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Jarred Vanderbilt is the top pickup of the week, Obi Toppin is not the best rookie in New York, Theo Maledon is on the rise and De’Anthony Melton is back on the radar! Let’s break down all the top pickups in what is shaping up to be one of the most loaded waiver-wires in weeks. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Week 7 Games Played:
4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DET, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, PHX, POR, SAC, UTA, WAS
3 Games: BKN, DEN, GSW, LAL, ORL, PHI, SAS, TOR
Monday/Tuesday: DET, MEM, POR
Tuesday/Wednesday: BOS, IND, LAC, WAS
Wednesday/Thursday: ATL, DAL, HOU, PHI
Friday/Saturday: BKN, CHI, CLE, DET, MIL, MIN, NOP, OKC, ORL, TOR
Saturday/Sunday: NYK, SAC
Sunday/Monday (next week): CHA, PHX, WAS
Top Pickups: These are players that are available in 55% or more of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues. The format I traditionally use when talking about rankings are 9-category leagues, and these players are listed in the order that I’d prioritize them.
Jarred Vanderbilt (23%)- For the second week in a row, Jarred Vanderbilt headlines the top pickups, jumping from 6% rostered to 23%. The secret is starting to get out about one of the most exciting young prospects in the West. I recently compared him to a young Draymond Green, and it’s not as crazy as you think.
Jarred Vanderbilt per-36 at age 21: 13.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.8 steals, 1.4 blocks
Draymond Green per-36 at age 24: 13.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.4 blocks.
As I said last week, Vanderbilt leads the NBA in steal rate and has a unique stat set, as he has no jumper whatsoever but is a rim-running four who thrives as a rebounder, playmaker and disruptor on defense. He’s one of five players with a 2% steal rate, 3% block rate and 14% rebound rate (h/t Ryan Blackburn) and is posting 6th-round value in 9-cat over the last two weeks with 9.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 dimes, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks on 63% from the field and 43% from the line (low volume) in 24.0 minutes. Coach Ryan Saunders has said he envisions playing Vanderbilt alongside Karl-Anthony Towns when he returns, so let’s hope he keeps his word.
Jeremy Lamb (45%)- We’re not going to spend much time here since he’s been flying off the shelves in competitive leagues. I liked Lamb better when he was coming off the bench because his usage was significantly higher, so instead of top-75 upside he might be closer to top-100 in his current role. Over his last six games, he’s ranked 82nd in 25.3 minutes with 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.7 triples and 1.0 turnovers on 47% from the field and 94% from the line.
Immanuel Quickley (34%)- Every time I hype up Quickley he plays like four minutes in his next game so let’s try to reverse jinx him. Elfrid Payton is a Hall of Famer and deserves 48 minutes, ok coach Tom Thibodeau? Definitely don’t play one of the most exciting rookies in the league so that Elfrid can average five points on 20% shooting with four assists and four turnovers.
In all seriousness, New York fans should be sick that they drafted 47-year-old Obi Toppin over Tyrese Haliburton, but Quickley is a solid consolation prize and should be the starter going forward. It shouldn’t even be a debate. He has a 25-point game with five triples and a 31-point outing with another five triples in the last week, but has a 6-point dud sandwiched between. The inconsistency comes with the territory of being a rookie but Thibodeau isn’t doing him any favors with the volatile playing time. It’s a matter of when and not if he’s unleashed, as the buzz in New York is just strong. My former colleague Tommy Beer dropped this gem of a stat too: The last Knicks rookie to score 23+ points three or more times in his first 16 career contests was Patrick Ewing in 1985!
Robert Williams (13%)- The TimeLord showed us exactly why we need to be patient with a strong display vs. the Lakers. Williams had 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 18 minutes, outplaying Tristan Thompson yet again. Williams is slowly chipping away at the veteran’s workload and it could be just a matter of time before he’s getting 20 minutes regularly. Williams leads the league in offensive rebounding percentage, has one of the best block rates in the NBA and is no joke in the steals column either. He ranks 75th(!) in 9-cat in 15 minutes per game, so good luck finding other players on your waiver wire with that amount of upside.
Thaddeus Young (22%)- Thaddeus Young becoming a nightly triple-double threat is the most random thing ever, but hey, I’m not going to fight it. There’s a huge window for Young to see increased minutes with Wendell Carter Jr. out indefinitely, and if you’re seeking short-term production over someone with a little more long-term upside then you can move Young up this list. Over the last two weeks, Young ranks 77th in 9-cat with 10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 dimes, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2 turnovers in 25.4 minutes, hitting 54% from the field and 40% from the line (low volume). It’s no secret that the Bulls are shopping his expiring contract, but that’s good news for his short-term value because they are going to showcase him and put him into a position to succeed.
Gary Trent Jr. (31%)- Myself and others at Rotoworld are big fans of Gary Trent Jr. but the hype wasn’t warranted until recently, as he’s starting to look like the player we saw in the bubble. And with C.J. McCollum (foot) out a while, Trent Jr. has a huge window for value and has outplayed Rodney Hood. He has played at least 37 minutes in three straight, putting up top-20 numbers in that span with 21.0 points, 5.0 triples, 1.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.3 steals on 48% shooting. The red-hot shooting isn’t sustainable and the insane amount of steals won’t hold either, but 4.0 triples per game with about a steal is reasonable with this workload.
Wayne Ellington (45%)- Obviously he’s coming off a dud vs. the Warriors, but prior to that he was one of the hottest shooters in the NBA. Even if we include the Golden State game, Ellington ranks 63rd in 9-cat over his last eight games with 16.5 points, 4.6 triples, 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals on 53% from the field in 29 minutes. The youth movement will eventually come for Ellington’s minutes, but that may not be for a while with coach Dwane Casey saying the veteran is exactly what the Pistons need at the SG position right now. Ride the hot hand.
Joe Ingles (40%)- Ingles’ value will come back to earth with Donovan Mitchell coming off the concussion protocol, but he’s playing too good to ignore. Over his last six games he ranks 81st in 9-cat in 23.5 minutes, averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 assists. 2.3 rebounds and 3.3 triples on 58.7%(!) shooting. I think he’ll be closer to 10/5/2 with a couple triples and a steal every now and then, and that should keep him above the cut line.
Justin Holiday (38%)- I’m pretty sure I’ve written about Holiday every week since Week 2 but the analysis hasn’t changed. He’s going to get a ton of burn at multiple positions and is a category specialist, posting 8th-round value over his last eight games with 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.6 triples, 1.6 dimes, 1.0 steals and 0.4 blocks in 33 minutes. He’s one of the most underrated players out there.
Theo Maledon (6%)- This is way too low for a player coming off a 24-point outing with six triples. Theo has thrived in the absence of George Hill (thumb), and the veteran is still without a timetable. Is it possible that Theo loses steam when Hill comes back? Very much so, but keep in mind that it’s a lock that the Thunder will move Hill’s expiring contract, so eventually the workload will never be in doubt.
I’m picking up Theo for the short term and won’t be letting go until I have a reason to. He’s averaging 13.7 points on 60.9% shooting from the field and 64.7% shooting from range (11-of-17) with 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.7 steals to 1.3 turnovers in 28.3 minutes over his last three. Coach Mark Daigneault said he likes his fit next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so he now has a path to minutes at both guard spots.
De’Anthony Melton (6%)- I mean come on. I’m one of Melton’s biggest fans and was just as puzzled as everyone else when he picked up a DNP-CD so that legendary tripper Grayson Allen could get all the minutes he could handle. But now with Allen in the health and safety protocols, Melton is going to show Taylor Jenkins what he’s been missing lately. Melton had 20 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and four triples in 32 minutes vs. the Spurs, making you wonder how he wasn’t getting this many minutes from the jump. He leads the Grizzlies in defensive rating with an elite mark of 98.6, and since the 2019-20 season, the Grizzlies are -3.6 points per 100 possessions when De'Anthony Melton sits and +6.5 when he plays (h/t Andy Bailey). I’m not picking up Melton with confidence because I don’t trust Jenkins to do the right thing, so he’s more of a lottery ticket pickup for me.
Xavier Tillman (8%)- I wrote about him extensively two weeks ago and then Memphis had all their games cancelled because of course. He’s been a top-60 value over his last four games in just 23.9 minutes, showing his immense upside. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.5 triples in that span, and it sounds like he could flirt with 20 minutes even when Jonas Valanciunas comes back.
Cody Zeller (26%)- He’s been way better than I was expecting and the minutes are way ahead of where they were last season, so I’m changing my tune on Zeller as a pickup. He’s an 8th-round value over his last three games, scoring 9.7 points with 11.7 rebounds, 4.0 dimes, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks on 47% shooting in 29.9 minutes. The stronger supporting cast compared to last season has certainly been a factor and Bismack Biyombo is losing ground fast, so I’m planning to pick up Zeller in a few spots.
Reggie Jackson (26%)- I’m really warming up on Jackson as a pickup. It sounds like the Clippers may even start him when Patrick Beverley comes back, but that could be a while. Jackson is averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 dimes, 1.5 steals and 2.5 triples over his last two games with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back, and he’s having a monster game vs. the Knicks as I type this.
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Streamers- I have not listed these players in the order I would prioritize them because it all depends on what categories you’re searching for.
Jeff Green (26%)- Ranks 69th over the last two weeks with 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 dime, 1.1 steals and 2.0 triples. He’s getting 32 minutes per game which may come down a bit with the Big 3 resting a lot recently.
Gary Harris (14%)- He’s nowhere close to the Gary Harris we saw a few years ago but he’s gaining steam as the 4th best fantasy option in Denver with 10th-round numbers over the last two weeks with 11.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.0 steals and 1.8 triples.
Ivica Zubac (35%)- Has quietly been a 9th-round value over the last two weeks with 8.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.0 blocks in 20 minutes. Rebound/block rates are down compared to last season, so he may have another gear to hit.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (13%)- Had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, three blocks and a triple in 33 minutes of his last game, showing us just how much upside he has in the tank. Doubles as a stash and streamer with Lonzo Ball on the trade block.
T.J. McConnell (16%)- A really good assists/steals specialist with 7.2 and 1.7 per game over the last two weeks.
Danuel House (8%)- He’s slowly ramping up after a month-long absence. It’s not hard to see him taking minutes from Jae’Sean Tate and keep in mind that P.J. Tucker is on the trade block. House was a sneaky 9th-round value last season.
Anfernee Simons (8%)- Strictly a two-category player with 16.0 points and 4.0 triples over his last three games.
Nerlens Noel (36%)- The best pure steals and blocks specialist with 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals in 19 minutes over the last two weeks.
Jae Crowder (44%)- He’s as likely to score 20 as he is to go 1-of-11 from the field.