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With the NBA season well underway, fantasy basketball seasons are starting to get in their peak. Matchup by matchup, managers must, at certain points, must navigate through free agency and make a couple of moves (whether because someone got injured, someone is underperforming, positional needs, among other reasons). Unsure about what moves you should be making? Allow us to give you some advice.
Weekly, JD and Kevin will be bringing you add and drop advice, and, occasionally, players to target in trades for less than what they’re really worth (buy low) and to trade during their soon-to-end hot streak (sell high). Today, we bring you advice for the ninth week of the NBA fantasy basketball season.
Shallow League Adds
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN 75.1 percent, Yahoo! 71 percent) – JD
I mentioned Edwards in this column two weeks ago when he entered the starting lineup and his ownership was in the 50 percent range, and he’s continued his hot run while seeing plenty of floor time. As mentioned with Rubio, backcourt mate D’Angelo Russell will be out for a while, so Edwards should see all of the opportunities that he can possibly handle. It’s not like he was hurting for minutes in the first place: the first overall pick has seen 30+ minutes in 10 of his last 12 games, and has scored 20+ points in half of them. He continues to chuck up shots at an alarming rate (18.3 FG attempts per 36) and is under 40 percent from the field on the season, so he’s better in points leagues than roto leagues. Still, Tuesday night’s line of 28 points (career high) / 7 board / 5 dimes / 1 steal / 2 blocks / 5 threes is indicative of the talent and potential that he brings to the table. His shooting has improved as of late, too — per Yahoo!, his splits are 44/36/78 since joining the starting lineup.
Update: Edwards put up a stinker Wednesday (3-15 shooting). That’s bound to happen from time to time, but his counting stats and playing time are still nice. Like I said, better in points leagues.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers (ESPN 55.6 percent, Yahoo! 62 percent) – Kevin
Kuzma has a great season, non-fantasy wise. He’s figured out his role on a contending team, playing defense and finding his spots on offense, and has contributed to winning. Fantasy-wise, however, his season has been underwhelming. Having said that, he has been playing better in the past two weeks (13.9pts and 7reb per game since Feb. 4), and will get more chances moving forward after Anthony Davis’ injury, which will keep him out for the next two weeks at minimum (probably ends up being more). His first game without AD was less than ideal (7pts and 4reb), but he’ll bounce back, and he’ll continue to get those opportunities until AD comes back. Even when he does, he’s a solid player to stash.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN 56 percent, Yahoo! 63 percent) – JD
It’s very rare that you get a chance to add some cheap assists on the waiver wire. D’Angelo Russell is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery, and Rubio is the next man up. He’s seeing about 30 minutes per night in a lead ball handler role, allowing him to rack up 8.3 assists over his last 8 games. Don’t expect a ton of production outside of dimes, but he chips in with some threes, boards, and steals.
Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks (ESPN 22.8 percent, Yahoo! 57 percent) – Kevin
Similar to Kuzma, Noel’s numbers haven’t been that great, but he has provided solid minutes as Mitchell Robinson’s primary backup. But now that Robinson is sidelined for at least a month, Noel should be owned in your league. He provides blocks, steals and rebounds, and will get a big chunk of the minutes moving forward. Roster him now.
Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls (ESPN 40.6 percent, Yahoo! 74 percent) – JD
ESPN owners are sleeping on Carter, who returned to the court on Monday for the first time since January 18th after injuring his thigh. Buyer beware that he’s starting out with a minutes limit in the 20s. Carter put it this way: “Next game, it may go up one or two minutes … And then next game, one or two minutes. So it’s just based off how I feel and how fast I can get back in shape,” (per The Athletic). For reference, he played 21 minutes on Monday against the Pacers. He may get off to a slow return from injury due to the minutes cap, but he’ll be worth a roster spot as he’s pretty much the only reliable big on the Bulls’ roster. He’s averaging 12.7 / 8.1 / 2.3 with 1.3 stocks this year, and there’s definitely room for growth as he’s a talented young player with plenty of opportunity.
Update: Carter played 26 minutes Wednesday and scored 18 points while blocking 2 shots. Pick him up.
Deep League Adds
Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons (ESPN 31.8 percent, Yahoo! 47 percent) – JD
Yeah, Jackson’s not a sexy waiver wire add at all, but he’s been performing well enough that he probably deserves a spot on your squad. Kevin mentioned him last week as a streaky player who was worth an add while he was running hot. Well folks, he’s still running hot. Blake Griffin is in non-COVID-related quarantine, leading to more minutes at the 4 for the 6’8” Jackson. The playing time should continue to be there for him (25+ minutes in 5 of his last 7 games) and he’s demonstrated the ability to put up well-rounded statlines — 18.1 points / 5.6 boards / 2.7 dimes / 0.7 steals / 0.9 blocks / 2.1 threes over that span. The only downside is his FT percentage (69.4). I’ve added him in 10-teamers where I needed an extra guy.
Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons (ESPN 25.3 percent, Yahoo! 40 percent) – Kevin
Whether you agree with Bey winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week or not, there’s no denying how well he’s played throughout his rookie campaign. He’s gotten an uptick in minutes everytime Blake Griffin rested games, and now that he won’t be playing anymore games for the team, Bey will be a big contributor moving forward for a team that is way better than what their 8-20 record suggests. Yes, performances like his 30pts/12reb (7-7 from three) outing against the Boston Celtics won’t be the norm (you could count in one hand how many of those he might have), but he’ll consistently get the minutes, which is a big part in what you want in a pickup for fantasy basketball.
In his last two games, both as a starter since the Griffin news, he’s averaged 35 minutes, 14pts, 5.5reb, 4.5ast, and 2stl on 50/38/100 shooting. He’s worth having for the long run, when he’ll get a lot of minutes in your fantasy playoffs.
Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards (ESPN 3.3 percent, Yahoo! 8 percent) – JD
I mentioned Wagner way back when starting center Thomas Bryant was lost for the season due to injury, only for Wagner himself to miss a number of games shortly thereafter. Well, he’s back now, and there’s still plenty of center minutes to go around for this moribund Wizards squad. Wagner has a fantasy-friendly game, as evidenced by his 15 point / 4 steal / 1 block / 2 threes line in 24 minutes on Monday night. He’s criminally under owned and will help your team as a big man contributing points, boards, some defensive stats, decent percentages, and even some threes.
Update: Wagner mysteriously only played 3 minutes against the Nuggets on Wednesday. I haven’t seen any injury news, so this was likely a maneuver by coach Scott Brooks to try to slow down the unstoppable Nikola Jokic by sticking Robin Lopez on him. The playing time might fluctuate wildly with Wagner, but he is still very productive when on the floor. Monitor his minutes closely.
Super Deep League Adds
JaVale McGee, Cleveland Cavaliers (ESPN 4.4 percent, Yahoo! 4 percent) – Kevin
The biggest beneficiary of the Cavs moving on from Andre Drummond is Jarrett Allen, and rightfully so. Having said that, McGee has been getting the minutes Allen was receiving as the backup big. In the past two games in that role, he’s gotten 16.2 minutes, scored 8pts and grabbed 7reb per outing. If you’re in a 14-20 team league and in need of rebounding, this is as best an option you’ll find in your already shallow waiver wire.
I stand by the opinion that he’ll eventually be bought out and move to a contending team in March. But, in the meantime, he’s not a bad player to have.
Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets (ESPN 2.7 percent, Yahoo! 7 percent) – JD
This is more of a short-term add, as the Nuggets are down quite a few backcourt players at the moment. With Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Monte Morris all out on Tuesday, Campoazzo saw his first career start and produced 15 points / 3 boards / 8 dimes / 2 steals / 1 block in a whopping 40 minutes of playing time. Snipe him up while he’s seeing playing time and then drop him when the regulars return. Active management is a must if you want to be a league winner.
Josh Richardson, Dallas Mavericks (ESPN 48.9 percent, Yahoo! 46 percent) – JD
I mentioned Richardson as a drop candidate earlier this year. He just doesn’t do anything well enough to help you win fantasy leagues. His ownership crept back up after a few good games, but he’s come back down to earth after a few decent games and should go back where he belongs on the waiver wire. His production has been steadily declining for years and he doesn’t offer the same defensive statistics that he used to.