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Waiver Wire: Thompson becoming an impact player

Fantasy Writer
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The first round of the playoffs have come and gone and those owners still in it mostly likely have a stacked squad at this point. Whether it was via the draft or waiver wire additions, you've made it this far with some key roster moves -- but the battle has not been won just yet.

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Choosing the right players off waivers becomes more important than ever as a poor performance or two during the upcoming scoring period could mean the end of the Fantasy season for certain owners.

This week we are looking at Tristan Thompson.

Thompson has been starting at center for the Cavs of late, gaining eligibility at one of the thinner positions in Fantasy. He entered Week 14 (March 26-April 1) having averaged 14 points with 8.2 rebounds and one block in his previous five games, including a 27-and-12 performance against the Nets on March 19. The rookie is finally taking advantage of his playing time and should continue to as coach Byron Scott has said that he wants to see what the former Texas Longhorn has. Thompson has some solid upside in Fantasy and with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Toronto and New Jersey on the schedule for Week 15 (April 2-8) consider the 21-year-old a viable addition in most formats.

Guards

Add 'Em

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Owned: 35 percent
Analysis: Leonard ended Week 13 (March 18-25) with a 11-and-10 game -- his first double-double since Feb. 21 -- as he continues to increase his scoring during his rookie campaign. That performance capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 10.4 points with 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals, all while shooting 48 percent from the field. He has earned himself some solid playing time on a veteran-laden squad and that should continue to be the case down the stretch. Leonard is not counted on for a ton of scoring in San Antonio but can definitely help out owners in deeper Fantasy formats at this point.

Gerald Green, Nets
Owned: 13 percent
Analysis:Green has done a solid job for the Nets since signing a 10-day contract in late February and has played well enough to carve out some solid minutes in the rotation. He has scored in double figures nine times through 16 games while shooting 49 percent and 36 percent from the field and 3-point land, respectively. The 26-year-old has also chipped in with some decent assist and steal totals and should continue to see mover than 20 minutes per contest. With the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Wizards and Cavaliers on the schedule for the upcoming scoring period, consider Green a worthwhile add in deeper Fantasy formats.

Avoid 'Em

Jason Richardson, Magic
Owned: 60 percent
Analysis: Richardson is having one of the worst campaigns of his career and his production has fallen off the map of late. He scored just seven points on Monday against the lowly Raptors, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 6.4 points with 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals. He shot just 33 percent from the floor over that span and 16 percent from downtown. The 31-year-old has become more of a spot-up shooter at this stage of his career and contributes minimally in other categories. Add to the fact that he will play just three times in Week 15 and Richardson is looking like someone to avoid in most Fantasy formats.

Mario Chalmers, Heat
Owned: 55 percent
Analysis: Fantasy owners know that Chalmers is a streaky shooter and he has been trending towards ice cold recently. He scored in double figures for the first time since March 16 on Monday and averaged just 5.4 points with 3.8 assists during that five-game span. While he posted 2.6 steals in those contests, Chalmers shot just 30 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc. The 25-year-old can rack up some points when he gets hot from downtown but his prowess for turning the ball over sometimes lands him on the bench in lieu of rookie Norris Cole. With the Big 3 supplying most of the production for the Heat, only add Chalmers in deeper Fantasy formats heading into Week 15.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Brandon Bass, Celtics
Owned: 67 percent
Analysis: Bass posted back-to-back double-doubles to begin Week 13 and continues to play well since returning from his knee injury. With his 15-point performance against Charlotte on Monday, he is averaging 12.8 points with 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his last five contests while shooting nearly 45 percent over that span. After a breakout campaign a year ago for the Magic, the 26-year-old has been able to trump those numbers so far this season and should continue to produce for an aging team in Boston. Owners should also keep in mind that Boston does not have many bigmen beyond Bass and Kevin Garnett. Even though he has some tough matchups in the Spurs, Bulls, Pacers and 76ers in Week 15, Bass should be utilized in the majority of Fantasy formats down the stretch.

Gordon Hayward, Jazz
Owned: 65 percent
Analysis: Despite beginning Week 14 with just seven points and one rebound against the Nets, Hayward has picked up his play of late and is storming down the stretch while Utah tries to hold onto a playoff spot. He is averaging 13.4 points with 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals over his last nine games. The sophomore continues to struggle with his shot but has become more aggressive at attacking the rim and is supplying the Jazz with some backcourt scoring to compliment Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap down low. Hayward, who was recently moved back to the starting lineup, has the ability to fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis so grab the 22-year-old off waivers if you can.

Avoid 'Em

Marreese Speights, Grizzlies
Owned: 32 percent
Analysis: With Zach Randolph back for the Grizzlies, Speights has seen his role diminish in Memphis and it will likely remain down the stretch. He had a couple of decent stretches for Fantasy owners after being acquired from the 76ers but seeing fewer than 20 minutes off bench will not give the 24-year-old much of an opportunity to produce. Considering he averaged just seven points with five rebounds in his five games prior to Week 14, leave Speights for the deepest of Fantasy formats going forward.

Jason Maxiell, Pistons
Owned: 13 percent
Analysis: Maxiell went on a nice little run for Fantasy owners but has returned to his usual production over the last five games. He is averaging just 2.6 points with 3.8 rebounds over that span while seeing around 21 minutes per contest. After putting up 4.2 points with three boards a year ago, the 29-year-old has had a bounce-back campaign but still remains someone to avoid in the majority of Fantasy formats going forward.

Centers

Add 'Em

DeJuan Blair, Spurs
Owned: 57 percent
Analysis: After scoring in double figures just once during a five-game span, Blair ended Week 14 with back-to-back solid performances and appears to be trending up in Fantasy. He scored 23 points against the Hornets on Saturday before dropping 19 on the 76ers the following night. While his rebounding has been down so far this season, the 22-year-old has upped his scoring in each of his first three seasons in the NBA and has some favorable matchups in Week 15. With Cleveland, Boston, New Orleans and Utah on the docket, owners in need of some help at center should scoop up Blair.

Kendrick Perkins, Thunder
Owned: 30 percent
Analysis: With back-to-back games scoring in double figures -- including one against the Heat -- Perkins could finally be worth owning in larger Fantasy formats. He entered Week 14 averaging nine points with 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in his previous five contests, and shot 67 percent from the field over that span. While most of his points come off of put-backs, the 27-year-old is shooting nearly 49 percent this season and should be able to keep things going heading into the upcoming scoring period. Perkins will face Memphis, Miami, Indiana and Toronto in Week 15 so consider picking him up, especially at a thin position in Fantasy.

Avoid 'Em

Chuck Hayes, Kings
Owned: 18 percent
Analysis: Since scoring 12 points with eight rebounds on March 27, Hayes has done very little for Sacramento and Fantasy owners alike. He posted just three points on Monday, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 5.2 points with 4.8 rebounds. Hayes has had a down campaign all around in his first season with the Kings and should be left for the deepest of formats going forward as he is not trustworthy enough for the Fantasy playoffs.

Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets
Owned: 5 percent
Analysis:Mozgov's role continues to fluctuate in Denver but whether he sees a few minutes or 20-plus, his production has remained minimal. He scored five points against the Bulls on Monday and has not been rebounding much of late. The addition of JaVale McGee -- who is now starting for Denver --at the trade deadline also affects his value in Fantasy so plan on ignoring the 25-year-old in the majority of formats down the stretch.

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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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