As we've been saying every week these days, it feels like there are more players to pick up off the waiver wire than ever before. This week was no different as it's becoming more clear which teams are bad and which ones are good, so that means we'll see a lot of deep-league adds start to unearth themselves in the coming weeks. As always, savvy fantasy owners should always try to trade two of their players for one player to possibly free up roster spots for all the pickups that will be out there. Plus, it's not crazy to think the good NBA teams will just shut down their best players to cut down possible late-season injuries. It's going to be fun! I'm not kidding because I love the waiver wire in fantasy.
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Injuries since Monday
Nikola Vucevic (right ankle) and Aaron Gordon (right ankle) were both unable to return from Wednesday’s game. After needing help off the floor, Vooch left in a boot and on crutches, so he looks to be in worse shape. Gordon was able to play through his sprain at first, but was pulled and also left with a crutch. No bueno. Khem Birch, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mo Bamba will all be asked to step up. Michael Carter-Williams is also out indefinitely with a hip issue.
Aron Baynes (hip) is going to miss his second-straight game tonight and Ricky Rubio (back) is doubtful. It was clear Rubio was hurting in his return on Tuesday, so there should be some Tyler Johnson and Elie Okobo. Frank Kaminsky figures to start for Baynes against the Pelicans.
Draymond Green sat out of a back-to-back set on Wednesday due to a sore right heel. Green also hurt his elbow on Tuesday when Ky Bowman fell on him, and coach Steve Kerr said it was sort of a general soreness kind of situation to sit him out. Not good. Ky Bowman was back in the starting lineup after Green had been starting at guard. It also helped Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman. Kevon Looney is also getting closer and will join the Warriors this weekend.
Damian Lillard (back) is going to miss his second-straight game tonight while Anfernee Simons (ankle) and Hassan Whiteside (hip) are both questionable. Yikes. It’ll be a team effort with more responsibility headed C.J. McCollum’s way.
Kyrie Irving’s right shoulder injury isn’t new, but the new development is that the Nets say he can’t play through his shoulder injury and he did not practice today. While it isn’t a long-term concern, he could miss additional time. Spencer Dinwiddie will continue to start while Dzanan Musa, Garrett Temple and Theo Pinson benefit.
Chandler Hutchison (shins) missed Wednesday and could miss more time. Plus, Otto Porter (foot) is out at least two more weeks, and it’s possibly longer. Shaquille Harrison proved to be a hot add on Wednesday and is worth a grab until we see these guys back out there. Luke Kornet also had a sinus procedure, so he will miss at least a week. It’s possible Daniel Gafford has another Wally Pipp situation over Kornet.
Josh Richardson (hip) hurt himself in practice and missed Wednesday’s game. Richardson had been a little banged up, so hopefully he won’t miss more time. Furkan Korkmaz flopped in his fill-in start Wednesday.
Bogdan Bogdanovic said he had cramping in his leg at the tail end of his career-high 31 points on Tuesday. It sounds like he’ll be OK, but Trevor Ariza (groin) is still hurting. Nemanja Bjelica should have some value for another week with Marvin Bagley (thumb) possibly back after the four-game road trip. Make sure Bagley is owned.
Danuel House hurt his left shoulder after he bumped Nikola Jokic on a screen on Wednesday. He did not return and is getting evaluated today. It didn’t appear his shoulder popped out unlike Kevin Huerter and Zach Collins, so it may be a day-to-day issue. Ben McLemore would be the next man up.
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In the previous two weeks of this column, the injuries were so numerous that we couldn’t really dig in on a situation regarding a big injury for the week. This week, it’s not nearly as bad, so we can focus more on what looks like the largest injury so far this week, Nikola Vucevic, and some other ones with major impact. While Vooch’s season has been a mild disappointment to date, he’s still playing 30.8 minutes per game with a 25.0 usage rate. Plus, the Magic are at a -11.8 net rating when he’s off the court, which is the lowest of any player -- second-ranked +5.6 net rating on court (Fournier, +6.1). Vooch is also playing at the second-slowest pace on the team, so perhaps him missing time would speed up the 29th-ranked Magic.
With Vooch out in the second half, it was clearly Khem Birch stepping up with 15.8 minutes, 10 points, three boards and no turnovers. Mo Bamba was a distant second at the five with just 7.9 minutes, scoring two points with two rebounds and one assist. The Magic have managed Bamba’s minutes after a season-ending stress fracture injury last year, so it does look like Birch is going to see the vast majority of the Vooch minutes. Plus, Jonathan Isaac has played 13 minutes at center this season, so that figures to trend up, as well.
Isaac at the five would be good news for Al-Farouq Aminu, who figures to step up at least until Aaron Gordon is back from his ankle injury. By the way, Isaac’s stats in the tiny sample are impressive: 12 points, three boards, one steal, one 3-pointer and four blocks (!). The short version is I would add Birch, Bamba and Aminu in that order for those looking to get help from the Vooch injury. We should find out more today.
Before getting to the new adds, why is Frank Ntilikina only owned in 15% of leagues? Since being featured here on Nov. 7, he’s been flirting with top-50 total value over the last two weeks. What more do people want from him?
De’Andre Hunter (22% owned in Yahoo! leagues) - He’s been in this column a few times, but he went off in a big way with a career-high 27 points on Wednesday. Since Kevin Huerter (shoulder) went down, there have been some clear areas of improvement for Hunter. In those four games compared to the first 10, Hunter has seen a 4.7 usage rate boost, an 8.0 TS% increase, 0.7 more minutes per game, and even a 5.3 pace boost. Yes, that monster game certainly skews the efficiency, but he’s hit a 20.4-plus usage rate in three of the last four games after failing to hit that number in any of his first 10 games. Partly because of a six-steal game, Hunter’s steals in his four-game hot streak are at 1.8 after just 0.4 in his first 10, so maybe it’s coming together on that end. There aren’t many players with long-term upside for the whole season on this list of adds, but Hunter is one of them.
Jaxson Hayes (23%) - Oh, Derrick Favors. His back is hurt again, which has allowed Hayes to eat. Over the last three games, Hayes averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 boards, 1.3 steals and 2.7 blocks in just 25.4 minutes. Favors has major back problems in his career, so the Pelicans may have to hold him out for a while. Plus, it feels like Hayes may have already beaten out Jahlil Okafor and Nicolo Melli for the backup job even when Favors is back. Hayes is such a freak athlete in a system that fits him almost perfectly, so he should be owned in most leagues. Side note: I highlighted Kenrich Williams as the top add last week and he’s been excellent. He should be owned in way more leagues.
Shaquille Harrison (2%) - Shaq’s back! He got the start on Wednesday, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes. Chandler Hutchison (shins) missed that game and Otto Porter (foot) is out at least two more weeks (longer?), so it’s possible Harrison can run away with the starting job until Otto is back. Harrison has plenty of size at 6’7”, and coach Jim Boylen is obviously OK with playing three guards at once. Harrison has been exceptional in steals throughout his career with 2.2 per 36 last year, he’s improved his 3-point shooting each season, and he’s usually helped push the pace because of his style of play. Despite how Boylen loves playing Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Coby White together so much, there is clearly a path to value for Harrison. Plus, the Bulls are actually playing fast this year at 104.2 pace to put them eighth in the NBA. Harrison may have a shot at mid-round value until Otto gets back.
Khem Birch (1%) - As mentioned above because of limits on Bamba, Birch looks like the guy to add from the Vooch injury. Last season, Birch clearly outplayed Bamba, but coach Steve Clifford committed to Bamba likely because of how much draft capital they put into the lotto pick. There’s a very good chance he gets at least 24 minutes, and he’s shown he can do damage with that allotment. If going off last year’s stats set at per 24 minutes, Birch would have put up nine points, seven boards, 0.7 steals and 1.1 blocks on 60 FG% and 70 FT%. The Magic are unlikely to play Bamba in B2B sets and he has yet to play more than 16 minutes in a game yet. It’s possible 30 minutes is in the cards for Birch, so he’s a great add for those needing a big man. With Serge Ibaka possibly back on Saturday, it makes sense to swap out Chris Boucher for him.
Ky Bowman (8%) - A bit of a double-dip add because it seems like we’re talking about the Golden State Waiverers every week. Plus, the were the Golden Eight Waiverers last night with only eight players available. As mentioned above, Draymond was starting at guard, so it was Bowman who was back in the first unit on Wednesday, scoring 16 points with one rebound, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. I’d add him over Jordan Poole, who did actually play better to start this week. He is likely more of a short-term add and the Warriors may have to figure out how to convert his two-way deal down the line.
Mo Bamba (7%) - Don’t write off Bamba, though. Yes, he hasn’t played more than 16 minutes, but he hasn’t needed to. He’s played just 13.4 minutes per game, averaging 3.8 points, 4.2 boards, 1.0 blocks, 0.3 steals and 0.4 treys. He’s still played poorly this year, but maybe the added opportunity gets him rolling.
Jakob Poeltl (8%) - The Spurs are a hot mess right now with an NBA-high losing streak of seven games. Poeltl finally got the start on Wednesday at 26 minutes with 11 points, five rebounds, one steal and three blocks. We know he can block shots at a good rate when he’s on and perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures, so maybe Poeltl can get it going. Plus, he’s leading the Spurs in net rating on the year at +8.3. If you need a big, he’s a guy to consider, and keep in mind he would likely be a big winner if the Spurs did unload LaMarcus Aldridge in a trade. We're not there yet, though.
Kevon Looney (17%) - It might be time to pick up Looney. He is going to re-join the team this weekend and looks to be over his nerve issue that was discovered after a nagging hammy problem in the preseason. If you’ve seen what the Warriors are putting on the court right now and remember that coach Steve Kerr said he was expecting big things from Looney, perhaps he can hit the ground running. He may take a bit to get going, though. I’d add him over Marquese Chriss or Omari Spellman, assuming you’re not just looking for short-term boosts.
Cam Reddish (10%) - Maybe he’s not going to be the worst scorer ever after all. After his rock-bottom goose egg on Nov. 10, Reddish has upped his scoring every game from zero, five, nine, 12, 13 and a career-high 17 points last night. In the last three games, Reddish did cut down on his mid-range shots with just three, but still he made just 8-of-21 in the paint when he’s played better. Reddish still hasn’t been able to get points off the fast break and he’s seen his assisted buckets trend down a bit, so there’s still some room for improvement. Coach Lloyd Pierce was also working with Reddish alone this week, so he obviously cares about getting the rook going. Plus, don’t forget the Hawks want to get him to 30 minutes. The Hawks are flying in pace, so there’s upside if Reddish can somehow get to even like 42 FG%. You could do worse.
Duncan Robinson (8%) - You’ve probably heard about Robinson’s explosion on Wednesday with a career-high 29 points against his former college coach John Beilein, including 21 points and seven 3-pointers in the second quarter. He’s also really picked it up over the last four with 16.5 points, 1.8 boards, 1.0 steals and 4.5 treys on a 54/50/100 shooting line. As great as he’s been, it’s clear that his 30.1 minutes per game over this span is because of no Justise Winslow (concussion). That said, can Robinson stay in the first unit? The Heat starters with Robinson have a +22.4 net rating to make them the third-best lineup in the NBA (min. 48 minutes, 47 qualifiers). He's worth a look, sure, but I wouldn't be dropping someone with more long-term upside.
Patty Mills (8%) - This one is a tough nut to crack when it comes to picking him up. He was good in a start on Wednesday, scoring 16 points with one rebound, six assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Derrick White missed this game for a foot issue, and Pop said he wanted to get Mills out there for scoring. However, the Spurs just gave up 138 points to the Wizards, so Mills may not stick. Much like Poeltl, all bets are off with how poorly the Spurs are playing right now, and PG is a tough add in fantasy. If you missed out on Shaq and others, take a shot on Mills. Side note: Dejounte Murray looked like he was about to get real hot before getting pulled in the fourth, so keep the faith.
Mikal Bridges (41%) - He is over the 35% threshold, but he’s been dropped a whole bunch of leagues that I’m in. He had easily his best game of the year on Tuesday with 20 points, five rebounds, two steals and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes. Although, coach Monty Williams didn’t let him get all the closing run despite his strong play. Still, Bridges has been held in check all season, but now he should see more minutes with Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky having to play more five. Perhaps he can dominate tonight to earn more run, and he has much more attractive long-term upside over Kaminsky. If you wanted some short-term boost from the Baynes injury, I’d slot Kaminsky in about this spot for this column, too.
Nassir Little (5%) - A double-dip from last week, but things have changed a bit. While Carmelo Anthony got all the shine on Tuesday, it was Little who came through on the stat sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. His positional flexibility has been huge for the Blazers, and they may need to count on him even more with Damian Lillard (back) out and with Hassan Whiteside (hip) possibly out, too. Plus, the Blazers are 5-10 and may let their young guys develop sooner than we thought. Anfernee Simons was highlighted last week and obviously he needs to be owned until Dame is back. Simons went through shootaround and it sounds like he’s going to play. Skal Libissiere may also be in line for more minutes while we could get some Moses Brown.
Al-Farouq Aminu (5%) - As mentioned above, he should see minutes in the 20s at least until Aaron Gordon is back, but AG may not be out for long. Aminu can do a little bit of everything, so he'd be a stronger add if we heard Gordon was set to miss more time.
Kevin Porter Jr. (1%) - Despite being a bit of a Cedi Osman backer here, his time might be running out in the first unit. Coach John Beilein made a big lineup change to start the second half in a blowout loss in Miami with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman getting the hook for Matthew Dellavedova, Jordan Clarkson and Porter Jr. Osman has really been a shell of himself on the defensive end and hasn’t really shown much growth. Meanwhile, Porter Jr. has improved over his last four, averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 boards, 2.8 dimes, 1.8 steals and 1.3 treys on a 47/36/38 shooting line (whoops on FT%). Beilein hinted he could make a change to his starting lineup, and it does make some sense to let KPJ cook. Of course, the Cavs are 4-10 and will likely let him get big minutes late in the year as they alter their active roster. Maybe Porter Jr. even cuts into Garland’s playing time, too.
Daniel Gafford (3%) - He looks to have locked down the backup five spot with a 21-point explosion on Monday, but cooled off with two points on Wednesday. Perhaps Gafford can get minutes next to Wendell Carter Jr. at some point, but for now he’s just a stash in most leagues. Although, don’t forget how many minor injuries WCJ had in the preseason.
Donte DiVincenzo (22%) - His value as a hold in 12-team leagues is likely going to run out at around the end of this month, but perhaps DiVincenzo has graduated to earn more minutes even when Khris Middleton (quad) is back. In his last four, he averaged 11.0 points, 4.5 boards, 2.5 dimes, 2.0 steals and 1.8 treys on a 53/39/75 shooting line. He’s been a sixth-round player over that small sample, so props to those of us who picked him up from the Middleton fallout. Although, he won’t be able to sustain this value when Middleton is back and he might become a drop, so I’d consider dropping him for someone with possible upside until December and beyond. By the way, it was very interesting that D.J. Wilson played over Ersan Ilyasova, so maybe that’s a tip that the Bucks may try to find new ways to play White Donte.
Ben McLemore (1%) - Danuel House’s injury didn’t look bad, but B-Mac could be getting a short-term boost. He was excellent in his last two starts at 20.5 points per game, but Russell Westbrook sat out one of those. Unless we get surprising bad news on House, McLemore would likely be a stream guy.
Terence Davis II (3%) - He has really balled out in the last two, averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 boards, 6.0 dimes and 0.5 steals in two wins. Davis has benefitted from garbage time with a whopping 11.0 points and 5.0 dimes per fourth over this span, so don’t get totally fired up about it. Plus, Kyle Lowry (thumb) could be back soon, so TD2 is more of a streaming play in most formats.
Elie Okobo (0%) and Tyler Johnson (1%) - Ricky Rubio aggravated his back injury on Tuesday, which allowed Johnson to play 18 minutes with two points, three rebounds and three assists. Okobo also played 18 minutes with four points, two rebounds, five assists and one turnover. Both were over Jevon Carter ,who had played great in the last run without Rubio earlier this year. Generally, I’d keep away from this one, but tonight’s matchup against the Pelicans could be a fantasy fest. I’d consider Okobo or Johnson as punt plays, and Okobo might be getting the start.
Lonnie Walker IV (1%) - Super deep stash mode here with how poorly the Spurs are playing. Maybe DeMar DeRozan gets dealt, and Walker has shown at least some flashes in the preseason and in Vegas as one of the top scorers in July.
Brad Wanamaker (1%) - He might be the guy until Hayward is back, and did look good on Wednesday with 14 points, three rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. Coach Brad Stevens is almost always going to play the matchups at the back end of the rotation, but at least Wanamaker has the backup PG job until Gordon Hayward is back.
Lastly, it’s hilarious how Carmelo Anthony is already owned in 48% of Yahoo! Leagues. Never change, fantasy world.