Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball 2013-14: In The Bonus – Waiver Targets Week 6 – Hand Down, Man Down

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

You’re here because you love fantasy hoops and you’re a waiver wire scavenger, always looking for the next breakthrough guy off the wire. As wire hunters, we look for two things: upside/potential—which normally coincides with younger players—and far more importantly, opportunity. A player can have all the potential in the world, but if he’s not given the minutes in the game, that upside is useless to your fantasy team.

Opportunity most often times comes from a coach giving a player a shot, easing them into more minutes or just throwing them into a bigger role to see how they adapt to the challenge. Players can also get unexpected chances due to injuries to those above them on the depth chart. Lately, that has been the case for several teams as big names have unfortunately suffered injuries. The upside of course, is that this opens the door for backups to produce stats in their absence and possibly earn a better role when the injured player returns.

The best player to hit the rack recently, Anthony Davis, was a late first or early second round pick for many teams, and was returning top-of-the-first-round production. Anytime a player does enough to even question if they should be taken ahead of LeBron James or Kevin Durant, you know they’re putting up beyond super elite stats. As ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted this past week, Davis was on pace to be the first player to post averages of or above 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks since Shaq in his prime. I won’t delve into the amazing season AD was off to because you can already read plenty of deserved gushing over him in Adam Ganeles’ Anthony Davis injury piece here at The Fix. Davis hurt his hand on a failed alley-oop attempt which looked like nothing but sadly will sideline him 4-6 weeks. His numbers aren’t replaceable but we will look into decent patch job players to keep you afloat until he returns.

Hand injuries have become a trend in the NBA lately, as AD was just one of the several that recently happened. J.J. Redick also hits the bench due to a fractured hand and a torn UCL in his elbow. Redick was a fantastic value for his owners to start the year. He was fitting in perfectly in the Clippers offense and was putting up some really good stats especially considering where he was drafted. He’ll be missing 6-8 weeks despite not having to have any surgery to his hand or elbow. Paul Pierce joined the HANDicapped club as he like Anthony Davis has a non-displaced fracture in his hand. He’ll only be missing 2-4 weeks and much like his team, the Nets, he was off to a slow start to the season. Lastly, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also suffered a hand injury, his a fractured left hand. MKG will miss 4-6 weeks due to the injury although he started the season well he since has really cooled off and not really been worth rostering in normal size leagues. Despite MKG’s lack of production, he was playing more than twenty minutes a game and that will be given to other players who can benefit with the added minutes until MKG returns.

Let’s look at some players benefiting from their current opportunities that may be worth grabbing in your leagues:

Tony Allen (Owned in 12.1% of leagues) – Tony is not your usual fantasy target, but the guy is worth owning in most leagues because of his expertise. He’s an absolute monster in steals averaging 2.3 steals on the season and 3.2 the last two weeks. What’s more impressive is he does it in just around 26.5 minutes per night. That’s his only stellar category help but he’s a modest 12.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.5 blocks a night. Allen is for sure worth owning in roto leagues and 12+ team leagues.

Brandon Bass (22.8%) – When Bass played in Orlando my friends and I called him “the black hole” because every time he got the ball he was making a move and shooting it. He’s matured a lot as a player since then and is a fine fantasy option in most leagues. Bass is the definition of a “you know what you get” player when added to your team. He’s a sure 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and good percentages big man, and there’s nothing wrong with those numbers at all. Just don’t think there’s any upside there but neither a downside as long as he’s healthy.

Jason Smith (7.0%) – As seen in the above posted link to my colleague’s article, Smith is a pick n pop machine and benefiting nicely while Anthony Davis is out. He’s played 35+ minutes in each game since Davis has been injured and put up sufficient points, boards plus a block in those games. Smith is likely more of a stream use guy unless in a deeper 12-team league or bigger. You can do a lot worse than adding Smith if you need help in the big man categories for a brief stint.

Al-Farouq Aminu (3.8%) – Another that was mentioned in Adam’s above posted link and worthy of further discussion. Aminu could be the biggest beneficiary of the Davis injury in New Orleans besides the guys who were already 100% owned on the team (Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.) Since the Davis injury, Aminu has been playing close to ten minutes more per game and filling up the stat sheet. He’s been rebounding and scoring quite well with three steals in each game. Keep a real close eye on him as he may be a great add for the month or so Davis misses. (Update: As I was putting the finishing touches on this piece on Friday night, Tyreke Evans suffered a re-sprained ankle. If Tyreke has to miss time it’d be an even bigger boost for Aminu.)

Taj Gibson (29.2%) – I’m not sure what’s gotten into Taj lately but he has manned up. He’s scored over eighteen points in four straight games despite playing his same mid-twenty minutes a game besides one night of 3OT ball where he received forty-four minutes. His rebounds have still been up and down but he’s been an aggressive beast on the offensive end. His blocks have always been solid and should stay that way. He should continue to see solid minutes and if Boozer or Noah happened to get injured at any point he’d be an absolute must add monster in any format.

Alec Burks (12.5%) – Burks has been a bit inconsistent to start the season but he’s been quality the last five games. He has really played well since Trey Burke has joined the Jazz and started playing big minutes. Burks has really benefit from not getting as much defensive pressure with now both Burke and Hayward beside him. The last five games he has averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and one three, which is worthy of owning in most leagues if he stays hot. Brandon Rush is easing back into the Jazz rotation so how their minutes are split is something to monitor as well.

Lastly, watch what the Nets, Clippers and Bobcats do with their SG/SF rotations because of the Pierce, Redick and MKG injuries. The Nets likely will stick with Alan Anderson who probably wont garner attention except in deep leagues. The Bobcats are starting Jeff Taylor in MKG’s spot and he had a nice line on Friday night, but I wouldn’t race to add him just yet. The Clippers are spreading Redick’s minutes so widely that it’s tough to pinpoint who is worthy of adding. Willie Green is starting but not putting up relevant numbers, Jamal Crawford has been the best but is likely owned in most leagues, Darren Collison is seeing a boost but very unpredictable and Reggie Bullock seems to be just a three point specialist with little upside at this time.

All percentages were gathered from ESPN.com

You can follow me on Twitter @BigZack44 for my fantasy basketball analysis and/or ask any questions you may have.

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