NBA Waiver-Wired: Week 18

Jonas Nader
Rotoworld

Not much has changed since last week but we do have an exciting add in Naz Reid with Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) injured yet again, and I'll explain why it's time to start stashing Luke Kennard! For fantasy basketball questions and advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

Week 18 Games Played:

3 games: CHI

2 games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, OKC, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS

1 game: LAC, NYK, ORL

 

Top Adds of the Week

Daniel Theis (39%)- He might be the most underrated big man in fantasy basketball. Theis is back under 40% rostered after an ankle scare last week, but has since played in three straight games with 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 turnovers in 28.0 minutes. On the season, Theis is ranked 84th in total value for 9-cat leagues in 94th in per-game value. The best part? He’s done that in 22.8 minutes per game. His workload has been closer to the high 20s in recent weeks, and since Robert Williams (hip) will likely have a limited role upon his return in early March, I think Theis has a clear path to top-75 numbers the rest of the way and maybe even top-50. His rock-solid percentages and ability to contribute across the board makes him a snug fit on all types of roster builds in category leagues.

Luke Kennard (31%)- We haven’t seen Kennard since Dec. 21 with lingering soreness in both knees, but Rod Beard of the Detroit News said he expects to see him return shortly after the All-Star break. The Pistons were extra cautious with Kennard because he was on the trade block and nearly moved to the Suns, but now the front office will want to get a long look at him going forward to see if he can be a key building block for what is looking like a lengthy rebuild. Reggie Jackson could be bought out and Derrick Rose is running on fumes at this point, so we’re going to see Kennard handle the ball a ton along with Bruce Brown

Before the injuries, Kennard was averaging four pick-and-roll possessions per game as the primary ball-handler and ranked in the 80th percentile, so there’s clearly a lot to like here. He was also a 9th-round player in 9-cat, averaging 15.8 points, 4.1 dimes, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 triples. He would’ve been much higher if not for a complete lack of defensive stats. I think there’s plenty of room for growth though when we factor in how much different the Pistons look from two months ago, so 9th-round numbers should be the floor going forward.

Donte DiVincenzo (17%)- I’m moving him up this week because he’s about as reliable as they come for a player getting minutes in the lower 20s. He picked up the slack with Giannis Antetokounmpo (personal) away from the team for two games with 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 triples, reminding us again that he’s a top-50 player whenever the Bucks are without a starter. And with the Bucks 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors, you better believe they will be resting their key players a ton down the stretch just like we saw last season. But even when the Bucks have their full arsenal, Donte still gets the job done as the 88th ranked player in 9-cat this season with a steal rate that ranks 5th in the NBA.

De’Anthony Melton (10%)- Speaking of steal rates, Melton ranks 2nd in the league in that regard with 2.6 swipes per 36 minutes. Melton is coming off the worst shooting stretch of his season, but got right back on track when he scored 12 points (4-of-7 FGs, 3-of-5 FTs) with four rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes vs. the Blazers on Wednesday. As I’ve said many times, what he’s doing on a per-minute basis this season is historic, as he’s on pace to join Scottie Pippen as the only players in NBA history with a steal rate above 3%, a block rate above 1.5%, a total rebound rate above 11% and an assist rate above 23%.

And his minutes are up too, as he’s getting the backup SF minutes behind Kyle Anderson in addition to the backup SG minutes behind Dillon Brooks. Over his last four, he’s played 28, 23, 21 and 26 minutes. If that sticks, he’s going to coast to top-75 numbers. Our patience with Christian Wood paid off in a big way, and I think the same will be true with Melton.

Moritz Wagner (21%)- If not for an ejection vs. the Knicks, Wagner would’ve entered the All-Star break with a ton of momentum. Over his last three games, Wagner put up a tidy 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.3 triples in 22.4 minutes. 

Wagner’s fantasy outlook is a bit murky at the moment because Thomas Bryant (foot) could be back right after the All-Star break, so the question that needs answering is whether or not coach Scott Brooks does the right thing and removes Ian Mahinmi from the rotation to embrace a youth movement. I’m leaning towards yes and I’m stashing Wagner in the hope that I’m right, but what makes me nervous is Brooks’ track record of playing veterans no matter what the situation. Brooks has mentioned the possibility of playing Wagner next to Bryant and Wagner did play some four back with the Lakers, but that doesn’t seem likely since the Wizards already have Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans there. 

For those reasons, Wagner is a bit of a luxury stash who can still put up top-100 numbers in 20 minutes even if he’s never truly unleashed. But if he is, we’ll have another player with Christian Wood-like upside on our rosters for the fantasy playoffs.

Cam Reddish (14%)- What a turnaround from the rookie. Reddish was a disaster on offense to begin the year and the same could be said about his rookie season at Duke, but he has blossomed into a two-way wing with some tweaks to his jumper and footwork. Having the front office and head coach fully behind him has given him so much confidence too, and I think he has made a strong case that he’s now a top-five rookie in this class. 

He was dominant in his last game vs. the Magic, dodging a bullet with a knee scare and then finishing with 16 points (4-of-11 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs) in 26 minutes with four rebounds, two assists, two triples and one steal. "I thought he was kind of 'the guy.' The guy that was getting us going,” Pierce said. “And when he went down, it was a tough blow... I was encouraged by his approach tonight.”

In his last 11 games which also includes a game in which he played seven minutes due to a concussion, he’s averaging 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.2 triples. He looks like a mid-rounder the rest of the way.

Naz Reid (5%)- He’s one of the hottest adds in fantasy basketball but the secret isn’t out just yet based on his ownership rate. Karl-Anthony Towns (left wrist) is "expected [to] miss multiple games" after the All-Star break, giving us flashbacks to when he missed a month with a knee injury that we were never given any details about. Just like the knee scare, we know very little about the wrist issue but the Wolves are going to proceed with extreme caution. 

Reid had 12 points, six rebounds, one steal and one block in 22 minutes off the bench vs. Charlotte, and while it’s a little disappointing that he didn’t start, there’s so much to like here on a per-minute basis with per-36 stats of 23.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 dimes, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks and 3.7 triples. So even if we just get minutes in the low 20s from Naz, there’s mid-round fantasy appeal here. KAT owners should make him their top priority as an insurance policy.

Kevin Porter Jr. (10%)- It’s crazy how fast he hit the ground running since returning from his knee injury, averaging 15.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 dimes, 1.1 steals and 2.0 triples on 51.7% from the field. He’s smashing at the rim with 20 makes out of 25 attempts and has been automatic with his right corner 3-pointer as my colleague pointed out here (link). The Cavs are going to unleash him the rest of the way, but he’s going to have the usual bumps in the road that comes with the rookie label.

Seth Curry (20%)- There aren’t many players in the NBA as hot as Curry right now, as he’s hitting 54.1% from the field over the past month. He was a must-roster player when Luka Doncic (ankle) was out, but even with Luka back vs. the Kings on Feb. 12, Curry scored 18 points with three rebounds, six assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. That tells me that coach Rick Carlisle is going to keep riding the hot hand at a position that has been volatile all season for Dallas with Delon Wright and Tim Hardaway Jr. constantly hitting or missing. 

Curry is averaging 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.2 triples over his last 13 games so I wouldn’t dare drop him until he gives us a reason to.

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Thon Maker (20%)- The Christian Wood breakout hasn’t hurt Maker as much we thought it was going too, as coach Dwane Casey has opted to go with a traditional two-big frontcourt with those two alongside each other. I poke fun at him a lot because frankly he’s not very good, but that doesn’t always matter in fantasy. Just ask Luke Kornet

Maker is averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.8 steals, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 triples over his last four games, so he’s a great add if you can afford a hit to your FT% (64.3% in that stretch).

Malik Monk (18%)- His stat profile has always been lacking because the peripheral stats come and go, but he’s trending up as a points and triples streamer. The light is starting to turn on for Monk because he has embraced Andrew Wiggins’ new philosophy of cutting out mid-range looks in favor of attacking the rim and launching from deep. The result? Monk is averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 dimes and 2.0 triples over the last two weeks.

Juancho Hernangomez (19%)- He’s off to a great start in Minnesota, averaging 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 0.7 steals and 2.0 triples through three games. With KAT injured yet again and possibly on shut-down watch, the workload for Hernangomez should be steady as the Wolves determine if he’ll be a good long-fit term with the team with his restricted free agency fast approaching. I’m sure I’ll get some James Johnson questions, but I don’t buy that he will play a ton down the stretch since the Wolves have talked about getting Jarred Vanderbilt some reps. 

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