• There seems to be more waiver wire guys to choose from this week, and that’s partially because of two overreaction weeks on the books but also because players have stepped into various vacuums at a high clip.

    As a general site note, we’ve got even more content scheduled to be added to our Premium Membership and we want to continue adding to our offering as a general rule of thumb.

    That’s aside from various site updates we’ll be doing along the way, too.  If you haven’t noticed, you can get the Hoop Ball Premium Membership for FREE (normally $29.99) by signing up as a new user with DraftKings. Check this page to see how the promotion works.

    Next week we’ll have a new Wire writer picking up and he’s a guy I’ve done battle with in money leagues for a while. I’m pretty sure you guys are going to be down with his work.

    I’ll be doing a waiver wire chat tonight for Premium members and covering all of this and then some, including my thoughts on FAAB bids for those of you with critical decisions to make. Monday morning I’ll be doing a premium weekly lineup chat and we’ve been covering a lot in our free forums, too.

    Now without further ado, The Wire.

    GUARDS

    Tim Hardaway Jr.: People are jumping ship and he’s a must-add player if he hits the wire.

    Status: Must-add

    Evan Turner: One of the best quotes in the NBA is bringing back top 100-115 value so far this season and is way too available in fantasy leagues.

    Status: Must-own player

    Tyler Ulis and Mike James: Ulis has been a mid-round player over his last three games in 22.8 mpg and of course that’s a small sample size but he looks electric and I’d rather own him than James, who has struggled to stay in the top-150 in that span.

    Ulis’ stat set isn’t impeccable but I like it better than James’ stat set and I like Ulis’ ceiling better in both fantasy and reality. I said it last year but I think Ulis will be an All Star one day and the Suns are nuts for holding him back, and as I’ve said in a few places I think James is a top-45 reality PG in the Association.

    Status: Ulis is must-own in 12-team, 8-cat leagues, strong add in 14-16 team 9-cat formats. James is must-own in 14-team formats.

    Spencer Dinwiddie: I drafted him on just about every team that drafted beyond 16 rounds and it was for the top-100 numbers he put up for stretches last season and also because he looks like an emerging top-40 PG in reality. Factor in the injury risks around him and the Nets’ fantasy friendly pace, I’m bullish here. He’s bringing back top-100ish numbers in his 23 mpg so far this year, which is a great baseline for a player nobody really knows about.

    Status: Must-own in 12-team formats

    Kris Dunn: Last year’s overhyped rookie returned to action last night and the Bulls writers were salivating over his play, which seems a bit early but it speaks to their hopes of covering a team that’s not wholly terrible every night. Dunn’s ceiling is higher than Jerian Grant, who barely stays afloat in any role and isn’t showing any real signs of upward movement.

    The second year point guard had eight points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block in 22 minutes (to go with four turnovers) in last night’s blowout loss to the Thunder, highlighting some of the counting stat upside. We know the deal here – he’s not going to shoot well or hit threes but he might win a prime time seat to some garbage-time stat fiestas.

    Status: Dunn is a recommended add in 8-cat, 12-team formats and almost must-own for the upside. Also recommended in 9-cat, 14-team formats.

    Caris LeVert: He just can’t seem to get over the hump as he is hitting just 36.8 percent of his shots and 63.6 percent of his free throws to start the year. The minutes are great as he has gotten 28.1 per contest and I’m not fading him like I was last year, which was just one of those things were the hype was so loud and so misguided that I felt the need to save our readers from it. The percentages will regress positively and he will continue to improve – and hopefully stay healthy.

    Status: Recommended add/hold for 8-cat, 12-team owners and 9-cat, 14-team owners.

    Austin Rivers: Averaging 34.2 mpg over his last three games, Rivers has brought back 17.3 points to go with 3.7 treys and 2.3 steals per contest. A lot of that damage came in Saturday’s 20-point, six-trey and four-steal outing, but with Milos Teodosic (foot) out it makes sense that he can be productive during that stretch.

    Status: Must-own in 14-team leagues, shorter-term add in 12-team formats.

    Frank Ntilikina: The rookie played 22.5 minutes in his debut and scored nine points with five assists, one steal and one three. The locals seem to think he has some popcorn stat set potential and we really don’t know how things are going to shake up. The Knicks are terrible and make terrible decisions so it’s hard to treat Ntilikina as anything but a low-upside lottery ticket, but the unknown adds to the flavor here.

    Status: Worth a look as a flier in 14-16 team formats.

    T.J. McConnell: He’s going to do it again. Meaning – he’s going to stay on the floor and bring back 12-team value. He has all sorts of stuff to dodge, including Markelle Fultz’s ‘I don’t have the yips’ return and the current glut of players to complicate his life.

    Brett Brown loves him and he makes winning plays, though, and finding 20 mpg for a guy that you love isn’t tremendously hard. There are going to be some speed bumps in the earlier part of the season but as attrition sets in it’s all upside beyond that. He’s going to bring back late-round value in about 23 mpg and if he stays healthy he could flirt with top-100 value on the year.

    Status: Worth a hard look in 12-14 team formats

    Jameer Nelson: The Nuggets are high out of their minds for letting Nelson go, but they continue to chase the Emanuel Mudiay bet and apparently felt they needed Richard Jefferson for a playoff run. The Pelicans will continue to enjoy his services and fantasy owners are right to worry about Rajon Rondo’s return, but for another week or two or maybe even three – he can bring back some low-end, late-round numbers.

    Status: Worth a look in 12-14 team formats

    FORWARDS

    Gorgui Dieng: I’m doing my best in the forums to keep folks from jumping ship and I fully know how bad it looks with Tom Thibodeau giving Taj Gibson the Thibs minutes and all that. Go back two seasons ago and check out the early season Dieng stats if you need a reminder of how this goes. Dieng gets overlooked and looks out of sorts.

    Then the team realizes they need him and he also gets more comfortable as the odd man out. Then he gets full minutes and goes for top 40-60 value sometime along the way. Could it *not* happen? Sure, anything is possible. But Dieng is too good of a player for the Wolves to sit on him like that and not have some of the smarter basketball voices with big megaphones out there catch up.

    I’ve got all of next week scheduled for slow Dieng games and I’m not considering a drop until the following week, and I’m probably not doing it then either. Unless your format prohibitively penalizes you for holding on to a player that’s not producing right now, I’m fine being one of the few left on Gorgui Hillside.

    Status: Must-own player

    Jeremy Lamb: He’s producing top 80-90 value and he has flashed some signs of Nic Batum-like stat lines. There’s no reason he should be available.

    Status: Must-own player

    Skal Labissiere: Skal’s minutes (22.9 mpg) have been a topic of discussion locally but I’m a little surprised he has gotten this many and I’m also a little surprised that he has been as good as he has been. Keep in mind I’m a big Skal guy – he just didn’t get developed late last year and looked lost in the preseason.

    He has already produced top-80 value by flashing the same stat set that got us excited last season. There will be speed bumps because of Dave Joerger’s fondness for veterans, but there is enough momentum for Skal that it’s also possible he keeps a late-round floor through this thing.

    Status: Must-own player in 12-team formats

    Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless: Aside from the top-20 value in 9-cat formats to start the year for Aminu the Blazers are more or less last year’s version. Both of these guys are going to be late-round values if they stay healthy.

    Status: Must-own players in 12-team formats. If you want to call Aminu a must-own player in general I’m fine with that but he’s not devoid of risks to his value.

    Kelly Oubre: Yes, he was in whatever you want to call the altercation at Oracle, and yes there are threats to his value in the form of regression and Markieff Morris. The 4.8 money counters in 36.7 mpg over five contests suggest he might have turned the corner on last year’s stat set issues, and the Wizards are a team full of injury risks. As a young player entrusted already, it’s setting up well for a guy that doesn’t have a lot of fantasy hype.

    Status: Must-own in 12-team formats for his upside.

    Larry Nance: A very consistent late-round guy or better when he’s healthy and he only needs minutes in the low 20s to do it.

    Status: Must-own player in 12-team formats while he’s healthy

    Danny Green: A mid-round value so far, he’s going to see the 4.6 combined money counting stats per game and 29 minutes per contest get clawed back with or without Kawhi Leonard’s return. I liked him to be a little bit better than last year when the season started and that’s what I think his projection is.

    Status: Must-own player in 9-cat, 12-team formats. Must-own in 8-cat, 14-team formats.

    CENTERS

    Richaun Holmes: I didn’t put him in the Hoop Ball Six so he could sit on the waiver wire. He has top-40 production potential and maybe more if everything breaks correctly for him. It’s not all gravy for him, though, and especially early on as the Colangelos are easily dumb enough to give some of his minutes to Amir Johnson, a known Colangelo guy and $11 million signee.

    Still, all of the bigs are injury-risks and we don’t have to work hard to see scenarios with them on the sidelines, and at the same time Holmes is good enough to demand his own minutes at the same time. It’s an efficient blend of money counters, shooting, rebounding and scoring.

    Even if the Colangelos or Brett Brown insist on bringing him along slow, there’s way too much upside to pass Holmes up unless you are prohibitively penalized for players that don’t bring back top-75 value right away.

    Status: Must-own player unless you’re in one of those formats or your squad is stacked with consistent top-80 guys.

    Willy Hernangomez: He’s a top-100 guy if the Knicks get their heads out of their asses. There’s upside beyond that and I fully understand that the Knicks could easily screw this up, but the pressure to play Hernangomez is going to continue to mount and I think this gets sorted out within 2-3 weeks.

    Status: Must-own player in 12-team formats.

    Cody Zeller: Starting the year off with knee issues has resulted in a few drops, but he should be a late-round center in most reasonable rest-of-year scenarios.

    Status: Must-own player in 9-cat, 12-team formats, must-own in 8-cat, 14-team leagues.

    Alex Len: The Suns haven’t turned the corner on stupid just because Earl Watson is gone, so they might continue to play Tyson Chandler, who is in the mix for worst defensive player in the league, and Len hasn’t been great in his five games. He has blocked just 0.6 shots per game and played in just 23 minutes per contest.

    A health-risk himself, we can’t go overboard here but he plays behind Chandler and showed signs a few weeks back that he might be ready for a bounce-back. I like the calculus here.

    Status: Worth a hard look in 12-team formats

    John Collins: Among the most hyped up rookies in the league right now, I’m still struggling with the idea that the league is going to catch up to Collins at some point. He’s bringing back top 150-175 value in his 20 mpg so far, and with just 1.3 combined defensive stats and zeroes in the treys and assists departments there’s a few different things that can hold him back.
    If you want to bet that he can pogo-stick his way to late-round value on a bad team I’m not going to stop you.

    Status: Worth a look if you can gamble in 12-team leagues

Fantasy News

  • Austin Rivers - G - Houston Rockets

    Austin Rivers scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting with a rebound, a steal and a 3-pointer against the Lakers on Thursday.

    Rivers was probable with a right elbow injury and played through it and logged 22 minutes. Now that he's a backup point guard there isn't any value to squeeze out of Rivers from a fantasy standpoint.

  • LeBron James - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James led the Lakers in their 111-106 comeback win over the Rockets on Thursday with 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting to go with his 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block.

    James activated "playoff mode" which is sweet music to his owners. A playoff season without LeBron is unheard of and he's going to do everything in his power to drag the Lakers into the picture. The first half of the game he was lethargic and almost disinterested, but you could tell the moment he snapped into focus that he was going to bring the heat. He had a beautiful statue of liberty dunk you can find all over Twitter and went 7-for-10 at the line which is the only blemish from his night. It's going to be fun watching him power his way through the home stretch of the season.

  • Brandon Ingram - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Brandon Ingram scored 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting with 13 rebounds and an assist against the Rockets on Thursday.

    The scoring is nice and he's finally playing to his strengths by taking the ball to the hoop and drawing fouls, but his line is actually empty when you take another look. He went 11-for-14 at the line which is impressive considering he's a .660 free throw shooter on the year, but no peripheral stats and one assist leaves a lot to be desired.

  • Josh Hart - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Josh Hart returned to action on Thursday and scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.

    He missed the previous two games before returning tonight. Hart came off the bench and logged 19 minutes and as it stands there isn't enough playing time for him to play to establish himself a standard league asset. Even with Lonzo Ball (ankle) out, Hart is taking a backseat to Reggie Bullock (14 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and four 3-pointers) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (six points, three rebounds, a steal and two triples) because Coach Walton likes their ability to spread the floor.

  • JaVale McGee - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, an assist and two blocks on Thursday.

    McGee logged 20 minutes as the Lakers opted to spread the floor with LeBron James. As long as he plays 20 minutes or more, McGee is good for some boards and a couple of blocks which is what we're expecting from him anyways.

  • Kyle Kuzma - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma scored 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on Thursday.

    Kuzma's shooting touch is back and he's playing well alongside LeBron James. He's one of the few dependable Lakers players on the perimeter and his value is high right now, but it remains to be seen if he can keep this up alongside James and the rest of the Lakers so a sell-high wouldn't be a bad idea.

  • Tyson Chandler - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Tyson Chandler grabbed a rebound in six minutes of action on Thursday.

    He missed the last game before the All-Star Break and was questionable to play due to a neck injury and saw the floor for six minutes. Coach Walton kept a tight rotation tonight and the Rockets were running with lineups that were a bit too quick for him.

  • James Harden - G - Houston Rockets

    James Harden scored 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting with five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers against the Lakers on Thursday.

    Harden had three fouls within the first quarter which threw him off his game, but he was still able to rack up the points and keep his 30-point scoring streak alive. His 3-point shot was off tonight and he was called for four offensive fouls which is an anomaly considering he's usually on the other end of those calls. Even on his bad nights, the Beard drops a full line so owners can't complain too much even if it's hard after being spoiled for a month.

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul nearly triple-doubled on Thursday with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists while chipping in a steal, a block and three 3-pointers.

    Paul looked great against the Lakers and he had a little extra lift in his bounce tonight. The 3-point shot was on point for him as he went 3-for-5 from deep and also 9-for-15 from the floor. He's struggled with shooting efficiency all season so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela returned to action on Thursday against the Lakers and scored 12 points with 11 boards and a block.

    He went 6-for-9 from the floor and logged 33 minutes which means there's no minutes restriction for the big fella. Go plug him into your lineups with confidence as the Rockets gear up for their playoff seeding push.