April 5, 2018, 1:11 pm
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 owners.
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet for those of you who are still with me at this point in the season. If you made it this far in your H2H league and still need to survey the wire, you are in your championship matchup and to you I say good luck.
I’ve been saying this for weeks, but it is doubly true at this point – it is full on silly season in the Association. Star players are resting up for the playoffs on contending teams, and starters on tanking squads are seeing their minutes significantly reduced in favor of bench players. 10-day contracts are still being handed out, and chaos rules the day. So, with that in mind, here are a few players that I think are well situated to finish the season on a high note for deep league owners.
Congrats to all of the owners out there who have already won the championship over the past few weeks, and best of luck to those still duking it out until the very bitter end of the NBA regular season. This will be the last (and an admittedly barren) waiver wire focused Deep League Digging article that I put out for obvious reasons, but if you will allow me one moment for some shameless self-promotion, feel free to check out my dynasty content including monthly articles and rankings over on the premium side here at Hoop Ball. There is no offseason for dynasty owners (corny I know, but true) so I’ll keep the content coming fast and furious on that end all throughout the coming months.
Alright, now on to what you actually came here for…
MarShon Brooks (<1% owned) – After fizzling out in the Association and spending his last four years in the Chinese Basketball Association with the likes of Jared Sullinger and Jimmer Fredette, Brooks found his back to an NBA roster when he signed a 10-day deal with the Grizzlies on March 27th. Since then, he has scored a total of 70 points (23.3 ppg) on 58-percent shooting with 11 threes, 11 assists and 5 steals over three games with the Grizzlies. That is entirely unsustainable shooting efficiency considering his career 45-percent mark from the field, but the minutes will be there on a tanking Grizzlies squad, so there is no reason not to ride his hot hand through the end of the season.
Josh Hart (4% owned) – It didn’t appear that Hart would be poised to continue his strong run from earlier in the season given the bevy of guards that he would be competing for minutes with. However, Lonzo Ball continues to sit with a knee injury, and Isaiah Thomas is done for the season, so Hart should jump right back into enjoying big minutes down the stretch. The Lakers need his production, so look to him as a strong source of triples, boards and steals here in the 11th hour.
Khem Birch (<1% owned) – I wouldn’t say that he has been unleashed lately, but the per 36 beast that is Khem Birch has at least been lightly awoken. Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are slowly seeing their minutes dip, while players like Birch, Bismack Biyombo and Mario Hezonja have seen their utilization tick upward. He doesn’t need much more than 20 minutes to fulfill the potential for double-double lines with some big defensive upside. The Magic have a strong four game schedule through the end of the season, so give him a look if you need blocks with some decently steady production on the boards to lock down that deep league championship.
Shelvin Mack (2% owned) – Similar to Birch, Mack is seeing extended run while veteran point guard D.J. Augustin is seeing his role diminish down the stretch. He can be pretty hit or miss from the field, but has a good schedule moving forward and is probably one of the better sources out there on deep league wires for assists, steals and some added upside from deep when his shot is falling.
Luke Kornet (1% owned) – The Knicks rotation is an absolute mess, and they are in a full on race to the bottom down the finishing stretch here. I’m not sure that Enes Kanter sees the floor again this season, so that opens up reserve minutes for Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks. If I had to choose I’d go with Kornet, as I’m guessing that he will get more run, and his stat set is slightly more appealing with the potential for threes, rebounds and blocks, albeit on poor efficiency from the field. That said, either could be anointed as the tank commander in chief on any given night moving forward, so predicting their utilization seems a bit more like divination at this point.
Deyonta Davis (1% owned) – I’m not sure that Marc Gasol will play more than 20 minutes in any game going forward for the rest of the season. Adding to that, JaMychal Green has missed the last two games with knee soreness and Jarell Martin left the game in the fourth quarter last night with a leg injury. That should open up even more minutes for Deyonta Davis and Ivan Rabb. Davis is the higher upside add of the two and is mainly a source of blocks and rebounds, while Rabb will probably play less but is a stronger per minute producer on the boards without the defensive upside.
Damion Lee (1% owned) – After playing on two 10-day contracts with the Hawks, Lee inked a guaranteed deal through the end of the season on April 2nd. He has played well in his 12 games on the big stage, averaging an impressive 1.4 steals per game with modest contributions across the board otherwise on poor efficiency. If you need steals give him a look – the minutes aren’t going anywhere and he has been about as reliable as they come for swipes. If you are set in steals, give Tyler Dorsey a look as a lower upside add for points and treys on even worse efficiency.
Tyrone Wallace (1% owned) – Guess who’s back, back again, Tyrone’s back, ’till the end. After running out the clock on his two-way deal, the Clippers were forced to play without Wallace until the conclusion of the G-League season in late March. He is now free to play with the team for the remainder of the season, and should see considerable minutes with Milos Teodosic sidelined for the foreseeable future. Give him a look if you need well-rounded contributions across the board with some potential for out of position blocks.
Anthony Tolliver (1% owned) – Tolliver may not do much from a stat set perspective, but boy can he get buckets when the minutes are there. In the four games that he has filled in for the injured Blake Griffin, Tolliver is averaging 16.5 points per game with 3.5 treys on… wait for it… 67 percent shooting! He is absolutely scorching hot right now, so add him if you need points and threes down the final stretch and pray that he can keep cooking.
Sean Kilpatrick (1% owned) – Kilpatrick’s increasingly prevalent role in the rotation lately over players like Lauri Markkanen and Justin Holiday is a pretty clear indication of what the Bulls are trying to do (cough…lose). Regardless of why it is happening, Kilpatrick continues to see big minutes since signing with the Bulls in late March. He won’t give you much outside of scoring and triples, but consistent double-digit scoring can be hard to find on the deep league wire, so give him a look for a boost down the stretch – I would imagine that he continues to see around 22-26 minutes per night.
April 20, 2019, 4:11 pmNicolas Batum - G/F - Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets do not yet know if Nicolas Batum will be a starter or a reserve next season.
Batum is owed over $25 million in 2019-20 and $27 million in 2020-21, meaning it would take multiple picks or young players to move him, or taking on an equally bad contract. When healthy, he obviously has talent on both ends of the floor, but we haven't seen that in a few years. With Batum's uncertainty already being talked about, Miles Bridges could be a regular starter next season, which would do wonders for his fantasy value.
April 20, 2019, 4:00 pmChris Boucher - F - Toronto Raptors
Chris Boucher (back spasms) is not listed on the injury report on Saturday.
Boucher is unlikely to see any minutes, but he's in the mix for emergency center if needed.
April 20, 2019, 3:07 pmJared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets
Moments before Game 4 tipoff, the Nets unveiled that Jared Dudley and Caris LeVert will start over Rodions Kurucs and DeMarre Carroll.
Carroll has been struggling mightily with his shot this series at 28.0 percent and Kurucs has been equally unimpressive so coach Kenny Atkinson will make a change. Dudley played 28 minutes during the Nets Game 1 win and LeVert has been arguably their best player so far this series.
Source: Serena Winters on Twitter
April 20, 2019, 2:47 pmJoel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers
Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) is a go for Game 4 against the Nets on Saturday.
Embiid averaged 22.6 minutes per game in Games 1 and 2 while missing Game 3 and his minutes will likely continue be monitored. This bodes as bad news for the Nets who have gotten used to being decimated by opposing centers all season. Perhaps that ends today with with legendary enforcer Charles Oakley seen speaking with Jarrett Allen during pregame warmups.
Source: Kyle Neubeck on Twitter
April 20, 2019, 2:08 pmCaris LeVert - G - Brooklyn Nets
LeVert is expected to play more in Game 4 than the 23.7 minutes per game he has averaged this series.
LeVert played 28 minutes last game, putting up 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and three triples. He exceeded 30 minutes only once in the Nets' last 13 games but with the team in danger of falling into a 1-3 hole, giving him more minutes may not be a bad idea as he has arguably been their best player so far this series.
Source: Greg Logan on Twitter
April 20, 2019, 1:47 pmJoel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers
Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) is a game-time decision for Saturday's Game 4 against the Nets.
With just a little more than an hour left before tip-off, Embiid's status is still in the air. Embiid missed Game 3 after playing in 1 and 2. He played only 22.6 minutes per game in those first two and the minutes will likely be monitored again if he does suit up. Coach Brett Brown said that Greg Monroe will draw the start again if Embiid cannot go. Monroe shot only 4-of-13 from the field in his Game 3 start and ended with nine points, 13 rebounds, a block and a steal in 25 minutes.
Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter
April 20, 2019, 11:20 amTony Snell - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Tony Snell (ankle) would be in an "emergency role" if he does play on Saturday according to coach Mike Budenholzer.
Snell is still progressing according to the coach but he will not be rushed back after missing almost a month of action. The Bucks have routed the Pistons in each of the first two games in their series while Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown should not be affected by Snell's return just yet.
Source: Matt Velazquez on Twitter
April 20, 2019, 9:14 amJuwan Howard - Team - Miami Heat
The Lakers will interview Juwan Howard on Tuesday for the vacant head coaching position.
Howard, an assistant coach with the Heat since 2013, will be the third candidate the Lakers interview after Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams. It has also been reported that Lue and Williams will both return for second interviews that include Jeanie Buss and other senior management. Howard is the only one of the three without head coaching experience but his extensive tutelage under Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra should pay dividends and he does have the most playing career accolades.
April 20, 2019, 12:48 amRussell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook out dueled Damian Lillard on Friday as he notched a double-double with 33 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, four triples and one block as the Thunder beat the Blazers 120-108.
The four threes were a welcome sight for Westbrook who described his play in this series prior to Friday night as "unacceptable." After being highly inefficient in the first two games, Westbrook shot 11-for-22 as he hit shot after shot in the fourth quarter to ice the win down the stretch. Oklahoma City will hope for more of the same as they look to even the series on Sunday.
April 20, 2019, 12:40 amPaul George - F - Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George labored through a 3-for-16 shooting night to score 22 points (14-for-17 from the free throw line), six assists, six rebounds and two threes on Friday.
Friday's game marked the second time in three games that George has struggled with his shot, adding to the speculation that his right shoulder injury is holding him back. Fortunately for Oklahoma City, he stayed aggressive attacking the basket and was able to chip in 14 points from the charity stripe as well as his customary lockdown defense down the stretch.