March 6, 2016, 1:41 am
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is certainly true in the world of fantasy hoops. There’s nothing quite like plucking a bona fide stud off the waiver wire. In the words of Draymond Green “it’s better than sex.”
We’re approaching the time in the season that separates the men from the boys. Some of you are sitting pretty, others, clawing and scratching for the final playoff spot. Grabbing the right player at the right time and knowing when to cut the dead weight on your team isn’t something that is taught. Instead it requires knowledge, foresight and the testicular fortitude to pull the trigger especially in leagues where weekly moves are limited.
The waiver wire can be a dump yard or it can be a treasure chest depending on your ability to pick up the right guys at the right time. We here at Hoop-Ball hope to help you distinguish the Michaels from the Titos.
Let’s get right into it shall we? To qualify for this list, these players have to be available in about half of leagues out there. (I use Yahoo Sports as a reference)
If you have any questions or would like advice you can tweet me @the_acylum. Get it while it’s free!
1. Norris Cole – New Orleans Pelicans – 25% owned – (4-4-3-4-4-2 remaining schedule)
The Pelicans have struggled mightily on the back of Anthony Davis in a year where he was expected to take the team to the next level. Instead, the Pelicans currently occupy the 12th seed in the Western conference due to injuries to their core players in what appears to be a lost year. Despite this, Norris Cole (owned in just 25% of leagues) has made the most of his opportunity as the next man up. While Jrue Holiday has been doing Jrue Holiday things, Cole has quietly put up top 130 numbers over the past 2 weeks. He’s got a favorable fantasy playoff schedule to go with averages of 46% from the field, 79% from the line, 12.8 PPG, 3.7 REB, 5.8 AST and a STL.
The Play: Grab Norris in standard leagues and hope he adds a Chuck before his first name for the rest of the season. Eric Gordon last night fractured the same finger that cost him 16 games so expect a spike in usage for the point guard.
2. Patrick Beverley – Houston Rockets – 48% owned – (3-4-4-3-3-2 remaining schedule)
Continuing with the theme of Western conference disappointments, the Rockets have been a complete mess this year with the firing of head coach Kevin McHale just 11 games into the season, with alleged turmoil between top superstars. Currently sitting in the 8th spot in the softest Western conference we’ve seen in years, Houston has a lot to prove down the stretch if they want to have any chance of playing in May.
The Rockets have never been shy to make moves and that was evident with the buyout of Ty Lawson this past week. They are now left with two warm bodies at the point-guard position, Patrick Beverley and the 38 year old Jason Terry. It’s clear where the bulk of minutes will go here.
Beverley has been a top-16 PG option over the past 14 days. He’s currently averaging over 13 PTS, 4.1 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.6 3PTM and only a turnover per game and that’s good for 6th round value in 9-category leagues.
The Play: Beverley has a clear runway to 32+ minutes a game now that Ty Lawson is no longer competing for minutes. Grab the pesky defender and hope that he helps propel a Rockets team to a strong finish to the 2015/16 campaign.
3. D.J. Augustin – Denver Nuggets – 19% owned – (3-4-4-4-3-1 remaining schedule)
I originally thought D.J. Augustin was going to step into a minimal role in a muddled backcourt behind Jameer Nelson and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay. I was wrong as Augustin has bumped Nelson completely out of the Nuggets rotation. We’re not going to see early-round D.J. Augustin from Detroit and Chicago ever again, but he can prove to be a decent asset the rest of the way behind erratic rookie PG Emmanuel Mudiay, despite his recent strong play. Head coach Michael Malone has shown the tendency to have a short leash with his young players, so expect a few more strong stat lines for the former Longhorn.
The Play: Grab DJ Augustin in 14+ team leagues for his ability to shoot the three, score when given the opportunity and to provide a handful of assists. He has flirted with top 100 value in the last two weeks in both 8- and 9-category leagues. Owners should hope that his role solidifies around 23-25 minutes per game off the bench.
The Watchlist: Dennis Schroder, Shelvin Mack
The Trash Can: Donald Sloan, E’Twaun Moore
1. Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets – 30% Owned – (3-4-4-4-3-1 remaining schedule)
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone loves him some defense. He has opted to start Gary Harris in every game this season and the young shooting guard has responded with top-100 value with healthy averages of 11.6 PPG, 3 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.3 3PT, and 1.3 STL in 32 minutes per game. Players who can shoot the three and steal are personal favorites of mine and Gary Harris certainly fits this mold. He’ll be expected to carry an even heavier load on offence as the rumors of shutting down Danilo Gallinari get louder every day for the 11th seeded Nuggets.
The Play: Harris is a must grab and hold in standard leagues for the rest of the season.
2. Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns – 47% owned – (3-3-4-4-3-2 remaining schedule)
Major injuries to star players in the Suns backcourt have provided a great opportunity for a future superstar in Booker as he looks to wrap up his season with a nice bow. Drawing praise from superstars like Dwyane Wade, and even getting (weird) comparisons to Kevin Durant, Devin Booker is turning heads. He has slowed down a little bit since the all star break, but maintains considerable upside on a Suns team that is playing for experience. Booker is only 19 years old and is guaranteed to play minutes in the mid 30s while offering upside in PTs, FT%, 3s and assists.
The Play: Grab him in 10+ team leagues. This kid could be something special in the NBA one day and you should grab him for a nice boost in points and 3s. He has struggled as of late with consistency but seems to be getting hot again at the right time for fantasy owners. He’s money if you need to solidify the SG position on your team.
2. Markel Brown – Brooklyn Nets – 6% owned (3-3-3-5-3-2 remaining schedule)
Markel Brown scored a career-high 23 points (on 8-of-16 shooting) last night against the Wolves with three hits from downtown. This follows up his previous career-high of 21 points the game before. He also tacked on eight boards and seven dimes, which were both also career highs. Markel is playing the best professional basketball of his career and seems to be supplanting Wayne Ellington for the bulk of minutes at shooting guard. This was however, a game that saw Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young resting so the touches won’t always be there for Brown. The impending return of promising rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also slightly dampers Markel Brown’s outlook, but the impact remains to be seen.
The Play: Take a wait-and-see approach and be ready to pull the trigger if Markel can overtake the starting two position. If he is consistently able to flirt with 30 minutes a game I would justify a must-add for his upside across multiple categories.
3. Terrence Ross – Toronto Raptors – 16% owned – (3-5-3-4-4-2 remaining schedule)
Ross has quietly put up top-125 numbers over the last 2 weeks. While he won’t provide much help in steals and assists for a guard, he has been thriving off of the Raptors’ bench as a legitimate scoring threat. He is an excellent source of 3-pointers having drained at least three per contest in five of his last six games. With the uncertainty of DeMarre Carroll’s return to the lineup, Ross offers sneaky upside for a Toronto team that has a juicy fantasy playoff schedule.
The Play: You can take a wait-and-see approach in 12-14 team leagues, but grab him in 16-team leagues with the juicy playoff schedule on the horizon.
Watchlist: Shabazz Muhammad, Kevin Martin
Trash Can: Kobe Bryant (Sorry Kobe!), Allen Crabbe, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson