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Waiver Wire: Matchups key for short week

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 9 (Feb. 20-26) will be a short one with the All Star game weekend on tap and most teams will only play two or three games during the scoring period. This will be either good or bad for some owners as an up or down performance could make or break their week, leaving little room for error. Looking at matchups this week could go a long way for winning the scoring period, and also riding the hot hand should pay dividends.

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This week we are looking at Gordon Hayward.

Hayward has opened some eyes with his recent play and ended Week 7 (Feb. 6-12) with a career-high 23 points against a tough Memphis squad. That ended a 10-game stretch in which he averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists. While he has struggled to shoot the ball from beyond the arc, the 21-year-old has increased his shooting percentage from inside the line and continues to do a decent job of filling up the stat sheet on a nightly basis. He will face the Spurs at home and Minnesota on the road during Week 9 and should be able to keep his scoring up for a Utah backcourt that has struggled to get points for much of the year. Hayward is gaining value in larger formats so owners might want to scoop him up off waivers. He should only get better as the season goes on.

Guards

Add 'Em

Jordan Farmar, Nets
Owned: 29 percent
Analysis: Farmar is having a career campaign in his second season with the Nets and is averaging double-digit points for the first time. He ended Week 7 with a 12-6-7 performance against the Spurs and has been shooting the ball very well of late. He entered Week 8 having averaged 15.6 points with 4.2 assists in his previous five games, all while shooting 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from downtown. Farmar is providing the Nets with some much-needed scoring off the bench and it looks as though that should continue as long as he is seeing his minutes. While he does not contribute much in other categories, consider adding the 25-year-old in deeper Fantasy formats for Week 8.

Arron Afflalo, Nuggets
Owned: 55 percent
Analysis: After missing some time due to sprains to both his ankle and toe, Afflalo has come back with a vengeance and is starting to look like a viable Fantasy option once again. He scored a season-high 26 points on Feb. 9 and followed that up with back-to-back 20-point performances. Affalo struggled to find his shot earlier in the season but appears to be more comfortable with his injuries behind him, and has stepped up his shooting from downtown as well. After a breakout campaign a year ago, the 26-year-old looks primed to get back to that level so owners should definitely consider Afflalo a worthwhile add with the Timberwolves, Clippers and Spurs on the schedule for Week 9.

Avoid 'Em

Jordan Crawford, Wizards
Owned: 30 percent
Analysis: Crawford shined after going from the Hawks to the Wizards a year ago but he has not been as impressive this season. While he began Week 8 with a 21-point performance against Portland, it was his first time scoring in the 20s since Dec. 30, and also came in a game in which Washington scored 124 points. Nick Young, his main competition for playing time, dropped 35 in the same contest so don't expect the 23-year-old to steal minutes from him anytime soon. Based on his inconsistencies thus far, leave Crawford for deeper Fantasy formats heading into Week 9.

Evan Turner, 76ers
Owned: 64 percent
Analysis: Turner has made some impressive strides from his rookie campaign but his recent play has had some owners second-guessing his value in Fantasy. He started Week 8 with a four-point performance against the lowly Bobcats, which was his fifth straight game scoring in single digits. He shot 41 percent over that span -- including a mere 20 percent from 3-point land -- and contributed minimally in other categories. The former No. 2 overall pick is counted on for some scoring off the bench for the 76ers but his inconsistencies have hindered his value. Turner is not yet a lost cause but now is not the time to add him.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks
Owned: 68 percent
Analysis: Ilyasova became a hot add off waivers after his 17-and-16 performance against the Magic to end Week 7, and has stepped up his rebounding this season. He has posted four double-digit rebounding performances so far in February, with two double-doubles over that span. With Andrew Bogut out for the foreseeable future, the 24-year-old should continue to give the Bucks decent boards, and Ilyasova supplies enough scoring to make him valuable in larger Fantasy formats. With games against Orlando and Chicago on tap for Week 8, consider Ilyasova a worthwhile addition.

Corey Maggette, Bobcats
Owned: 62 percent
Analysis: Maggette has returned strong from his hamstring injury and is gaining steam in Fantasy. After missing 19 games, he increased his scoring in each of his first three contests back and capped it off with a 22-point performance to open Week 8. With the way Charlotte has struggled to score thus far, Maggette will have every opportunity to step up and now that he is healthy once again, it bodes well for his Fantasy value going forward. The 32-year-old plays just once during Week 9 -- against the Pacers on Feb. 22 -- but owners might want to grab him off waivers as post-All-Star break might be too late in some leagues.

Avoid 'Em

Reggie Williams, Bobcats
Owned: 36 percent
Analysis: Williams may have fooled owners with his back-to-back 21-point games in early February as he has not been nearly as impressive since then. A lot of that has to do with his shooting struggles, and the fact that Maggette has returned for the Bobcats. The 25-year-old showed in his days with the Warriors that he can put up some decent scoring on a consistent basis but he is not surrounded with nearly as much talent in Charlotte. Williams is shooting well below his career 46 percent from the field so leave him on waivers until he proves worthy of adding.

Josh Howard, Jazz
Owned: 13 percent
Analysis: Howard has seen his role diminish with the emergence of Hayward and his scoring has fallen off the map. He scored a combined 14 points during a five-game stretch that ended on Feb. 13, and shot a miserable 22 percent over that span. After putting up some decent point totals earlier in the season, the 31-year-old is on pace to have his worst campaign since his rookie year. Even owners in deeper Fantasy formats should ignore Howard at this point.

Centers

Add 'Em

Kendrick Perkins, Thunder
Owned: 29 percent
Analysis: Perkins ended Week 7 with his first double-double of the season and has become more active on offense of late. While he is not counted on for much scoring in Oklahoma City, he is putting back offensive rebounds and is even starting to get open for easy lay ups when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant get double-teamed. Owners already know that his rebounding and defensive stats are valuable in Fantasy but consider scooping him up -- especially in Head-to-head formats -- with games against the Hornets, Celtics and Lakers on tap for Week 9.

Nikola Vucevic, 76ers
Owned: 11 percent
Analysis: Vucevic has been starting in Philadelphia with Spencer Hawes out and has earned some more playing time with his recent play. He scored 10 points to end Week 7 and opened up the following scoring period with an 8-and-10 performance against the Bobcats, playing 20-plus minutes in both of those contests. The 76ers are hoping Hawes can return sooner rather than later but they could choose to keep him out until after the All-Star break. That would be good news for Vucevic's Fantasy value so keep an eye on the situation going forward. Given how thin the center position is, consider Vucevic a viable add in deeper formats heading into Week 9.

Avoid 'Em

Jared Jeffries, Knicks
Owned: 4 percent
Analysis: Jeffries saw some decent run while Amar'e Stoudemire was out after the death of his brother, but his run in Fantasy appears to be over. After averaging 30.8 minutes per contest in his previous five games, he saw just 19 minutes during the first outing of Week 8, which was the game in which Stoudemire returned. He scored two points in the contest and will likely have a limited role as long as Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are healthy. Owners that picked him up as a stopgap should feel free to drop Jeffries in all Fantasy formats.

Chuck Hayes, Kings
Owned: 27 percent
Analysis: After a breakout campaign a year ago, Hayes has been very disappointing and is currently mired in a bench role for the Kings. He has yet to score in double figures through 17 games this season, and has not posted double-digit rebounds since New Years' Day. Injuries have slowed him down a bunch but he has showed few signs of getting better as the season has progressed. With the way DeMarcus Cousins has been dominating the glass of late, it doesn't look as though he will be able to steal minutes anytime soon so leave Hayes on waivers for the time being.

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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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