hip injury, Henderson should remain a decent wing option for 12+ team league owners. Over his past nine games (all starts) the Duke Blue Devil has put up 14 points, 4.6 boards and four assists. Henderson doesn’t bring much else to the table besides 0.5 steals and blocks, plus his percentages aren’t harmful. If you’re just looking for a good end of bench winger you can go this route although I know he’s not exciting whatsoever.
For more fantasy hoops analysis and to have any questions you may have answered, follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44.