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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
Thunder PG Russell Westbrook has small fracture in right hand
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:47 am ET) Thunder coach Scott Brooks told reporters that point guard Russell Westbrook suffered a small fracture in his right hand, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

Westbrook's right hand landed awkwardly on Kendrick Perkins' thigh while battling for a rebound in the second quarter. He left the game a few plays later with the injury and did not return.

This comes as a huge blow for the Thunder, who are already without Kevin Durant for the start of the season due to a broken foot. The injury could keep him out for several weeks, depending on the severity of the fracture. Brooks did not provide a timetable for recovery and Westbrook was not made available to reporters after the game for further comments.


Thunder's Perry Jones shoulder the load with career-high 32 points
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:36 am ET) With Russell Westbrook injured, Thunder small forward Perry Jones shouldered the load, scoring a career-high 32 points in his team's 93-90 defeat to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Jones, who shot 1 for 9 on opening night, bounced back early on with nine points in the opening period. He 10 of 17 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from the floor and 9 of 11 from the free throw line. Jones added seven rebounds, three assists and one block while logging 42 minutes of game action. He has combined for 35 points and 10 rebounds through his first two games.

Before Thursday, Jones' previous career-high was 14 points in his rookie season in 2013.


Clippers G Jordan Farmar scores six off the bench in return
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Clippers guard Jordan Farmar made his return from lower back tightness Thursday night against the Thunder. He scored six points off the bench on 2 of 4 shooting from the field, all of which came from behind the arc. He added an assist and a steal while logging 10 minutes of game action.

Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins scores eight in home debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:23 am ET) Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins made his home debut Thursday night, as he contributed with eight points in his team's 97-91 victory over the Pistons.

The No. 1 overall pick, who was traded from Cleveland to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love, bounced back from a rough first half and erupted for all eight of his points and grabbed three rebounds to give his team a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

He shot 4 of 9 from the field and missed all three of his attempts from the charity stripe. He added four rebounds, one assist and one steal while logging 24 minutes of game action.

"He had a stretch where he showed what the future is a little bit with his ability to go and take over games," coach Flip Saunders said, via the team's official website. "I was hesitant to put him back in with six minutes to go. We went with our veterans and I think if we would have lost I would have been kicking myself wondering why I didn't put him back in."


Mavericks G J.J. Barea makes Dallas debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:07 am ET) Mavericks guard J.J. Barea made his debut with his new club Thursday night against the Jazz. Barea logged 19 minutes off the bench and finished with four points on 2 of 5 shooting from the field. He added four rebounds and three assists in a 120-102 victory.

Coach Rick Carlisle was impressed with how quickly Barea picked up the offense.

"I thought he played well for a guy who just basically showed up today. He is familiar with out system, so he will fit in. He is in good shape -- had a great summer playing in the FIBA World Championships," Carlisle said, via MavsOutsider.com. "We're fortunate to get him back. And with this roster, we have so many guys who can contribute and we are uncertain when everybody is going to play. But, he certainly showed tonight that he is a guy that is ready to go."


Pistons F Caron Butler drops 24 points in mop-up time
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:00 am ET) Pistons small forward Caron Butler erupted in the fourth quarter, scoring all 24 of his points in the game’s final 18 minutes of Thursday night's loss to the Timberwolves.

With the team down big after three quarters, coach Stan Van Gundy summoned Butler along with the reserves. Butler shot 10 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 7 from downtown. He added eight rebounds, three of which came from the offensive side of the glass while logging 31 minutes of game action in a 97-91 defeat.

"Caron played well," Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said, per the team's official website. "He came in with great energy off the bench, was knocking down shots. We kept going to him and he came through for us to get us back in the game."


Clippers' Glen Davis unable to go Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Clippers forward Glen Davis was unable to play Thursday against the Thunder.

Davis is dealing with a groin injury, and was considered doubtful coming into the contest. Prior to the game, the team made Davis inactive. Coach Doc Rivers said Davis had resumed running, and that it was possible he could return within the week, according to the LA Times


Cavaliers center Brendan Haywood unable to go Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Cavaliers center Brendan Haywood was unable to go Thursday against the Knicks.

Haywood came into the game considered probable due to a foot injury. He did not see any time during the contest. It's unclear whether Haywood will be available Friday against the Bulls. 


Cavaliers forward Kevin Love turns in solid game Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:19 am ET) Cavaliers forward Kevin Love turned in a solid game Thursday against the Knicks.

Love was probable heading into the game due to a rib injury, but that didn't seem to bother him. Love played 38 minutes, shooting six of 14 from the field. He was able to hit three shots beyond the arc, and made all four of his free throws. Love also hauled in 14 rebounds and dished out four assists. He finished with 19 points. 


Thunder guard Russell Westbrook ruled out Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will not return to Thursday's game against the Clippers.

Westbrook removed himself from the game with an apparent hand injury. Westbrook will be re-evaluated Friday. He scored the first basket of the contest, and played nine minutes before leaving. 


 
 
 
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