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Waiver Wire: A Peace of advice

Fantasy Writer
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Lakers forward Metta World Peace is the fifth-most added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy league right now and on the surface that makes sense. Entering Wednesday's play, World Peace has scored in double figures in five games in a row and is averaging 11.8 points per game for the season with 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game as well.

For a player who is still available in 59 percent of all leagues, those are pretty good numbers, but they are also likely a mirage. World Peace is averaging more points per game than he ever has as a member of the Lakers, but he is shooting a putrid 36.5 percent from the field.

The Lakers are playing a very incoherent brand of offensive basketball right now, as they remain between coaches until Mike D'Antoni officially takes over. That is leading to a lot of broken possessions ending with World Peace shooting the ball -- a truly suboptimal result for any team, let alone one with three All Stars on the floor.

Fantasy owners are adding World Peace on the assumption that he seems to have recovered some of his lost offensive capability, but he almost certainly cannot keep this scoring pace up. In a chat earlier in the week, I had a reader ask whether D'Antoni's system would help World Peace's Fantasy value, which might also be playing into some owner's thinking when adding him.

While D'Antoni is well known as an offensive guru, he usually does his best work by having competent shooters and slashers live up to their fullest potential in a system that gets them wide open looks. World Peace's -- er -- strengths on offense certainly do not align with your typical D'Antoni reclamation, and it would make a lot more sense if we saw Jodie Meeks or Devin Ebanks start to take some of those minutes from him.

World Peace's success this season has largely been the result of a larger volume in shots and minutes, and the Lakers' new head coach has to realize that won't be a winning formula for them. He should see his place in the rotation rolled back before long, so Fantasy owners should not be running out to add him.

Most Added Guards

A.J. Price, Wizards (57 percent owned; +40 percent): Price is a great example of what can happen to the perception of a player after a good few days. Price has been thrust into the starting point-guard spot for the Wizards due to John Wall's lingering knee injury and for the most part he has been an afterthought. But he caught everyone's eye last weekend when he posted 24 points, 23 assists and nine rebounds over a two-day span in losses to the Bucks and Pacers. He is posting solid season averages of 10.0 points and 7.7 assists entering play Wednesday, but the raw numbers are misleading; 40 percent of his points and half of his assists on the year came in those two games. He is playing 30-plus minutes per game out of necessity for a terrible Wizards team, but it would not be a surprise if those were the two best games they get out of him. Price is a career 30-percent shooter from the field and has never shown anything resembling this skill level over three previous NBA seasons, so don't expect him to sustain it.

E'Twaun Moore, Magic (54 percent owned; +25 percent): Moore is largely in the same boat as Price as he is also playing due to injury, but his performance seems at least a little bit more sustainable. At the very least, there is more room to grow with Moore, a second-year player who was limited to just 331 minutes of action over 38 games as a rookie with Boston a year ago. Moore was a solid scorer over a four-year career at Purdue, so the fact that he is averaging 13.3 points per game in 36 minutes of action for Orlando does not completely come out of nowhere. Orlando is in the midst of a major rebuilding phase, so they will likely continue to give Moore minutes to see whether he can be a part of their future. While the eventual return of Jameer Nelson could cost him some playing time, first-year Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has shown some flexibility with his lineups, so Moore should still see the floor. Moore might not have a huge ceiling, but his scoring ability should keep him in the rotation.

Shannon Brown, Suns (28 percent owned; +20 percent): Brown had a pretty solid season as the team's sixth-man last season, so he probably should have been owned in more than just eight percent of leagues prior to this week. Still, this jump in his ownership is largely attributable to a string of four out of five games in which he scored at least 18 points. Brown is capable of those kinds of games from time to time and has been a terrific per-minute scorer for his entire career, averaging at least 14.1 points per-36 minutes in every season since he was a rookie. Brown does not seem to be seeing many more minutes, but he has taken on a larger role in the team's offense so far. Brown is using 28.8 percent of his team's offensive possessions while on the floor, up from just 22.8 percent a year ago. As a result, Brown is getting to the free-throw line twice as often as he did last year while posting a career-best 16.1 percent assist rate. The Suns have been in need of an offensive spark, and Brown has proven surprisingly adept at filling that role. Brown is playing some of the best basketball of his career at this point in the season and should probably be owned in more than 28 percent of leagues.

Most Added Forwards

Corey Brewer, Nuggets (30 percent owned; +25 percent): Brewer's confidence shooting the three-pointer so far this season has been one of the biggest surprises in the league. Entering Wednesday's play, Brewer was 10th in the league in three-point field goals attempted, while making a career-best 37.8 percent of those shots. This could obviously be the result of a small-sample size, but this is obviously something that Nuggets coach George Karl has been pressing Brewer to work on. If we extend the sample out to include the six preseason games Brewer played in, he is shooting 39.1 percent on his last 69 three-point attempts. He attempted only 127 three-pointers a year ago, but the Nuggets remain in desperate need of perimeter players willing to fire away from three-point range. More than half of Brewer's points have come as a result of threes, so if his shot reverts to previous levels, we could see a major regression in his Fantasy value. Still, this hot start makes adding him as an upside play a smart decision at this point.

Jason Thompson, Kings (47 percent owned; +17 percent): Thompson saw a bit of a boost to his Fantasy value over the last week, after averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over a four-game stretch from Nov. 7-13. Those are solid numbers and might have convinced some Fantasy owners that he was carving out a bigger place in the team's plans. He did play 32.7 minutes on average in those games, which would seem to point to that conclusion. Unfortunately, that stretch also largely coincided with the suspension of two of the team's other big men in Thomas Robinson and then DeMarcus Cousins. Thompson has proven to be a solid all-around player, capable of providing around 10 points, six rebounds and a block per game overall. And that is what should be expected of him from most Fantasy owners. Do not be fooled by this solid stretch into thinking that Thompson has emerged from the scrum in Sacramento as a big key. That team is deep in the frontcourt and his minutes will likely return to being closer to 25 per game when they get all of their pieces back.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets (86 percent owned; +14 percent): I'll admit that I have remained skeptical of Aminu's fast start, but at some point we may have to re-configure our expectations for the third-year forward. He seems to be enjoying a breakout campaign, though we are still dealing with a five-game sample. Aminu scored just 6.0 points per game a year ago after a 5.6 average as a rookie, as compared to 12.8 so far. He is taking on a much larger role this season, averaging a career-high 10.4 shots per game, but he has managed to improve his efficiency along the way, which is the big key to his hot start. Aminu is shooting just 7.7 percent on shot attempts from at least 15 feet, but just one-quarter of his shots have come from that distance; in his first two seasons, he attempted 41.8 percent of his shots from at least 15 feet, according to Basketball-Reference.com's play-by-play data. Aminu is taking advantage of his athleticism finally by getting high efficiency shots, and it is paying great dividends so far. This could all change in the span of a week, but Aminu is probably worth owning in all Fantasy formats, given the seemingly huge leaps he has made in his offensive game.

Most Added Centers

Larry Sanders, Bucks (70 percent owned; +40 percent): Sanders is another player that I have been skeptical about, given that his hot start seems to fly in the face of everything we have come to know about him over a pair of brief NBA seasons. Unlike with Aminu, when you dig a bit deeper, you don't see more encouraging signs for him keep up his current level of production. Sanders is shooting 20.8 percent better from the field than his career rate and his rebounding rate has improved from 12.7 percent over his first two seasons to 21.2. Those are obviously significant improvements, but they are so out of the norm that we need to see more before we assume that he can sustain them. The rest of Sanders' numbers don't point to much of an improvement, as he is still fouling at a catastrophic rate (7.3 per-36 minutes) and is turning the ball over on 22.3 percent of his possessions, a laughably bad number for a big man who does little beyond finishing at the rim. Sanders is hyper-athletic and should be able to continue rebounding and scoring close to the basket, but his inability to stay on the floor without fouling ultimately limits how many minutes he can play. Sanders has fouled out of two games so far and has five fouls in half of his games overall.

Omer Asik, Rockets (91 percent owned; +10 percent): Asik's production has been similar to Sanders' this season, as he is averaging 9.9 points and 13.0 rebound through the first seven games of his Rockets' tenure, but there is a lot more to like about him sustaining his production. Asik has emerged as arguably the best all-around rebounder, grabbing 16.0 percent of the team's misses on offense and 27.7 percent of the opponent's misses. Both of those marks rank in the top 10 in the league, a distinction that only Anderson Varejao can match. Asik is shooting 42.1 percent from the field, a major dropoff from his Chicago days, however he has made up for that with a career-best 72.4 percent mark from the free-throw line. He also fouls just 2.5 times per-36 minutes, which is helping him stay on the floor for 32.3 minutes per game. Asik has double-doubles in three of his last four games and there is little reason to think that his role on the team will change. There aren't many leagues left for him to be added in, but it would not be a surprise to see him end up being owned in close to 100 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues before long. Deservedly so.

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Player News
Lakers sign Wayne Ellington right before training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/22/2014) With one week before the start of training camp, the Lakers have signed five-year veteran guard Wayne Ellington to a contract, the team announced. Ellington is now with his fourth team since June, after failing to crack the rotation with the Mavericks in 2013.

Ellington averaged 3.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field over 45 games for Dallas.

Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


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. 


 
 
 
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