By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Are you in a keeper or dynasty league, or a redraft league? It’s a critical question to kick off the Week 9 waiver wire because your answer will determine how excited you are about this crop of prospects. Several young players with promising careers ahead of them have started to blossom, and some of them are must-adds for many keeper and dynasty managers. If you play in those formats, then this week’s waiver wire is loaded.
In redraft leagues, however, this week has a lot less to offer. There are some promising specialists, including one of the best defensive specialists the league has ever seen, but very few players with massive 2019-20 appeal. That’s not an excuse to take the week off, however.
Even if this week’s pickups don’t have as much pizzazz as last week’s, the best fantasy teams are always the ones that remain most attentive to players’ shifting values. For example, while Matisse Thybulle may not have as much appeal as De’Anthony Melton had while Ja Morant was out, Morant’s return makes Melton a must-drop in most formats. A Melton for Thybulle swap is still an upgrade, even if you’re not as excited about that move as you were about adding Melton a couple weeks ago.
The players below are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
This article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (39 percent rostered)
Next week’s games: at Chi, LAC, Bkn
Powell’s roster rate has fallen significantly since Kyle Lowry returned from his lengthy injury absence. So, with that in mind, let’s play a game: Go look at Powell’s game log for the last month. While you’re looking at that, without checking, try to identify when it was that Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup. If you can correctly pinpoint Lowry’s return, feel free to leave Powell on the wire.
Let’s compare Powell’s numbers since Lowry returned to his production in the same number of games (I don’t want to spoil the exact number for you) without Lowry:
With Lowry, Powell put up 16.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 threes on 51% shooting
Without Lowry, Powell put up 17.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.6 threes on 48% FG shooting
Danuel House, Houston Rockets (41 percent)
Next week’s games: Sac, at Cle, at Orl, Det
I’m not at all concerned that a non-scorer had two low-scoring games last week. The guy is averaging 11.7 points this season — we can’t panic every time he scores in single digits. If anything, the last three games reassure me. Despite three of his worst-shooting games of the season, he still averaged 30.0 minutes. He’s an all-around producer, his workload is stable, and he’s still inside fantasy’s top-75 for the season.
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat (39%)
Next week’s games: Atl, LAL, at Dal
I’ve talked about Robinson a few times in the space this season, but he remains one of the best available pickups, especially in a down week. He’s highly inconsistent, but he’s an explosive scorer and — most importantly — his big games are semi-predictable. Four of his five best games of the season have come against the Hawks, Cavaliers, Rockets, and Timberwolves, all of which are notably generous to opposing guards. Defense vs. position can often be a misleading stat in fantasy basketball, but with Robinson, it appears to hold some water. Robinson has survived the return of Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow with his fantasy value intact, and his workload has gradually increased throughout the season. He’s only a mediocre add in redraft leagues, but he’s a very promising prospect in keeper and dynasty settings.
Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers (21%)
Next week’s games: Den, at Bos, NO, at Bkn
Thybulle is just a rookie averaging 17.6 minutes per game on the season, so I don’t want to go overboard, but, can Thybulle be the NBA’s best defender of all time? Dikembe Mutombo averaged more than six stocks (steals plus blocks) for a few years in the 90s, and Ben Wallace did it once. Thybulle is averaging 4.6 stocks per 36 minutes as a rookie who is often dealing with foul trouble. It’s absurdly premature to be making declarations like this, but if he continues to improve and can cut back on the fouls, becoming the best defender of all time is very much in play. Whatever his limitations — and he has many — he’s so productive on that end that he basically has to be rostered in most keeper or dynasty formats.
But Thybulle isn’t just a long-term prospect. He seems to be earning more trust from the coaching staff, playing at least 26 minutes in five of the last six games. In the sixth game, he left early due to injury. In the five full games, he averaged 2.8 threes, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 29.0 minutes — those three numbers are high enough that he’d be worth adding even if everything else was a zero. The 76ers have one of the shallowest rosters in the league, so there is plenty of opportunity here as long as Thybulle can keep himself out of the doghouse.
Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers (9%)
Next week’s games: at Bos, Hou, at SA, at Mil
Porter is only addable in really deep redraft leagues. But I’m really high on the 19 year old rookie’s long-term potential, so I wanted to call attention to his mini-breakout for keeper or dynasty managers. His 24 points on Wednesday are the main headline, but he’s also averaging 3.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 threes, and 1.5 steals over his last six games. He’s unlikely to really shine at any point this year, but he’s now doing enough to attract attention — and enough that he won’t harm your roster this year. He’s worth adding, especially in deeper keeper leagues or dynasty leagues.
Other recommendations: Tim Hardaway Jr (35 percent rostered); Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies (27 percent rostered); Nerlens Noel, Thunder (39 percent rostered) Jaxson Hayes, Pelicans (23 percent rostered); Moe Harkless, Clippers (5 percent rostered); Jordan Clarkson, Cavaliers (27 percent rostered); Rudy Gay, Spurs (50 percent rostered); Jae Crowder, Grizzlies (33 percent rostered); Kris Dunn, Bulls (21 percent rostered); Jakob Poeltl, Spurs (23 percent rostered); Marquese Chriss, Warriors (4 percent rostered); Willie Cauley-Stein, Warriors (49 percent rostered); Dwight Powell, Mavericks (38 percent rostered); Langston Galloway, Pistons (14 percent rostered); Alex Len, Hawks (32 percent rostered)