Waiver Wire: Your head against a Wall
Some Fantasy owners are waiting for John Wall to return, but in the meantime, our Chris Towers says you might want to check out other options in his latest look at the waiver wire.
The Wizards have been a mess all season without John Wall, their injured franchise player who has yet to play due to a knee injury. That injury has forced them to consider some less-than-optimal options at the point guard position, first with A.J. Price running the show. He started strong, but tailed off quickly and then suffered a fractured hand. So he's out.
Then they turned to shooting guard Jordan Crawford, a notorious shoot-first gunner, to run the show on offense. Surprisingly, the early returns have actually been pretty good. The 24-year-old was on a roll before being moved into the starting lineup over the last few days, and he has been able to keep it up. Crawford has scored at least 14 points in each of the last eight games and actually has done a pretty decent job of running the offense.
Crawford is averaging 19.5 points and 4.4 assists per game over the last eight games and has barely turned the ball over -- just 1.4 times per game. As usual, Crawford has needed a lot of shots to get his points (16.9 per game over the last eight games), but Fantasy owners don't seem care too much about that. He has been added in 25 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy basketball leagues over the last week as of Wednesday, with his ownership spiking to 84 percent.
As long as Price and Wall remain out, it seems likely Crawford will continue getting chances to put up big numbers for what is otherwise a struggling offense. Crawford ranked 24th among all guards in Fantasy scoring in Week 6 and he played just three games during the scoring period -- only six players ahead of him played fewer than four games.
Fantasy owners have already scooped Crawford up in most formats, so you probably already missed out if you haven't attempted to grab him yet. That is a decision Crawford might make you regret.
Most Added Guards
Marco Belinelli, Bulls: Belinelli's Fantasy value has increased almost exclusively due to one fact -- Tom Thibodeau hates his bench. When a player falls out of Thibodeau's favor, he might not be able to see the sun because of how buried he is on the depth chart. Coincidentally, that fact also explains why Belinelli was owned in just five percent of leagues as of a week ago, as he struggled to find playing time prior to Richard Hamilton's injury. That is not a concern anymore, as Belinelli has been on the floor for 79.2 percent of the team's minutes over the last five games since Hamilton went down with a plantar fasciitis injury. He has scored in double figures in each of the last four games and is worth adding in most Fantasy formats, as long as Hamilton is out. (46 percent owned; +41 percent)
Chris Duhon, Lakers: Duhon entered the season as the third point guard on the depth chart, but injuries to Steve Blake and Steve Nash have forced Duhon into playing a ton of minutes for the Lakers recently. That explains the increase in his Fantasy value recently, as he is averaging 7.4 points and 6.6 assists per game over the last five. Duhon should be able to put up a decent amount of assists just by having the ball in his hands on a team that has scored more than 100 points pretty routinely this season. Just know that Duhon's value will return to zero as soon as Nash returns, though we do not know exactly when that will happen. (18 percent owned; +16 percent)
Rodney Stuckey, Pistons: Stuckey got off to an unbelievably slow start this season, shooting just 23.6 percent from the field over the first seven games of the season. That start prompted many owners to consider dropping Stuckey, especially once the Pistons moved him to the bench and put Kyle Singler in the starting lineup. Instead of burying Stuckey, that move seems to have sparked him. In 15 games coming off the bench, Stuckey is averaging 12.3 points and 4.1 assists per game, while shooting 42.6 percent from the field. If Stuckey was dropped in your league, his owner probably regrets that move at this point, as he has turned things around. Stuckey is still available in one-fifth of CBSSports.com leagues, and after scoring in double figures in five straight games he's worth a waiver claim. (80 percent owned; +15 percent)
Most Added Forwards
Corey Brewer, Nuggets: Brewer entered the season shooting just 30.0 percent from three-point range in his career and he had generally tried to avoid taking shots from distance as a result. He put in work in the offseason to improve his outside shot and he has surprisingly emerged as a spot-up weapon for a Nuggets team badly in need of spacing at times. He is attempting a career-high 4.1 three-pointers per game and has seen his scoring rise to 11.7 per game as a result of the presence of this newfound weapon. Brewer has been smart about his attempts, which helps his form stay consistent. Of his 90 three-point attempts this season, 73 have been on spot-up opportunities and he is shooting 41.1 percent on those tries. He shoots just 17.6 percent on the remainder of his long-range shots. Brewer has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games, however, the depth in Denver makes it difficult to make projections with any amount of confidence. Ride him while he is hot and seeing minutes, though. (39 percent owned; +15 percent)
John Salmons, Kings: The Kings are lost at times offensively, which has created an odd sight recently -- John Salmons, "point forward." Salmons, who has essentially been irrelevant in Fantasy over the last two seasons, has suddenly seen his value spike. He's playing about 30 minutes per game and has averaged 9.4 points and 6.0 assists over the last five games. The Kings have gone 3-2 in this span, which obviously means something about this unorthodox lineup construction is working. The Kings have essentially no pure point guards on the floor most of the time, given Isaiah Thomas' regression following a promising season. With the ball in his hands so much, Salmons might be worth an add. However, he is available in 82 percent of leagues, so taking a wait-and-see approach is still the best course of action, as you have time. (18 percent owned; +15 percent)
C.J. Miles, Cavaliers: For the first 12 games of the season, Miles was largely a non-factor for the Cavaliers, averaging just 5.8 points per game, while scoring in double figures in just three games. In short, he looked a lot like the C.J. Miles we have seen through the first seven seasons of his disappointing career. I'm not sure what to make of his recent run, which has seen him reach double digits four games in a row -- including a pair of 28-point games Tuesday and Wednesday, both of which are his best scoring days since March 2011. Miles finds himself back in the starting lineup now with Dion Waiters still out with an ankle injury. With Miles able to play both wing positions, it remains to be seen whether his role will completely fall off when Waiters comes back. Whether this is just a hot streak remains to be seen, but I would put in a waiver-wire bid for Miles if I were in need of some scoring. (12 percent owned; +10 percent)
Most Added Centers
Andray Blatche, Nets: To re-appropriate David Kahn's hilarious description of Darko Milicic from a few years back, Blatche has been "manna from heaven" for Fantasy owners recently. Since Brook Lopez left a game against the Celtics in the first half with a foot strain on Nov. 28, Blatche has been arguably one of the 10 most productive centers in Fantasy. He's averaging 18.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in those seven contests since Lopez suffered the injury. Lopez is on the verge of returning and may even have played by the time this column runs, so the question moving forward will be how the Nets juggle both Lopez and the resurgent Blatche in the rotation. Blatche has played almost exclusively at the center position and it is not clear whether the Nets think Lopez and Blatche can play together -- none of Blatche's 20 most common lineups this season have also featured Lopez on the floor. If Brooklyn views Blatche as a center only, then his playing time might be limited to just 18-20 minutes per game once Lopez returns, which might mean his value has already peaked. (82 percent owned; +22 percent)
Nikola Vucevic, Magic: Vucevic saw a small bump in ownership this week and that is largely the result of a three-game stretch in which he posted 43 rebounds and 37 points, while blocking eight shots total. When you remove that seeming outlier, his production remains solid, but inconsistent, as he continues to average close to a double-double per game. Vucevic has likely arrived as a player who is worth owning in the majority of Fantasy leagues, but I'm not sure how much more upside he has. Vucevic is already averaging 29.4 minutes per game, so I would not expect his playing time to increase too much moving forward. (82 percent owned; +8 percent)
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