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Waiver Wire: Dragic steps up in a pinch

Fantasy Writer
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The playoffs are rapidly approaching for Fantasy owners so it is time to makes some moves to assure you will be a part of it in your league. Even at this point in the season there are still players fighting for playing time as their respective performances down the stretch will likely determine their role heading into the 2012-13 campaign.

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Just like it has been all season long, injuries continue to shake up lineups and the upcoming scoring period is no different.

This week we are looking at Goran Dragic.

With Kyle Lowry out for a couple of weeks due to a bacterial infection, Dragic has stepped into the starting lineup for the Rockets and is putting up some solid stats. Dragic scored 20-plus points with eight assists and a steal in each of the first two games without Lowry, which capped off a four-game stretch in which he averaged 17 points with 5.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The 25-year-old has never really be given a chance to start on a consistent basis but with some potent pieces surrounding him in Houston, and how the offense runs through the point guard, he should be able to put up some decent numbers for owners. With games against the Suns, Lakers, Warriors and Mavericks on the schedule for Week 13 (Mar. 18-25), grab Dragic off waivers before it's too late. Keep in mind that his value will likely take a bit hit once Lowry returns, however.

Guards

Add 'Em

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies
Owned: 66 percent
Analysis: Mayo has been scoring more consistently of late and is also picking up his production in other areas. He capped off Week 11 by scoring 22 points with eight assists, five rebounds and three steals against the Nuggets. That capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 15.8 points with 4.2 assists, four rebounds and 1.2 steals. He appears to finally be adjusting to his bench role and has a couple of favorable matchups in Week 13. Mayo will play the Kings, Trail Blazers, Clippers and Lakers during the upcoming scoring period so owners in need of some guard help should consider adding the 24-year-old.

Jose Juan Barea, Timberwolves
Owned: 24 percent
Analysis: Barea stands to gain the most from Ricky Rubio's injury and should see an increase in playing time down the stretch as the primary backup to Luke Ridnour. While he scored just three points in his return from an ankle injury, the 27-year-old has shown in the past that he can put up some decent numbers in Fantasy when given the playing time. Owners should not expect the 8.2 assists that Rubio averaged but an increase in his all around production -- especially scoring -- should be in order. With a couple of favorable matchups on tap for Week 13, Barea appears to be a worthwhile addition in deeper Fantasy formats.

Avoid 'Em

J.R. Smith, Knicks
Owned: 39 percent
Analysis: Smith has scored in double figures five times in 11 games since joining the Knicks via China as he continues to find his role on the team. While the 26-year-old has recently seen some starts, his production has not been what Fantasy owners had hoped for. Along with putting up 8.4 points per contest, he is averaging just 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting a career-low 36 percent from the floor. With all of the scoring options on New York, Smith could continue to have a hard time getting his numbers on a nightly basis so owners in deeper formats should be the only ones looking at him at this point.

Ben Gordon, Pistons
Owned: 36 percent
Analysis: Gordon has been able to increase his scoring slightly in his third season in Detroit but is still not contributing enough on a consistent basis to make a difference in Fantasy. He has scored in double digits just twice in the last five games, and is averaging 7.6 points with 1.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds over that span. His minutes have remained fairly consistent off the bench, the emergence of rookie Brandon Knight and the solid play of Rodney Stuckey have cut into his production. It does not look as though things will change down the stretch so leave Gordon in waivers in most formats at this point.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Jason Maxiell, Pistons
Owned: 24 percent
Analysis: Maxiell has stepped up his game since the beginning of March and is starting to gain some steam in Fantasy. He is averaging 11.8 points with 7.4 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field through five games this month, and is starting to see some more playing time. The 29-year-old has shown glimpses in the past of being a viable option in Fantasy and it looks as though owners should ride him while he is hot. With the Nuggets, Heat and Knicks on the schedule for Week 13, Maxiell should be considered a worthwhile add in deeper Fantasy formats.

Trevor Booker, Wizards
Owned: 72 percent
Analysis: Booker jumped back on the Fantasy map with his 18-and-17 performance against the Lakers on Mar. 7 and is starting to pick up the pace again for the Wizards. He averaged 12.2 points with eight rebounds and one steal through his first five games in March, all while shooting 54 percent from the field over that span. Washington has been a mess all season long but as long as the 24-year-old continues to produce, he should continue to see a solid role with the team. With only a couple of weeks left in Fantasy, Booker appears to be a viable addition off waivers.

Avoid 'Em

Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers
Owned: 43 percent
Analysis: Thompson put together some decent performances for owners that added him a couple of weeks ago but he has not been doing much of late. He ended Week 11 with a 4-and-4 performance, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged just three points and 4.2 rebounds. His lowly 26 percent field-goal percentage over that span had a lot to do with his poor numbers and the rookie has struggled to find consistency in his first season in the NBA. While Thompson has some nice upside in Fantasy, he is not someone to pick up at this point in the year.

Linas Kleiza, Raptors
Owned: 23 percent
Analysis: After tearing it up for owners in February, Kleiza has not been nearly as valuable so far in March. He is averaging just 7.8 points with 3.2 rebounds through six games this month and is shooting 38 percent from the field in those contests. On a Toronto team that has been searching for scoring, the 27-year-old will always be a threat to go off at any point but with playoffs in Fantasy coming up, owners should not be banking on Kleiza for consistent production. Leave Kleiza on waivers in most formats heading into Week 13.

Centers

Add 'Em

Tiago Splitter, Spurs
Owned: 39 percent
Analysis: Splitter has re-emerged since missing a few games due to a calf injury and is starting to put up some points again. He began Week 12 with a 17-and-7 performance against the Wizards in which he went 7 for 9 from the floor. That capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 9.2 points with 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. With center being such a thin position in Fantasy, the 27-year-old could pay dividends for owners over the final few weeks of the season, especially on a Spurs team that has lacked consistent production out of the five-spot. Pick up Splitter in deeper formats for the stretch run.

Bismack Biyombo, Bobcats
Owned: 59 percent
Analysis: Biyombo is seeing some solid run in Charlotte again and the rookie has been able to come through with decent performances. He averaged 8.2 points with 10 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in his first five games in March, and shot 45 percent from the field over that span. It has been a revolving door at center for the Bobcats this season but the 19-year-old has made some solid progress on offense thus far, and remains threat on defense in the middle. Owners in need of some defensive stats and low-end scoring should consider scooping up Biyombo.

Avoid 'Em

Andray Blatche, Wizards
Owned: 75 percent
Analysis: Blatche has had a down campaign all around for the Wizards and his production has fallen off the face of the earth of late. He is averaging just four points with 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists through five games in March and played more than 20 minutes in only one of those contests. With the emergence of Booker in Washington, it looks as though the 25-year-old is not going to be much of a factor for the remainder of the season. Despite his high average draft position, it might be time to cut ties with Blatche in all but the deepest of Fantasy formats.

Enes Kanter, Jazz
Owned: 13 percent
Analysis: The Jazz continue to limit Kanter's minutes during his rookie campaign but he has shown flashes of being a future contributor in Fantasy. He has scored in double figures four times through 41 games, and has hauled in double-digit rebounds twice. Utah has a pretty solid rotation in their frontcourt at this point so owners should not expect much from the 19-year-old down the stretch. As long as he is buried behind Al Jefferson on the depth chart, leave Kanter for the deepest of formats and long-term keeper leagues.

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Player News
Pelicans being 'smart' with Jrue Holiday's practice time
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) The Pelicans are being cautious with point guard Jrue Holiday, limiting his practice time as he returns from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his tibia, The Times-Picayune reports.

"We are trying to be smart with his comeback," coach Monty Williams said. "After about two weeks of this, it's time to ramp it up and get going."

Holiday said he came out of Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices feeling good if a bit sore. "I'm sore," Holiday said. "Again I don't think I have pushed my body this much for a long time. It's good. All of our trainers and Monty had to kick me off the court yesterday because I didn't want to stop. But I am glad he did because I am feeling it today. Again that's a part of me still learning how to take care of my body and come back strong these next days."

Holiday didn't play a game after Jan. 8 last season and ultimately underwent surgery in February. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 34 games.


Hornets center Al Jefferson looking to improve defensive presence
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Hornets center Al Jefferson said he is tired of being a defensive liability and is looking to make sure opposing teams don't target his pick-and-roll defense, according to The Charlotte Observer.

"I refuse to continue getting picked on at the end of games. It’s not fun," Jefferson said. "Last year at the end of games teams always put me in high pick-and-rolls. I got sick of them thinking that was to their advantage, and it was to their advantage."

Coach Steve Clifford said he was happy that Jefferson brought up the subject of his defensive issues and saved the coaches from having to point it out.

"He’s working hard. His attitude is great. I sense more of a hunger than any kind of complacency," Clifford said. "He sees what the possibilities are for the group. He’s competitive and wants to win."


Pistons coach speaks highly of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy spoke highly Wednesday about second-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to the team's official website.

"You always look at players first to their strengths, where can a guy be great," Van Gundy said. "I think he can be an elite defender in this league at the two guard and we’ll look for that every night. I think he is a high-energy guy who can get up and down the floor and attack the basket in transition. Those two things have got to be his foundation."

Caldwell-Pope averaged 24 points per game in the Summer League. However, he's still not at the stage in his career where the Pistons are counting on him to be one of their top scorers.

"On the offensive end, he’s going to have to slow down a little bit, get under control, and like a lot of people it will come down to how many shots he can make, how efficient he can be shooting the ball, how consistent can you be," Van Gundy said. "But I think he’s got a great foundation with the defense and energy that will get him on the floor and give him a chance to develop in those other areas."


Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffers hamstring strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffered a moderate left hamstring strain Wednesday. The Lakers will have more information about the severity of his injury Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Pacers forward C.J. Miles not worried about calf strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Pacers forward C.J. Miles has been unable to complete a full practice at the start of training camp due to a calf strain, according to VigilantSports.com. However, Miles is not worried about the injury.

"It’s just a little strain, nothing crazy," he said Wednesday. "I’m pretty much healed. I’m doing everything just monitoring the contact a little bit just because of the wear and tear on it.

"It doesn’t make sense for me to be out with a strain for three weeks now when I could take a couple days just two get it all the way back, finish the month and be ready for the first game of the season. But I’m well past sitting out. Just monitoring it, that’s all."

Miles added he only sits out a portion of practice.

"I do everything throughout the whole practice until like just a little bit of the contact just towards the end," he explained. "Since the first practices are long, they don’t want me go through the wear and tear of the whole practice."


Jonas Jerebko will be part of Pistons' 10-man rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy indicated Wednesday forward Jonas Jerebko will be part of a 10-man rotation this season.

"We'll play at least nine on a nightly basis but probably 10 a lot, based on the way Jonas has played in September and in camp," Van Gundy said after Wednesday's morning practice, per the team's official website. "I've been really happy (with him). Nobody put more time in here this summer than Jonas did. Because of his play with the national team in years past, he's never really been able to devote as much time to his own development and his own game. He's gotten stronger. He's in tremendous shape.

"I think the key to Jonas -- and we talked about this early on -- is he has to get back to being the guy he was when he first came into the league, that hungry guy playing with incredible energy, trying to make his spot. What we've seen in September, he looks like a guy who is committed to being a high-energy guy."


D.J. Stephens added to Pelicans' training camp roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Pelicans added guard/forward D.J. Stephens to the training camp roster, according to The Times-Picayune. Stephens appeared in three games for the Bucks in 2013-14, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Josh McRoberts expects to be ready by Heat season opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Heat forward Josh McRoberts will not play in Wednesday's scrimmage due to a toe injury, according to the Sun-Sentinel. McRoberts, who had toe surgery in the offseason, said he has dealt with the issue for years.

"I've needed surgery for a couple years," McRoberts said. "We kind of figured out last year before the season started. I knew right when the playoffs ended, so it was something I had planned for."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat are just being cautious to avoid McRoberts aggravating the injury. However, McRoberts expects to be ready by the season opener in late October.

"I'm just kind of easing back into things," McRoberts said. "It takes time to recover from something like this. I'm just trying not to overdo it."


Heat forward Chris Andersen working on jump shot
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Heat forward Chris Andersen is spending extra time after practice during training camp to work on jumpers from the elbow and baseline, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Andersen is putting in the extra work because the Heat feel he can be used in more than just pick-and-roll situations.

"To step out and have that confidence to shoot the 15-footer, a lot of people haven't seen it or don't expect it," Andersen said. "This year, [coach Erik Spoelstra] says he's going to implement it into the game plan. I look forward to getting that opportunity."


Norris Cole looking to become a scoring threat for Heat
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:43 pm ET) Heat guard Norris Cole said he wants to become more of a scoring threat this season, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"We had so many playmakers [last year] that there were times I deferred to let those guys make the plays," Cole said. "They were great at it…. But I also I saw [plays] where I could have been more aggressive to attack."

The Heat are expected to have more balanced scoring in 2014-15 since LeBron James is no longer on the roster.

"He's gotten better individually for sure," guard Dwayne Wade said. "He had a hell of a summer working out and getting prepared. Defensively, he's a monster. The next wave for him is how to be effective as a point guard and effective as a scoring guard. He's going to have to figure out the perfect way to do that. It's not always easy for guys but if he can figure it out he can be very dangerous for us."


 
 
 
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