• Hello again Hoop Ballers! Welcome to the first regular season edition of Deep League Digging – my  column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for managers in leagues with 16-teams or greater.

    At this point, it is probably safe to assume that you have completed your draft, Whether you are convinced you just drafted the winning team, or are already frantically searching for trade partners, it is never too early to identify some candidates for your waiver wire watch list. It is no secret that the deeper your league, the less likely you are to find a wire pickup that swings your team from bottom-feeder to playoff-contender. However, diligence in monitoring the wire is still essential to build a winning team in even the deepest of leagues. With that in mind, let’s examine some early season watch list and flier candidates.

    NOTE: I am trying to cover everything from 16-team leagues to 30-team leagues and am looking at players that are available in more than 95 percent of Yahoo leagues. Consider your league size before acting on any analysis presented. If a player is must-roster in 30-team leagues, that may only translate to streaming value in 16-team formats. Conversely, if a player is roster-worthy in 16-team formats, it is generally safe to consider them a must-roster player in larger leagues.

    Devonte’ Graham (9% rostered) – (warms up for victory lap) After writing about Graham probably no less than 50 times in dynasty articles, a game one explosion for 23 points, six triples, four rebounds and eight assists feels really good. But now… the reality check. He shot 78 percent from the field, and has consistently struggled to eclipse the 40 percent mark throughout both his college and NBA career. This is simply not going to stick. He is absolutely worth a flier in all leagues, but know that in a bench role with shooting that is due for regression, he is probably more of a fringe top-150 guy than locked in top-100 player.

    Nicolo Melli (4% rostered) – Melli should see action while Zion is out, but his role is still in question as Alvin Gentry went with a super deep rotation in game one against the Raptors. He is worth a speculative add, but don’t expect much from Melli from a stat set perspective. He will shoot a lot of threes, do so relatively efficiently, and that is probably about it on most nights.

    Derrick Jones (3% rostered) – There are a lot of question marks around the Heat’s rotation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones move into the starting lineup at some point this season. He has some real holes in his development still, but in a 25-minute role he could conceivably average over one three, steal and block per game.

    Goga Bitadze (2% rostered) – While Bitadze is firmly planted behind Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on the depth chart, he should still see minutes off bench and stands to see a big jump in playing time if Turner or Sabonis miss any time. His value is primarily going to come from blocks, but he may chip in a three every now and then and won’t hurt you in either percentage. The DNP-CD in game one is a bummer, and Bitadze is probably a slow burn.

    Jordan Poole (2% rostered) – Poole was pretty solid in Summer League and the preseason, and the Warriors will need him to play consistent rotation minutes given their glaring hole on the wing. Outside of threes, Poole doesn’t contribute much statistically and he can do some damage to your field goal percentage, but it is worth sticking him on a watch list in 16-team leagues and taking a flier in 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Glenn Robinson III (2% rostered) – Similar to Poole, Robinson will probably get minutes because the Warriors need someone – anyone – to fill in on the wing. He doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as some of the other guys on this list, but the opportunity to earn a steady role is there if Robinson can take it.

    Bruce Brown (1% rostered) – The Pistons’ wing rotation is a bit ugly, but Brown has a chance to start at the two this season next to Reggie Jackson or Derrick Rose. He put up big numbers in Summer League playing on the ball, so his fantasy game could take a big step forward this year if they put the ball in his hands more. Even outside of a playmaking role, Brown has a solid – if not unremarkable – fantasy floor due to his relatively steady defensive stat accumulation.

    Chris Boucher (1% rostered) – I’m not shy about hyping up Boucher’s fantasy potential, but a DNP-CD in a game that went the distance to overtime was not the best sign. I still think he cracks the rotation at some point this year, so keep him on your watch list because Boucher doesn’t need many minutes to be on the radar in 16-team leagues.

    Grant Williams (1% rostered) – Williams has a shot to play steady rotation minutes from the jump, and could work his way into a larger role. He’s got a really fantasy-friendly game, and can contribute across the board. Carsen Edwards‘ gaudy scoring lines get all the attention, but I wouldn’t be surprised if within a few months Williams is clearly the better rookie fantasy option in Boston.

    Bruno Fernando (1% rostered)– With only Alex Len and Damian Jones as competition for minutes at the five, Fernando has a shot at cracking the rotation this season. He won’t likely contribute much outside of blocks and rebounds, but I’m pretty high on him long-term and think that he could eventually turn into a must-roster 16-team player.

    Mario Hezonja (1% rostered) – Hezonja didn’t do much in his first game with the Blazers, but it was encouraging to see him play close to 20 minutes off the bench. He is largely a known commodity at this point, so I wouldn’t expect a huge step forward, but he should be on the radar at least as a steals streamer in 16-team leagues.

    Cameron Johnson (1% rostered) – I’m not quite sure what to make of the Suns’ wing rotation with Oubre, Bridges, Cameron Johnson and even Tyler Johnson all in the mix for minutes, but I’d be fairly shocked if Cam Johnson didn’t have a consistent role. He doesn’t offer much outside of threes, but it is worth keeping him on your radar.

    Isaac Bonga (1% rostered) – Bonga started for the Wizards with Troy Brown sitting due to injury and looked solid. This Wizards rotation is ugly and impossible to pin down, so there is a chance it sticks, but with Brown set to return soon, Bonga’s fantasy relevance could be limited. Feel free to take a flier, but in deep leagues Brown will likely the be the player to have if healthy.

    Terence Davis (<1% rostered) – In 15 minutes off the bench in the Raptors’ first game this season, Davis showed some encouraging signs. His game is super fantasy friendly, so in even a 15-20 minute role he should be relevant in 16-team leagues. Davis probably has shown enough to move from watch list candidate to speculative add territory in all deep leagues.

    Dzanan Musa (<1% rostered) – With Chandler missing time due to suspension, Musa has an opportunity to crack the rotation. He’s looked solid throughout Summer League and preseason, so keep him on your radar in deeper leagues. His stat set is a bit of a mystery, but he could be relatively rare source of points and assists off the wire if he sees consistent minutes.

    Duncan Robinson (<1% rostered) – He played a surprisingly large role in the Heat’s season opener, but we need to remember that they were missing Jimmy Butler. He doesn’t offer much intrigue beyond 3-point shooting, but he could be a decent streaming option in 16-team leagues and should probably be rostered in 20-team leagues and deeper until we know how this rotation shakes out.

    Jacob Evans (<1% rostered) – Evans looked solid on the ball in Summer League, so he could be a solid source of assists off the wire in deep leagues. The Warriors are pretty thin at the guard position beyond Curry and Russell, so keep Evans on your watch list in all deep leagues and consider a speculative add if the minutes are there.

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