Waiver Wire: A Peace of advice
Which of the most added players in CBSSports.com leagues should you target for your teams? Our Chris Towers shares his take on the players being scooped up in Fantasy this week.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace is the fifth-most added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy league right now and on the surface that makes sense. Entering Wednesday's play, World Peace has scored in double figures in five games in a row and is averaging 11.8 points per game for the season with 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game as well.
For a player who is still available in 59 percent of all leagues, those are pretty good numbers, but they are also likely a mirage. World Peace is averaging more points per game than he ever has as a member of the Lakers, but he is shooting a putrid 36.5 percent from the field.
The Lakers are playing a very incoherent brand of offensive basketball right now, as they remain between coaches until Mike D'Antoni officially takes over. That is leading to a lot of broken possessions ending with World Peace shooting the ball -- a truly suboptimal result for any team, let alone one with three All Stars on the floor.
Fantasy owners are adding World Peace on the assumption that he seems to have recovered some of his lost offensive capability, but he almost certainly cannot keep this scoring pace up. In a chat earlier in the week, I had a reader ask whether D'Antoni's system would help World Peace's Fantasy value, which might also be playing into some owner's thinking when adding him.
While D'Antoni is well known as an offensive guru, he usually does his best work by having competent shooters and slashers live up to their fullest potential in a system that gets them wide open looks. World Peace's -- er -- strengths on offense certainly do not align with your typical D'Antoni reclamation, and it would make a lot more sense if we saw Jodie Meeks or Devin Ebanks start to take some of those minutes from him.
World Peace's success this season has largely been the result of a larger volume in shots and minutes, and the Lakers' new head coach has to realize that won't be a winning formula for them. He should see his place in the rotation rolled back before long, so Fantasy owners should not be running out to add him.
Most Added Guards
A.J. Price, Wizards (57 percent owned; +40 percent): Price is a great example of what can happen to the perception of a player after a good few days. Price has been thrust into the starting point-guard spot for the Wizards due to John Wall's lingering knee injury and for the most part he has been an afterthought. But he caught everyone's eye last weekend when he posted 24 points, 23 assists and nine rebounds over a two-day span in losses to the Bucks and Pacers. He is posting solid season averages of 10.0 points and 7.7 assists entering play Wednesday, but the raw numbers are misleading; 40 percent of his points and half of his assists on the year came in those two games. He is playing 30-plus minutes per game out of necessity for a terrible Wizards team, but it would not be a surprise if those were the two best games they get out of him. Price is a career 30-percent shooter from the field and has never shown anything resembling this skill level over three previous NBA seasons, so don't expect him to sustain it.
E'Twaun Moore, Magic (54 percent owned; +25 percent): Moore is largely in the same boat as Price as he is also playing due to injury, but his performance seems at least a little bit more sustainable. At the very least, there is more room to grow with Moore, a second-year player who was limited to just 331 minutes of action over 38 games as a rookie with Boston a year ago. Moore was a solid scorer over a four-year career at Purdue, so the fact that he is averaging 13.3 points per game in 36 minutes of action for Orlando does not completely come out of nowhere. Orlando is in the midst of a major rebuilding phase, so they will likely continue to give Moore minutes to see whether he can be a part of their future. While the eventual return of Jameer Nelson could cost him some playing time, first-year Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has shown some flexibility with his lineups, so Moore should still see the floor. Moore might not have a huge ceiling, but his scoring ability should keep him in the rotation.
Shannon Brown, Suns (28 percent owned; +20 percent): Brown had a pretty solid season as the team's sixth-man last season, so he probably should have been owned in more than just eight percent of leagues prior to this week. Still, this jump in his ownership is largely attributable to a string of four out of five games in which he scored at least 18 points. Brown is capable of those kinds of games from time to time and has been a terrific per-minute scorer for his entire career, averaging at least 14.1 points per-36 minutes in every season since he was a rookie. Brown does not seem to be seeing many more minutes, but he has taken on a larger role in the team's offense so far. Brown is using 28.8 percent of his team's offensive possessions while on the floor, up from just 22.8 percent a year ago. As a result, Brown is getting to the free-throw line twice as often as he did last year while posting a career-best 16.1 percent assist rate. The Suns have been in need of an offensive spark, and Brown has proven surprisingly adept at filling that role. Brown is playing some of the best basketball of his career at this point in the season and should probably be owned in more than 28 percent of leagues.
Most Added Forwards
Corey Brewer, Nuggets (30 percent owned; +25 percent): Brewer's confidence shooting the three-pointer so far this season has been one of the biggest surprises in the league. Entering Wednesday's play, Brewer was 10th in the league in three-point field goals attempted, while making a career-best 37.8 percent of those shots. This could obviously be the result of a small-sample size, but this is obviously something that Nuggets coach George Karl has been pressing Brewer to work on. If we extend the sample out to include the six preseason games Brewer played in, he is shooting 39.1 percent on his last 69 three-point attempts. He attempted only 127 three-pointers a year ago, but the Nuggets remain in desperate need of perimeter players willing to fire away from three-point range. More than half of Brewer's points have come as a result of threes, so if his shot reverts to previous levels, we could see a major regression in his Fantasy value. Still, this hot start makes adding him as an upside play a smart decision at this point.
Jason Thompson, Kings (47 percent owned; +17 percent): Thompson saw a bit of a boost to his Fantasy value over the last week, after averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over a four-game stretch from Nov. 7-13. Those are solid numbers and might have convinced some Fantasy owners that he was carving out a bigger place in the team's plans. He did play 32.7 minutes on average in those games, which would seem to point to that conclusion. Unfortunately, that stretch also largely coincided with the suspension of two of the team's other big men in Thomas Robinson and then DeMarcus Cousins. Thompson has proven to be a solid all-around player, capable of providing around 10 points, six rebounds and a block per game overall. And that is what should be expected of him from most Fantasy owners. Do not be fooled by this solid stretch into thinking that Thompson has emerged from the scrum in Sacramento as a big key. That team is deep in the frontcourt and his minutes will likely return to being closer to 25 per game when they get all of their pieces back.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets (86 percent owned; +14 percent): I'll admit that I have remained skeptical of Aminu's fast start, but at some point we may have to re-configure our expectations for the third-year forward. He seems to be enjoying a breakout campaign, though we are still dealing with a five-game sample. Aminu scored just 6.0 points per game a year ago after a 5.6 average as a rookie, as compared to 12.8 so far. He is taking on a much larger role this season, averaging a career-high 10.4 shots per game, but he has managed to improve his efficiency along the way, which is the big key to his hot start. Aminu is shooting just 7.7 percent on shot attempts from at least 15 feet, but just one-quarter of his shots have come from that distance; in his first two seasons, he attempted 41.8 percent of his shots from at least 15 feet, according to Basketball-Reference.com's play-by-play data. Aminu is taking advantage of his athleticism finally by getting high efficiency shots, and it is paying great dividends so far. This could all change in the span of a week, but Aminu is probably worth owning in all Fantasy formats, given the seemingly huge leaps he has made in his offensive game.
Most Added Centers
Larry Sanders, Bucks (70 percent owned; +40 percent): Sanders is another player that I have been skeptical about, given that his hot start seems to fly in the face of everything we have come to know about him over a pair of brief NBA seasons. Unlike with Aminu, when you dig a bit deeper, you don't see more encouraging signs for him keep up his current level of production. Sanders is shooting 20.8 percent better from the field than his career rate and his rebounding rate has improved from 12.7 percent over his first two seasons to 21.2. Those are obviously significant improvements, but they are so out of the norm that we need to see more before we assume that he can sustain them. The rest of Sanders' numbers don't point to much of an improvement, as he is still fouling at a catastrophic rate (7.3 per-36 minutes) and is turning the ball over on 22.3 percent of his possessions, a laughably bad number for a big man who does little beyond finishing at the rim. Sanders is hyper-athletic and should be able to continue rebounding and scoring close to the basket, but his inability to stay on the floor without fouling ultimately limits how many minutes he can play. Sanders has fouled out of two games so far and has five fouls in half of his games overall.
Omer Asik, Rockets (91 percent owned; +10 percent): Asik's production has been similar to Sanders' this season, as he is averaging 9.9 points and 13.0 rebound through the first seven games of his Rockets' tenure, but there is a lot more to like about him sustaining his production. Asik has emerged as arguably the best all-around rebounder, grabbing 16.0 percent of the team's misses on offense and 27.7 percent of the opponent's misses. Both of those marks rank in the top 10 in the league, a distinction that only Anderson Varejao can match. Asik is shooting 42.1 percent from the field, a major dropoff from his Chicago days, however he has made up for that with a career-best 72.4 percent mark from the free-throw line. He also fouls just 2.5 times per-36 minutes, which is helping him stay on the floor for 32.3 minutes per game. Asik has double-doubles in three of his last four games and there is little reason to think that his role on the team will change. There aren't many leagues left for him to be added in, but it would not be a surprise to see him end up being owned in close to 100 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues before long. Deservedly so.
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