Wired: Top Pickups for Week 7
4 games: CHA, CHI, DET, GSW, LAC, MIN, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAS, SAC, UTA
3 games: ATL, BK, BOS, CLE, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAL, MEM, NOP, PHX, TOR, WAS
2 games: IND, MIA
You can follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for some stats and analysis. Also this was a joint effort with Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW) also chipping in with some of his excellent information. Well, let's not screw around with any intros and get to it:
Tony Wroten Sixers 12% owned - Michael Carter-Williams was hospitalized with a skin infection to his knee and does not have a timetable to return. While the team doesn't seem concerned about the skin issue, the injury preceding that problem suggests he could be out for a bit.
Based on the last time MCW went down with his foot issue, the team won't be in a rush to bring him back. He missed four games with a foot sprain which is kind of a surprise based on the early developments of the injury. In case you forgot, he was actually at shootaround for the Nov. 13's game and wasn't ruled out until minutes before the tip. After that, the team put him in a walking boot and just allowed him to heal.
Now he's dealing with a knee issue. Teams almost always will want to make sure their players are fully healthy in order to limit any sort of aggravation should the knee not be completely stable. The Sixers in particular have their eyes on 2014 and beyond, so there is more incentive to keep him out than put him back in the lineup.
Switching gears, Wroten has been outstanding in the starting lineup. In his six starts, he's averaged 19.8 points, 4.8 boards, 5.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.3 triples. He's going to be a must-start player while MCW is out of the lineup. Although, coach Brett Brown hinted at Wroten getting less minutes at shooting guard, and that makes sense given how horrible the Sixers are on defense with the MCW-Wroten backcourt. Again, Wroten shouldn't be on any wires for his terrific short-term appeal.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Sunday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts at 6pm ET on Sunday. Here's the FanDuel link.
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Reggie Jackson Thunder 21% owned - One of these days coach Scott Brooks will realize he has one of the best young point guards on his team. This is nothing new, though. In previous seasons, Brooks would give Derek Fisher a little extra fourth-quarter burn in favor of Russell Westbrook, but now he's doing it with Reggie Jackson.
Fisher's minutes are on the decline and it's about time. On the year, he's shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 15.0 percent from downtown, so he might finally be turning into a pumpkin. Meanwhile, Jackson's numbers have been phenomenal. Over his last four games, he's averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 boards, 3.3 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.3 triples on 51.1 percent shooting.
He's the only point guard in the NBA to rank in the top five for field goal and free throw percentage this season, which might be somewhat sustainable. He takes 34.5 percent of his shot attempts from the restricted area and his off-the-ball game is beyond his years. Of course, that's an important skill with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on his team. He has nice upside and is somewhat safe with his shooting percentages.
Kirk Hinrich Bulls 35% owned - Hinrich fizzled out in Saturday's lopsided loss to Detroit, scoring just three points on 1-of-10 FGs with five turnovers and zero FT attempts, ending a four-game stretch with double-digit scoring. The devil is in the details, however, and fantasy owners should be encouraged that seven of Hinrich's attempts came from downtown. He also had four rebounds, four assists, a season-high four steals and one block in 36 minutes. He's shooting terribly from the field this season (36.0 percent) but will creep toward his career numbers sooner or later, and he faces zero competition for playing time from Marquis Teague or Mike James (knee). Enterprising fantasy owners should double-check that Captain Kirk isn't still floating on the waiver wire.
Nate Robinson Nuggets 32% owned - Ty Lawson is out with a hamstring injury and he did not play on Saturday. The Nuggets did downplay the injury, so there's a good chance that Lawson could be back for Monday's game against the Wizards.
Robinson was the primary ball handler in Saturday's win over the Sixers, finishing with 20 points, two boards, three assists, two rebounds and one 3-pointer on 6-of-14 shooting. Coach Brian Shaw isn't quite comfortable handing the keys to the offense over to the 37-year-old Andre Miller and the aging veteran isn't very effective on D these days.
Nate's minutes really haven't been enough for the most part all season, but they're on the rise even before Lawson went down. He's up to 23 minutes per game over his last 10 and he might be able to sustain some level of value with that allotment. Robinson has 14.6 points per game in that span and added 2.0 triples per game. Lil' Him ranks 22nd in the NBA in usage rate (minimum 15 minutes per game), so his low minutes aren't a true indication of his fantasy potential.
Ramon Sessions Bobcats 7% owned - The loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could make the Bobcats scramble for solutions. It started already in their first game without him and they had some extra three-guard lineups on Friday. Gerald Henderson has the size to play small forward at 6'5", 215 and that would allow a nice chunk of minutes to be up for grabs at shooting guard.
Sessions turned in a nice game on Friday, scoring 13 points with two rebounds, four assists and three turnovers in 24 minutes. Sessions was already averaging 21 minutes per game before the MKG injury, so it's not a stretch to think he can flirt with 25 per night. He's one of the most aggressive players in the NBA and leads the league in drives per 48 minutes while shooting a very respectable 50.7 percent on shots resulting from drives. He's a low-upside pickup in deep leagues.
Alec Burks Jazz 16% owned - His offensive efficiency has jumped up quite a bit with a rating of just 93 in the first 10 games and 102 in the last 12 games. With those same splits, he upped his points in the paint percentage to 54 percent from 41, which is great to see for a guy that doesn't have a effective jumper just yet. The 22-year-old guard does have some things to work on outside of jumpers. He is shooting 39 percent on his drives this year. That is a problem considering how much he likes to get to the cup and can blow by defenders, so that will really help him get his game off the ground with strides in that area. It's worth noting over his last five, he's taken five shots per game in the restricted area.
Alright, that's enough advanced stats. The bottom line is over his last five games, Burks averaged 16.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.2 triples on 48.3 percent from the field in 31.2 minutes. He has the potential to put up good percentages while putting up value across the board.
Ben McLemore Kings 48% owned - He's really starting to come into his own this year. He hit a huge 3-point shot near the end of regulation on Saturday to send the game into overtime, then also hit a big shot on a one-handed floater to help give the Kings a near insurmountable lead in overtime. In his last two games, he's averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 boards, 2.0 assists and 2.5 triples.
He does have some major holes in his game right now, though. Excluding his shots in the restricted area, the rookie is shooting a pathetic 20.9 percent on his two-point shots. The good news is he has become a lot better without the ball and has 27 percent of his shots coming in that aforementioned restricted area.
Disastrous mid-range game aside, for a rookie to already start clicking after just 18 games and only 24.2 minutes per, it means good things are coming. He could get hot in a hurry and the allure of the Kings leaning on him more in the second half makes it almost impossible to resist picking him up.
Update: The Rudy Gay trade does hurt McLemore a little but. Gay takes a lot of shots and the decreases ball movement hurts the overall output of the team. Although, McLemore could hit some 3-pointers to help carry his fantasy value.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Pistons 20% owned - Rodney Stuckey is day-to-day with left quadriceps tendinitis in his knee, so there are going to be some minutes to go around in the Detroit backcourt. Caldwell-Pope played a season-high 38 minutes on Saturday and looks to be the solution.
The minutes don't necessarily mean he'll be great. His numbers have been pretty bad on the whole this year with just 7.7 points per game with 0.9 triples and 1.0 steals. KCP is shooting 37 percent from the field on the season and has been worse as the starter with just 36.4 percent of his shots going in. The Pistons are dying for a shooter, so they will likely give their lottery pick a little leash to turn in some big games. He's a huge project and a desperate pickup in deep leagues. Plus, the Pistons are likely going for it with the way the Leastern Conference has performed as a whole.
Jeff Taylor Bobcats 4% owned - Taylor (heel) and Anthony Tolliver could both emerge from the shadows of Charlotte's rotation this week, aided by injuries to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand, out 4-6 weeks) and Bismack Biyombo (ankle, day-to-day). Taylor had 20 points and eight rebounds as the starting SF on Friday and is a far more reliable pickup if he's healthy, but if he can't suit up we'll see plenty of Tolliver, whose 3-point range gives him perennial fantasy upside. The 6'8" forward is shooting an appalling 29.5 percent from the field this year but he's hitting at a 34.3 percent clip from downtown for a Bobcats team that ranks dead-last in 3-point percentage (28.7 percent) and next-to-last in 3-pointers per game (4.5). Deep league owners could do worse than speculatively tucking Tolliver on their benches.
P.J. Tucker Suns 13% owned - If shutting down a player on defense was a fantasy stat, Tucker would be a stud. He has been a mainstay in the Suns rotation and in the past two games, he's held Rudy Gay and James Harden to a combined 8-of-32 from the field.
The defense is nothing new for Tucker, but the team has actually allowed him to be more of an option on the offensive side of the ball. In the last two games, he's taken 12.5 shots per game and scored 18 points in each, adding a combined 19 boards, seven assists, five steals and four 3-pointers.
Tucker has been lethal from beyond the arc and is shooting a cool 50.0 percent on the season. Over the last six games, he's getting a ton of easy buckets with 24 percent of his points coming in transition and has 28 shots from the restricted area. Gerald Green has gone back to his chucking ways, so Tucker should have the inside track for the lion's share of minutes at small forward. He won't have a big upside, but he's certainly worth a look while he's hot like this.
Wes Johnson Lakers 17% owned - The Lakers are going to be worth watching for one reason: Nick Young. Of course, I'm kidding and the return of Kobe Bryant is going to change the entire fabric of their team. Players that have been getting their own shot are likely to see a dip while defense and floor-spacing guys should be viewed as commodities for coach Mike D'Antoni.
That's pretty much Johnson to a T. He has 100 percent of his 3-pointers assisted as well as a team-high 73.5 percent of his two-pointers coming via an assist. On the other end, his man is shooting just 33.7 percent from the field and he has yet to allow a bucket on isolation, according to Synergy.
He is likely the guy that might be a key piece with Kobe back. Plus, he is a good bet to add some steals, blocks and threes. There's a lot of risk, but there is some big upside.
Al-Farouq Aminu Pelicans 16% owned - After becoming one of the deepest teams in the NBA, the Pelicans are getting a little thin. The loss of Tyreke Evans is going to be massive for the birds and his injury did not look good. He couldn't put weight on his ankle at all and needed assistance to go back to the locker room. Add that to Anthony Davis out for up to six weeks and there are a lot of holes.
This past week, Aminu has been used at both forward spots. He's always had some tremendous rebounding numbers and was able to set a new career high last week with his new role. On the other hand, he doesn't have a jumper and made just 31 percent of his attempts last year, despite likely getting a lot of catch-and-shoot open looks (last year was in the BSV Era -- Before Sports Vu Era).
Prospective fantasy owners should not be expecting eye-catching offensive numbers and even 10 points per game might even be a stretch. Although, the steals and rebounds will certainly be there with a handful of additional blocks and triples as a side dish.
Hollis Thompson Sixers 2% owned - James Anderson's descent to the 76ers' second unit has had unexpected upside in the form of rookie Hollis Thompson, who in four starts is averaging 9.5 points on 61.5 percent shooting, with 1.5 triples, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 32 minutes. Interestingly, coach Brett Brown said that he made the switch to get more defense into his starting lineup, with the expectation that Thompson could do the dirty work without demanding touches offensively. He's been efficient and opportunistic shooting the ball, however, and has enough versatility to warrant attention in all leagues. Deep league owners should have already cleared a spot for the undrafted former D-Leaguer, just in case he sticks as a starter all season.
Terrence Ross Raptors 1% owned - The departure of Rudy Gay opens up some minutes for Ross. His numbers haven't been great on the season, averaging 6.2 points, 2.4 boards, 0.4 steals and 0.9 triples in 18.4 minutes. Although, he did have one dynamic game back on Nov. 20 against the Sixers. Ross played 32 minutes and had 17 points, seven boards, two assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers.
The sophomore only saw two starts last season and yielded averages of 13.5 points, 5.5 boards, 2.0 triples, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 steals and 3.0 triples. Of course, the triples jump off the page and that will have to be an area in which Ross will have to flourish to have value in fantasy leagues. Clearly, this move accelerates the youth movement in Toronto, so they might let him loss.
Ross has taken 60 percent of his 3-point attempts above the break vs. 40 percent in the corner, so he should continue to see a mixture of creating more by himself and in a two-man games vs. some spot-ups in the corner. To break it down even further, 2.3 of his 2.9 attempts from deep have been of the catch-and-shoot variety. He has also struggled on making pullup triples at just 16.7 percent. There is a lot of room to grow, but it won't happen right away.
As an aside, Ross is a better pickup than Landry Fields and John Salmons for his upside.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks 3% owned - There was a lot to like about Antetokounmpo a week ago, but there is even more now based on how the rotation has been shaken up by coach Larry Drew. In the past couple games, the rookie has been lining up at shooting guard, small forward and power forward while being used in various different types of offensive sets. That wasn't the case in about four preceding games, which is really a big step in the right direction.
The Bucks would eventually have a logjam at small forward once Caron Butler comes back. Even though Giannis' post defense will be terrible, Alphabet has the length to cover some fours. His perimeter D isn't too shabby either outside of his lack of pick-and-roll defense.
There is a lot to like about his ceiling. In just 21.0 minutes per game over his last five games, he averaged 5.8 points, 4.4 boards, 2.2. assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.4 steals and 0.4 triples on 54.2 percent from the field. It would probably be beneficial for owners to be able to stash him on a weekly league or a league with a deep bench since there will likely be more duds than big games over the next two months. The Bucks are going to go into tank mode and they'll want to try and uncover if Antetokounmpo is a role player or someone that can blossom into a starting small forward. He turned 19 on Saturday.
Otto Porter Wizards 26% owned - Martell Webster going down with an ankle sprain is going to act as a catalyst for Porter to get in the rotation. He made his season debut on Friday, playing 14 minutes with no points, two boards, one assist and one turnover.
He was out all year with a hip injury, and he didn't play much in Las Vegas Summer League thanks to two hamstring pulls. Even though we really haven't seen anything out of him, his college stats could make owners in deep leagues salivate. In his last year at Georgetown, Porter put up averages of 16.2 points, 7.5 boards, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.4 triples in 35.4 minutes. The upside is there, but it's going to take at least a month for him to get going.
Anthony Morrow Pelicans 1% owned - The Pelicans moving Ryan Anderson in the paint a little bit is going to change the spacing on their team. Anderson has lined up at center a ton, especially with the Pelicans down on the scoreboard.
After Anderson, the Pelicans don't really have many other guys that can be the trigger guy. Morrow had a mini blip on the radar on Friday with 10 points and two boards in 19 minutes, but there could be better things on the way.
Amir Johnson Raptors 72% owned - On the off chance Amir was dropped and is for some reason sitting around, this is your cue. It's pretty simple. Plus, Rudy Gay leaving opens things up. Hello, Jonas Valanciunas.
Markieff Morris Suns 35% owned - There are a lot of Eric Bledsoe fans in the world and I'm one of them, but there probably aren't many bigger than Markieff Morris. He shoots 56 percent from the field with Bledsoe on the court compared to just 48 percent with him on the bench. What's more his points per shot is at a pristine 1.22 compared to 1.05 -- a huge difference.
Morris got back in his owners' good graces on Friday with a gem of 25 points, 11 boards and one assist in 32 minutes. Coach Jeff Hornacek has been playing him at center quite a bit with Miles Plumlee starting to be exposed and the Suns are clearly a better team when he's on the court. Interestingly, when the Suns win, Morris plays an average of 29.4 minutes per game compared to 22.3 minutes in losses.
The 24-year-old forward can fill it up with steals, blocks and threes, making him a high-upside pickup. For what it's worth, he put up April averages of 11.8 points, 6.9 boards, 1.4 steals, 1.5 blocks and 1.6 triples in 28.4 minutes.
Taj Gibson Bulls 26% owned - Taj Gibson was featured in last week's Waiver Wired article and hopefully you jumped on him then, as he's been nothing short of spectacular ever since. He started at SF with Luol Deng (Achilles) out vs. the Pistons on Saturday, notching 21 & 10, and before that he'd scored 18+ points in four straight games off the bench. The Bulls need production anywhere they can find it, particularly until Luol "Do-it-all" Deng returns, and fantasy owners should soak up Gibson's production while it lasts. In the past five games he's shooting 60.8 percent from the field with 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and only 1.0 turnovers.
Trevor Booker Wizards 0% owned - Nene (Achilles) could miss some time and the Wizards will have to go with Cook Book more often. He is a scrappy guy and might be able to flirt with some double-doubles over the next week or however long Nene is out.
Jason Smith Pelicans 21% owned - As mentioned, the Pelicans need bodies and they really only have Smith as the only reliable center. He was getting bumped out with Anthony Davis sliding over to play center more, but with Davis out, he's the keystone to their defense.
He's one of those guys that won't be taking many shots from beyond eight feet and his fouling issue will rear its ugly head here and there, as well. However, the sample size is big enough to consider him as a strong add in most leagues. In his last four games, he averaged 8.3 points, 10.0 boards, 0.5 blocks and 0.5 steals in 32.8 minutes.
Brandan Wright Mavericks 2% owned - Wright is back at practice and fantasy owners might want to take notice. He was outstanding in the last month of the season with his 2.1 blocks per game in just 22.7 minutes while adding 10.7 points, 4.6 boards and 0.6 steals in only 22.7 minutes.
The Mavericks have enjoyed some out-of-the-blue production with DeJuan Blair, so there is going to be some limitation on Wright, especially in the early going. However, Samuel Dalembert is trending down and coach Rick Carlisle isn't 100 percent confident in Sammy. When Dalembert missed shootaround last month, the coach said "we'll see" about putting him back in the starting lineup and he finally made the move permanent last week and there's no sign of Dalembert getting his job back. DeJuan Blair was outstanding off the bench, which raises the question if Wright moves in with the starters. Regardless, as long as he gets his 24 minutes per game, Wright will be worth a look for his blocking prowess alone. If you're hurting in that department, you might want to be ahead of the curve.
Kelly Olynyk Celtics 28% owned - The rookie is going to be coming back from his ankle injury in the near future and it could be as soon as this week. Olynyk did get the starting spot at center before going down, but it might not have been on merit. He couldn't knock down shots at all and this would be a pickup on potential. The strange part about this season is while he can't hit mid-range shots, that was his best asset at Orlando Summer League. He's a score-first center with lower upside.
Robert Sacre Lakers 2% owned - Sacre has taken over as the Lakers' starting center, and according to Mike D'Antoni he might keep the job ahead of guys like Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman or Shawne Williams. "I thought he played well the whole game," D'Antoni said after Friday's matchup with the Kings. "He had some big stops on [Demarcus] Cousins. And I thought for the first time [starting] he looked really good." D'Antoni also thinks Jordan Hill is more "comfortable" off the bench. Fantasy owners can expect Sacre to contribute blocks, rebounds and low-volume, high-percentage points for as long as he's getting sufficient playing time. He's averaged just 20 minutes in the past two games but still put up 11.5 points, 6.0 boards, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks. Foul trouble will be a major factor for his value, as made clear by his career average of 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes.
Timofey Mozgov Nuggets 10% owned - Timofey Mozgov had a two-game stretch last week in which he averaged 16.5 points, 17.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks, the best back-to-back performances of his brief career. He has predictably cooled off since, hovering closer to his season-average 8.7 points, 6.2 boards, 1.3 blocks in 19 minutes per game, numbers which should be easily attainable until JaVale McGee returns from his fractured tibia. McGee has yet to begin any lower-body workouts, however, and Kenneth Faried seems to be falling out of favor with Brian Shaw, which makes Mozgov an option for owners in need of a low-end center.