Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: January 10
Justin Fensterman offers up some players you need to have on your radar as you try to improve your fantasy basketball teams through the free agent market!
With teams such as the Celtics and the Sixers dealing with COVID-19 issues, there will be a lot of short-term solutions this year. That’s the name of the game in ALL fantasy sports while we continue to play through the pandemic. Don’t worry though, because this year will make your awareness factors grow. You’ll have to be more on top of players because they’ll be off the wire in a flash. Rotations will need at least another month or two before they settle in and there is a ton of opportunity on that waiver wire.
Moritz Wagner PF, C WSH-3% Ownership: We have bad news out of Washington as it’s looking like Thomas Bryant ’s season is over after suffering a reported Torn ACL and when looking at who will fill in, Wagner gives them the most toughness in the post and if he didn’t get hurt along with the rest of the Wizards depth last season, he would have been utilized heavily when Bryant got hurt then. Now, he’s ready to split time with Robin Lopez at the position. Wagner is a tougher defender than Lopez. Davis Bertans can also help out if needed, but expect Wagner to see at least 20 minutes per game moving forward. He should really see 25 minutes per game. He’s rugged in the post and will give the Wizards the best chance at turning away bigger opposing players. He can also stretch the floor and hit long-range jumpers. He scored 13 points and grabbed 7 boards in his last contest in 20 minutes. He has also grabbed steals in his last two games. Add him quickly!
Payton Pritchard PG BOS-17% Ownership: Jeff Teague and Marcus Smart ’s health have benefitted this spry guard early on and he’s been getting a true rotation commitment. Prichard (for now) will have some nights in which he’s more of a playmaker and others in which he is more of a shooter off the ball. The Celtics need to get their young depth reps even with their squad dealing with players such as Jayson Tatum out of action and half the roster deemed questionable because of COVID. Prichard has dished four or more dimes in three of his last four contests and he scored in double figures in two of his last three games. Pritchard has been good on the defensive side of the ball on the perimeter and even when Jeff Teague is able to play full minutes, Pritchard’s play should keep him towards the end of the rotation. He should see at least 20 minutes per game and the only thing we have to watch is for the return of Kemba Walker because he has been cleared to practice and once he’s back in full force, it will be a dog fight between Pritchard and Teague to see who gets reserve minutes behind Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart .
Danny Green SG, SF PHI-20% Ownership: Green isn’t an exciting player to add and he’s been a frequent in this article for the last few years because he is a committed defender and the Sixers can’t be too picky because they are dealing with COVID issues and with a good amount of their mid and frontcourt depth in purgatory waiting for the league to decide their future, the veteran Green should be finding himself continuing to play in the 30’s as he has in his last 3 games. Green is a spot-up three-point shooter and will literally move around the arc setting screens and popping back out. He’s hit double digits in scoring in four of his last five contests. Green’s value is a bit more appealing because Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are now banged up and have missed games. Green has produced steals in his last four games and blocks in his last two. If Green can grab at least three boards consistently, that would be a great bonus and he will step a foot or two inside the arc to attempt to keep plays alive and grab long boards.
Austin Rivers G NY-26% Ownership: When the Knicks have been down in games, Rivers has been helpful since returning from injury in pulling them out of the hole a bit, even if it’s only temporarily in a game. Rivers has taken advantage of Alec Burks being out and he’s using his playing time to his advantage. He has taken at least 12 shots in both of his last two outings. He can play both guard spots effectively and is coming off of his season high in dimes last game as he contributed six of them. Rivers is a very smart driver, especially on transition. You’ll always see him go reverse when attacking the basket, meaning he’ll attack the rim on one side and he’ll flip the ball up on the other side of the basket. It’s a good deception tactic when attacking bigger defenders in the lane. Rivers has also grabbed steals in three of five games. He’s an effective three-point shooter and he’ll compliment Elfrid Payton nicely because he’s more of a shooter while Payton is more of a driver. Rivers has also pulled down three-plus boards in his last two games.
Jeff Teague G BOS-30% Ownership: I talked about it when going over Pritchard’s value earlier and we know what Teague is capable of. Still after all of these years, his floater is still very effective in the lane. It’s very Jason Terry -esque. Before Teague got hurt, he showed that he had some value filling in for Kemba Walker , but with Walker’s return look like it’s not far in the future, Teague will have to hit shots to stay in. Jayson Tatum being out of action gives him a bit more of a floor because Marcus Smart isn’t a great shooter. Teague, himself, is more of a driver and at this point he should be viewed as someone who can help a little in each category outside of scoring which he’s been a bit more inconsistent. If the Celtics weren’t dealing with their frontcourt COVID issues, Teague may not make this. Some of the Celtics SG’s will need to shift up and for a couple of games that should benefit Teague. Expect his scoring to go up a touch and his assists as well, but by next week, he may not be relevant.
Royce O’Neale F, UT-22% Ownership: O’Neale is in a very interesting spot because he has taken on the defensive responsibility that I feel Bojan Bogdanovic has struggled with up front. Rudy Gobert can’t be the only player defending the post and O’Neale has grabbed eight boards per game this season and that certainly brings some short-term appeal. Joe Ingles has been a bit banged up but O’Neale has now proven for a few years with the Jazz that he is very versatile and can play multiple positions on the floor. He can even bring the ball up and when the Jazz have had injuries, they’ve let him play PG for significant portions of games. In fact, O’Neale has dished at least five dimes in two of his last four games. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that O’Neale still gets around 30 minutes per game even with Ingles in the lineup. He should be able to hit 25-27 minutes regularly. He’s recorded two multi-steal games in his last two. He’ll also be used as a bailout shooter at times and he’ll be set up at the arc a good amount. O’Neale has scored in double figures in three of his last four contests.
Kelly Olynyk PF, C MIA-33% Ownership: When the three’s are falling, Olynyk is a good end of bench center who will be regularly toggling on and off the waiver wire. He’s scored 11.6 points per game this year, exceeding his average in 3 of his last 5 games. Olynyk has also been using his size more effectively than Meyers Leonard has and he’s grabbed 5.4 rebounds per game. Olynyk will fight in the post and he’s not one of the best defenders on the ball when being backed down, but he’ll still battle in the paint for boards. Olynyk will grab loose balls as well and he’s swiped a ball per game this year. He doesn’t collide with Bam Adebayo when on the court because Adebayo is an attacker and when he brings up the ball and the defenses collapse on him, Olynyk is often left with a high-percentage shot from long-range. He’s even blocked nearly a shot per game as well. View Olynyk as a short-term solution and continue looking for a big man with a higher ceiling.
Tyrese Maxey SG PHI-18% Ownership: With the Sixers dealing with injuries and COVID, Maxey should be getting a ton more opportunity and after seeing him follow up his 16-point performance versus Brooklyn with 39-point performance in 44 minutes versus the Nuggets, he should be able to see a longer leash until Ben Simmons is 100 percent and Seth Curry is back from quarantining. While Curry is out and Danny Green needing to handle SF, Maxey should see close to 25 minutes per game. We’ll have to wait and see who is cleared for the Sixers game by game, but Maxey by default will get more minutes for the next week. He’s also hit at least two three-pointers in his last two games, but it’s his speed with the ball that makes him stand out. He tries to attack the lane first before planting himself at the arc when the pace slows down a bit. Maxey will utilize his speed especially when the Sixers are on transition and he’ll be able to get to the basket quickly.
Cameron Johnson F PHX-34% Ownership: Johnson has been regularly seeing playing time in the 20’s and he has ups and agility and he’s good at reading through screens at the elbow. Johnson has scored in double figures in his last three games and even though Mikal Bridges plays excellent defense, there’s room for Johnson to get minutes at both forward spots. Johnson is often used on offense as a bailout shooter, but he has taken 9.5 shots per game. Expect to see him at the arc a lot on offense and he has scored 13.1 points per game. John has also grabbed steals in two of his last four games. If he can continue helping out by pulling down a few boards per game as well as he has been doing, his value will go up. What we know is that Johnson will regularly help with scoring and he’s seeing consistent playing time and as the Suns continue to gel, Johnson should see his playing time improve slowly as the season continues.
Justin Holiday SG, SF IND-31% Ownership: With T.J. Warren out of the way, Holiday has had a ton of room to play and even though throughout his career he has made more of an impact on the court than on the stat-sheet, Holiday has hit double figures in scoring in three of his last four games. Holiday will take Warren’s place at the arc and he’ll take a decent amount of long-range shots, but his defense is what keeps him in games. Holiday is strong on the perimeter and he’ll grab mid-range rebounds at the top of the paint. He has grabbed at least five boards in his last three outings and he’s grabbed steals in all but two games this season. His playing time has been very strong since Warren got hurt even seeing 45 minutes a few games ago. Holiday has played over 29 minutes per game this year and that gives him a safe floor and if he can continue helping with points, boards and steals, he’s a good option to have at the end of the bench.
Tyus Jones PG MEM-20% Ownership: With Ja Morant still hurt, Jones will need to continue to play heavy minutes and he’s exceeded the 30-minute mark in 3 of his last 4 games. Jones is quick and he’ll keep the pace up in regards to the Grizzlies offense. Jones has scored in double figures in two of his last four and he’s grabbed at least four boards in three of his last four games. Jones is more of a traditional PG with a drive-first mentality and he’ll look to take it to the rim and draw contact. Jones has dished six or more assists in his last three games. He’s even been helpful grabbing steals and he has produced five multi-steal games in his last seven. The Grizzlies need all of the help they can get scoring as they continue to deal with injuries and a side of COVID as well. Someone else to watch out for is De’Anthony Melton who recently returned from injury, but, Jones will be a bit more helpful with assists while Melton may have the scoring edge.