• 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

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Andre Drummond had a rocky transition after moving to the Cavs in 2019-20, but not before putting up a solid first half of season with the Pistons as top-20 player in 8-cat and a top-30 player in 9-cat per-game value, thanks to his 15.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game on .532 shooting.

    Drummond, as expected, saw a significant slip in value after moving to the Cavs at the trade deadline. The presence of big men Tristan Thompon, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. provided Drummond with ample competition for minutes. Aside from that, Drummond also dealt with a left calf strain that didn't do his fantasy value any favors. He's already stated that he intends to exercise his player option for the next season, but given the Cavs' developmental shift in direction, he's someone you can expect to see with a lot of valuation volatility heading into 2020-21.

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    According to Shams Charania, Michael Beasley could be making a return to the NBA after moving closer to a deal with the Nets.

    The Nets are sorely undermanned given the high number of their players who have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Beasley last played in the league for the Pistons in 2019 and could provide some limited, albeit versatile production off the bench.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Ante Zizic
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Ante Zizic finishes the season outside the top-350 in 8/9-cat formats with averages of 4.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 0.2 BPG in just 10.0 MPG across 22 games.

    Sadly, there weren't many minutes left for Zizic to snack on in 2019-20, with Tristan Thompson playing rejuvenated basketball and Kevin Love being nominally healthy. Also, Larry Nance Jr. was being groomed as a developmental project by the team. All of this resulted in Zizic becoming the odd man out of the equation. He's drawn interest from Turkish Airlines Euroleague ten Maccabi Tel Aviv, so an off-season departure is not completely out of the question.

  • Jordan Bell
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Jordan Bell's 2019-20 was marred by a right shoulder injury that couldn't get over, causing him to be non-factor in fantasy, tossed around four teams like a hot potato.

    Bell's second year in the league was a fantasy flop. He landed a two-year deal with the Cavs over the hiatus after passing through the Wolves, Rockets and Grizzlies this season. A nagging shoulder sprain limited Bell to averaging just 8.8 minutes per game with averages of 3.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 0.3 BPG on .522 shooting from the field. This resulted in Bell ranking at 418/433 on per-game value and 398/401 on total value. The Cavs are currently still stacked with players in their frontcourt, so there's still big question mark as to what kind of role Bell will fill moving forward.

  • Dante Exum
    PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Oft-injured Aussie guard Dante Exum was unable to shake the injury bug in 2019-20, leaving him to play just 35 games on the season and finishing at 366/380 in 8/9-cat Per-Game value.

    Sadly, 2019-20 wasn't too kind to Exum, who still couldn't stay on the floor for an extended period of time. It also didn't help his cause that the Cavs have a young crop of players who are hungry for minutes at Exum's position. To his credit, Exum was able to record a new career-high with 28 points in early January, but for the most part, he lacked any sort of consistency to be counted on in fantasy. He ends 2019-20 with averages of 4.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 1.0 APG in 13.9 MPG on .471 shooting from the field.

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    According to Chris Haynes, Kawhi Leonard did not travel with the Clippers to Walt Disney World for the assumption of the 2019-20 NBA season.

    The good news here is that it was to attend to a family matter and that Kawhi got permission from his team. He is expected to join the rest of the Clippers in a few days. Leonard was notorious for missing games throughout the season due to "load management" and rest. Since this is not an injury-related absence (tardiness), there should be no real concerns about Leonard not being able to play at a top-10 caliber fantasy stud for the remaining eight games of the season.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Jamal Crawford
    SG, Brooklyn Nets

    According to Shams Charania, the injury-plagued Nets have agreed to a deal with 18-year veteran Jamal Crawford.

    The Nets have been ravaged by the Coronavirus as well as injuries and have a skeletal force trying to compete in the resumption of the season in the Orlando bubble, so it makes sense that they'd look for reinforcements in free agency. Crawford is no spring chicken, but his game has been known to be age-friendly, providing him opportunities to contribute as a scorer and 3-point shooting threat off the bench.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Alfonzo McKinnie
    SF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Alfonzo McKinnie finished outside the top-350 in both 8- and 9-cat leagues while averaging 4.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.7 turnovers in 14.8 mpg across 40 contests with .427/.215/.710 splits.

    McKinnie has proven to be a nice depth piece for three teams in his NBA career after going undrafted in 2015. He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season and is off the fantasy radar outside of the deepest of leagues.

  • Kevin Porter Jr.
    SG-SF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Porter Jr. impressed many in the fantasy community with his showing from 2019-20 as he posted 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 threes and 1.9 turnovers in 23.2 minutes with .442/.335/.723 splits across 50 games.

    Porter even logged three starts in his rookie campaign and returned 208/260 per-game value in 8/9-cat leagues. The Cavs have had a glaring hole on the wing ever since LeBron James left in free agency and Kevin Porter Jr. is poised to become their starting small forward in years to come. Similar to most players, his biggest challenge will be his efficiency as he starts to see more minutes and an increase in usage.

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. produced 102/82 per-game value in 8/9-cat leagues while averaging 10.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 threes and 1.1 turnovers in 26.3 mpg with .531/.352/.676 splits.

    Nance played in 56 out of a possible 65 games in 2019-20 and was in the starting lineup in 10 contests. His fantasy arrow appears to be pointing up as Tristan Thompson is a free agent which should allow more opportunity for the legacy heading into next season. From January 20 on, Nance was a 6th/4th round per-game value and will likely find himself inside the top-100 next season with top-60 upside.