Fantasy Hoops Waiver Wire Week 25: Trey Burke can carry you to a championship
Looking for someone who can take you to a championship in the final week? Check out the top waiver wire targets.
This is it. We made it. 10 days from now, champions will be crowned.
If you're out of contention, but still reading this article – fear not, we've got a section for you too. The last section this week specifically targets widely available players who non-contenders should add for their keeper potential.
Managing schedules will be a key factor. There are 75 NBA games remaining, and 25 of them are either on Tuesday, April 3 or Wednesday, April 11. Managing the imbalanced schedules will play a significant role in deciding close competitions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Weekly lineups managers, even though there are no games Monday, many host sites lock their weekly lineups Monday evening. Don't lose because you didn't know it was coming!
As always, players must be owned in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order in which I'd recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for All Leagues
Nothing new since last week. Steph Curry (knee) is out for the remainder of the regular season. Cook is filling in admirably. Klay Thompson has returned to the lineup, which, combined with a few bad games from Nick Young, makes Cook the only Warriors guard to consider in most leagues.
Back at it again with the Bulls. I get it if you feel some whiplash after I've vacillated hard from "must add" to "must drop" to "must add" again with Nwaba. Sorry, but the tank-a-thon shows no mercy. Both guards are solidly back into must-add territory after Monday's announcement that the Bulls are shutting down Zach Lavine (tank-itis) and Kris Dunn (helps-win-games-atosis) for the season.
While the Bulls were benching Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez, Nwaba averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals in 31.7 minutes. Similarly, Valentine's best contribution is out-of-position rebounds, but he provides more scoring and threes with fewer steals.
Burke is effectively tied with the two Bulls listed above – add whomever best fits your team needs. Burke is asserting himself as the Knicks' starting point guard, scoring at least 15 points in six straight games and averaging 9.0 assists in 33.0 minutes over his last five. Burke is only 25 years old, and he's a free agent this summer. Furthermore, the Knicks don't have a ton of incentive to tank. They are already locked into top-nine lottery positioning and moving any higher would require the Bulls, Nets, and Kings to win multiple games.
Dennis Schroder (ankle) is out for the season, and Malcolm Delaney (ankle) is without a timetable for return, so Taylor has entered the starting lineup. There is a ton of opportunity available for Taylor, but we should temper our enthusiasm – it's no coincidence he's the third-string player on probably the least-talented roster in the NBA. He's averaging 30.0 minutes since Schroder's final appearance in 2017-18, and while Taylor turned two of those games into 26-3 and 20-8 points-assists lines, he also threw up a 9-5 stinker. The opportunity makes him worth adding, but he's a clear tier below Cook, Nwaba, Valentine and Burke.
Other recommendations: Marquese Chriss, Suns (41 percent owned); Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks (63 percent owned); Josh Hart, Lakers (21 percent owned); Fred VanVleet, Raptors (22 percent owned); Tyler Ulis, Suns (23 percent owned); Joe Harris, Nets (11 percent owned)
There are two major factors to consider when managing the schedule down the stretch: Games remaining, and games on Tuesday, April 3 and/or Wednesday, April 11.
Weekly lineups leagues care mostly about number of games remaining, so here's the breakdown:
- Five teams have four games remaining: Hornets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Kings, Suns
- Five teams have six games remaining: 76ers, Magic, Celtics, Raptors, Lakers
- Everyone else (20 teams) has five games remaining
Daily managers also need to pay attention to the two overloaded slates. Since those two days house so many games, waiver wire acquisitions are unlikely to crack starting lineups. Every team plays on at least one of those two days, but the following 10 teams get one of them off:
- No game April 3: Pistons, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Pelicans
- No game April 11: Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Warriors, Pacers, Suns
Since daily managers are unlikely to use waiver acquisitions on those two days, we should instead focus on "effective games added" – the number of remaining games a team has, excluding the April 3 and 11 slates.
Here are the effective games added breakdown:
- No team adds five or six games
- 12 teams add four games: 76ers, Magic, Celtics, Raptors, Lakers, Pistons, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors, Pacers
- Two teams add only two games: Thunder, Kings
- Everyone else (16 teams) adds three games
From this, we see that daily managers should actively avoid players on the Thunder and Kings, while they should target players on the 12 teams than effectively add four games. Quinn Cook and Isaiah Taylor are the two players highlighted above who effectively add four games.
This section is specifically focusing on players who are more interesting for 2018-19 than for the last few weeks of this season. The idea here is that while those still fighting for a championship are focusing on players who produce now, the rest of us can make some early investments on players whose future is considerably brighter than their present.
Exum is averaging only 14.8 minutes since returning to the rotation two weeks ago, so few contending managers will risk rostering 2014's fifth overall pick. Though the Jazz are insisting on limiting his court time, Exum has scored 56 points in his last 70 minutes – a tiny sample size, but that's 28.8 points per-36 minutes. Exum has missed a ton of time due to injuries over the past two seasons, but he's still only 22 years old. He still has All-Star upside, and he looks likely to develop into guy who adds Fantasy value in at least four categories (points, assists, rebounds, and steals).
Markelle Fultz, 76ers (55 percent owned)
It's laughably absurd that a player averaging 6.8 points in 15.8 minutes has 55 percent ownership. Fultz has no business being on any roster still in contention for a 2017-18 championship. That said, the 2017 first overall pick is showing promise. His shoulder looks healthy, his passes look crisp, and his on-court demeanor is that of a much older and more mature player.
The 76ers may be Eastern Conference contenders, but they know that Fultz's long-term health is more important than anything in 2018. His minutes are unlikely to rise before the playoffs (and probably not even in the playoffs, either), but he has potential to develop into a poor man's James Harden. If you live in the Delaware Valley and have drank enough Kool-Aid, you might even replace "poor man's" with "upper-middle-class man's".
Jonathan Isaac, Magic (22 percent owned)
Maybe I should have named this section something like "I still believe in top-6 picks". I guess that's not catchy. Anyway, I absolutely love what I've seen from Isaac this season. He's averaging more than 2.0 (TWO!!) steals AND (!!) blocks per-36 this season. Among those who played enough minutes to qualify (which Isaac did not), those would be top-10 ranks in both categories. As you probably guessed, no one else sniffs the top-15 in both lists. That alone demands Fantasy attention, but I expect he'll also become an excellent source of rebounds, too.
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