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Waiver Wire: Weighing your options

Fantasy Writer
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The Spurs moved Tiago Splitter into the starting lineup last weekend, highlighting a shift in their lineup usage that, at least on its surface, seems to signal a move back to the more traditional roots of the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich dynasty. Splitter now starts alongside Duncan in an ultra-big lineup that essentially sacrifices floor spacing without negatively affecting their overall offensive dominance as a team.

Splitter has long been a tremendous per-minute player on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 16.4 points per 36 minutes for his career. Any increase in minutes will hopefully bring with it an increase in his Fantasy value, so the question from a Fantasy perspective is whether we can expect a big boost in his minutes moving forward on a deep Spurs roster.

As of Wednesday, the Spurs have already played Splitter and Duncan 127 minutes together on the floor, as compared to just 129 in a full season a year ago. According to NBA.com, the Spurs still light up the scoreboard with this big lineup on the floor, averaging 111.9 points per 100 possessions. The success of that lineup pair in the front court bodes well for Splitter moving forward, as he has seen an increase in playing time as the season has gone along as a result.

Splitter is averaging 22.0 minutes per game in the month of December after averaging just 18.7 through the first month-plus of the season. That total continues to creep up as well, as he is playing 24.5 minutes per game over the last five, while averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. Splitter's increased production has led to him being added in 19 percent of CBSSports.com leagues over the last week, bringing his overall ownership up to 51 percent.

The fact that the Spurs are enjoying success while Splitter is on the floor with Duncan bodes very well for his ability to remain productive moving forward. Of course, Popovich has been known to make lineup and rotational changes on a whim -- over a six-game stretch last January, Splitter averaged 25.7 minutes per game, before averaging just 19.0 minutes over the next 10.

Splitter has the offensive ability to make an impact off the waiver wire, so his Fantasy value is going to depend on being able to stay in Popovich's good graces. Continue scooping him up.

Most Added Guards

Nick Young, 76ers: Young has been limited to a bit role ever since leaving Washington last season, but he still shows flashes of the ability that can make him an intriguing Fantasy option. His performance last Sunday against the Lakers was a good indication of this ability, as he dropped 30 points on 23 shots while playing 41 minutes. He has been taking on a larger role for the Sixers recently due to the injury to Jrue Holiday, and if every game was like Sunday's he would be a no-brainer pickup on the waiver wire. Unfortunately, he sandwiched a pair of eight-point games around that 30-point effort, which explains why Fantasy owners won't want to rely on him for too much. He is worth a look while Holiday remains out, but be prepared to cut bait once his minutes shrink again.(26 percent owned; +14 percent)

Jarrett Jack, Warriors: Jack is back on one of his hot tears (he has been streaky all season). The Warriors have relied on a small backcourt featuring both Jack and Stephen Curry a lot this season, and they seem to be leaning on Jack more in recent weeks. He is averaging 29.9 minutes per game in the month of December, while putting up 13.6 points and 5.8 assists per game. The Warriors have gone 8-2 in this time, so it is difficult to see them changing course in the near future. Jack ranked eighth among all guards in Fantasy scoring during Fantasy Week 7 and at this point is probably worth owning in all leagues.(76 percent owned; +13 percent)

Jose Calderon, Raptors: There is not much to figure out about Calderon's performance this season. When he starts for the Raptors, he is a must-start Fantasy option. His splits are startling, as he averages 14.1 points and 11.0 assists per game in 11 starts, with just 8.1 points and 4.2 assists off the bench. Most of that can be explained by minute distribution, as he averages 37.0 per game as a starter and 22.0 per game otherwise. Even when Kyle Lowry returns from his current triceps injury, Fantasy owners would be wise to hang on to Calderon. Lowry has missed significant amounts of time in each of the last two games, making Calderon an excellent handcuff option, given his success.(93 percent owned; +12 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Ed Davis, Raptors: Similar to Calderon, Davis has seen his role increase as a result of an injury to one of the Raptors' supposed franchise cornerstones. His success has been decidedly less pronounced, as he has alternated double-figure scoring games over the last five contests. Still, he is averaging 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per game, and figures to keep receiving opportunities with Andrea Bargnani out indefinitely with elbow and wrist injuries. Davis is too limited offensively to be worth owning in all Fantasy leagues, but he can be useful against the right matchups in deeper formats. (74 percent owned; +38 percent)

Jared Dudley, Suns: It took them a while, but the Suns finally seem to have realized that Dudley is a better option than Michael Beasley. It is not difficult to see why the Suns would go with Beasley over Dudley, at least to start the season. They invested $18 million into the former No. 2 overall pick last season and he is still an incredibly intriguing physical talent. When compared to Dudley, who can barely jump high enough to dunk in-game, it is not hard to see why the Suns assumed Beasley had more upside. Suns coach Alvin Gentry has leaned more and more on Dudley recently, giving him 37-plus minutes in each of the last four games heading into play Wednesday. Dudley does not have a reputation as a dynamic scorer, but he is still averaging 14.9 points per game in the month of December. Assuming his role is secure, Dudley is worth picking up in most Fantasy formats. (66 percent owned; +37 percent)

Shawn Marion, Mavericks: Marion has battled through some injuries this season, but he has been on fire since returning from his most recent issue. Marion has three double-doubles in the last four games while averaging 14.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game since returning from a groin strain. Marion seems to be at full strength and his minutes are ticking up as a result. He is making up for a slow start that saw him average under double-figures in the month of November. Marion can still fill up the box score, but this is probably the upper limit of his Fantasy value. He is still best left on waivers in many Fantasy formats. (74 percent owned; +18 percent)

Most Added Centers

Spencer Hawes, 76ers: Hawes was an abject disaster in November, scoring in double figures just three times in 15 games while averaging just 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. He has turned things around nicely recently, topping double digits in each of the last six games, while seeing an increase in playing time. The Sixers have desperately needed some offense, ranking just 25th in the league in offensive rating, which has helped Hawes see more of the floor. Hawes' Fantasy value cratered during that horrible November, but his production from the center position has been passable recently -- he ranked 16th in Fantasy scoring among centers during Week 7. Hawes can be maddeningly inconsistent, but he still deserves to be owned in more than half of Fantasy leagues, given his current production. (46 percent owned; +8 percent)

Andre Drummond, Pistons: This was not a big week for centers, as none reached double figures in the percentage of leagues in which they were added. If I was going to bet on one center outperforming his current Fantasy ranking for the rest of the season, it might be Drummond, the uber-talented and raw 19-year-old. He is getting more minutes recently and is averaging 7.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game over the last five. He will singlehandedly torpedo your free-throw shooting as teams begin to exploit that weakness in his game, but Drummond's skill demands more playing time on a Pistons team that is largely bereft of ability. Drummond is a fine high-upside candidate on the waiver wire if you have room at the end of your bench. (56 percent owned; +3 percent)

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Player News
Heat add Reggie Williams
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/16/2014) The Heat signed guard Reggie Williams to a free-agency contract last week, the team announced. Terms of the deal are not known.

Williams appeared in just three games for the Thunder last season, and has played 180 games over parts of five NBA seasons. He averages 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range for his career.  


Isaiah Thomas undergoes wrist surgery
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Suns newcomer Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Thursday.

Thomas dealt with a sprained wrist last season but was able to play through it on his way to a career year. An MRI in February revealed no ligament damage, which would indicate this latest procedure is nothing to worry about. The team expects him to be ready for training camp. 


DeMarcus Cousins avoids serious injury at Team USA practice
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins dodged a bullet Thursday when the MRI on his right knee came back negative.

According to Yahoo Sports, Cousins limped off the court during a Team USA training session after Anthony Davis landed on his knee during a scrimmage. Cousins later tweeted that he was "fine," helping to suppress any concerns of a serious injury. 


Pacers shopping Roy Hibbert, call Pistons about Greg Monroe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Pacers are shopping center Roy Hibbert, and they have called the Pistons regarding a potential deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe, Detroit Sports 105.1 reports.

There's no word about whether the Pistons would be interested in a Monroe-for-Hibbert spot, but they are pretty well set in the middle with Andre Drummond in the starting lineup. It's a rumor that seemingly has very little chance of coming to fruition.


Rockets sign Kostas Papanikolaou
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Rockets have signed small forward Kostas Papanikolaou .

Papanikolaou gets $4.8 million guaranteed in the upcoming season, with a team option of $4.6 million for the following season. He has been playing in Europe since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft.


Report: Greg Oden faces felony charge
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Free agent Greg Oden is facing a felony charge after allegedly attacking his former girlfriend after a night of drinking, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Oden is accused of punching the woman in the face three times and fracturing a bone in her nose, according to court documents. The felony offense carries a penaly of one-to-six years in prison.


Markel Brown out with broken hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Nets guard Markel Brown will be held out of basketball activities for four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced Monday.

Brown was selected 44th overall in this year's draft, and the Nets acquired him for cash considerations on the night of the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season at Oklahoma State.


Report: Wolves to swap Anthony Bennett for Thaddeus Young
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/8/2014) Though the trade can't go official until August 23, the deal reportedly struck between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will lead to another trade between Minnesota and the 76ers.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported early Friday that Minnesota, upon receiving Anthony Bennett from the Cavs as part of the Kevin Love trade, would then trade him for Thaddeus Young. The Timberwolves have been showing interest in Young since Love stated his desire to be traded.

Meanwhile, the 76ers want to move Young because he's entering his prime at age 26 and only has one additional year left on his contract. Acquiring Bennett would complete a core of young talent to develop over the coming years. Young was one of the most productive forwards in the league last year playing in Brett Brown's up-tempo offense, averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bennett, on the other hand, failed to make any impact what so ever but did show signs of growth during the Summer League. 


Landing in Minnesota should improve Andrew Wiggins' value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) The prize of the trade that ultimately sent Kevin Love to Cleveland will likely be the Timberwolves' acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins , assuming there are no unexpected changes in the deal the two sides agreed to.

If Wiggins does ultimately land in Minnesota, as expected, this should be a boon to his Fantasy value. Though Wiggins will have substantially less help as he makes the transition to the NBA than he would have in Cleveland, he is also likely to be much more of a featured option than he otherwise might have been.

Wiggins was likely going to be the third or possibly even fourth offensive option for the Cavs, and likely would have been so for some time, given the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on long-term deals. Now, the Timberwolves get to build around Wiggins as their long-term centerpiece, and he should be given plenty of rope as the team tries to navigate their upcoming rebuild.

Wiggins is raw, but still put up 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game as a freshman at the University of Kansas. There are some questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but he will at least have some help, in the form of point guard Ricky Rubio, who knows exactly how to set up teammates for shots they like.

Wiggins is mostly upside right now, but should be considered a second-round pick in all keeper-league Fantasy formats. In yearly re-draft leagues, he is more of a mid-round option at this point, albeit one with tremendous upside. 


Anthony Bennett a bit more intriguing following trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) After a rookie season that can be charitably described as lost, a change of scenery is probably the best outcome Anthony Bennett could have hoped for this offseason. He got that Thursday, with the news that the long-awaited Kevin Love trade has landed him in Minnesota.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick luckily doesn't have to join the Cavaliers with the pressure of replacing Love as the face of the franchise -- this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggin, will take that on. Bennett gets to join a Timberwolves team that can give him more consistent playing time than last year's Cavaliers afforded him, but which won't ask him to do more than he is capable.

Bennett might end up starting at power forward for the Wolves, though a bench role seems more likely at this point. He had a disastrous rookie season after entering the season out of shape, but appeared to be in better shape while playing with the Cavaliers during the Summer League in Las Vegas. He still shot the ball poorly in Vegas -- 42.6 percent from the field and just 4 of 16 from three-point range -- but Bennett looked much more capable during his time there.

Based on his rookie season, Bennett has a long way to go before he is contributing at a high level. However, Fantasy owners in deeper category-based leagues should consider taking a chance on the 21-year-old in the later rounds, because he will have the chance to earn a large role if he proves worthy. 


 
 
 
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