Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 21
For most people in head-to-head leagues, this week is the semifinals (and for some it's the quarter finals). If you're reading this because you need advice on how to approach those matchups, first off I want to say congratulations for making it this far. Also, good luck in this and future rounds!
Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business.
This week has two jam-packed nights, with 13 games taking place on both Wednesday and Friday. That means you'll need to be strategic with your adds, as most of your lower-end players (the ones you'll grab off the waiver wire) will likely stick to your bench in favor of your studs on those two nights. For that reason, it helps to target schedules just as much as players.
To that end, the four best schedules you want to take advantage of this week belong to the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Indiana Pacers, as they all have three games on nights other than Wednesday and Friday. Members of the Warriors, Bucks, and Thunder are all tackled in detail below, while Rodney Stuckey (if healthy, he's about 50% owned in Yahoo leagues) and C.J. Miles (depending on Stuckey's status, 20% owned) make interesting options from the Pacers.
Other than that, you want to avoid the Orlando Magic entirely, because they play only two games this week and they both fall on those full nights (apologies if you have studs that play for the Magic, as they won't do a whole lot for you this week).
Furthermore, the Clippers, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Hawks, Raptors, Kings, Suns, and Nuggets only play three games this week and two of those contests take place on Wednesday and Friday. For that reason, players from those teams also won't do you a whole lot of good outside of spot starting, so you won't see any of them mentioned here. The guys listed below are there because they strike the perfect balance of valuable play of late and a favorable schedule this week. As always, they're put in relative order of importance.
Jump into the comment section or hit me up on Twitter if you have any specific questions about who to add and who to drop.
Andre Iguodala / Harrison Barnes
As mentioned above, the Golden State Warriors have a great schedule this week, playing Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Seeing as how Friday is the only full night of those four, that means grabbing a Warrior off the wire will net you at least three crucial games this week. Andre Iguodala is at the forefront of the priority list, as he's quietly posted top-50 value over the past month for averages of 9.4 points, 0.8 triples, 3.9 boards, 2.9 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers per contest, while shooting 55.4% from the field and 70.8% from the line.
Since Iggy's about 60% spoken for in Yahoo leagues, you might have a better chance at grabbing Harrison Barnes, who's only 50% owned. Barnes has posted early-round value himself over this past week, averaging 17.5 points, 1.5 three-pointers, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and a mere 0.5 turnovers over his last four games, while shooting a blistering 63.6% from the field and 88.9% from the charity stripe. He's come up particularly big in the three games that Klay Thompson has missed and should be able to keep it up for as long as Klay is out, while quietly maintaining his subtly solid value once he returns.
Ersan Ilyasova / Zaza Pachulia
The other tantalizing schedule this week belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks. They may only play three games, but they each fall on relatively slow nights on the schedule (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). For that reason, adding a Buck off the wire means getting him for three crucial games, just the same as a Warrior that has one of his four buried on a busy Friday. Of the more widely available options, Ersan Ilyasova has made himself a must-own option that shouldn't be available on 40% of Yahoo wires like he currently is. Over Ily's last six games, he's been a solid mid-round value on the strength of 16.2 points, 2.2 threes, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and a negligible 0.3 turnovers per contest, while shooting 47.6% from the field and an uncharacteristic 46.2% from the free throw line (he's a career 77.7% shooter, so that should regress).
If you can't grab Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia might serve you just as well and he's only got a 25% ownership rate. Zaza has been a top-50 play over his last seven games, averaging 13.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, 53.0% shooting from the field, and 88.9% from the free throw line. That includes four double-doubles and a 22-point, 21-rebound game. If you need rebounds, a smattering of points, and solid percentages, you could do a lot worst than Pachulia.
Anthony Morrow has been a rare bright spot lately for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that has been mired in worse and worse injury news over these last two weeks. Over his last seven contests, Morrow has caught absolute fire, averaging 16.6 points, a ridiculous 3.9 triples, 2.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.0 turnover per contest, with a shooting split of 54.8% from the field, 54.0% from long range, and a perfect 9 for 9 from the charity stripe. He's carrying a decent amount of the offensive load while Kevin Durant remains sidelined indefinitely and Andre Roberson's ankle injury on Sunday might open up even more time and touches for Morrow. He shouldn't be on a single waiver wire while he's this scorching hot, yet is still 63% available in Yahoo leagues. Fix that now if you need points, threes, steals, or help with your efficiency categories, as the Thunder play on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday this week.
Another OKC player that's being thrust into a bigger role due to their growing pile of injuries is Steven Adams. Since returning to the Thunder's starting lineup five games ago, Adams has averaged 13.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block, and 1.6 turnovers, while shooting 53.1% from the field and 56.5% from the line. The free throw percentage holds his value down a bit with 4.6 attempts per game, but owners in need of rebounds, defensive stats, and a strong field goal percentage would be wise to raise his 37% ownership rate this week. Enes Kanter is still somehow 25% available too and remains the priority with both Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison sidelined for the foreseeable future, but Adams is a nice consolation prize with the Thunder's favorable schedule this week.
Bojan Bogdanovic has been a major factor for the Brooklyn Nets over his last four games, flirting with top-50 value on the strength of 17.8 points, 2.0 threes, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers per contest, while shooting 63.8% from the field and 60.0% from the line. He's still coming off the bench in favor of Markel Brown (starter of 15 straight games), but the minute split has gone 35.3 to 18.7 in favor of Bogdanovic over this past week and Brown's starting gig might be in jeopardy (or, at the very least, is simply a title). Bogdanovic clearly has his coach Lionel Hollins' attention and could be one of the hottest pickups this week with four games on the schedule if he can keep rolling.
Tony Allen has quietly put up top-50 value over his last 10 games, averaging 11.6 points, 0.2 threes, 6.3 boards, 0.9 assists, a ridiculous 2.9 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 58.1% shooting from the floor, and 56.0% from the line. In his last game alone, Allen posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double with six steals in a healthy 35.4 minutes, making him an undeniable top option for anyone looking for steals this week. With Courtney Lee injured and without an exact timetable, Allen could come up big during the Grizzlies' four-game week and is a must-start option until proven otherwise.
Dwight Howard looks set to return to the Rockets this week, but is likely doing so with a minutes restriction and the chance of intermittent games of rest. In which case, Donatas Motiejunas stands a good chance to continue his recent run of mid-round value, especially with Terrence Jones sidelined for at least a couple more games himself with a rib injury. Motiejunas has averaged 16.0 points, 1.0 three, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers per contest over his last three, while shooting 54.3% from the field and 63.6% from the line. That's solid enough all-around value to warrant an add during Houston's four-game week and he's still available in more than half the Yahoo leagues out there.
It originally looked like Isaiah Canaan would be the starting point guard in Philadelphia for the rest of the season, but he has since conceded the position to Ish Smith over the Sixers' last three contests. In Smith's last four games, he has averaged 13.8 points, 0.5 triples, 2.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. That late-round value is good enough to warrant standard league ownership if you are seeking assists or steals, but the 41.8% shooting and 3.8 turnovers per contest over that span might deter you. He'll be inconsistent, but the Sixers have four games this week and he's not a bad option if your wire is already picked relatively dry.
Jae Crowder might not be a regular starter for the Celtics, but whether he starts or comes off the bench on any given night, he's still averaging a consistent 32.5 minutes per game over his last five. Over that span, he's putting up close to top-50 value in nine-category leagues for his averages of 14.0 points, 0.8 threes, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.0 turnover, 47.4% shooting from the field and 75.0% from the line. He might not be turning heads in any one area, but having a nine-category threat like Crowder ready to deploy during the Celtics' four-game week is not a bad idea and he's still over 80% available in Yahoo leagues. For that matter, the majority of players in the Celtics main rotation have low ownership rates and the Celtics play four games this week and next. Don't sleep on them.
Tiago Splitter probably isn't the most exciting option on your waiver wire, but he's only about 15% owned and has been posting top-50 value over his last five. Over that span, he's averaged 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, and a mere 1.2 turnovers per game, while shooting a ridiculous 71.4% from the field and 68.8% from the line. He won't light your team's box scores on fire, but that kind of steady production could go a long way during the Spurs' four-game week.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been highly inconsistent as a fantasy option this season, but as the starting shooting guard for the Pistons playing 31.4 minutes per game, he's worth a look in standard leagues whenever he gets hot. Over the Pistons' last four games, KCP has posted top-50 value for averages of 21.5 points, 2.3 triples, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 2.0 turnovers, 52.4% shooting from the field, and 84.6% from the line. That's exactly the type of hot streak I'm talking about, so his Tuesday and Sunday games (or Friday if you're depleted by injuries) look like smart spot-start options when he's over 70% available in Yahoo leagues.
It took him a little while to get things going, but Aaron Brooks is finally posting consistent standard league value as Chicago's starting point guard in place of an injured Derrick Rose. Over his last eight contests, Brooks is averaging 18.3 points, 1.5 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers per contest, while shooting 47.3% from the field and 83.3% from the line. The lack of defensive stats over that span is disappointing, but if you need a bit of everything else, Brooks at least looks like a solid spot-starter for Monday or Saturday (or Wednesday if you're light due to injuries) at roughly 40% ownership.