Fantasy Basketball Week 14 Waiver Wire: Mikal Bridges, Trevor Ariza, Shabazz Napier among targets
Alex Rikleen breaks down waiver options who might be available in your league for Week 14.
CBS Fantasy community, I have good news and bad news. The good news is two-fold. First, there was a good amount of movement over the past week or so, and there are players experiencing surging values all over the league. Second, you guys are pretty good at this waiver wire thing even without my help, which leads to the bad news: you guys have already snapped up most of this week's biggest winners.
While players like Michael Porter Jr. (67 percent rostered) and Norman Powell (69 percent rostered) are still available on some other host platforms and would be top adds here if they still qualified, you all beat me to the punch.
But while some of the biggest prizes may have already been taken, there are still a bunch of very good pickups available. Two trades and some injuries have opened up meaningful opportunities, and, of course, we have the typical ebbs and flows of hot streaks.
Managers should take note of the heavy, imbalanced schedule in Week 14. There are a lot of games, which hurts the Bucks and Hornets, who only play twice. Twenty teams have four games. Then, the day-to-day distribution is all over the place: 14-1-12-3-11-5-8. That distribution is also back for the Bucks and Hornets, who only play on Monday's 14-game slate and Friday's 11-game slate. The imbalance is helpful for Mavericks, who are the only team to play on Tuesday's one-game slate and Thursday's three-game slate.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
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Mikal Bridges, Suns (21 percent rostered)
The internet spends a ton of time on some draft questions. Luka vs. Trae. Hield vs. Murray. Johnny Flynn vs. Steph Curry. But the internet has largely shrugged its shoulders at one of my favorite recent draft debates: which 2018 M. Bridges is better?
The Fantasy community had Miles higher over the summer, with an ADP almost 50 spots above Mikal. To this day, Miles is more widely rostered. But Mikal has been better pretty much the whole time. Mikal went first in the real NBA draft (10th vs. 12th), Mikal finished higher in 2018-19, and Mikal is higher ranked per-game so far this season.
Until recently, Fantasy's apathy towards Mikal was understandable – he wasn't playing a ton of minutes, increasing his night-to-night variability, and his low scoring total was actively damaging. But Mikal's role in the rotation has increased. He is up to 27.8 minutes per game over his last 13, and 32.8 over his last five. He's seen an added bonus over his last two games with Kelly Oubre (concussion) out, increasing Mikal's appeal in the short term. He should be great as long as Oubre stays out, and remains highly rosterable even after Oubre's return.
Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazers (13 percent rostered)
Ariza was traded to the Blazers in exchange for Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver last week. Bazemore was averaging 30.2 minutes as a starter, while Tolliver was seeing 16.8 minutes off the bench. The Blazers were unhappy with the quality of their wings, feeling the need for a better defender who was still able to stretch the floor on offense. Ariza checks those boxes.
Combining the 47.0 vacated minutes per game with the fact that Ariza is an almost ideal fit for what they were looking for, I think we can reasonably expect Ariza to play a ton. Ariza has been a top-150 player averaging 26.8 minutes, and he was a top-90 player averaging 34.0 minutes over the 2018-19 season. Putting that altogether, I think it's highly likely that Ariza plays at least 30 minutes per game and jumps into the top-115 moving forward, and that he has top-100 potential. He's not a great scorer, but he can stuff the stat sheet everywhere else.
Shabazz Napier, Timberwolves (40 percent rostered)
The other trade this week sent Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham from Minnesota to Atlanta for Allen Crabbe. The trade doesn't make a ton of sense for the Timberwolves, but any argument in their defense has to invoke the idea of addition-by-subtraction as far as Teague is concerned.
Removing him opens up more minutes for Napier and Jarrett Culver, and allows Andrew Wiggins to take back some of the ball-handling and distributing duties he had earlier in the season. Wiggins might see a huge value boost, but that's not really useful for the waiver wire. Napier had been starting for the last month already, but he was limited to 26.4 minutes per game. He's a streaky shooter with a high ceiling and a very low floor. Assuming he gets extra minutes going forward, his scoring floor should elevate and his already good assists numbers should improve.
Jarrett Culver (58 percent rostered) also benefits from this trade, but he was already playing 30.9 minutes and starting over the 10 games before the trade. It's too early to make any firm conclusions, but through two games post-trade it looks like Culver's offensive responsibilities may have increased.
Dwight Powell, Mavericks (45 percent rostered)
I did a deep dive on Powell last week, focusing on the question of whether he can maintain his recent production surge after Kristaps Porzingis (knee) returns. It's an important question – Powell has been a top-90 player since Porzingis went down, but Powell's improved play began before Porzingis' injury – and one without a definitive answer. I recommend reading last week's blurb so that you can make your own conclusion, as I identified reasonable evidence supporting opposite conclusions. That said, I came down on the side of thinking Powell can keep most of this going after Porzingis returns. Therefore, even though it looks like we'll see Porzingis back in action this week, I still have Powell as a pickup in all leagues.
Other recommendations: Eric Gordon, Rockets (48 percent rostered); Damion Lee, Warriors (63 percent rostered); Jordan Clarkson, Jazz (42 percent rostered); Ish Smith, Wizards (45 percent rostered); Jordan McRae, Wizards (51 percent rostered); Sekou Doumbouya, Pistons (56 percent rostered); Glenn Robinson III, Warriors (47 percent rostered); Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (13 percent rostered); Thaddeus Young, Bulls (35 percent rostered); JaVale McGee, Lakers (22 percent rostered); Luke Kornet, Bulls (9 percent rostered); Christian Wood, Pistons (53 percent rostered)
Svi Mykhailiuk, Pistons (18 percent rostered)
Luke Kennard (knee) has already missed the past three weeks, and he's expected to remain out through the All-Star break, which is three-and-a-half weeks away. Mykhailiuk started 10 of the first 11 of those games without Kennard, averaging 29.0 minutes and middling production. But over the last two games, they moved Mykhailiuk back to the bench, while keeping his minutes at 29.0 per night. He's responded with a scoring flurry: 23.0 points, 5.0 3s and 4.0 assists. Part of this is probably an unsustainable hot-streak – he won't keep shooting 67% from behind the arc for long – but part of it seems to be that the combination of extra minutes and an off-the-bench role is the recipe for getting the most out of the sophomore shooter. The minutes should stay high until Kennard returns.
Monte Morris, Nuggets (15 percent rostered)
I know I've overhyped Morris in the past, but this is a pretty reasonable and tempered recommendation. As long as Jamal Murray (ankle) is out, Morris has an increased role and is starting for the Nuggets. Murray is expected to miss Sunday's game, and he could be out longer, we don't yet have a clear timeline. Until he is back, Morris is a solid streamer. Once Murray returns, you should go back to how you were treating Morris before – ignorable in shallow and standard leagues, rosterable in many deep leagues depending on category needs.
Luke Kornet, Bulls (9 percent rostered)
Kornet could qualify for either of the preceding two sections, but he's particularly noteworthy for deep league managers. He's still widely available, he's likely to see at least two weeks of boosted value, and he helps in one of the hardest to find categories – blocks. With Wendell Carter (ankle) out for at least three more weeks and Daniel Gafford (thumb) out for at least two more, Kornet should see a ton of minutes in the Bulls' decimated frontcourt. Kornet started both of the two games since Gafford's injury. He's not a great per-minute producer, but he's likely to play enough that he can make an impact in deep leagues. And Kornet is a very good per-minute shot-blocker. On the season, he's up to 2.4 per-36. That alone should capture the attention of some deep-league managers.
Other recommendations: Christian Wood, Pistons (53 percent rostered)
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