Waiver Wire: Early avenues to success
Don't be intimidated by early season failures. It's never too late to improve your team. Chris Towers gives you some options in his latest look at the waiver wire.
Even though it is very early in the season, there is nothing wrong with taking stock of your team and trying to make improvements where possible. You want to be patient and let slow starters get their legs under them, but you also need to know when to cut bait or start plugging holes.
The most important thing you want to look for when searching for waiver wire additions are players who will likely have a solid, consistent role in their offense, which makes a backup an odd choice for a player to highlight. But Golden State does not view guard Jarrett Jack as a true backup, despite his spot on the bench at tip off.
Jack has been a major part of the Warriors' crunch time lineups in the early going and he has largely picked up his solid play from where he left off a year ago. Jack splits ball-handling duties with Stephen Curry when both are on the floor, with Klay Thompson moving to the small forward position in most configurations. What that means is Jack is spending important chunks of his time on the floor surrounded by two total dead-eye shooters on the wings.
Jack is averaging 26.5 minutes per game so far this season, though he has topped that in three of four games. He had at least six assists in each of the first three games of the season and is averaging a career-high assist rate on a per-minute basis. Fantasy owners know all too well how valuable assists can be, so Jack could be great as a reserve and occasional starter, especially being owned in just 67 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
E'Twaun Moore , Magic: Admittedly, we did not expect much from Moore, a former second-round pick who averaged just 2.9 points per game for the Celtics a year ago, in his first stint in Orlando. The fact that he opened the season by scoring in double figures in four games in a row probably already qualifies his season as a success. He scored in double figures exactly one time as a rookie. The Magic continue to give Moore minutes with Jameer Nelson dealing with an injury and he has probably earned a role even upon Nelson's return. Moore is a possible breakout candidate given his hot start, and is worth a flier in deeper formats. Owned: 27 percent
Mike Dunleavy , Bucks: Dunleavy had one of his best seasons in a while last season and he has picked right up where he left off. Dunleavy gives the Bucks a sane option in a backcourt that often needs a calming influence. And the fact that he can also switch to the small-forward spot when the team needs it helps him find the floor. He exploded for 29 points on just 12 shots in his second game of the season, a feat he is unlikely to repeat. But he is a proven scorer who sees enough points to be a consistent contributor of about a dozen points per game and is worth owning when he gets hot. Owned: 59 percent
MarShon Brooks , Nets: Brooks is supposed to be an instant-offense option off the bench for Brooklyn, but he has struggled to really find many chances in that role so far. He has actually started the season out hot, but when Gerald Wallace went down with an ankle injury and forced the Nets to play Joe Johnson at small forward, it was Keith Bogans who stepped into the starting lineup and C.J. Watson who saw a bump in minutes. Brooks is simply a volume scorer and it is difficult to get that volume with less than 20 minutes per night. Until his role really changes, it is hard to justify stashing him. Owned: 33 percent
Aaron Brooks , Kings: Brooks has actually seen some of the Kings' crunch time minutes and he is playing the point in some lineups, though the numbers don't seem to indicate that. He is predictably struggling with the transition back to the NBA game after a year off and is averaging just 1.5 assists and 7.5 points per game through the first week of the season. While the Kings may choose to increase his role as he becomes acclimated to the pace of the game again, he is far removed from his 19-points-per-game heyday in Houston. Brooks is not worth your attention at this time. Owned: 26 percent
Brandan Wright , Mavericks: Wright's numbers have been pretty impressive through the first week of the season. He is scoring 12.3 points per game, fueled by an outrageous 78.6 percent shooting mark through four games. There is simply no way he will be able to keep that pace up, but Wright did shoot 61.8 percent from the field a year ago. He sees a big bump in future value for two reasons: he will earn center eligibility Wednesday as he starts his fifth game at that position and he seems to be the only player who can stay healthy in the Dallas frontcourt. He should not see his place in the rotation diminish and could sustain something close to the double-digit scoring we have seen so far. Owned: 34 percent
Corey Brewer , Nuggets: In 59 games a season ago, Brewer made just 33 three-point attempts, which is perfectly in line with his career averages. Brewer is an energy guy who gets by on active off-ball cutting, after all. One of the big shocks of the first week of the NBA season, then, is that Brewer ranks in a tie for 10th place in the league with noted-gunners/sharpshooters like Danny Green and Kobe Bryant in three-pointers made, with nine in four games. He is making them at a 34.6 percent clip and the Nuggets seem to be encouraging this shot selection. He averaged four three-point attempts per game in the preseason. The Nuggets are in need of players who are willing to take threes when they are open and Brewer is accepting the challenge. As a result, he has seen his scoring bump to its highest level since 2009-10, despite playing similar minutes. Consider taking a flier on Brewer, especially in Roto leagues if he keeps firing away. Owned: 4 percent
Harrison Barnes , Warriors: Barnes' talent was enough for him to earn a spot in the lottery in the draft, but it has not guaranteed him a full-time role just yet. He scored in double figures once in the first four games and the Warriors have opted to go with smaller lineups rather than using Barnes late in close games. He is athletic and has a good looking offensive game, but he is still figuring out how to put all of the pieces together. The Warriors are surprisingly deep for a team that picked in the lottery last season, so they are able to move Barnes along slowly. He is worth stashing in deeper leagues, but Fantasy owners who need the roster spot in yearly formats can consider dropping him. Owned: 59 percent
Larry Sanders , Bucks: Entering this season, Sanders had never scored in double figures in back to back games, so this has been one of the more productive weeks of his NBA career. He has scored at least 10 in each of the first three games, while filling the box score up with rebounds, blocks and steals. His performance has been very promising so far, but this is a situation where we have to take a step back and exercise a bit of caution. Maybe Sanders is figuring things out, but we need a bit more than a three-game sample size to say for sure. Sanders' physical ability is impressive, but he hasn't put things together consistently in the past and is not quite worth adding in standard leagues -- yet. Owned: 27 percent
Nikola Vucevic , Magic: Vucevic was largely ineffective as a rookie and his first year as the Magic's starting center has featured some hits and misses. He has a pair of double-doubles to go along with two very poor games through the first week of the season, so you probably won't be able to rely on the 22-year-old regularly. Still, he has minutes and a role -- that is more than you can say for most players who are barely owned in half of all leagues. The Magic acquired him in the Dwight Howard deal and seem intent on giving him as many chances as possible to prove himself worthy of that starting job. Vucevic was a first-round pick a year ago, so there's some upside here that makes him worthy of adding. Owned: 57 percent
Robin Lopez , Hornets: Lopez has been an unexpected force through the first few games of the season. He has been starting for the Hornets and is averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, with 2.5 blocks as well. The Hornets drafted Anthony Davis and signed Ryan Anderson in addition to acquiring Lopez, but they are still pretty shallow in the frontcourt. Lopez is averaging more than 30 minutes per game and his high-intensity style is a good fit with coach Monty Williams. Lopez has long posted solid per-minute numbers and he is getting a chance to show that he can sustain it in a larger load. He is worth adding as a third center in most Fantasy formats. Owned: 56 percent
Tyler Zeller , Cavaliers: Zeller was well on his way to a breakout performance Monday against the Clippers, as he scored 15 points and had seven rebounds before taking an elbow to the face that forced him out of the game. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the left orbital socket, which will probably cause him to miss a few games and will hurt any momentum he might have been gaining. The Cavs' youth movement will resume in earnest once Zeller returns to the floor, but any Fantasy owners who might have seen a big line from him and thought about a waiver-wire claim will want to be patient. Owned: 28 percent
Andray Blatche , Nets: There was a lot of hope entering the season that a re-invigorated Blatche might be able to get back into shape and return to Fantasy relevance in Brooklyn. While it is too early to pull the curtains on his comeback campaign, the early returns are obviously not promising. Blatche is shooting just 33.3 percent from the field for the first week of the season and is struggling to carve out big minutes -- even Reggie Evans is getting comparable minutes. It was not all that long ago that Blatche was a legitimate Fantasy contributor, but that time is not getting any nearer with his recent play. Owned: 15 percent
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