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Waiver Wire: Lin is quite a gem

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy owners have made it through seven weeks of the season and there are still players out there who can help lead the charge to the playoffs. Some have come out of nowhere while others have finally stepped up after weeks of underachieving.

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Either way, many things can happen between now and the end of the season so the coming weeks will determine whether or not owners will be winning their leagues or just missing out.

This week we are looking at Jeremy Lin.

Lin became the gem of the waiver wire this past week after breaking out for 25 points with seven assists and five rebounds on Feb. 4 against the Nets. Then, after being moved to the starting lineup, he bested that with 25 and 8 against the Jazz to open up Week 7 (Feb. 6-12). While he went just 1 for 7 from beyond the arc in those two contests, he shot 55 percent overall from the floor. The 23-year-old has looked impressive running the point for the Knicks lately and could be the answer to their woes at point guard. However, owners should note that the Harvard alum is in uncharted territory as he has never come close to posting numbers like this.

Still, Lin has a favorable schedule lined up for Week 8 (Feb. 13-19) and could be in for more success. With Toronto, Sacramento, New Orleans and Dallas on tap for the upcoming scoring period, owners in need of some guard help should grab Lin off waivers before it's too late.

Guards

Add 'Em

Greivis Vasquez, Hornets
Owned: 62 percent
Analysis: Owners have been waiting for Vasquez to step up in the absence of Jarrett Jack and it looks as though he is finally taking advantage of his increased playing time. He began Week 7 by scoring in double figures for the sixth consecutive contest, and averaged 15.2 points with 7.8 assists over that span. The 25-year-old has the skill set to fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis and he should be able to keep his scoring up as long as he continues to see steady playing time. The Hornets want to cut Jack's minutes slightly once he returns and Vasquez should be the guy who spells him. While he can go through cold spells at times, Vasquez will face the Jazz, Bucks and Knicks during Week 8, which should keep him productive for owners. Even those in larger formats should consider scooping up Vasquez for the upcoming scoring period.

Randy Foye, Clippers
Owned: 10 percent
Analysis: With Chauncey Billups likely lost for the rest of the season, Foye is expected to see a larger role for the Clippers going forward. Foye, who averaged 16.1 points with four assists in the 24 games he started a year ago, was in the starting lineup in the first game of the post-Billups era. Even though Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Caron Butler are counted on for the majority of the scoring in Los Angeles, he has never been afraid to shoot the ball when open and should be able to contribute on a nightly basis. As long as he can see consistent starter's minutes, the 28-year-old could end up being an add off the waiver wire that pays off for weeks to come. Owners in deeper formats should definitely give Foye a look heading into Week 8.

Avoid 'Em

Roddy Beaubois, Mavericks
Owned: 39 percent
Analysis: Beaubois has been seeing some consistent run for the Mavericks with Jason Kidd out but his production has taken a hit of late. After averaging 15.7 points with 6.3 rebounds over a three-game stretch, he has not scored more than nine since and began Week 7 with a zero-points performance. While he has been able to contribute in other categories, his value in Fantasy will continue to slip if he cannot start scoring more. Delonte West could also dip into his playing time, and Kidd is not too far away from returning. Owners in deeper formats should look elsewhere for production at this point.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Linas Kleiza, Raptors
Owned: 20 percent
Analysis: After missing a game due to a knee injury, Kleiza has looked like a different player since returning and is starting to score more for a Raptors team in desperate need of points. He began Week 7 with a 30-point performance, which capped off a week during which he averaged 20.7 points with 4.3 rebounds over a three-game stretch. With Andrea Bargnani out for awhile, Kleiza will have every opportunity to keep his production up and has a favorable schedule for Week 8. With the Knicks, Spurs and Bobcats -- all at home -- due up, consider Kleiza a worthwhile addition.

Jason Thompson, Kings
Owned: 63 percent
Analysis: Thompson has played well since being promoted from the bench and has showed no signs of losing his new gig. He entered Week 7 having averaged 13.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, including three consecutive double-doubles, in his previous four contests. While he combined for just 11 points and five rebounds during the first two games of the scoring period, the 25-year-old has showed in his younger days with the Kings that he can be a viable option in Fantasy and is definitely worth a look off the waiver wire. Considering that he will play the Bulls, Knicks, Pistons and Cavaliers during Week 8, owners in need of some help should think about adding Thompson.

Avoid 'Em

Derrick Williams, Timberwolves
Owned: 51 percent
Analysis: Williams saw his most extensive playing time in over a week on Tuesday against the Kings and came through with 14 points and eight rebounds while seeing 26 minutes on the court. He had scored a combined 16 points in his five games prior. This might appear as though the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft is on the verge of turning things around but owners should note that Minnesota did not have Kevin Love for that contest, and Williams' minutes will likely go back down once the All- Star returns. He has yet to find a consistent role for the T-Wolves during his rookie campaign so leave Williams on waivers in larger Fantasy formats.

Chandler Parsons, Rockets
Owned: 26 percent
Analysis: Parsons was putting up some decent numbers off the bench earlier in the year but his production has not been the same since being moved into the starting lineup. He scored just two points in his first contest of Week 7, and averaged just 6.6 points with three rebounds and 1.4 steals in the five games prior. The Rockets have liked what Chase Budinger has done off the bench since making the switch so while Parsons could continue to start, owners in the majority of Fantasy leagues should leave the rookie on waivers at this point.

Centers

Add 'Em

Kosta Koufos, Nuggets
Owned: 8 percent
Analysis: With all of the injuries to the frontcourt in Denver, Koufos has been seeing more playing time and has been able to come through with some decent numbers. He posted a double-double in the final game of Week 6 and should continue to start while both Nene and Timofey Mozgov are injured. While his rebounding has not been as consistent as some owners would like, Koufos is shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and definitely could help in Fantasy. Since his position is usually thin, consider picking up Koufos in deeper formats heading into Week 8.

Matt Bonner, Spurs
Owned: 8 percent
Analysis: Bonner has a different skill set for a center and obviously does not hold value in larger Fantasy formats, but his recent play could definitely help out some owners. He has begun to pick up his 3-point shooting since the turn of the calendar year and continues to see around 20 minutes off the bench for the Spurs. Bonner has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 11 contests and is shooting 48 percent from behind the arc over that stretch. DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter have also been struggling of late so the 31-year-old could earn some more minutes going forward. Bonner should be considered a viable addition in deeper category-based formats, especially at a thin position in Fantasy.

Avoid 'Em

DeJuan Blair, Spurs
Owned: 62 percent
Analysis: Blair has had a down campaign all around thus far but his numbers have really taken a hit recently. He started Week 7 with a five-point, five-rebound performance, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged just 4.4 points with 4.6 boards. His 38 percent shooting percentage over that span certainly had something to do with that, but his minutes have been affected by his struggles and he could be in for even more trouble in Week 8. Blair will face the Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Thunder during the upcoming scoring period, which pose some mismatches for the third-year man out of Pitt. Owners in larger formats should leave Blair on waivers until he picks up his production.

Zaza Pachulia, Hawks
Owned: 35 percent
Analysis: Pachulia had a golden opportunity to step up when Al Horford went down, but his production has been spotty for those owners who picked him up. He averaged just 6.6 points with 5.2 rebounds during a five-game stretch that ended on Feb. 6, despite shooting 65 percent from the floor over that span. He will continue to see his minutes in Atlanta -- due to the lack of big men on the roster -- but that doesn't mean owners should start him. Pachulia should be left for deeper Fantasy formats heading into Week 8.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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