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Waiver Wire: To trust or not to trust?

Fantasy Writer
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In one of the most inexplicable plotlines of the early part of the season, Kings coach Keith Smart buried guard Isaiah Thomas for much of the first month and a half. Despite having him in the starting lineup for the season's first eight games, Smart played Thomas just 23.4 minutes per game before benching him entirely in favor of Aaron Brooks.

Thomas had to earn his way back into his coach's good graces, despite finishing third in rookie of the year voting last year as the last player selected in the draft. Thomas has been back in the starting lineup recently and Fantasy owners are starting to take notice -- he was the second-most added player in CBSSports.com leagues over the past week. Thomas has been added in 19 percent of all leagues over the last week, bringing his ownership rate up to 59 percent.

Thomas was actually earning DNPs during the month of December, as Smart could not figure out how to best make use of his options at the point guard position. Thomas has made things much easier for his coach recently, by averaging 14.8 points per game over the last 10 games, despite playing just 25.5 minutes on average. Thomas' play-making still leaves much to be desired, as his assist-to-turnover ratio continues to hover below 2-to-1 on the season, so he has been relegated to a role that has him looking for his own offense more often.

I would say Thomas is worth adding in more Fantasy formats moving forward, but the Kings' rotations are about to get muddied up again with the impending return of Tyreke Evans next week. Thomas' play-making was enough to earn him playing time a year ago, however the percentage of his team's possessions that have ended with a Thomas assist has fallen from 25.6 percent last season to 19.8 this year. If Thomas is to cement his place in the starting lineup and as a major part of the rotation, he needs to do more than just score first and score last. The Kings have tons of players who can find their own shot -- that is pretty much their biggest organizational problem right now.

Thomas' abilities as a scorer are well-documented in his 90-plus NBA games. What remains to be seen is whether he can evolve within the context of the offense. The Kings' relative depth in the backcourt makes Thomas' ceiling lower than his abilities might dictate, especially given his natural defensive deficiencies at 5-foot-9. I would continue to add Thomas in most Fantasy formats, but be prepared to cut bait if he takes a hit upon Evans' return.

Most Added Guards

Jason Kidd, Knicks: Kidd has been useful for Fantasy owners in deeper, category-based formats this season, but his injury-fueled ascension to the starting lineup over the last week has him looking far more attractive to everyone else now. Kidd is incredibly limited as an offensive player, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field over the last 10 games, but he makes up for his lack of scoring elsewhere. Specifically, Kidd can post elite rebounding numbers for a guard (6.0 per game over the last 10), while contributing solid assist numbers (5.0 per game in that span). Kidd ranks 30th among all guards in Fantasy scoring over the last two weeks and should probably approach must-own status as long as Raymond Felton is out. (85 percent owned; +18 percent)

Will Bynum, Pistons: The guards featured this week are good examples of when a player's increase in value might be sustainable and when it can be dismissed as a fluke. At 29 years old, Bynum is not the type of young player from whom we might expect a new level of performance, based on natural progression as a player. He has also not seen a significantly larger role in the team's offense. If Bynum is the same player as always (he is), and is not seeing a big increase in his role (he is not), it is probably fair to assume he represents the latter category: his recent play is simply the result of a fluke. With Rodney Stuckey dealing with an ankle injury, Bynum is averaging 19.8 points over the last four games. However, Stuckey's injury is not expected to cost him a significant amount of time. Maybe Bynum can provide a bit of value while Stuckey continues to recover, but expect him to return to irrelevance once Stuckey returns. (17 percent owned; +17 percent)

Garrett Temple, Wizards: Unlike Bynum, Temple has been moved into a starting role that could see him make some sort of impact for Fantasy owners looking his way. Temple was plucked out of the D-League last week due to the injuries the Wizards have suffered at the point guard position and he was inserted into the starting lineup after outplaying Shelvin Mack in his second game. Temple has been unable to stay in the NBA so far in his career, so this is his best chance. He has scored in double figures in just one of his first four games, but you have to at least be optimistic that he is getting the chance. Temple's chances of making a big impact are limited given his track record, but a starting role and 25-30 minutes per night can at least make him a stop-gap option in deeper Fantasy formats if you are dealing with injuries. (12 percent owned; +12 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Hakim Warrick, Bobcats: Warrick was averaging just 11.3 minutes per game prior to Byron Mullens' injury, so he was clearly not their first choice to play at power forward. At this point, however, Warrick is pretty much all the offense-starved Bobcats have at that position, especially if they want any offensive production from that spot. In his first three starts since Mullens went down with an injury, Warrick reached double figures in each game, the first time he has done so since the first three games of the 2011-12 season. Warrick is going to keep seeing 30 minutes per game with Mullens out and he is a career 13.9-points-per-30-minutes scorer, so he should be able to reach double figures on most nights. (22 percent owned; +16 percent)

Hedo Turkoglu, Magic: It is going to be very interesting to see how Turkoglu is inserted into the Magic's plans. With a new coach who had a set rotation for 29 games before Turkoglu was able to play, it is not clear where he fits. He played 39 minutes in an overtime loss to the Heat in his second game back, but was limited to just 18 two nights later against the Bulls. Turkoglu has never been well known for his conditioning, so missing the first two months of the season may bring some rustiness as he gets re-acclimated to playing. With the Magic in rebuilding mode, Turkoglu is likely not in the team's long-term plans. Orlando may choose to showcase him for a potential trade, but I would expect him to struggle finding consistent minutes. (34 percent owned; +14 percent)

John Salmons, Kings: It has been interesting to watch Salmons re-invent himself this season as more of a facilitator on a Kings team that often lacks a traditional point guard. He averaged 10.9 points per game in December, while adding 4.3 assists and just 1.0 turnover per game -- he has now actually edged into the team lead in assists per game for the season. Salmons, who was almost totally irrelevant for much of last season, has bounced back, but we will need to see how he does when Tyreke Evans returns. Salmons' current play makes him worth picking up in deeper Fantasy formats, but he will likely be asked to do less with Evans back.(31 percent owned; +13 percent)

Most Added Centers

Emeka Okafor, Wizards: With the continued ineffectiveness of their backup options, the Wizards are starting to shorten their rotations in the hopes of ending what has become a season-long slide. Coach Randy Wittman has moved Nene to the starting power forward spot and has begun leaning on him and Emeka Okafor more often, with Okafor averaging 30.4 minutes per game over the last five. Okafor had five double-doubles in a row through Wednesday, averaging 11.6 points and 12.8 rebounds per game over that span. The change in rotation has clearly benefitted Okafor's personal performance -- the key will be seeing whether the team determines that it is worthy of a long-term switch. For now, it is worth putting in a claim on the waiver wire to see if he can provide solid value down the line. (66 percent owned; +25 percent)

Andray Blatche, Nets: While I usually focus on players being added, I have decided to turn the spotlight on one who is seeing his ownership rates decline. Blatche's ownership is starting to fall as reality sets in about his role on the team. Blatche was a big part of trying to keep them afloat during Brook Lopez's absence, but Lopez is back and playing at a high level, leaving little room for Blatche to contribute. The team has begun playing Blatche next to Lopez at times, but neither player appears in the other's 20-most-used lineups, indicating Blatche remains more of a true backup at center than anything else. In 10 games since Lopez came back from his foot injury, Blatche is averaging just 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes. Given Lopez's injury history in recent years, it is not a bad idea to keep Blatche stashed in the hopes you can either weather an injury to Lopez or find some benefit out of it. Beyond that, Blatche is worth dropping for more viable options. (69 percent owned; -10 percent)

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Player News
Trail Blazers list guard Arron Afflalo as doubtful for Sunday's game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:04 pm ET) The Trail Blazers have listed guard Arron Afflalo as doubtful for Sunday's opening round game against the Grizzlies with a shoulder injury, the team announced. 

Afflalo missed the final three games of the regular season with the injury. If he is unable to go, CJ McCollum would likely fill in. Also listed on the injury report are Alonzo Gee (foot) as questionable, McCollum (ankle), Nicolas Batum (knee) and Chris Kaman (back) as probable.

The Trail Blazers are currently 5 1/2-point underdogs against Memphis


Pelicans G Tyreke Evans knocked out of Game 1 with knee bruise
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans was removed from Saturday's Western Conference Quarterfinals game against Golden State with a left knee bruise, according to the Associated Press.

Evans, who underwent minor right knee surgery last May, exited with 5:16 remaining in the first half and was taken back to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. He scored one point and grabbed one rebound before leaving the game. His return remains uncertain.

Evans averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in the regular season. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from downtown in 79 games.


Hawks' Budenholzer on Mike Scott: 'We expect him to be available'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:31 pm ET) Hawks forward Mike Scott practiced again on Friday, and is expected to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Brooklyn on Sunday, Mike Budenholzer told reporters, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We expect him to be available," Budenholzer said.

Scott missed the last game of the regular season with a back injury. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds over 68 regular-season games.

Atlanta is a 10-point home favorite against Brooklyn, per VegasInsider.com.


Report: Brandon Knight underwent ankle surgery on Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:25 pm ET) Suns point guard Brandon Knight underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on Friday, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

The Bucks traded Knight to the Suns in a three-team trade, which also involved the 76ers sending Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks before this season's trade deadline. The injury kept him to 11 games after the Suns acquired him Feb. 19.

Knight averaged 17.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from downtown in 52 games with Milwaukee. In his 11 games for Phoenix, Knight averaged 13.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from 3-point range.


Mavericks' Chandler Parsons expected to start against former club
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:51 pm ET) Mavericks' Chandler Parsons (knee) is expected to reclaim his customary starting small forward spot for Game 1 of Western Conference Quarterfinals at Houston on Saturday, per the team's official website.

Parsons missed the last six games of the regular season with a knee injury. Parsons joined the Mavericks in the offseason after the Rockets failed to match the offer sheet submitted by the Dallas. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 66 games with Dallas this season.

"This series is much bigger than me going back there. It’s about us winning four games before they do," Parsons said.


Bulls G Kirk Hinrich ruled out for Game 1 vs. Milwaukee
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was ruled out for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Milwaukee, coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters, per the Chicago Tribune. Hinrich missed the last two games of the regular season with a hyperextended left knee. Thibodeau added that Hinrich was making progress and then "plateaued" and is "kind of stuck."

Chicago is an 8-point favorite at home on Saturday, per VegasInsider.com.


Grizzlies unsure if Jeff Green (back) will play in Game 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Grizzlies forward Jeff Green is considered questionable for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the team announced.

Green is dealing with tightness in his lower back. Green has been bothered by a back issue for most of April, but it did not cause him to miss any of the last regular-season games.

The Grizzlies are 4 1/2-point favorites.


Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving not concerned about hip injury
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said he wasn't worried about the sore right hip that bothered him at the end of the regular season.

"No. No. It's not any concern," Irving said, per Cleveland.com. "I feel pretty good right now." 

"I thought he was fine in the last game Wednesday against Washington, with limited minutes of course," head coach David Blatt agreed. "And he looked great in practice today. So I believe he'll be 100 percent come Sunday."


Pistons' owner: Andre Drummond is a max player
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Pistons' Andre Drummond is still on his rookie contract, and the team could head off his restricted free agency in 2016 by offering him a maximum extension. 

The team tipped its hand on Friday, when owner Tom Gores said Drummond deserved the maximum. 

"Andre's a maximum guy," Gores said, per MLive. "He's a maximum guy. He's not only a great player, he's a great person."


David Lee will miss Warriors' first playoff game
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Warriors announced that David Lee would miss the opening game of the playoff series against New Orleans, according to a the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lee is suffering from a strained lower back and missed two of the last three games of the regular season. 


 
 
 
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