Large minutes and consistent workloads are key for possible waiver adds, and this week there are many players available who have large roles in their rotations.
By Alex Rikleen
Special to Yahoo Sports
Terrance Ross, SG/SF, Orlando Magic, 48% owned
Since the Magic acquired Ross as part of the Serge Ibaka-to-the-Raptors trade, Ross is second on his new team in minutes and third in shot attempts. Ross is attempting 5.5 threes per game as a Magician, up from the 4.7 he was averaging as a member of the Raptors. All that extra opportunity has translated to 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 threes, and 2.0 steals per game since the break. His field goal percentage is .431, and it will probably fall – as a member of the Raptors, he was at best the fourth or fifth offensive option, whereas he is now a focal point of the Magic offense. His increased production in all other categories should easily outweigh the decline in field goal percentage.
Next week’s schedule: NYK, CHI, at CHA, CLE
The season-ending knee injury to Joakim Noah opens up a lot of opportunity at the Knicks center spot. When Hernangomez sat Wednesday and Friday with an ankle injury, Kyle O’Quinn did not start in his place. Instead, the Knicks shifted Kirstaps Porzingis to center, and kept Lance Thomas in the starting lineup as a power forward. The shift was not superficial either, as Thomas played 73 minutes to O’Quinn’s 36 in the two games. Monday, when Hernangomez was active but Porzingis was not, Hernangomez played 34 minutes to O’Quinn’s 15. All that is to say that, after months of competing for minutes, O’Quinn finally seems to have fallen definitively behind Hernangomez on the depth chart. Hernangomez is averaging 14.9 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.0 steals per 36 minutes, and he is finally in a position to consistently see big minutes.
Next week’s schedule: at ORL, at MIL, at DET, at BKN
Harkless’ 37.0 minutes per game since the All-Star break ranks 15th in the league. When he’s getting this much court time, he becomes one of those rare “1-1-1” players – guys who can get at least one three, one steal, and one block per game. He’s having his most efficient shooting season of his career, averaging 48.5 percent from the field, and increasing that to 60.0 percent since the break. His value will probably take a hit when Evan Turner (hand) returns, but that should be at least another week away. Additionally, the Trail Blazers have a favorable schedule, playing five games, including two against the 76ers and Suns, who are two of the most fantasy-friendly defenses.
Next week’s schedule: at MIN, at OKC, PHI, WAS, at PHO
Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings, 44%
Hield’s ownership has actually dropped over the past week, which is why he’s getting mentioned two weeks in a row. Hield was the centerpiece of the Kings’ return package for sending DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, and owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly thinks Hield is the next Stephen Curry. In that context, Hield’s role in the rotation moving forward seems pretty safe. He has played between 26 and 27 minutes in all of his first four games as a King, an almost suspiciously consistent figure. Workloads that consistent are usually the result of a medically mandated minutes cap, which is not the case here. It seems reasonable, therefore, that management might be providing some pressure to make sure Hield’s workload is a part of a specific plan to maximize his development. Regardless of the motivations, he’s performing well in his new role. He is averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 threes per game since the trade. In three of the four games, he scored at least 15 points and shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Next week’s schedule: at DEN, at SAS, WAS, DEN
Brandon Ingram, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers, 48%
Ingram’s value saw a major boost after the Lakers traded away Louis Williams at the trade deadline, helped by his 35.5 minutes per game since the All-Star break. At this stage in his development, he’s primarily just a scorer, though he also adds some value in rebounds and assists. He’s the second youngest player in the league, and he is still tiny by NBA girth standards. As a result, he’s prone to have some ineffective and low-scoring games, like he did Tuesday against the Hornets (8 points) and the Celtics Friday (scoreless). But he is long, athletic, improving, and has recently been handed one of the largest workloads in the league. Before Friday’s flop, he was averaging 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 threes per game since the break.
Next week’s schedule: at DAL, at PHO, PHI
Alex Abrines, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2%
In his first three games after the All-Star break, he averaged 30.0 minutes per game, and scored 14.3 points while adding 3.7 threes per game. In the fourth game, the Thunder went with a different rotation, and though Abrines started, he and fellow starter Damantas Sabonis were limited to 10 minutes each. Abrines’ court time seemed to come at the expense of Doug McDermott, who shot only 33.3 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range in his 37 minutes. Additionally, the Thunder lost to the theoretically inferior Trail Blazers. And, despite only playing 10 minutes, Abrines still managed to make two three pointers. Altogether, the “limit Abrines to give extra run to McDermott” experiment seems to have been a total flop. It therefore seems likely that Abrines’ minutes will rebound as they did Friday night with 33, and his scoring and three-point production is unusually high for a player so widely available.
Next week’s schedule: POR, SAS, UTA
Zaza Pachulia, C, Golden State Warriors, 15%
Pachulia is only an option for leagues with 12 or more teams, but he has good value in those deeper settings. He usually only plays between 15 and 20 minutes per night, but recently he has been highly productive with that time. In just 17.0 minutes per game since the All-Star break, he is shooting 67.9 percent from the field, 80.0 percent from the free throw line, and averaging 10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.2 assists. That kind of well-rounded production is hard to find late in the season, even if none of it is superb.
Next week’s schedule: at ATL, BOS, at MIN, at SAS