Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 13
The thing I love about season-long fantasy basketball is that leagues are often won on the waiver wire or via trades. This week has the potential to be a league-winning waiver week with some substantial adds and trade values going on around the NBA. I’m going to end the intro here because you need to go execute the first add as soon as possible.
Add D.J. Augustin
Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings just went down for the season with a torn Achilles, and Augustin is a more than capable replacement. Augustin exploded in his first start since, going for a career-high 35 points, 5 three pointers, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. Jennings has been hot lately as well, so we know there are enough shots in Augustin’s role for him to sustain a high value for the rest of the season. Another player who gets a boost is Jodie Meeks, who took 13 shots in 28 minutes on Sunday. Meeks can play as a backup point guard against bigger guards and has a 25% usage rate in 380 minutes without Brandon Jennings, according to NBAwowy. I’d feel very good about picking up Meeks if Augustin is already owned.
Buy Tobias Harris
The Magic forward has been coming off the bench since returning from injury but is clearly not happy about it. Jacque Vaughn started Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon at the forward spots on Sunday, citing defensive prowess for the reason of Gordon’s inclusion, but like we saw later in the game -- Gordon and Harris can play well together. There really isn’t anything Frye is better at right now than Harris is, and it will be very surprising if Harris doesn’t get his starting spot back within a few weeks.
There is also the fact that the Magic need to keep him happy. Harris’s post-game comments were professional, but it’s clear he wants a starting job, and Orlando should give it to him as soon as possible. Harris is a free agent this summer, and although he is restricted, the Magic will want to prevent him from signing a Chandler Parsons style untradeable contract with someone like the New York Knicks (oh, I forgot to mention there are reports of Harris wanting to go to the Knicks). All signs are pointing towards Harris’ getting at least 32 minutes per game, and that will be enough for him to produce fantasy worthy stats. Buy him while he’s cheap.
Buy Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has slowed down in recent weeks and had a poor five-point, five-rebound game on Sunday against Miami on National TV. He is not going to be cheap to buy, but Butler’s stock has certainly gone down, and he should be someone to target. Tom Thibodeau has a history of not resting his players and that should be a plus down the stretch. There is also Derrick Rose’s injury history, and if he was to miss any more time this season, Butler would surely be back to producing first-round value.
Add Nick Young
Kobe Bryant is shutting it down for the season, and Nick Young should be the primary beneficiary. Young is on a lot of waiver wires right now, and if he isn’t, he should be extremely cheap to acquire after his zero-point, three-rebound game yesterday. That game was a bit concerning since Swaggy P was benched for the entire second half after only playing eight minutes in the first, with coach Byron Scott saying Young looked like he didn’t want to be there. Young then left without speaking to reporters. Despite the mishap there, the Lakers will need to find a way to integrate Young. He is their best scorer and could earn more minutes as soon as the next game (Jeremy Lin went from a scratch -- of the coach's decision variety -- to 28 minutes the night after earlier this week). I don’t see a scenario in which Swaggy plays fewer than 25 minutes a night starting later this week.
Consider Playoff Schedule
Playoff schedule is a huge part of winning fantasy basketball. Ideally, you want to acquire players who have a favorable schedule during your fantasy playoffs. If your playoffs go through week 24 (which starts on April 6th), players with the best schedule are the Charlotte Hornets, the LA Lakers, and the Spurs. Spurs are dangerous because of the high chance of being rested by Gregg Popovich, but the Lakers and Horners seem like solid bets for great playoff value.
If your playoffs end in week 23, the Nets, Celtics, Hornets, Warriors, Pacers, Heat, 76ers, Trailblazers, Spurs, and Jazz all have good schedules. The Warriors and Celtics have absolutely incredible schedules with four games per week starting in week 18. For those who say this isn’t that important, consider the fact that a player averaging 13 points, 0.9 threes, 2.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.4 blocks can get you the same stats in four games that LeBron James can get you in two (Cleveland plays two games in week 23). With that in mind, keep reading.
Sell J.R. Smith
The Cleveland shooting guard is on an absolute tear lately and has been crushing it in fantasy as well. In his last nine games, he’s averaged 3.7 threes per game and scored at least 14 points in seven of those contests. With Iman Shumpert’s return, I expect Smith’s minutes to decline. LeBron James has also looked great as of lately, and I can’t imagine Smith’s having such a big role for too long. Combine that with a horrible playoff schedule and you have fairly low value. Sell him while he’s hot.
Add Evan Turner
Evan Turner has a history with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Stevens certainly likes him. Turner has played a solid 28.5 minutes per game in the last month and has averaged 10.4 points, 6.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds, a steal, and 0.7 threes. The Celtics also traded backup Jameer Nelson, so they seem committed to a backcourt of Turner, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley going forward this season. Turner can fill out the stat sheet when he gets playing time and should be owned a lot more than he currently is.
Add Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass has been starting in Boston and has been on fire lately. This doesn’t mean it’ll continue, but his stats are certainly worthy in the short term. He has played over 30 minutes in each of the last three games and had at least 9 rebounds in each one. On top of that, he’s averaged 13.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks during the past two weeks. Kelly Olynyk will likely miss at least two weeks, and Bass should be owned in all leagues during that timeframe.
Add Gerald Henderson
Kemba Walker is set to get a second opinion on his knee, and rumors are saying he may need knee surgery to repair the problem. If that’s indeed the case, Gerald Henderson should be a great addition. Henderson averages only 9.8 points per game when Kemba plays but almost doubles that to 17.0 points when Kemba isn’t playing. Similarly, there is a decent chance of Lance Stephenson’s getting traded. In games in which Stephenson plays, Henderson averages 8.8 points -- that goes up to 13.4 when he doesn’t. The chances of Kemba’s missing time or Lance’s getting traded are fairly high, so Henderson should be added in almost all leagues. On top of points, he can add some threes and steals.
These are players that I mostly discussed last week that should still be acted upon with urgency: