The All-Star break is looming, and the fantasy implications are different depending on the kind of league you play in. Most leagues have a short week, with games only being played from Monday to Thursday. In such a situation, effective streaming and maximizing games played during a short slate could be the difference between a win and a loss in a crucial week leading up to the fantasy playoffs.
On the other hand, if you’re in a league that combines weeks 16 and 17, getting a jump on your waiver wire early could prove to be a savvy move. The lull in fantasy games from Friday to Monday could give other owners more time to research and carefully select their adds and drops. If you move now, you could beat them to the punch.
Regardless of the situation, streaming early and often is the name of the game this week. Let’s cut the jibber jabber and get down to business so you can properly pick your wire clean. It’s an add-heavy edition, with a few point guards to buy and sell thrown in for good measure. Let the transacting begin!
Add Jared Sullinger
Back in Volume 4, I wrote about how Jared Sullinger was beginning to emerge as an excellent fantasy option. Since then, he has battled minor injuries, inconsistent performances, and about 50 other Celtics big men for minutes.
Ok, I exaggerated that last part, but I’ve recommended or thought about recommending four other Celtics bigs this season, so Sullinger has not had the easiest road to being a dependable option. If you’ve dropped him at any point in frustration, I’d have a hard time faulting you, but I still believe that Sullinger is a rest-of-the-season option that should be owned in all standard leagues.
There’s no better evidence for that idea than his recent five-game explosion. He has double-doubled in every game, averaging an absurd 21.2 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 0.8 three-pointers, while shooting .489 from the floor and .889 from the line. That’s good enough for first-round value over that time and it has his late-round value on the season heading in the right direction.
He’s susceptible to the occasional dud, but he has big-game potential that shouldn’t be on any waiver wires. Pick him up if you’re in one of the 40 percent of leagues where he’s available.
Add Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams has been in the Jazz’s starting lineup for the better part of the season, but has rarely been looked at as more than a plug-and-play option for players in need of a three-point surge.
Over the last five games, however, Williams has cemented his bid for must-own status. Over that time, he has averaged 18.4 points, 2.6 threes, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, and a mere 0.2 turnovers per game, while shooting the lights out to the tune of .507 from the field, .448 from deep, and .786 from the line.
That sterling 9-category line makes him a second-round value over that time and has only further reinforced his surprisingly quiet mid-round value on the season. He’s still only owned in 20 percent of the leagues out there, which is insanely low for someone playing at his level. Stop overthinking it and get him in your lineup.
Add Khris Middleton
It’s no secret that the Bucks rotations have been a mess this year and I’ve complained about that fact more times than I care to count. I’ve spent the last two weeks telling you to drop O.J. Mayo (Volume 13) and to sell Ersan Ilyasova (Volume 14), but I’m going to turn around and be more positive this week.
Khris Middleton is playing incredibly well and deserves to be owned in all standard leagues until Larry Drew inevitably screws it up again. Middleton has been one of the rare bright spots for the league’s worst team this year, but has inexplicably been relegated to the bench every time he has picked up momentum.
I recommended him in Volume 6, with the caveat that his minutes could change and predictably they did. With the run he’s on right now though, not even the biggest tanking supporters could get behind yanking Middleton again.
He has scored in double-digits in ten straight games, while starting in the last seven contests. Over his last three matches, in particular, he has gone absolutely bonkers, posting averages of 21.3 points, 4.3 three-pointers, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.0 steal per game, while shooting an otherworldly .535 from the field, .684 from deep, and 1.000 from the line.
That predictably makes him a first-round value over the last week and makes him a must-own in all but the shallowest of leagues until further notice. It’s probably only a matter of time before Drew screws this kid’s roll up again, but the Bucks are severely banged up and there are fewer more trustworthy options on this roster than Middleton while that’s the case. Add him and pray for mercy from his coach.
Buy Brandon Jennings
From a current Buck to a former Buck, Brandon Jennings is playing like an absolute beast lately. He has always flashed big-time potential and has long been a fantasy staple since putting up 55 points in just his seventh NBA game back in 2009. He has been a serious scoring threat ever since, but has had his sky-high fantasy potential capped by low shooting percentages and a high turnover rate.
This season, his first on the Pistons, has been no different in that regard. His .382 shooting percentage from the field is his lowest since his rookie year and his 3.1 turnovers per game and 15.0 turnover percentage are career worsts. If you ignore those shortcomings, however, his 17.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 2.0 threes per game are certainly enticing.
His current nine-game tear is serving as an important juncture in his season. Over that period, he has averaged 25.1 points, 2.9 treys, 3.4 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.4 blocks, while shooting an improved .424 from the field, .371 from downtown, and .800 from the line. The shooting percentage still isn’t great and the 3.1 turnovers per game over that time is right on his season average, but the elevated numbers have still taken him from being a respectable mid-round value on the season and made him a top-15 option over the last few weeks.
Some might look at this as the ultimate sell-high moment, but he can make for an interesting buy candidate if an owner in your league is looking to do just that. Don’t expect his issues to be resolved overnight, but his positives might outweigh the negatives if you can take the hit in those weaker areas. The elite scoring, assists, steals, and threes are likely here to stay and the especially bad season-long shooting and turnover issues look to be returning to the more tolerable mean.
With Mo Cheeks being the first NBA coach fired this season, there are adjustments coming in Detroit. Don’t expect a reduced role for Jennings to be one of them, but there’s always the chance that a new voice could connect with this interesting cast of characters and help Jennings to improve his passing and shooting decisions. It might be worth the risk of buying him to see if that’s the case.
Buy Michael Carter-Williams
Way, way back when A Dozen Dimes was in its infancy, my first recommendation in Volume 1 was to pick up Michael Carter-Williams. He had a debut for the ages and seemed worth the flier at the time to see if he could keep it up. He had his doubters, but he responded with inspired play over his first seven or so games as a pro.
What happened then was a series of unfortunate injuries that had him in and out of the lineup. Initial concerns about MCW’s game had more to do with his poor shooting percentages and high turnover rate, but the possibility of a proneness to injury began sinking his perceived value even lower.
We’re now officially at a point where MCW appears to have hit the proverbial rookie wall. He has been well outside of standard-league value for a month, despite playing in all but one game since his return from a skin infection on December 20th. The problem, as expected, has been his shooting percentages and turnovers.
Over his last ten games in particular, MCW has not once shot over .500 from the floor. Over that period, he has averaged 15.2 points, 1.1 three-pointers, 4.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 block per game. An excellent line on the surface, but the accompanying 4.0 turnovers per game and shooting split of .331 from the field, .324 from deep, and .719 from the line drag his value way down into the basement.
If you’ve been targeting MCW in a trade, now is the best time to buy low and get it done. His value has hit rock bottom and there’s basically nowhere left to go but up. He was flashing early-round value to start the season and one has to believe that he can reclaim that at some point. He contributes so many counting stats that he’s worth the off shooting nights and turnovers. The Sixers have nothing left to accomplish this season but to develop their young core, so expect plenty of MCW every game.
Add Patty Mills
Patty Mills’ minutes have been far too inconsistent this season for him to be on fantasy radars outside of deep leagues, but injuries to Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and now Marco Belinelli have opened up floor time and touches for the Australian guard.
Over the last three games, Mills has enjoyed a huge boom in production. He’s still coming off the bench, but has averaged 23.7 points, 3.3 threes, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steal, and only 1.0 turnover in a mere 23.0 minutes per game, while shooting .575 from the field, .476 from deep, and .938 from the line.
In his last game, he carried the Spurs to victory on the strength of a career-high 32 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, while shooting 10 of 13 from the field, 4 of 5 from deep, and 8 of 9 from the line.
Leaving him on waiver wires at this point would be downright silly. He’s been a sneaky-good value on the Spurs this year, placing 28th on our NBA Player Rankings with a nERD of 5.5. The Spurs might have no choice but to continue feeding him the ball and relying on his effectiveness while their main rotation guys are out. Pick him up and ride the wave until the bottom falls out or the regular guys return.
Drop Darren Collison
Darren Collison was a great fantasy player to own while Chris Paul was out of service with a dislocated shoulder. Collison put up mid-round value over the month or so that he started, but is now officially safe to drop with CP3 back in the lineup.
Don’t let Collison’s 12-2-5 line from Sunday night fool you, as that game was basically garbage time for the final three quarters. The 25-plus minutes he received is probably not indicative of what he’ll get on any given night from here on out.
He wasn’t really on any fantasy radars before the injury and he’s not likely to stay on them now that he’s just another cog in the Clippers rather deep guard rotation. He filled in admirably while CP3 was out, but the fun stops here. Move on to the next hot free agent.
Sell Ricky Rubio
The Minnesota Timberwolves have spent the better part of the last few years thinking about what they could accomplish if their whole team could stay healthy. They were on their way to finding out this year, but in the last few weeks they’ve lost their three leading scorers to injury.
With Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, and Nikola Pekovic all indisposed at the moment, Ricky Rubio has had no choice but to step up. Over his last three games, he has averaged 18.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 three-pointers.
While the scoring makes that line look deceptively good (it’s nearly a 10-point increase over his 8.9 season scoring average), the steals are way down from his league-leading 2.5 per game, and the .415 shooting from the field and 3.3 turnovers per contest make what seems to be improved play actually fall in borderline late-round value territory.
He’s still a mid-round value on the season though, anchored almost entirely by the aforementioned elite steal numbers and the league’s fifth best assists per game average (8.2). On the negative side, his field goal percentage of .360 on the year is about as bad as it gets and the low scoring average and threes per game (0.6) make owning him a pretty big pain in the neck.
If you’ve been interested in moving him, the uptick he should see in shots and scoring over the next little while might be what you need to get the deal done. Losing the steals and assists might be tough, but it’s basically all he has to offer fantasy owners. You might be better served with a more well-rounded player that can help you in more categories than he hurts you in. The fact that Jennings and MCW are buy options and Rubio is a sell is because Rubio helps you in so few categories compared to the others. Now is probably the best chance you’re going to get all season to move him, so don’t hesitate to do it if that’s part of your plan.
Add Corey Brewer
While we’re talking about the injury woes of the T’Wolves, a couple of players have emerged as beneficiaries of the added playing time and touches. One such player is Corey Brewer.
Brewer was already clocking in as a late-round value this season as a starter, but the added touches he looks to be in line to receive with Martin out indefinitely should have that value increasing. Over his last two games, Brewer has averaged 21.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.0 steal, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 threes, and only 1.0 turnover, while shooting .515 from the field, .333 from behind the arc, and .700 from the line.
The peripherals are nothing special, but efficient scoring and extra rebounding from the guard position have been nice. Even with Love’s return right around the corner, Brewer has a decent chance to maintain this value as he tries to alleviate some of the scoring void left by Martin and Pekovic. Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger represent other decent wings to keep an eye on, but Brewer gets the nod for his already-decent value and rest-of-season upside. Give him a whirl.
Add Ronny Turiaf
Speaking of Pekovic, Ronny Turiaf has been the main fantasy beneficiary of the Big Montenegrin’s absence from the lineup. Turiaf has played big minutes in the last eight games and started the last seven.
In those eight games, Turiaf has averaged 6.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.1 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game, while shooting an incredible .639 from the field. The low scoring and a bad free-throw percentage (.545) certainly hamper his value, but that’s not enough to condemn him to the waiver wire entirely.
Turiaf’s mid-round value over these last two weeks could be a welcome addition to any team in need of rebounds, blocks, or a better shooting percentage. Owners with those needs should pick up Turiaf and ride him until Pek returns. The blocks alone could swing a matchup in this short week.
Add Kyle Singler
It’s hard to predict what the Pistons rotation will look like over the next little while, but Kyle Singler has been coming on as of late, highlighted by a recent three-game stint in the starting lineup.
Over the last six games, Singler has posted mid-round value on the strength of averages of 11.8 points, 1.8 threes, 4.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks in a healthy 34.7 minutes per game, while shooting a respectable .462 from the field, .524 from deep, and .750 from the stripe over that time.
He might not keep this pace going, but for now he’s well worth a look in standard leagues to see if he keeps it up. If he doesn’t, don’t be afraid to drop him for someone else in this column.
Hold Kendall Marshall / Ignore Steve Nash / Add Steve Blake, Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson / Drop Sanity
The Lakers’ fantasy situation is and has been a hot mess all season. I personally have not and will not own a single Laker all year and I’m not sure how any of you maintain sanity while trying to keep up with who’s worth owning and who’s not on this team.
That said, the heading above should tell you everything you need to know about the current situation in Lakerland. The Lakers have accumulated so many injuries over the last little while, they were down to just eight healthy bodies this past Wednesday against the Cavs. A series of injuries and foul outs in that game even led to the rare situation where a fouled-out player had to re-enter the game.
Anyways, I have a few rapid fire takes on the scraps that are left.
Kendall Marshall initially looked to be an obvious drop with Steve Nash and Steve Blake returning. It turns out that Mike D’Antoni is not opposed to playing all three at the same time and there’s a chance that they will all do things that'll make them worth keeping, just in case you're a sucker for punishment.
For what it’s worth, I’d take Blake (flashes of early-season, mid-round form), Marshall (still dishing lots of assists in limited minutes), and Nash (officially 40, hurt again) in that order. I’d personally avoid Nash altogether, but that’s just me.
Upfront is also a mess, where you could have Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, or Ryan Kelly go off on any given day. It was most recently Kaman on Sunday with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks, so he gets the nod for now. I’d comfortably bet everything I hold dear that it won’t stay that way for long though.
Wesley Johnson is a small bright spot this season, posting mid-round value on the year. He has done this by being the only player in the NBA managing to put up at least one block, one steal, and one three-pointer per game. He’s being given even more touches with all the injuries and is flirting with early-round value over the last two weeks. I'll admit begrudgingly that he's actually a pretty excellent pickup right now as a diamond hidden under a rather vast mountain of coal.
Everyone else? Meh. The remaining healthy players on the roster are deep league fodder and whoever you want to stash out of the injured guys is your call at this point.
I'm just about ready to wave the white flag on blurbing this Lakers season. Good luck with all that.