Fantasy Focus: Waiver Wire Watch
If your fantasy basketball team is revealing holes or struggling areas, it’s probably time to analyze the waiver wire. HOOPSWORLD is here to help out. We’ve compiled a list of players who may be up for grabs. In fact, we venture to say the chances are very good that many of these players are available. (Note – all stats reflect games played through 11/22/12)
ALEXEY SHVED (Minnesota Timberwolves)
With injuries piling up seemingly left and right for the Timberwolves, guard Alexey Shved was unexpectedly afforded a real opportunity to show what he could do when J.J. Barea was sidelined with a left foot sprain. Likewise, the Russian rookie has performed unexpectedly well. Over the past four games, Shved has averaged 14.8 points, 4.3 assists and a total of 14 free throws at .856 percentage at a surprising 27.3 minutes per game. Clearly he can run the point for considerable stretches of time and keep his team competitive. For fantasy owners, the fact he contributes in so many categories is attractive indeed; just beware of his less-than-desirable .319 three point shooting (over those four games). Barea returned sooner than first believed, but we wouldn’t count on his lasting health. Heck, we can’t count on anyone’s lasting health on this unlucky team. And we wouldn’t count on Wolves coach Rick Adelman ignoring Shved’s obvious talents. Another consideration is the track record of starting point guard Luke Ridnour, who has missed 24 games over the previous two seasons. Shved is owned by just 14 percent of Yahoo! Sports fantasy owners.
HARRISON BARNES (Golden State Warriors)
Former University of North Carolina standout Harrison Barnes is another rookie (picked seventh in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Warriors) who is performing better than projected. It’s typically risky to draft rookies in fantasy basketball. Can his college game translate to the big stage? Can he adapt to the rigors and pressure of the NBA? The answer appears evident for Barnes. As a starter for the Warriors with twelve games under his belt, Barnes is averaging 11.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists with .481 field goal shooting (4.3 per game) at just 28.1 minutes. The 6’8 forward can even shoot the three, draining 4-of-6 a few days ago against the Dallas Mavericks. With Richard Jefferson injured and Andrew Bogut sidelined indefinitely, small ball may be used with frequency; Barnes should see plenty of minutes and solidify his role. It helps strengthen the case when you hear coach Mark Jackson throwing out compliments about the 20-year-old player, even indicating he’s bonding with the rookie.
KYLE KORVER (Atlanta Hawks)
When you think of Kyle Korver, naturally his three-point shooting comes to mind. It’s nice to have a three specialist on your fantasy team, but it’s ideal to have such a player who also gives you meaningful numbers in other categories as well. Now a starter in Atlanta, Korver is averaging double-digit scoring (10.8 points), a feat not seen since his 2007-08 season. His free-throw shooting remains high at .833 percentage, though he only logs 1.0 per game. However, he’s also averaging 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals. True to form, the three-pointers are solid (2.6 at .426); in fact, it’s the highest number per game we’ve seen in eight seasons. And turnovers (0.7) are impressively low. Only owned in 42 percent of Yahoo! Sports leagues, his playing time (30.1 minutes) is at the highest rate in years.
JORDAN CRAWFORD (Washington Wizards)
This 0-10 team is searching for something to work. Shooting guard Jordan Crawford replaced under-performing Bradley Beal in the starting lineup, and he’s even been running the point of late. Jordan, owned in 47 percent of Yahoo! Sports leagues, is the Wizards’ second-best scorer with a season average of 11.9 points; however, he’s averaged 15.3 points over the past four games along with 4.5 assists. He’s also very strong at the foul line (.806 average), hitting 18-of-18 in those four games as well. With no concrete return date for point guard John Wall, Crawford’s contributions should remain steady with the occasional dip.
ALONZO GEE and TRISTAN THOMPSON (Cleveland Cavaliers)
We’re grouping both Cavs’ Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson together here. Gee is owned by 30 percent of Yahoo! Sports fantasy owners, and Thompson is owned by just 31 percent. Both players have received starting nods since the season tipped off, and their across-the-board stats are being overlooked. Gee, playing 33.4 minutes, is averaging career highs in points (12.0), assists (2.2), steals (1.9) and free throw shooting (an incredible .933 percentage). He also chips in rebounds (3.7). Thompson is averaging 9.2 points and 8.7 rebounds (3.8 of those in hard-to-get offensive boards) with 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.7 minutes. His free-throw shooting hurts (.561), but turnovers aren’t bad at 1.5 per game. Give both of them waiver wire consideration.
KYLE SINGLER (Detroit Pistons)
Another NBA rookie, Kyle Singler, makes our waiver wire list. Inserted into the starting lineup on November 14th in Rodney Stuckey’s place, Singler responded by averaging 14.7 points in the following three games. We’ll tepidly bypass his last game vs. the Orlando Magic wherein he scored just two points. The ex-Duke star is hardly your average rookie, having played on championship-caliber Real Madrid last season. His stats there nearly mirror his numbers as a Pistons’ starter. Singler gives you threes and rebounds and doesn’t turn the ball over much. With Stuckey doing well off the bench, head coach Lawrence Frank may stick with giving Singler around 30 minutes per game. Granted, this is a risky pick-up; only 7 percent of Yahoo! Sports players own him.
JASON RICHARDSON (Philadelphia 76ers)
Many fantasy general managers dismissed Jason Richardson as a viable contributor long ago, but we implore you to give him a look. Nearly 32 years old, he’s come back strong after missing four games this season with a sprained ankle. Check these numbers for the Sixers’ starting shooting guard over the most recent four games: 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, .476 field goal shooting and 3.3 three-pointers at .456 percentage in over 32 minutes per game. If he can stay healthy, these numbers help any fantasy team.
Quick Hits –
JEREMY PARGO (Cleveland Cavaliers) – It may be time to take a flier on Pargo, who got the starting nod with Kyrie Irving out for one month with a broken finger. In his first start against the Philadelphia 76ers, Pargo recorded a career-high 28 points on 11-of-19 field goal shooting, 4-of-8 in three-pointers, five rebounds and four assists in over 38 minutes. Of course, we don’t expect these kind of numbers regularly, but owners must take notice.
METTA WORLD PEACE (Los Angeles Lakers) – Under an up-tempo offense under new head coach Mike D’Antoni’s direction, World Peace’s game should fit right in. He’s had a nice, albeit under-the-radar, season thus far, and in the two games with D’Antoni at the helm, he’s averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, 6-of-14 three-pointers and 10-of-23 in field goal shooting.
JASON THOMPSON (Sacramento Kings) – Is Thompson turning the corner and realizing his potential? He’s posting the best numbers in two seasons: 11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 11 starts at 31.2 minutes.
We want to know what you think. Tell us about your recent waiver wire gems in the comment section below.