Fantasy Basketball: Week 5 Waiver Wire targets start with Milwaukee Bucks shot-blocker John Henson
The unfortunate injury to Rudy Gobert creates Fantasy opportunity, starting with Milwaukee Bucks shot-blocking standout John Henson.
NBA trades typically make a big splash in the Fantasy community, producing ripples that have potential to spread far and wide. Last Tuesday's Suns-Bucks trade is no exception.
Two of the names listed below, including this week's top add, are players impacted by the trade. The trade also destroyed much of the value from last week's deep-league special, as Eric Bledsoe's arrival in Milwaukee has thus far eaten into Tony Snell's minutes.
As always, players listed must be owned in less than two-thirds of leagues.
Adds for all leagues
The Eric Bledsoe trade carries more of a real-life than Fantasy impact, but Henson is the trade's big Fantasy winner. By sending Greg Monroe to the Suns, the Bucks depleted their depth at center. Henson and Thon Maker are there only real remaining centers, though they do have a few other options who can pretend for a few minutes per game.
In games without Monroe this season, Henson has averaged 26.0 minutes per game. Henson has elite shot-blocking skills -- and that's not another classic example of analysts over-using "elite." Henson is only 26, and he led the league in blocks per-36 minutes in 2014-15, was second in 2015-16, and ranked seventh last season with 2.6. So far this season, Henson has shown no decline, averaging 2.5 blocks per 36.
Now, it bears mentioning that the Bucks have gone through four head coaches during Henson's time with the team, and only Larry Drew saw fit to give Henson more than 20 minutes per game -- and even then, Henson only averaged 26.5 minutes. In the past, Henson has been inconsistent and frustrating to own. Nonetheless, he warrants an immediate add in leagues of all sizes. That said, after adding him it might be wise to try to trade him while his value is at its highest.
Dion Waiters dove at Rudy Gobert's knee Friday, and now Gobert is out for four-to-six weeks. Gobert's absence is a huge blow to the Jazz and to Fantasy teams. Though it feels callous to quickly pivot to who benefits from such a dirty play, alas, that's the point of the article. The biggest bump in Fantasy value goes to Derrick Favors (94 percent owned), who gets to play his more natural center position for a full 30-plus minutes per game. Favors posted 24 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks in the first game without Gobert.
However, since Favors is probably not available in your league, the waiver wire prospect to add is defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha, who entered the starting lineup with Gobert out. He put up nine points, nine rebounds, five steals, and one three in 32 minutes, which is a characterized version of what managers should expect from him moving forward. Sefolosha doesn't score much, though with more than 30 minutes per game he could average somewhere in the low double-digits. He's a very good rebounder and is one of the best sources of steals in the league. He'll provide some help in threes, but nothing too significant. If Sefolosha is going to be a regular starter with Gobert out, he is worth owning in leagues of any size.
Ntilikina is young, even for a rookie, but he's already showing marked improvement and earning a bigger role. Coming off of a preseason ankle injury, he averaged only 17.7 minutes through his first six games but saw that average increase to 24.0 per game over his next four. Ntilikina already looks like the team's best point guard, and another small boost in workload could bump him into Fantasy's top 120 (or even higher). He's currently a great source of assists and steals, and a few extra minutes would help raise his scoring and rebounding to acceptable levels, respectively. Unless you need assists, Ntilikina is not really worth using in leagues with less than 14 teams, but his current trajectory could make him a quality play in 10-team leagues in the not-too-distant future.
I can't see a way for Mudiay and Jamal Murray (77 percent owned) to maximize their potential value unless coach Mike Malone starts playing them on the court together consistently. I'm therefore concerned about recommending Mudiay because the two guards are averaging only 2.0 minutes together per game. However, Malone has been experimenting with them in tandem for longer stretches of late. Though they were never on the court together in three of the Nuggets' last seven games, when they played side-by-side, it was for an average of 5.3 minutes.
But that all speaks to Mudiay's long-term value. For the immediate future, we can keep it more simple, and just point out that over his last six contests, Mudiay is averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. That's plenty good enough for an end-of-bench Fantasy option.
Other recommendations: Taj Gibson, Timberwolves (63 percent); Terry Rozier, Celtics (52 percent); Austin Rivers, Clippers (56 percent); Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks (64 percent); Kyle Anderson, Spurs (25 percent)
Greg Monroe, Suns (55 percent)
When given enough minutes, Monroe has the ability to be a Fantasy auto-start. In his seven-year career, the 27-year-old has finished inside Fantasy's top 60 (by per-game production) three times, and inside the top 100 each of the last six years. He's a quality scorer and rebounder, a good passer for his position, and he's pretty good at acquiring steals if not much of a shot-blocker.
Monroe was traded to the Suns last week as part of the Eric Bledsoe deal, and Phoenix is a terrible landing spot for him. Assuming the Suns keep him around, he'll have to compete for minutes with three young prospects the Suns are invested in developing, and he helps the team win when they would probably rather do the opposite. However, while his Fantasy value in Phoenix may be minimal, there are already reports that the Suns may be looking to trade him again. There is a very realistic possibility that Monroe sits on your roster, wasting space for months, with little eventual return, and that has to be acknowledged.
That said, there is also the possibility that he gets traded to a better situation and starts providing top-60 value. The NBA trade deadline is about three months away. Depending on your settings and roster requirements, Monroe raises the following question: Are you willing to commit three months of a roster spot to a coin-flip possibility of a top-60 player?
Darren Collison is a totally functional NBA point guard. When he's the best one on his team, he can put up decent numbers and effectively masquerade as a good point guard. But, in truth, he's just good enough -- and there isn't a huge talent gap between Collison and Joseph. So when Collison is struggling, as he has been for the past nine games, Joseph can step in, take on more minutes, and put up strong numbers.
While I wouldn't describe it as "likely," it's certainly possible that Joseph eventually takes the starting job outright, in which case his Fantasy value would jump to another level. But for now, especially in deep leagues, it's enough to just say that Collison is struggling and Joseph has taken on more minutes as a result. Joseph is averaging 28.0 minutes per game over his last three, after previously averaging only 23.2 minutes.
Terry Rozier, Celtics (52 percent owned)
I devoted a lot of ink to Rozier in this space earlier this season, and I still like him as a long-term add. But even managers who doubt Rozier's long-term upside should grab him for as long as Kyrie Irving (concussion, face) is out. Irving's absence is not expected to be extensive -- there's a good chance he'll play Tuesday in Brooklyn -- but Rozier has put up two very strong performances in the game-and-a-half that Irving has already missed.
J.R. Smith, Cavaliers (14 percent owned)
With Derrick Rose (ankle) out, and Dwyane Wade coming off the bench, Smith has been thrust into 35.7 minutes per game over his past three games, and 34 minutes per game over his last six. He's a streaky player and he only helps in a few categories, but he's on a hot streak now. With averages of 16.7 points and 4.0 made threes over his last three games, his "help" is impactful enough to be a week-saving infusion for some managers. His value will shrink when he cools down and/or when Rose returns, but, for now at least, he's a solid addition.
Follow Alex Rikleen on Twitter @Rikleen
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