NBA Waiver-Wired: Week 11

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I’m going to start this column by talking about my favorite add of the week and a player I’ve been stashing for a while, De’Anthony Melton. Only owned in 9% of Yahoo Leagues, Melton ranks 71st in 9-cat in the last two weeks despite playing 17.6 minutes per game. He’s putting up 10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 triples while continually outplaying Dillon Brooks, and he’s the only Grizzly with a positive net rating (+8.6). Meanwhile, his “competition” of Brooks (-5.0), Grayson Allen (-6.1), Tyus Jones (-6.7) and Jae Crowder (-7.2) continue to disappoint.

Coach Taylor Jenkins has been laughable with some of his rotation decisions so far, but with injuries to Crowder (ankle, out) and Kyle Anderson (heel, questionable), Melton might finally get a full workload that he’s worked so hard for since the Grizzlies can shift Brooks up to SF in Crowder’s absence. Of course, Jenkins could pull a J.B. Bickerstaff and play Solomon Hill for 48 minutes, but I’m going to be optimistic and hope the coach finally comes to his senses.

I believe that it’s a matter of when and not if Melton is fully unleashed, so the stashing should’ve already begun in competitive leagues. After all, how many players on your waiver wire have this kind of upside: Melton is averaging 15.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 3.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2. triples per 36 minutes. Go get him.

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Week 11 Schedule: Games Played

4 games: CLE, DET, LAC, MIA, MIN, ORL, PHX, POR, WAS

3 games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, IND, LAL, MEM, MIL, NYK, OKC, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA

2 games: HOU, NOP, PHI

40% to 30% Owned in Yahoo Leagues

Damion Lee (40%)- Lee is the latest Warrior to emerge from the dumpster fire of a season Golden State is having, ranking 26th in 9-category leagues over the last two weeks. He’s averaging 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.7 triples, hitting 42% from the field and 96.4% from the line. Less than 11% of his possessions are as a pick-and-roll ball handler, but his movement off the ball has been terrific and he’s hitting his shots too — he’s hitting an elite 43% on his catch-and-shoot 3s. That makes him a terrific fit alongside the ball-dominant D’Angelo Russell.

What makes Lee tricky is that he has less than two weeks of NBA eligibility left with his two-way contract, but coach Steve Kerr has been dropping hints that both Lee and Ky Bowman will be converted into standard deals. Lee’s fantasy value should be locked in if that happens, especially since Alec Burks is a lock to be moved — Burks has an expiring deal and doesn’t have a future with the team.

Isaiah Thomas (39%)- As long as he stays out of the stands to calm down fans upset about their lack of a free Frosty, Thomas should be all systems go for a Washington team that has nine players on the injury report, including Bradley Beal who sat out with lower right leg soreness on Saturday. In Thomas’ last five active games, he’s averaging 18.4 points, 3.8 dimes, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 steals and 2.8 triples, but is only hitting 38.9% of his shots. And if Beal continues to miss time, the upside here is massive — with Beal off the court, Thomas has per-36 stats of 29.7 points, 11.5 assists, 7.9 rebounds and 4.8 triples.

Troy Brown Jr. (32%)- We’re staying in Washington for this one, as Brown has been trending up for weeks and has taken advantage of a novel-sized injury report. Brown disappeared vs. the Knicks, but over the last two weeks he’s been a 7th-round value in 9-cat with 14.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 triples in 29.2 minutes, hitting 43.8% from the field and 75% from the line. He’s one of the few building blocks the Wizards have, and his role is only going to grow from here. That means more time on the ball, as they’d be foolish not to with Brown ranking in the 73rd percentile for pick-and-roll ball handlers ahead of the likes of C.J. McCollum, Lou Williams, Kawhi Leonard and even LeBron James.

And just like Isaiah Thomas, Brown is going to feast if Beal misses more time with his leg injury. In a 239-minute sample, Brown has per-36 stats of 21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.2 triples with Beal off the court.

Chris Boucher (31%)- What a rollercoaster he’s been with minute totals of 16, 28, 14 and 24 in his last four games. I’m still hanging on for dear life though, as the per-minute upside is just too irresistible. In fact, he ranks 56th in 9-cat in that mini stretch, averaging 14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.3 blocks and 0.8 triples in 20.4 minutes. Coach Nick Nurse is playing a dangerous game with Serge Ibaka’s minutes with his knees feeling every one of those, so let’s stick with Boucher and hope that his role grows because he deserves a larger share of the frontcourt minutes.

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Elfrid Payton (31%)- It hasn’t been eye candy, but Payton has the starting job on lockdown in New York with 27+ minutes in four straight games. The result? 7.0 points, 8.5 dimes, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.5 triples on 37% shooting and 0% from the line. That’s called a Rajon Rondo special. He’s not for every build but Payton’s assists and steals alone make him worth a roster spot. And when he’s clicking, he’ll flirt with some triple doubles every now and then.

30% to 20% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:

Gorgui Dieng (30%)- Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) has carried a questionable tag for two weeks but has missed six games in a row. We keep hearing rumblings that he’s “progressing,” but Minnesota is sending out a pretty loud message that they are prepared to throw the white flag on the season with Jeff Teague expected to be the first player shipped out followed by Robert Covington. This is also giving the Wolves ample time to showcase Dieng, a player who has let it be known in the past that he’s not happy in Minnesota. To his credit, he’s been awesome since KAT went down, ranking 33rd in 9-cat with 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 triples in 29.7 minutes. I’m sure a lot of you remember Dieng when he was a fantasy stud a few years ago, so what we’re seeing is sustainable until Minnesota’s franchise player gets the green light to return.

Aron Baynes (29%)- Deandre Ayton (ankle) has missed five games in a row and there’s no end in sight with the Suns not providing us with a proper update. Baynes isn’t setting fantasy leagues alight, but he’s averaging a respectable 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 triples over his last four games. Oddly enough he doesn’t have any steals or blocks in that stretch, but the law of averages means we should see an uptick in blocks soon with 0.7 in 23.9 minutes on the season.

Kris Dunn (29%)- He’s fresh off a 2-game week which means he was dropped in a lot of leagues. Dunn leads the NBA in steal rate and that’s why he’s been a 7th-round value in 9-cat over his last five games with 8.2 points, 4.8 dimes, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 triples in 32.3 minutes. He’s perfect for punt-points builds and his role is locked in at least until the All-Star Break with Otto Porter Jr. targeting a return in mid-February.

Kent Bazemore (26%)- He’s doing his best Danny Green impression with his volatile scoring, but that’s not why you want Bazemore on your fantasy roster. Despite averaging 9.6 points over his last five games, he’s getting the job done in the “money stat” categories with 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.8 triples. He probably won’t break into the middle rounds since Carmelo Anthony has turned back the clock, but Bazemore is a decent glue guy.

Gary Payton II (26%)- What a pickup he’s been for Washington. In his first three games with the Wizards, Payton has lit up fantasy leagues with first-round value, averaging 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 4.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.7 triples in 31.8 minutes. He’s shooting 56% which will come crashing down at some point, but the steals are going to be terrific. After all, his father’s nickname was The Glove. Payton II averaged 2.8 steals per 36 minutes in the G League, but his offense down there was impressive too with 23.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists (all per 36). With the Wizards down to a handful of healthy players, it makes a lot of sense to pick up Payton to see if he can keep building momentum.

20% and Under in Yahoo Leagues:

Donte DiVincenzo (19%)- Sure he was a little underwhelming in his last outing, but Donte continues to fly under the radar as the 89th ranked played in 9-cat on the season despite playing 22.3 minutes per game. His value has spiked in recent weeks with Eric Bledsoe (shin) out, and Donte has posted 5th-round value in his last two weeks with 7.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 triples. He didn’t even shoot the ball well with a 41.7% mark from the field, so there’s another gear to hit. But even if his scoring comes and goes, his peripheral stats are terrific.

Jerami Grant (17%)- Mason Plumlee has looked more like Marshall Plumlee this season, so I’m expecting Jerami Grant to draw the start on Sunday if Paul Millsap (quad) misses his second straight. Jerami has a proven track record of fantasy success and helped himself on Saturday with 12 points, four rebounds, one block and one triple in 32 minutes.

Derrick Jones Jr. (13%)- My top add from last week keeps rolling along, playing at least 26 minutes in 11 straight games as he continues to move up the pecking order in Miami. He’s now officially the sixth man for the Heat, playing 30+ minutes in four of his last six games. In that span DJJ has been a 10th-round value, posting 11.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.8 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 0.7 triples on 54.2% from the field. There’s plenty of room for growth too with how fast DJJ has improved in the last year alone.

Bruce Brown Jr. (8%)- Luke Kennard (knees) is going to sit out a couple weeks and maybe longer as the Pistons continue to exercise extreme caution with all their injured players. The Pistons have lost six of their last seven games and there’s rumblings that a full-blown rebuild is about to happen. I’m expecting Brown to get a TON of point guard reps moving forward, as the Pistons played him there all summer to get him ready for this inevitable position switch. He’s averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 triples over his last two games since returning from a calf injury, and I legitimately think there’s top-75 upside here going forward. Especially with Blake Griffin breaking down in front of our eyes.

Kevin Porter Jr. (6%)- His first three games without Jordan Clarkson have been OK, with KPJ averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 triples in 26.1 minutes. Coach John Beilein has talked about growing KPJ’s role in the offense, and with the Cavs bound to sell off more veterans, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds for the rookie. He’s trending up as a stash in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Christian Wood (5%)- Since he’s on this column seemingly every week, you already know all about his elite per-minute output. I keep calling him the best stash in fantasy basketball for a reason, as the Pistons are 12-21 and on the verge of blowing up their roster. Blake Griffin is playing on one leg and screams shut-down candidate if he’s not traded, while Andre Drummond is growing frustrated and could demand a trade any day now — he’s already been punished for showing up late for practice. It’s a matter of when and not if Wood becomes a stud in fantasy basketball.