The past couple weeks have been almost unbelievable for the waiver wire. Of course we beat the Jeremy Lin horse to a bloody pulp and now the newest waiver-wire darling has stolen his thunder a little. 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas has been the 14th-best player in eight-cat leagues the past week and showed no signs of slowing down on Wednesday even though he got into some early foul trouble. Those of us that own him have to be loving life to grab another huge asset off the waiver wire. It’s slightly unusual to see a point guard get a start out of nowhere and keep it for the duration of the season, but it looks like Zeke Jr. and Lin have a great shot of doing just that.
Let’s get down to business on the next wave of guys. The following is a list of players that are available in 25 percent of ESPN leagues or have seen a recent piece of news about them that could help their value increase. They are listed based on how I’d value them. I’d also like to add that since the All-Star break has arrived, it doesn’t hurt at all to stash hurt players. Hey, nobody is playing, so that time off doesn’t hurt your team by stashing guys, especially for daily leagues. Hurt. Sorry, just though I'd say hurt once more (guess that's twice).
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for analysis of the waiver wire as thorough as this column.
Danilo Gallinari (DEN)- Gallo was flirting with top-10 production and was hastily cut in many leagues. Top 10 and in his prime. Think about that for a second. If Marc Gasol missed a month due to injury, would you cut him? No. Gallo should be owned across the board.
Drew Gooden (MIL)- Gooden owners were in quite a pickle and the Bucks are not exactly helping clarify the situation. He stated that he will play through his ligament injury and should be back next week. It’s pretty simple here, folks. He needs to be owned in all leagues. His February averages: 17.4 points, 6.9 boards, 0.8 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.5 3PM. He was also hitting 90 percent from the line at a 4.7-shot-per-game clip.
Bismack Biyombo (CHA)- Cadillac Bismack certainly isn’t a smooth ride these days with alternating good and bad games in his last five. It might not be fun, but nine points, 10 boards and six blocks in 33 minutes on Wednesday will make you want to call J.G. Wentworth to take out a loan to buy Cadillac Bismack. He has 15 blocks in his last three games and he is second in the league in blocks per 48 minutes (Ibaka, duh). Despite the rocky road, he has played in 27 MPG in his nine games. It doesn’t seem like it will be much longer until he logs 30 minutes on a regular basis. His blocking prowess is slightly offset by the ugly 42 percent from the line. Although only two of the top 13 shot blockers in the NBA have a FT% higher than 70 (Marc Gasol and Samuel Dalembert). He’s pretty close to a must-own guy at this point.
The rest after the jump:
James Johnson (TOR)- I was surprised to see that James Johnson’s ownership dropped all the way down to 13 percent. The Demon Deacon logged 40 minutes on Wednesday and turned in a line of 15 points, three boards, three blocks and a steal in the win. While it’s worth something that Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani are still out, Johnson logged 37 minutes in their last game as well. His defense gives him upside and we still don’t know when Bargnani is coming back to the lineup.
Jameer Nelson (ORL)- Nelson actually looks healthy and he’s surprisingly only owned in 60 percent of leagues. That number should be higher.
Carlos Delfino (MIL)- Delfino has been logging intense minutes in his last four games with 37.3 MPG in that span. The numbers haven’t exactly matched by shooting only 29 percent from the field in his last three games on the offensive end. As for the defensive side, Delfino has been a klepto with 3.0 SPG in his last three games. He will likely see a hit in minutes once Gooden comes back and the Bucks go a little bigger with their lineup, but the upside in threes and steals makes him a possible guy to grab until the minutes dip.
Arron Afflalo (DEN)- Afflalo is owned in a head-scratching 65.3 percent of leagues despite putting up top-60 numbers in the past two weeks. His last three games have been phenomenal with 22.3 PPG and 1.3 3PM in a Monta-like 41.6 MPG. Gallo and the possibility of Wilson Chandler joining him won’t bode well, but there’s no way a player getting that many minutes should be left on the wire in most formats. Kevin Love leads the league with 39.3 MPG.
Jordan Crawford (WAS)- If you had Jordan Crawford last year in the fantasy playoffs, chances are you fared pretty well. The former Hawk has caught fire lately over his last five games with these averages: 30.8 minutes, 21.2 points, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.8 3PM. What’s more Jo-Crawf has converted on 14.8 FGA 54.1 percent on the time. The Wizards have gone small and it’s clearly to his benefit since both he and Nick Young are logging minutes. Owners should be warned though that Andray Blatche could alter the rotation, which explains why I’m probably lower on Crawford than I should be.
Anderson Varejao (CLE)- OK, so this obviously depends on your league format and your position in the standings. Byron Scott did say that he expects Andy to return in second half of March. He was putting up top-50 numbers in most fantasy leagues and owners should be all over stashing him as the fantasy playoffs are less than a month away. Plan accordingly.
Andray Blatche (WAS)- Blatche was doing on-court work yesterday with the Wizards and it’s not really a stretch to think he could return next week. He was given the 3-to-5 week prognosis back on January 29th and after the All-Star break will put him in the higher half of that window. The Wizards were using him off the bench before he was befallen with the aforementioned calf injury, so it’s not like he’s a must-add guy. Trevor Booker has lost some momentum and Blatche, and his $6.4 million salary this year, should have some opportunity to get back most of his 29 MPG.
Gustavo Ayon (NOH)- Not to brag, but I’ve been talking about Gustavo Ayon for over a month and how he was a potent force for per-minute value. Wednesday was a huge notch on the ol’ belt for him with a career-high 17 boards in 33 minutes. This isn’t really anything new with an average of 9.7 RPG in his last six games. If we combined that with his 29.7 MPG in his last six, then we have all the makings of a fantasy asset. Furthermore, the two games where he played the least amount of minutes in that span, the Hornets lost (it doesn’t matter they were against OKC and IND!). The bottom line is Ayon has played great since being vaulted into the lineup. He’s worth owning until he proves otherwise.
Gerald Henderson (CHA)- Things have certainly changed since Gerald pulled him hamstring. Maggette has come back strong and the Bobcats have won just one game. For all we know he could return and stink it up, but he could be return to the useful nature of his 15-PPG self while playing 33.8 minutes. While the upside isn’t high since he doesn’t shoot the three much, he is currently leading the team in scoring.
Greivis Vasquez (NOH)- Vasquez keeps posting digits despite the disarray of the New Orleans rotation. GV has lit it up in February with an average line of 12.6 points, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 3PM in 31.7 MPG. One would figure it’s slightly doubtful that Vasquez could fend off Jack from the starting gig, there’s a good chance that he can find minutes off the bench at the one or the two. The fact of the matter is he has been useful in points, assists, threes and steals, so as long as he can hover around 27 MPG he should have value in most leagues.
Jerryd Bayless (TOR)- After playing just five minutes on Friday, the former Arizona Wildcat logged 20 minutes against the Pistons on Wednesday. His output was underwhelming to say the least with seven points, four assists, a block and a three. There are a couple ways to spin Bayless’ value: Calderon could be traded and Bayless would have supreme upside as the starting one, or how he was playing 30 MPG before going down to an ankle injury. He was also launching six three per game as well, so there’s upside.
Wilson Chandler (FA)- The Chandler situation is a mess and Sam Amick from SI reported that Chandler is entertaining the idea of sitting out. The added fun of the possibility of him going to Toronto is interesting since it would certainly give him a higher upside with less talent around him. He’s a decent guy to stash over the All-Star break since we will be getting plenty of information on this subject over the weekend.
Tristan Thompson (CLE)- A double-double in 16 minutes? Yup. The fourth pick in the draft had a his second dub-dub in three games despite a Biedrins-like 2-of-8 from the line. He also had four fouls, too. Thompson is definitely not a center and the absence of Andy Varejao isn’t going to help him with being a very consistent player, especially regarding fouls. If you’re expecting T-Squared to be a consistent player for you, then you’re in for some disappointment. However, the beauty of owning the Longhorn is for the trade deadline. The Cavs seem like they will deal Jamison and that would allow Thompson to play his more natural four position. Varejao should also be back around that time and Thompson should be able to gain some consistency.
DeJuan Blair (SA)- Blair matched his career high on Thursday with 28 points accompanied by 11 boards, two steals and a block in the easy win over Denver. Tiago Splitter could be out for next week and Blair might be a decent playe to lean on in weekly leagues. If he does tickle your fantasy, just remember that Splitter basically crippled his value and Blair doesn't have much value in terms of long-term upside.
Emeka Okafor (NO)- Okafor is a stash here. He should be back in the near future and might be able to start off on the right foot. For what it’s worth, The UConn product was averaging a line of 10, eight and a block in 29 MPG. He might not be able to attain those numbers with the quasi-emergence of Ayon (more below).
Ramon Sessions (CLE)- Sessions’ name has popped up quite a bit with trade rumors and I get quite a few questions on him as a stash candidate. Frankly, I really don’t get it. We’ve heard Miami and Los Angeles as two possible destinations. Could there be two worse places for his value as the starting point guard?
Tayshaun Prince (DET)- Prince is one of the most boring players to own in fantasy He had a nine-game span of not adding a single block or steal. How is that even possible? Well, he has improved a little bit and
J.J. Redick (ORL)- Jason Richardson has been hurt with an odd rib injury. While it’s not likely to keep him out after the break, Jaaaaay J is worth owning as one of the best handcuffs in fantasy basketball. Richardson has been held out in two different stints because of a knee and it might flare up on J-Rich at any time. Redick has made 3.7 from downtown over his last three and upped his league-league FT% to 96.0 percent.
Nikola Vucevic (PHI)- After a two-point disaster on Tuesday, the Trojan was one of the most interesting players on Wednesday with his 28 minutes yielding 18 points, eight boards, three blocks and a steal in the loss to Houston. While the game was a bold statement, it comes with a grain of salt because of Brand and Hawes being out due to injury. Vucevic has a nice fantasy ceiling since he has some three-point capability, not so much lately though, and is an adept shot blocker. Brand and Hawes should be back in short order, but a player coming off a game like this one should be watched very closely. Having said all of that, I must warn you that I was extremely high on Vucevic in the preseason and being right could be clouding my vision.
Kenneth Faried (DEN)- The Manimal has really picked up his game in the last six showings. For argument’s sake, let’s take out his one goose egg on Sunday, and look at his last five-of-six games: 13.0 points, 9.0 boards, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks in 25.6 minutes. Those are must-own numbers. Of course things are going to be very different once Nene comes back. Although, and I have stated this before, the Nuggets really don’t have a true four (besides Nene) on their roster that fits their system. Birdman, Mozgov and Kosta are a bit too sluggish for their league-leading pace. Unlike Speights (below), it wouldn’t be a total shock for Faried to maintain some form of value once the team is back to full health. I’d be willing to own him in some formats until he loses steam.
Marreese Speights (MEM)- If you need to win now, Speights should probably be in the top 10 of this list. He has been a revelation lately. His last five games he has posted 14.4 points, 9.0 boards and 1.0 blocks in 29.6 minutes. Why so low? Well, after the All-Star break Zach Randolph could be back very soon, possible just a week, and there’s no doubt that Speights’ value will be zapped.
Spencer Hawes (PHI)- Hawes is still dealing with two of the most troublesome ailments among basketball players with his Achilles and a back injury. Even the most optimistic Hawes owner should expect a sizeable drop in production upon his return. First off, the Sixers would be foolish to play him 30 MPG in an effort to lower the chances he aggravates the injury. Secondly, Vucevic should improve in his rookie season and could be a useful part of the rotation for them. Yeah, stash him if you want, but I would think of him more as trade bait.
Luke Ridnour (MIN)- Luke played the role of hero on Wednesday by hitting a buzzer-beating runner to give the Wolves the win. Since his one-game hiatus, his numbers have been more than serviceable with 33.6 MPG, 11.6 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.2 dimes, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks in those five games.
Mickael Pietrus (BOS)- The trade deadline is going to be hear before you know it and Pietrus is likely one of the most beneficial players to own if in fact Danny Ainge does move some guys. He has tons of upside for three-point shooting and he started at the four on Wednesday, oddly enough. In said start he flourished with 16 points, seven boards, a block and two threes in 44 minutes.
Ben Gordon (DET)- The Husky didn’t exactly put up husky numbers on Wednesday with only six points in 18 minutes. Lawrence Frank has yo-yoing him a bit, but he did have a nice 16-point game on Tuesday. Maybe it was because of the back-to-back factor in conjunction with him not quite 100 percent from the shoulder injury. He might come out of the break very hot. I could be wrong of course.
Nate Robinson (GSW)- Steph Curry got hurt yet again. The good news is that it isn’t one of his glass ankles and he says he doesn’t expect to miss time. Robinson picked up most of the slack for Curry by logging 32 minutes and dropping 14 on the Suns. Nate shoots the three a ton and even stole three last night. He’s worth owning in deeper leagues until Curry is officially in the lineup after the break.
Ekpe Udoh (GSW)- Udoh is another guy that I refuse to give up on because of his upside. He got the starting nod two games ago and dropped a career-high 19 while Biedrins missed the game with an illness. Udoh has been a +/- force for the Warriors and it feels like it would behoove Mark Jackson to get him in the lineup. Udoh is currently fifth in the league for blocks per 48 minutes and ranked 12th in blocks per game. There’s undeniable upside there and most owners seeking blocks should at least consider him until Jackson drops his minutes below 24 MPG.
Corey Brewer (DEN)- Brewer’s value will be trending down in no time because of Gallo’s imminent return. I threw him on here because many of you guys might have enjoyed the ride and to let you know which guys I’d rather own over him.
Steve Novak (NYK)- Novak has been numbing NY’s opponents with an high dose of 3.0 3PM in his last five outings. Pretty amazing stuff in just 21.8 MPG in that span. He might be a lower-class man’s Peja, but if he can sustain a 2.0 3PM pace, he’ll have some value in some deeper leagues. It does make basketball sense for D’Antoni to keep him on the floor for spacing since Lin’s game in predicated on making the defense collapse.
J.J. Barea (MIN)- Barea had a monster game on Wednesday with 22 points thanks largely due to his five treys on 26 minutes. It’s tough to project him having much value because of Luke Ridnour not really being a slouch and being blocked by Ricky Rubio at the one. If he does it again, then maybe you can consider adding him.
George Hill (IND)- Hill is expected to return right after the All-Star break. There have been some mixed signals coming out of Indiana as Vogel said Hill could challenge Darren Collison for the starting gig. However, things changed today and Hill is now expected to come off the bench again. So many point guards have become diamonds in the rough this year and Hill is at least a candidate to be one since Collison hasn’t been setting the world on fire.
Larry Sanders (MIL)- He stunk it up on Wednesday with 22 minutes, four points, two boards and two blocks. He has upside though and owners might want to keep an eye on him.
Josh Howard (UTA)- Josh Howard played well on Wednesday and could enter the starting lineup after the break. I’m not running to grab him with his oft-injured hamstring and high likelihood of his ACL flaring up on his knee.
Brandon Rush (GSW)- Rush is your surprising leader in 3P%. Lil’ Nate should pick up most of the slack in the event of Curry missing time, but Rush should also see a decent uptick. For what it’s worth, he really didn’t last night.
Daniel Gibson (CLE)- Boobie has played in 34 and 37 minutes in his two starts since returning from his ankle injury. Yeah, he has some upside with threes, but that’s about it. He has a lower upside and I’d rather take a chance on a guy that could blow up in the second half.
Leandro Barbosa (TOR)- The Blur made the most of his 21 minutes on Wednesday with a potent 17-point effort including a three to go with four dimes and two swipes. He’s far from reliable and even trying to attempt to analyze Casey’s rotation makes as much sense, well, nothing. It’s that bad. Barbosa has some upside and a Sixth Man of the Year trophy from 2007.
Francisco Garcia- He kinda went off last night. We’ve seen this movie before and it is a really, really short one.
Other deep guys:
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