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Waiver Wire: Looking for the hot hand?

Fantasy Writer
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One nice thing about the Bobcats this season -- besides the fact that watching them isn't a punishment -- is that they actually have some reasonably useful Fantasy options. A year ago, it was basically just Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker on their historically disastrous roster worth starting.

Now? Walker and Henderson are still there and they have some company. Byron Mullens, Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ben Gordon have all spent time among the ranks of worthy Fantasy starters, which almost creates an embarrassment of riches, if you have a very loose definition of "riches."

Recently, Fantasy owners are betting on Ben Gordon's resurgence, as he is the third-most added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues, as of Wednesday night. Gordon slogged through a terrible final season in Detroit, putting up an empty 12.5 points per game. He seems rejuvenated in Charlotte, putting up his best scoring numbers since leaving Chicago in 2008-09.

The Bobcats have played at a very fast pace this season, a style that suits the three-guard lineup they often employ. Gordon has been a big part of those lineups and the Bobcats are letting him fire away whenever he wants. He has scored in double-figures in 11 of 15 games and is averaging 19.8 points per game over the last six contests.

Gordon probably will not keep shooting 49.4 percent from three-point range (that would be the 11th-best mark in NBA history for a full season). However, there is a lot to like about his role in this offense. He doesn't give you much else in the box score besides points in bunches, but let's not get greedy -- we're talking about a waiver-wire pickup. And a solid one at that.

Most Added Guards

Randy Foye, Jazz: Foye's scoring is really the only above-average ability he can bring to the floor, so his value is often dependent on a number of factors outside of his control. Playing time is arguably the biggest one -- something that has been working in his favor recently. Foye is averaging 29.2 minutes per game over the last five games and he has topped the 30-minute mark in three games in a row heading into Wednesday's play. As a result, he has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, while shooting a scorching 52.1 percent from the field. The problem with Foye is that while he is prone to these kinds of hot streaks, he has a tendency of following them with equally cold streaks. He had a five-game stretch earlier in the season in which he shot just 28.1 percent from the field. Foye is the type of player you can ride while he is hot, but Fantasy owners should know by now to cut bait once the shots stop falling. (33 percent owned; +11 percent)

Gary Neal, Spurs: Neal has been on a scoring tear recently, aided by the Spurs' willingness to give extended rest to older players. That is largely the reason why Neal has seen his Fantasy value increase, so owners might want to temper expectations. The Spurs just finished a tough stretch in the schedule that forced them to give the second unit some extended run, but with a bit more forgiving schedule on the way the rotation could change. Additionally, Neal is dealing with a sore Achilles in his left leg, which could limit his ability to make an impact. The Spurs have been hit hard by injuries, but once the team gets healthy, Neal could revert to the role that saw him score in double figures in just three of the first seven games of the season. (16 percent owned; +10 percent)

Jarrett Jack, Warriors: Jack is probably going to be one of those players whose ownership bounces up and down all season long, as he has already gone from a high ownership of 73 percent down to 46 percent before this week. His role on the team lends itself to this kind of pattern, as his numbers are probably going to fluctuate throughout the season. Jack's last seven games have seen him score 17, 18, 18, 1, 18, 5 and 2 points -- a perfect microcosm of his season as a whole. Jack is one of the better backup point guards in the league, which makes him only intermittently useful as long as the players in front of him stay healthy. (54 percent owned; +8 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Antawn Jamison, Lakers: After spending last week's column focusing on the reasons why Jamison was unlikely to live up to his status as one of the most added players in Fantasy, he ripped off his best three-game stretch of the season. Jamison seems to be working well as a stretch-four in Mike D'Antoni's offensive system and he is even starting over the last few games due to Pau Gasol's lingering knee tendinitis. I still think, at some point, Gasol has to re-assert himself as a key part of the Lakers' offense, but Jamison's recent play is difficult to deny. He is averaging 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in just 23.9 minutes in eight games since D'Antoni took over, so Fantasy owners should still consider adding the 15-year veteran. (71 percent owned; +30 percent)

Kyle Singler, Pistons: Singler is another player who has found himself as the subject of plenty of virtual ink in our Fantasy coverage, as the former second-round pick has come out of nowhere this season to emerge as a strong floor-spacing scorer for the Pistons. Since entering the starting lineup full time on Nov. 14, a span of 11 games, Singler is averaging 32.2 minutes. He does little besides score, but he has done that extremely well so far, averaging 12.0 points per game as a starter. We have little in the way of an NBA track record on Singler, so it is tough to say whether this is sustainable, however the way he goes about scoring shows promise; Singler attempts 70.2 percent of his shots behind the three-point line or at the rim. These are the most efficient shots in the game, which helps explain his 10.3 points-per-game average on just 7.4 shots. Time will tell if Singler's hot start proves to be a fluke, but he continues to trend in the right direction as the sample size increase. (63 percent owned; +22 percent)

Kevin Seraphin, Wizards: Similarly to Singler, Seraphin is enjoying a surprisingly productive beginning to the season, though the path he has taken to get there is quite different. While Singler has been a model of efficiency, Seraphin is gaining a reputation as a ball stopper. As the Washington Examiner pointed out Wednesday, Seraphin is last among the team's regulars in free-throw attempts per game. This is surprising for a player who has spent 36.4 percent of his offensive possessions bumping and creating contact in post-up situations, according to MySynergySports.com. Seraphin is getting the opportunity to work in the offense, but his role will likely shrink as Nene continues to get healthy. Seraphin's ceiling right now continues to be limited by his inability to make the most of his opportunities, and you have to wonder how long he can keep his current role without improvement. (62 percent owned; +16 percent)

Most Added Centers

Andray Blatche, Nets: This has been quiet a turnaround for Blatche, who has gone from being sent home and ultimately cut by a lottery-bound Wizards team a year ago to starting for a team that will likely be fighting for home-court advantaged by the end of the season. Even if he is only starting for a limited time due to injury, it is still remarkable to see, as Blatche was strongly considering playing in the D-League before the Nets came calling in the offseason. At the shallow center position, his 10.6 points, 6.1 rebounds average lands him squarely in the "worth owning" category for Fantasy owners. His recent production is almost assuredly not going to be sustainable, given Brook Lopez's eventual return from a foot sprain. Still, he has scored in double figures in nine of 17 games this season, and should remain a solid producer even when he returns to the bench. Fantasy owners who have added him can count on him still being worth a roster spot moving forward. (60 percent owned; +38 percent)

Larry Sanders, Bucks: To call Sanders' third year in the league an "up and down campaign" might be an understatement at this point. Sanders, a perpetual disappointment through his first two seasons in the league, got off to a huge start to the season, averaging 12.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, showing a heretofore unseen capability on the offensive side of the court. He cooled down quickly from that point on, averaging just 4.1 points in his next eight contests, but he has begun to turn things on again recently. Sanders has gone insane on defense recently, averaging 7.3 blocks over the past three games, while matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise record with 10 blocks in a single game. He has been able to stay on the floor by lowering his fouls in this span, the part of the game that has most consistently needed work. I would like to see Sanders put together everything for an extended stretch, but at the very least, he has finally been able to turn his per-minute defensive aptitude into nightly production. (79 percent owned; +33 percent)

Other thoughts: Other highly-added players worth watching: Jason Maxiell, Robin Lopez, Lavoy Allen, Bismack Biyombo ... Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio is on the verge of returning, which will hurt Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour's value ... Derrick Favors has plantar fasciitis, which should mean more minutes for Paul Millsap, who has disappointed recently ... Steve Blake underwent abdominal surgery and is out for up to two months, but the Lakers don't have anyone worth targeting until Steve Nash returns. Chris Duhon has very limited value.

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Player News
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. 


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. 


 
 
 
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