Today marks the start of the fantasy playoffs for the majority of hoops leagues out there, so I can jump to the conclusion that if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably made it in. In which case, congratulations!
As mentioned last week, the time for buying and selling is over and this article will now focus on important waiver wire moves until the end of the season. I’ll try not to be repetitive, so always check the links to the previous one or two instalments, as the recommendations from those pieces are likely still valid (to a greater or lesser extent).
There are 13 teams that go four times this week, so give anyone playing for the Hawks, Nets, Bulls, Cavs, Mavs, Nuggets, Pacers, Heat, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Raps, or Wiz an upgrade based on maximal games played. Similarly, downgrade your Clippers guys for the measly two games that they play this week.
Theses adds are placed in relative order of importance, but things can change significantly based on your team’s needs in terms of positions and statistical categories. For more specific inquiries, don’t hesitate to hit the numberFire hoops writers up in our NBA Questions section or get me directly on Twitter.
Enough yappin’, let’s take a look at this week’s trends.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to admit that Jodie Meeks is a viable rest-of-season option and has been for some time. He has posted early-round value on the entire year, with averages of 15.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.2 threes per game, while shooting .457 from the floor and .853 from the line.
In the absence of Kobe Bryant, Meeks has been the most valuable Laker not named Pau Gasol. Over his last three games in particular, he has been a first-round value, scoring 25.3 points per game to go with 2.3 steals and 3.3 three-pointers. If you’re looking for those categories, Meeks makes for a great pickup and is still available in roughly 40 percent of the leagues out there. The three games this week is a bummer now, but the Lakers go four in each of the next two weeks and Meeks is a strong play over that time.
Danny Green’s season has been a bumpy ride, but he’s been coming on as of late, posting mid-round value over the past month. In that 12-game span, his averages of 12.0 points, 2.7 three-pointers, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game are well worth owning in much more than the 60 perfect of the leagues out there that he’s currently being deployed in. The shooting of .459 from the field and .923 from the line doesn’t hurt his case either.
He’s still prone to the occasional dud, but not many guards help you out as much as him in the rebounding and blocking department. On top of that, his three-point shooting is elite when he’s feeling it and he’s always a threat to steal the ball as well. The Spurs only play three games this week, but will play four in the two that follow. Considering how Pop likes to sit his older guys down the stretch and Green is only 26 years old, he should continue to see plenty of burn in the Spurs’ starting five the rest of the way and will be called upon even more whenever the elder statesmen sit.
Note: Green is scheduled for an MRI on a nagging wrist problem on Monday after suffering a bruised nerve in it last week. He has played through it so far, but the situation should still be monitored if he's part of your playoff plans.
While Russell Westbrook was missing time to let another knee surgery heal through January and a large chunk of February, Reggie Jackson filled in admirably as the starting point guard for the Thunder. Many thought his fantasy value was shot when Russ returned, but he has still managed to hold on to late-round value back in a sixth-man role.
Jackson’s 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.9 three-pointers per game in 35 contests from the bench this season are definitely worth a look, but he’ll become even more valuable with the news that Westbrook is likely to sit out at least one game of every back-to-back set from here on out. Westbrook sat on Sunday versus the Mavs for exactly that reason and the Thunder have five such sets left on the schedule. When you consider the fact that regular rest for stars tends to occur down the stretch for teams that have already locked up their divisions, five missed games for Russ seems like a minimum.
Keep in mind that Jackson was more of a mid-round fantasy value when starting in 31 games this season on the strength of 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 three-pointers per contest. He’s basically a late-round value with early-round upside that should be worth owning from here on out. There’s a back-to-back set in each of the three playoff weeks, meaning he should be good for at least one start per week, if not more.
Over the last two weeks, P.J. Tucker has unexpectedly been the most valuable fantasy player on the Suns, posting early-round value with 12.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 0.7 threes per game, while shooting .615 shooting from the field, .364 from long range, and .741 from the line.
With the Suns playing four games both this week and next, Tucker makes for an excellent pickup. He’s started all 65 games he’s played for the Suns this year, averaging a healthy 31.0 minutes per game. Over his last three games, he has averaged a ridiculous 4.0 steals per game and there’s little reason for him not to be owned right now.
The four-headed frontcourt monster of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, and Brandon Bass has been a little hard to read this season in Boston. All four have had their turn at being a relevant fantasy piece, but not one of them has exactly run away with either of the frontcourt positions.
Right now, despite the fact that you would think the lottery-bound Celtics would be developing youngsters Sullinger and Olynyk, it’s Humphries that’s leading the quartet in minutes over the last five games (26.9, all starts). In that time, he has been a mid-round play averaging 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting .604 from the field.
The Celtics only play three games this week, but they all take place in the next five days. Humphries makes for a great add today that could be streamed out for someone with a busier weekend come Saturday and Sunday. If you’re concerned about next week, one of the other guys may have emerged once again by then, so you shouldn’t feel bad about using and dropping the former Mr. Kardashian (no, he’ll never live that down).
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is about as hot as they come right now, averaging 23.3 points and 3.3 three-pointers per contest over his last three, while shooting a blistering .667 from the field, .556 from deep, and .800 from the charity stripe. He’s done this while averaging a healthy 30.8 minutes per game off the Knicks’ bench.
Hardaway has flirted with this kind of value before, only to have his production fall off a cliff over the next game or two. If you can handle the potential for the occasional dud, Jr. is worth owning until the wheels fall off.
The Knicks don’t play until Wednesday this week, but then they’ll be in action at least once every two days until April 6th (the last day of the majority of fantasy basketball leagues). Any Knick gets a significant bump if you can hold out until Wednesday and then get them for the remainder of the schedule. Right now, Hardaway looks like one of the best bets in that regard.
Birdman! Birdman! I really didn’t expect to get the opportunity to discuss Chris Andersen in this space this season, but here we are. If you’re in need of blocked shots, this is exactly where you should be looking. After all, a bird in the hand beats two in the bush (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
In all seriousness, Birdman has posted early-round value over these last two weeks because of elite shot blocking (2.5 per game) and unreal percentages (.714 from the field, 1.000 from the line). In those eight games, he’s only posted 6.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, so that probably has him off most radars.
The blocks only trail known-swatters Serge Ibaka and Anthony Davis over that time and could swing that category for you if you take a chance on him. Over his last seven games, he’s blocked four or more shots three times. He could make for a great utility player the rest of the way as the Heat play four games in each of the remaining fantasy playoff weeks.
Speaking of the Heat and great fantasy playoff schedules, Ray Allen might be heating up at just the right time (pun entirely intended). Over his last two games, he’s averaged 23.5 points and 4.5 three-pointers, while shooting an NBA Jam-esque .700 from the field, .692 from long range, and 1.000 from the line.
He’s not likely to sustain things at that pace, but like Andersen, he makes for a great utility player (in this case for three-pointers) down the stretch. As previously mentioned, the Heat go four times in each of the remaining fantasy weeks, so his three-point potential could be a real difference maker. He gets an even bigger boost each time Dwyane Wade sits out a game for rest, as no one would be surprised if he did a few times over the next few weeks.
Looking at Marcus Thornton’s game log since he joined the Nets at the trade deadline has the potential to make you feel dizzy, but it’s hard to deny that there’s some value to be had there when you catch him on the right day. In his ten games in Brooklyn, his scoring totals are 9, 10, 25, 3, 20, 4, 27, 5, 5, and 19. One would think that something like that comes from fluctuating minutes, but strangely he’s been pretty steady in the 20-26 range that whole time.
Under regular circumstances, he’d be hard to recommend, but the Nets play four games a week from here on out. Trying to chase his big games might cause you to pull out your hair, but you should know that a guy averaging 14.0 points, 1.3 steals, and 3.0 three-pointers per game over his last four is available in most leagues for less than a song. Add at your own risk.
Shaun Livingston has had an up-and-down season in terms of fantasy value, but he has been a mid-round play over the last nine games and is well worth owning with Brooklyn’s favorable playoff schedule down the stretch (four games every week for the rest of the season, as previously mentioned).
His line over the last nine doesn’t exactly leap off the page, but there’s certainly some value to be had there. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.4 steals, and 1.6 turnovers per game over that period, while shooting .508 from the field and .889 from the line. The steals are elite and the shooting percentages are solid. He won’t give you any threes whatsoever, but the consistent minutes (28.9) as a starter on the Nets makes him a strong play for those in need of a boost in steals during the fantasy playoffs.
In the three games since LaMarcus Aldridge went down with a back injury, Dorell Wright has been a mid-round play in fantasy leagues. His minutes are still low (22.0 per game), but he has been productive nonetheless.
Over those three contests (two starts), Wright has averaged 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.3 three-pointers per game. He’s also shot the ball incredibly well, going .571 from the field, .583 from deep, and .875 from the line.
If the minutes were there, this recommendation would come with more confidence, but for now this will just have to do. Aldridge could miss a decent chunk of time and Wright could be an important asset to own during the Blazers’ five-game week next week. Pick him up and hope for more minutes or at least more of the same. As soon as LMA returns, Wright can be safely dropped.
I don’t necessarily expect Gary Neal to sustain his current hot streak down the stretch, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has been a top-15 player in fantasy over this past week. The ‘Cats play only three games in each of the next two weeks, making him an even harder sell, but you should at least be aware that he’s ripped it up over his last three contests coming off Charlotte’s bench.
In those games, he’s put up 18.7 points and 2.7 three-pointers, while shooting the lights out at a clip of .720 from the field, .889 from deep, and 1.000 from the charity stripe (trust me, that’s all legit and doesn’t contain a single typo). He doesn’t give you much else, but he’s at least worth rolling out there tonight to see if he can keep it up. At the very least, keep a close eye on him.