This isn't the best week on the waiver wire. The top players to pick up are both relatively highly owned already, and neither is a slam dunk to return value in the long run.
Sometimes this is how it works out. Not every waiver pickup is going to be a league-winner. You've just got to keep grinding away on the wire, in the hopes of finding the next Troy Daniels or Sean Kilpatrick, who can make a real difference.
Add These Guys
It's not quite clear what Nerlens Noel's role in Philadelphia is going to be. He made a lot of noise before the preseason about being unhappy with the team's decision to carry three highly drafted big men on the roster, ultimately referring to himself, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor as a trio of centers, seemingly rendering them unplayable together. The roster crunch is real.
On the other hand, the 76ers have already showed a willingness to play Embiid and Okafor together, and they wouldn't seem to make nearly as much sense together as Noel and Embiid would, for example. Embiid and Okafor both need the ball in their hands, while Noel is at his best as a cutter, roller and rebounder. Embiid has quickly proven he can space the floor, rendering concerns about playing two of the big men together somewhat moot as well.
Still, there are only so many minutes to go around, with Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova still needing their time at the four. Noel is unlikely to see much more than 20-25 minutes per night to start, so if you're looking to add him for Fantasy, it's with an eye to the future. And specifically, an eye on a potential trade. Noel will be worth adding even if he can't get minutes in Philly because you're hoping he can be a difference maker elsewhere.
Marcus Smart's offensive game still needs plenty of work, as we're in his third season and Smart still can't even get close to 40 percent from the field. He's a bulldog defender who has shown improvement as a playmaker and in getting to the rim, but he just can't score from any point on the court more than 4,000 minutes into his NBA career.
Still, he provides solid volume as a shooter, defender and passer, which is enough to make him Fantasy relevant in Rotisserie leagues, even in his usual role off the bench. And, with Isaiah Thomas potentially out for the next two weeks with a groin injury, Smart is going to see an uptick in minutes and should be a nice pickup even in those leagues where he isn't usually that interesting for Fantasy.
The Nets' are one of the tougher teams to figure out on a game-by-game basis, because they just don't have enough talent to settle on a consistent rotation. The best teams in the NBA aren't necessarily good because they have consistent rotations, but their top-level talent makes a coach's job that much easier because he doesn't have to juggle pieces looking for the right combination on any given day.
One pretty consistent part of the Nets' plans all season long has been Bojan Bogdanovic because he does stand out on this roster. He isn't a perfect player, and he might not be much more than a 15-MPG guy on a contender, but Bogdanovich is a very good shooter and scorer, two skills that are usually missing in Brooklyn. He is averaging 15.2 points per game for the season and 18.8 over the last five games, and is probably under-owned at 57 percent.
Nikola Vucevic took a nasty spill Friday and suffered a back injury that kept him out of Saturday's game as a result. Bismack Biyombo got the start and played 34 minutes Saturday despite playing through a shoulder injury of his own, and he could be in line for a solid role for the Magic if Vucevic's injury lingers. Biyombo is an ace shot blocker and rebounder, and has been Fantasy relevant in the past, even with a limited offensive game. If Vucevic needs to sit out, Biyombo makes a fine replacement option.
Toney Douglas isn't a name you get excited about in Fantasy, but we've seen him be helpful in the recent past, including when he averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game in 18 starts for the Pelicans last year. He hasn't earned a starting job with the Grizzlies this time around, but it may not take long with Mike Conley sidelined by a back injury and Andrew Harrison just not getting the job done on offense.
Douglas was eased into the Grizzlies rotation in the first two games, playing just 14 minutes total, but he logged 50 in his next two combined. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if he locked up a 25-MPG role before long, and with two inexperience point guards his only competition, that might be setting the bare a bit low.
Cut 'Em Loose
Monta Ellis' arrow has been trending in the wrong direction for a while, and the Pacers' decision to add Jeff Teague in the offseason seems to have been the death knell for his Fantasy appeal. Ellis' scoring average has dipped below 10.0 (9.7) for the first time since 2005-06, and he reached double figures just once in the last four games. And with Teague around there just isn't much room for him to do any playmaking, leaving Ellis in the awkward position of playing off the ball without the skills to do so. His track record suggests Ellis may bounce back, but it's hard to be optimistic at this point.
What a difference a week makes. Last weekend, Donatas Motiejunas looked like he might have been freed from basketball limbo, after signing a four-year offer sheet with the Nets. Motiejunas has shown the ability to be a contributor in Fantasy, and Brooklyn would have provided the perfect opportunity for him to do so. Unfortunately, the Rockets opted to match the offer sheet, dashing dreams of Motiejunas earning a 25-MPG role at any point. The Rockets are getting along just fine without Motiejunas, thank you. Plus, he averaged just 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game for the Rockets last season, so it's hard to get too excited about Motiejunas' return to Houston. Those of you who added him in the hopes of picking up a contributor in his new home, can safely cut the big man.