• Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep-league managers.

    There is a chill in the air; off in the distance is the faintest sound of ringing bells; the kids are frantically doing some last minute padding of their “nice” stats; you have heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” approximately 50,000 times – truly a magical time of year. With all of the distractions that the holiday season can throw our way, it is comforting to know that the NBA will always be there as a bedrock through this hectic time of year, consistently churning out highlights and drama in equal proportion.

    The action never slows down, so let’s take a moment to dive into the ever turbulent waters of the deep league waiver wire and parse out who is worth adding, who should be held through a rough stretch, and who it is time to cut loose.

    Adds

    Derrick Jones, F, Heat (16% rostered) – The seemingly never-ending carousel of injuries that the Heat have endured opened up a spot in the rotation for Jones lately and he has capitalized in a big way. His defensive contributions have been massive (averaging 1.8 steals/game and 1.2 blocks/game over the past two weeks), but we should expect some regression there in addition to his sky-high field goal percentage (65 percent) falling a bit as well. His role may diminish as the Heat begin to heal up, but he could be looking at roughly 20 minutes per night for the next month or so at least. He’s not a must-roster guy in 16-team formats and can put a pretty heavy dent in your free throw percentage, but he should be on rosters in anything deeper.

    Kevin Huerter, G, Hawks (15% rostered) – Everything’s coming up Kevin lately! Over the past two weeks, Huerter is sitting comfortably inside of the top-100 in 33 minutes per game and is sitting inside the top-150 in 28 minutes per game over the last month. His minutes stand to take a hit when Taurean Prince is healthy, but has played well enough to secure a solid role moving forward with the opportunity to really bust out post all-star break.

    Matthew Dellavedova, G, Cavaliers (11% rostered) – Ever since Delly returned back to the land in a deal for George Hill and John Henson, he has been on a tear. It could be a homecoming bump, but it is more likely because this roster is in absolute disarray. We shouldn’t expect the top-100 production of the past week to continue, but there is a chance that he settles in around the top-200 mark in 20 minutes per game. That would make him a back-end player in 16-team leagues if you need assists, and probably only must-roster in 20-team leagues and deeper. He sat last night with left knee soreness, so managers may want to pause and wait for some additional news before moving to scoop up Delly.

    Robert Williams, C, Celtics (8% rostered) – The punctuality-challenged rookie has finally cracked the Celtics rotation lately and is posting some gaudy block numbers. In the last week, Williams is averaging 3.7 blocks in only 17 minutes per game. It initially appeared that the opportunity would be short-lived as a minor injury to Al Horford opened up the opportunity for Williams. However, the news that Aron Baynes will miss about a month to recover from a broken hand means that Williams’ run of fantasy relevance may last a bit longer. He is a blocks specialist, so it isn’t a run-don’t-walk sort of situation for every team, but he should almost certainly be on someone in your league’s roster in all deep leagues. With that said, don’t drop anyone with season-long appeal to pick up Williams as he may end up out of the rotation again when the Celtics are back at full strength.

    Mike Muscala, F/C, Sixers (5% rostered) – The Moose is officially loose. Over the last two weeks Muscala is scoring 9.7 points per game on 43 percent efficiency with 2.0 triples and 1.3 blocks per game which equates to roughly top-120 value. The 43 percent shooting is actually a bit inflated for Muscala compared to his 39 percent mark from the field on the year, but even with some regression there he is pretty much locked into top-150 value moving forward.

    T.J. McConnell, G, Sixers (4% rostered) – While Markelle Fultz floats around in the ether, McConnell will continue to have value in a reserve guard role for the Sixers. He’s a top-200 player on the year in 19 minutes per game, but since rejoining the regular rotation McConnell is a top-150 player almost entirely due to his 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. His role is a bit in question depending on what happens with Fultz moving forward, but he will hold back-end 16-team value for as long as Fultz is out.

    Bulls Guards – Earlier this season, Ryan Arcidiacono (4% rostered) filled in admirably while Kris Dunn recovered from a sprained MCL, but his play has fallen off lately as Dunn is returns to a full workload. However, with the news that Zach LaVine will miss 2-4 weeks with a sprained ankle Arcidiacono now re-emerges as a solid add option in 16-team leagues. Shaq Harrison (<1% rostered) also stands to benefit from LaVine’s absence and should be rostered in 16-team leagues while he is out – though Harrison is more of a steals specialist while Arcidiacono will provide more assists. Cameron Payne (1% rostered) is worth a look in 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Maurice Harkless, F, Blazers (2% rostered) – Harkless has been on fire lately, shooting 60 percent from the field over the Blazers’ last six games. That type of efficiency won’t stick, but the counting stats that he has posted over that same period (0.8 threes, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks) are sustainable. There aren’t many challengers for his minutes, so Harkless is a fairly safe bet to return top-150 value rest of season as long as he can stay healthy.

    Danuel House, F, Rockets (1% rostered) – House is not making any headlines, but since signing a two-way deal with the Rockets in early December he is posting consistent top-250 numbers. That isn’t much to write home about in most leagues, but can be meaningful in 30-teamers. His two-way status will limit his ceiling (he can only spend 45 days with the Rockets), but give House a look in super deep formats for a short-term lift.

    Chasson Randle, G, Wizards (<1% rostered) – Randle was featured recently here on the G-League Watch article here on Deep League Digging. He was tearing it up down there, so it only seemed like a matter of time before he got a shot on the big stage. Randle is more of a watch list guy in 16-team leagues due to his likely-inconsistent role, but is worth a flier in 20-team leagues and deeper due to the Wizards’ paper-thin guard rotation.

    Sterling Brown, G/F, Bucks (<1% rostered) – Sterling Brown appears to have overtaken Pat Connaughton on the depth chart and has seen increased run lately with Ersan Ilyasova still on the mend from a nose contusion. There really is no telling how long this will last as he seems to bounce in and out of the rotation with some regularity, but he is posting near top-150 value over the last six games. That sort of production won’t stick, but he is worth a flier on the hope that he can hold down a consistent 15-20 minute role in the rotation. Brown is around on plenty of waiver wires, so give him a look in 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Hold

    Mikal Bridges, F, Suns (10% rostered) – Bridges has slowly been gathering steam of late following a number of early season fits and starts. He shouldn’t have been on anyone’s 16-team drop list given his upside, but as Suns bringing back Kelly Oubre in a trade for Trevor Ariza does give some cause for concern. However, early returns on the new rotation suggest that Oubre and Bridges can coexist as Bridges played 33 minutes last night compared to Oubre’s 26. There may be nights where that flips, but the prospect of Bridges’ upside on a terrible Suns team warrants patience.

    Tomas Satoransky, G, Wizards (5% rostered) – On the other side of the Wizards-Suns trade sits Tomas Satoransky. Since the Wizards landed Ariza, Sato has moved back to the bench which may have prompted many to hit the eject button. In shallower leagues, that is a fine move, but even in a reserve guard role Satoransky should still be able to flirt with top-200 or even top-175 value, making him worth a hold in 18-team leagues and deeper.

    De’Anthony Melton, G, Suns (10% rostered) – And now, back to the Suns! It might get ugly for Melton as Devin Booker plays more at the one with Oubre on board now. He played only 16 minutes last night despite drawing the start, and we can probably expect inconsistent minutes averaging out around 20-22 per night moving forward. If you can handle some stinkers here and there, Melton is worth holding in all deep leagues on the hope that his minutes begin to tick back up as the season moves on.

    Jeremy Lin, G, Hawks (10% rostered) – Lin is back in action after missing a few games with a lower back strain, but it has not been pretty. Things will get better from here though, and Lin should continue to provide roughly top-175 value moving forward as long as he can stay healthy. Stay patient in 16-team leagues and deeper If you held Lin through the injury, better days are ahead.

    Drop

    Mario Hezonja, F, Knicks (24% rostered) – Given the lack of upside on the wire, it is always wise to give players a longer leash in deep leagues before cutting bait entirely, but I think that we have reached that point with Hezonja. His minutes are consistently trending down, and in the rare game that he logs over 20 minutes the results are pedestrian. After 31 games he is barely inside the top-350 this year – time to say goodbye in all but 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Marcin Gortat, C, Clippers (18% rostered) – I’m not quite sure what is going on in 18 percent of leagues, but it is becoming apparent that Gortat is officially washed. Even if he is officially listed as the starter, the bulk of the minutes at center belong to Montrezl Harrell. He is a very borderline hold in 20-team leagues and deeper, but feel free to move on in anything shallower.

    Avery Bradley, G, Clippers (7% rostered) – Bradley is outside of the top-300 on the season in 30 minutes per game. His latest line – 30 minutes with zero points, zero threes, one rebound, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks and five fouls. The prosecution rests its case.

    Frank Ntilikina, G, Knicks (4% rostered) – 16-team managers can probably move on at this point. The Knicks’ rotations are too inconsistent and Emmanuel Mudiay has likely done enough to lock down the starting point guard job for the foreseeable future, limiting Ntilikina to fight for back up scraps with Trey Burke (who is also fine to drop in 16-team leagues at this point).

    Shelvin Mack, G, Grizzlies (3% rostered) – That magical stretch of top-150 fantasy production to start the year is well behind us now. The minutes are pretty steady, but he has regressed back to the mean in a major way. If you are still holding in 16-team leagues, feel free to move on and take an upside flier or open up a streaming spot.

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    After speaking with Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank, Dan Woike's takeaway is that Kawhi Leonard's "load management" will not be as strict as it was last year.

    It was reported in July that Kawhi said he wants to play all next season fully and approach load management on a game-to-time basis so this is further confirmation that he will most likely play more than the 60 games he played last year but surely won't play all 82 either. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports speculates that this could be for several reasons. One could be that Leonard can take on more now that he is a little healthier while he believes the Clippers might also limit his per-game minutes to help him play more games. The other idea is that because the Western Conference is so deep, the Clippers will not be able to get a good seed if Leonard sits too many games. Fantasy wise, Leonard finished last season seventh in per game value but 18th in total value since he played only 60 games. Near the top of the second round would be a great place to snag him if he plays around 70 games this season.

    Source: Dan Woike on Twitter

  • Malik Beasley
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets want to extend Malik Beasley and Juan Hernagomez before the October 21 deadline.

    The Nuggets already locked up one of their 2016 first-round picks (Jamal Murray) to a long-term deal and now want to do the same with their other two 2016 first-round picks, Hernangomez and Beasley. If not, the two will likely become restricted free-agents at the end of the season. Both players saw stretches of big minutes last season due to injuries but at full health, Beasley was around 20 minutes per game while Hernangomez was at around 10. Fantasy wise, neither player puts up big defensive stats but Beasley is a very efficient shooter with low turnovers, knocking down 2.0 triples per game last year, putting him near top-150 value at only 23.2 minutes per game. Hernangomez is a decent rebounder and knocked down 0.9 triples per game but he would need closer to 30 minutes per game to be a factor in standard leagues.

    Source: Denver Post

  • OG Anunoby
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."

    With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Daryl Macon
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have signed Daryl Macon.

    Macon getting picked up by another NBA squad after a solid Summer League campaign is not a shocker. If he were to crack the rotation he would post a nice assist rate, but it is unlikely Macon will be getting playing time unless something goes terribly wrong for the Heat this season.

    Source: NBA

  • Tahjere McCall
    F, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Tahjere McCall from their Summer League team.

    This is just a depth signing for the Hawks. He shouldn't see much court time on the NBA floor if he makes the main roster out of camp

    Source: Kevin Chouinard on Twitter

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Marc Stein is reporting that the Rockets will sign Thabo Sefolosha.

    Sefolosha was among the names at a recent mini camp, and he should make for a nice fit as a defensive stopper off the bench. The Rockets have a pretty thin group of reserves so we'd expect Sefolosha to be a regular rotation player, which puts him on the board as a steals specialist in deep leagues.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Tyler Zeller
    C, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets have signed C Tyler Zeller to the training camp roster on Thursday.

    Zeller played all of six games last season with the Hawks and Grizzlies. Zeller will try to latch on as a third-string C for the Nuggets' deep frontcourt. Zeller is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Chris Dempsey on Twitter

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey said that he is not sure if he will start Luke Kennard or have him run a lot of the second-team offense.

    In addition, Casey mentioned that Kennard dealt with some knee tendinitis earlier this summer. Kennard is likely competing with Bruce Brown Jr. for the starting two-guard spot. We'll see how the rotation starts to shape in the preseason, but both players will get minutes either way.

    Source: NBA

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey revealed that although the team's training staff is easing him into things, Blake Griffin (knee) is back on the court and playing.

    Coach Casey added that the team expects Griffin to be at 100% with "no lingering effects." It looks like Griffin is progressing nicely in his return and should be all systems go for the start of the season. With Griffin's extensive injury history, the team may manage him more this year. Coming off a career year, he's expected to be an early middle-round selection.

    Source: NBA

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Coach Nate McMillan said that Victor Oladipo (knee) probably wouldn't play on opening night.

    Videos have surfaced this summer of Oladipo doing on-court work, and by all accounts, he is progressing well. Coach McMillan said that Oladipo isn't playing live yet and it would seem he still has hurdles to climb. Even when Oladipo does return, he will likely be facing minute restrictions and frequent days off, at least initially. Jeremy Lamb figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Oladipo's absence.

    Source: NBA