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Waiver Wire: Rocky Mountain sigh

by | Fantasy Writer
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The move from New York to Denver has been a particularly difficult one for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, who has gone from being a solid contributor to a total non-factor over the last two-plus seasons. A stint playing in China last season clearly caused him problems and a hip injury has lingered for much of this season, limiting him to just five of the first 39 games.

Chandler is back, however, and he looked healthy and rejuvenated Sunday, scoring 14 points in just 21 minutes. The Nuggets expect him to make a big impact off the bench, but you have to wonder what kind of mark he will make in the box score on a consistent basis, given his role. At his peak, Chandler was an excellent Fantasy option, averaging 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game from the guard position. He also shot 46.1 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point range in his final stint with the Knicks.

Chandler will likely be limited to 25 minutes per game on a deep Nuggets roster and might be asked to take on the opposing team's best offensive player when Andre Iguodala goes to the bench, two factors that could clearly limit his offensive production. Nuggets coach George Karl also told the Denver Post Monday he expected Chandler to need a bit of time to get back up to speed in the Nuggets' fast-paced offense.

"It's hard. Six months of not playing basketball is a long time," Karl said. "I hope it's a couple of weeks. But it might take longer, might take less. But I'm glad he's back. I think he's played well enough in practice to. I know he's playing better than the first time, when we were going every other day and the training camp stuff. He didn't have that bounce he has now. I think he has more confidence and I think his body is in a better place."

Chandler is one of the five most-added players in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues, having jumped from just nine percent to 28 percent ownership in all formats. Fantasy owners looking for a boost are banking on Chandler reaching the potential he showed back in his Knicks days. He is a good buy-low candidate on the waiver wires, but expectations should be tempered as he attempts to work his way back to full strength. If recent history is any indication, Chandler may struggle in the short term.

Most Added Guards

Isaiah Thomas, Kings: I have written plenty about Thomas recently, as his playing time and production have begun to resemble the impressive form we saw in his rookie season. Thomas is back in the starting lineup and has played 30-plus minutes in each of the last three games, as of Tuesday night. The Kings are still very much a mess and their rotations change with little rhyme or reason as Keith Smart struggles in his search for an answer. Those factors should give any Fantasy owner pause when considering adding Thomas, but you can't argue with his recent production. He is averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists per game over the last 10 games, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. Thomas is clearly the most productive of the Kings' point guard options -- at least on the offensive end. As long as he remains a big part of the rotation, Thomas should continue to be a solid Fantasy option. (74 percent owned; +19 percent)

Devin Harris, Hawks: Harris has been in the starting lineup recently, ever since his return from a foot injury earlier in the month. Harris had a huge performance in his first game in the starting lineup, dropping 24 points on just eight field-goal attempts against his former team, the Jazz, last week. His production has predictably tailed off since -- he has just eight points in the last two games combined. Harris is struggling through his least productive season since he was a rookie, averaging just 7.8 points and 2.5 assists per game, and the recently increased role does not seem to be making much of a difference. Harris made his living as a dynamic ball handler who was equally adept at setting up teammates or finding offense for himself. This season, however, he has been reduced largely to a catch-and-shoot role in the Hawks' offense, with 36.7 percent of his possessions ending up with him as a spot-up shooter, according to MySynergySports.com. Fantasy owners hoping to get on the Harris bandwagon ahead of a return to prominence may end up disappointed -- there is little indication that Harris is snapping out of his funk. (32 percent owned; +10 percent)

Eric Bledsoe, Clippers: Bledsoe has seen a little spike in his ownership over the last week, but it's difficult to figure out why. He has played more than 15 minutes just once in three games in that span, though he did score 14 points in 28 minutes against the Grizzlies Monday. Still, we did not learn anything from his performance that we did not already know about Bledsoe. When given the opportunity, he is clearly more than capable of making an impact for Fantasy owners. In 13 games with at least 20 minutes player, Bledsoe is averaging 11.6 points and 3.1 assists per game -- he averages just 6.9 points and 2.4 assists otherwise. The interest in Bledsoe is understandable, given his abilities, and how he has learned to harness them this season. I'm just not sure I would take use a roster spot on a player with such inconsistent production.(38 percent owned; +8 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Earl Clark, Lakers: Clark spent the first 149 games of his NBA career struggling to make even a small impact, averaging just 2.9 points per game over parts of four seasons. Up until last week, there was little reason to think that Clark would become an impact Fantasy player, but a rash of injuries have forced the Lakers into playing the soon-to-be 25-year-old big minutes in recent games. The early returns have been promising, as he is averaging 15.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game while playing at least 27 minutes in three games in a row. We are still talking about a terribly small sample size, but Clark might be the exact type of player that Mike D'Antoni's system can turn into a contributor. Pau Gasol will likely return to the starting lineup soon, but it would be a surprise to see the Lakers completely abandon what looks to be a new-found weapon. Clark is worth taking a flier on the waiver wire in deeper Fantasy formats, but don't expect this type of production for the rest of the season. (36 percent owned; +35 percent)

Jared Sullinger, Celtics:Sullinger is starting to show the skills that made him a potential lottery pick before concerns about his health dropped him in the draft. He has scored in double figures in three of the last five games, and is seeing much more consistent playing time. Still, Sullinger's Fantasy upside is limited due to his lack of center eligibility, as he has yet to accrue enough playing time at that spot. His averages for the last 10 games are 8.7 points and 8.7 rebounds, which would be enough to make him a worthy low-end starter as a center. With the depth of the forward position, however, Sullinger is much more difficult to rely on. I think he has room to grow as he continues to gain experience, but his upside might be limited in his current role, so don't expect a big jump in value down the road. (50 percent owned; +28 percent)

Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets: After a strong start, Aminu's season has taken a strange turn. At one point in December, Aminu fell completely out of the rotation, earning five DNP's in six games. With little notice, however, Aminu has returned to a big role in the Hornets' plans over the last two weeks. Aminu is averaging 28.4 minutes per game over the last five, but it has been tought to make much sense of his production. Aminu had a streak of double-digit rebounding games end at five Tuesday, however he has reached double digits in scoring just twice in that same span. He is averaging 5.4 points and 10.4 rebounds over the last five, while adding 1.0 blocks and 1.6 steals from the small forward position. Aminu's lack of big scoring certainly hurts his value in Fantasy scoring leagues, but his consistent stat-sheet stuffing over the last few weeks makes him an intriguing waiver-wire target in Rotisserie and category-based formats. (45 percent owned; +14 percent)

Most Added Centers

Amir Johnson, Raptors:Johnson has been trending upwards since Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas went down with injuries in December, but he took a huge jump over the last week. Johnson is riding a string of big performances, averaging 17.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over the last five, while shooting a blistering 63.6 percent from the field. Johnson, who has long been a player who got by more on his energy and hustle than ability, is starting to look like a go-to option offensively for stretches. He is averaging 35.8 minutes per game, and is making an impact on both ends of the floor. Johnson is still doing most of his damage near the rim, shooting 66.7 percent from within nine feet of the rim on the season; league-average for centers is 58.1 percent. While Johnson has multi-position eligibility, his ability to slot in at center puts him in the best position to make an impact for Fantasy owners, as his recent performance would make him a worthy starting center in all formats. Johnson will almost certainly cool down, but he is worth an add in all formats with the way he is playing right now. (80 percent owned; +37 percent)

Tyler Zeller, Cavaliers: Zeller's ownership rate continues to grow, as he jumped up yet again this week with the news that Anderson Varejao will require surgery on his knee and could be out for up to two months. Unfortunately, Zeller's production continues to lag behind his increased role, as he is averaging just 7.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over the last five games. Fellow front court mate Tristan Thompson has seen a much larger bump in value since Varejao's departure, and Zeller is being left behind. The impulse to try to get in on the ground floor of a young player's first chance at big minutes is the correct one, but Zeller simply does not seem ready to make a big Fantasy impact yet. (50 percent owned; +18 percent)

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