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Waiver Wire: Trouble in Atlanta?

Fantasy Writer
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The loss of Lou Williams last week to a season-ending ligament tear in his knee has created a big hole Atlanta badly needs to fill if it wants to keep its waning playoff hopes alive. Williams wore many hats for the Hawks, working as a backup point guard, crunch-time playmaker or secondary scorer, depending on what the team needed at the time. He had emerged as a strong floor-spacer as well, tossing up five three-pointers per game and hitting 36.7 percent of them.

His absence for the remainder of the season will force a number of players to step up and Fantasy owners seem to be betting heavily that veteran wing Kyle Korver will fill in during Williams' absence. Korver has been the second-most added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues over the last week, jumping from 36 percent ownership to 54 percent.

Korver is a superior floor-spacer to Williams, but he lacks many of the other skills that made Williams such a useful option, both for Fantasy owners and the Hawks. Korver averages just 1.7 assists per game on the season, compared to Williams' 3.6, and will likely be asked to do far less play-making than Williams ever was. Korver's limitations as a ball-handler will make it unlikely that he can fill in totally for Williams, so the Hawks will have to shift some of Williams' responsibilities around.

Still, Korver is exceptional at the things he does well, and it would not be a surprise at all to see the Hawks rely on him more heavily for scoring moving forward. Korver has been starting for much of the season, but has seen an increase to 36.9 minutes per game in the three since Williams suffered his injury. That increase comes in spite of being moved out of the starting lineup as of the team's most recent game.

As a shooting specialist, Korver gets most of his touches off screens and in spot-up situations, and he is among the league's leaders in efficiency in both play types. According to MySynergySports.com, 67.7 percent of Korver's possessions ending in either a field-goal attempt, foul drawn or turnover come via spot-ups or coming off screens. His ability to race around screens puts a ton of pressure on defenses, as Eye On Basketball's Zach Harper covered here. His never-ending pursuit of open spots on the floor clears up plenty of room for him to get open looks. He ranks 17th in the NBA in points per possession on spot-ups and 13th off screens. His movement and shooting prowess helps grease the wheels for a Hawks offense that sometimes struggles to find room with its big lineups.

By necessity, Atlanta will try to approximate Williams' production from a number of different sources, and Korver should be just one. Expect the Hawks to lean on Korver's off-ball movement to create space in the offense even more, with Jeff Teague taking on more ball-handling duties. Korver could end up becoming a 30-plus minutes per game player and is worth snagging off the waiver wire -- especially in category-based Fantasy formats, where his three-point shooting will make an even bigger impact.

Most Added Guards

Devin Harris, Hawks: The other part of the "Replacing Lou Williams" equation is likely to be Harris, a veteran point guard who has been a major disappointment thus far in his time in Atlanta. Harris has been playing some better ball recently and looked to be taking a step forward in Williams' absence, scoring 30 points in 50 minutes over two games after Williams suffered the injury. Harris also suffered an injury of his own shortly after, however that is just a minor ankle injury that is expected to cost him only one or two games total. Harris has his best chance to step up in Williams' absence as the backup point guard, though he will need to improve his play in a big way in order to make an impact. Harris is posting a career-low assist rate of just 17.0 percent on the season. His career mark is 29.9 percent. Harris' assist rate has surely been hurt by the presence of Teague and Williams, so we will need to see whether he can step up with his larger role. Harris has little track record this season to fall back on, but Fantasy owners looking for an upside play can look his way, on the chance that he rediscovers his former All-Star form. (48 percent owned; +17 percent)

Shannon Brown, Suns: Brown has seen his Fantasy value fluctuate all season long, which is to be expected for a streaky jump shooter like him. 69.3 percent of Browns' field goal attempts qualify as jump shots according to Basketball-Reference.com, an unnecessarily high number for someone who shoots just 31.5 percent on those attempts. When the shot is falling, Brown can fill up the scoreboard, as he ranked third among Suns' regulars in field-goal attempts per 36 minutes. He has scored in double figures in four games in a row as of Tuesday, which has prompted resurgence in interest in him. Unfortunately, he had been held to just 6.2 points per game in the team's previous five games. Taking a flier on Brown is fine if you are trying to find a quick spark plug. Just don't expect him to earn a permanent spot in your plans. (43 percent owned; +14 percent)

Jarrett Jack, Warriors: Despite being the backup at point guard, Jack has seen his role continue to increase as the season has gone on. Jack averaged just 24.6 minutes per game in the month of November, a number that has crept to 31.1 in 10 January games. Despite the presence of a potential All Star in Stephen Curry, Jack has had no problems finding the floor, and he saw a slight boost in his floor time last week when Curry missed a few games. Jack's spike in ownership was likely due to concerns that Curry's surgically-repaired right ankle was flaring up and would cost him to miss significant time yet again. Unfortunately, Curry sat out just two games, during which Jack averaged 18.0 points and 6.0 assists. Jack is worth owning in most Fantasy formats, but it is not fair to expect his value to improve too much moving forward. (88 percent owned; +10 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets: Aminu has been rebounding like a madman of late, averaging 10.3 per game over the last 10 contests. His offense, as always, has remained a work-in-progress, however he has shown some real signs of life of late. With Eric Gordon's return from a knee injury, the Hornets have been playing at a much faster pace, a style that almost certainly helps a player like Aminu thrive. With Gordon on the floor, the Hornets sporting a Pace Factor of 93.9, which would rank seventh in the league. Without Gordon, they are at just 89.9, one of the most sluggish in the league. Aminu does his best work offensive in transition and on offensive rebounds, the only types of plays where he ranks among the 100-most efficient players in the league, according to Synergy. The Hornets have stepped on the accelerator offensively recently, and the result is that Aminu has racked up three straight double-digit scoring games, as of Tuesday. If he can continue to find easy points, Aminu might be worth grabbing in all Fantasy formats, however his track record indicates that patience will be key. (66 percent owned; +21 percent)

Earl Clark, Lakers: Clark had all of the makings of a flash-in-the-pan for the Lakers, ala Antawn Jamison and his short-lived flirtation with Fantasy relevance earlier in the season. However, coach Mike D'Antoni made it clear Monday that Clark was here to stay, at least as far as his spot in the team's starting lineup is concerned. Clark has found his calling as a stretch power forward in Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, and he is averaging 10.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game over the last nine, since becoming a larger fixture in the rotation. Clark's track record does not suggest that this is the type of production we can expect moving forward, however D'Antoni's offense looks to be turning Clark into a contributor. At the very least, it looks like he can be a useful provider of points and rebounds through sheer energy, given the 30-plus minutes he figures to see per game moving forward. (53 percent owned; +17 percent)

Elton Brand, Mavericks: Brand had been all but left for dead from a Fantasy perspective after the first two months of the season, as he averaged just 6.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game through the first 27 games of the season. Brand was more than a step slow on both ends of the court, and looked to be carrying every one of his 800-plus NBA games played with him each time down the court. Something happened at the start of the New Year, however, as Brand has begun to turn the clock back a bit. Over the last 11 games, Brand is averaging 10.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, despite playing just 23.7 minutes per game off the bench. He has been even better recently, reaching double-figures in scoring in five games in a row, as of Tuesday. Brand is a long way from the All-Star form he showed for so many years, but any signs of life are encouraging after the abysmal start. Brand has emerged as the better option next to Dirk Nowitzki, and it would not be a surprise to see his role continue to increase. I think he could be worth starting in the near future. (56 percent owned; +15 percent)

Most Added Centers

Tiago Splitter, Spurs: Splitter has continued his gradual improvement this season, taking on a larger role in the Spurs' offense with almost no drop in his efficiency. His play of late has been especially impressive, as Splitter has essentially become a full-time player for the first time in his career. Over the last 10 games, Splitter has played at least 26 minutes in all but one game, while averaging 28.9 per game. He has become a contributor on both sides of the floor, and is one of Gregg Popovich's most reliable big men. It looks like Splitter is blossoming into the player he has shown flashes of being in the past. Given how shallow the center position is, Splitter's dual eligibility makes him a worthy pick up, where available. (61 percent owned; +13 percent)

Andre Drummond, Pistons: As expected, it took a while for Drummond to get up to speed in the NBA, after an up-and-down freshman season at UCONN. Lately, however, the only thing standing in the way of Drummond being a true Fantasy force has been his coach's insistence on limiting his minutes. In the first 20 games of the season, Drummond averaged 6.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 17.6 minutes per game. He has taken consistent steps in his progress in the last 20 games, but has been rewarded at every step with just small increases in playing time. He is averaging 8.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 22.0 minutes per game in that span, while shooting 64.1 percent from the field. Drummond's inability to sink free throws certainly hurts his chances of seeing significant crunch-time minutes, but the Pistons should probably be more concerned about future development than short-term victories. Drummond is so close to being a big-time Fantasy contributor -- he is averaging over 20 Fantasy points per game over the last month, ranking him in the top-30 among all centers. If he starts seeing 25-30 minutes per game in the second half of the season, he might end up developing into a top-15 center. Smart Fantasy owners will want to squeeze onto his bandwagon before he is taken in every league. (75 percent owned; +5 percent)

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Player News
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. 


Pistons' Brandon Jennings sits out fourth in favor of D.J. Augustin
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) For the second straight game, Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings did not play at all in the fourth quarter. Coach Stan Van Gundy rode with D.J. Augustin in the final period of a 97-91 defeat to the Timberwolves Thursday night.

Jennings was limited to only four points on 2 of 4 shooting from the field. He chipped in with sux assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes. Meanwhile, Augustin did not start, but logged 33 minutes of game action. He finished with 20 point son 6 of 18 shooting from the field, including 1 of 5 from downtown, and a perfect 7 of 7 from the charity stripe. Augustin added six assists and three rebounds.


Thunder G Russell Westbrook departs with apparent hand injury
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook subbed himself out of Thursday night's contest against the Clippers with an apparent right hand injury.

Westbrook's right hand landed awkwardly on Serge Ibaka's thigh while battling for a rebound. He remained in the game for a few plays before checking himself out of the game. Westbrook was escorted back to the locker room in the second quarter for further evaluation. He had just three points on 1 of 3 shooting before the injury. His status for the remainder of the game is uncertain.


Knicks guard J.R. Smith able to play despite hip pain Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Knicks guard J.R. Smith was able to play despite a significant hip injury, according to ESPN.

Smith managed to play 25 minutes, scoring 11 points during the contest. He also dished out seven assists. A half hour after the game, Smith was unable to bend over and tie his own shoes. It's unclear if Smith will miss any time due to the issue, or if he will continue to play through it. 


Kings F Carl Landry has no setbacks after season opener
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Kings forward Carl Landry (knee) told reporters he's nearing full strength after playing in his first regular season game since Feb. 25, 2014. Landry scored eight points and grabbed seven boards while logging 17 minutes in a 95-77 defeat to the Warriors on opening night.

"I'm definitely on the right track," Landry said, per the team's official website. "I haven't had any setbacks and I'm getting better every week. I've had two major surgeries within the last year and I'm back competing at a high level right now. So I am definitely happy about that."


Kings impressed by Nik Stauskas' debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Kings coach Michael Malone told reporters he was impressed with rookie guard Nik Stauskas during his debut Wednesday night against the Warriors. Stauskas logged 26 minutes off the bench and scored nine points on 3 of 10 shooting from the floor, including 2 of 7 from downtown.

"He was solid when he came in and hit a couple of shots," Malone said, per the team's official website. "Defensively, he has to have a fight mentality. Teams are going to go after him – every team that we've played has gone at him. So he has to get stronger."


Wizards F Kris Humphries (hand) not at 100 percent
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Wizards forward Kris Humphries is not fully recovered from his hand injury, according to Comcast SportsNet Washington following Thursday's win over the Magic. Humphries, who logged 13 minutes off the bench the previous night against Miami, played only three minutes and was held scoreless in a 105-98 victory.

Wizards G John Wall lights up Magic for 30 points, 12 assists
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/30/2014) Wizards guard John Wall notched his first 30-point game of the season in his team's 105-98 victory over the Magic in Orlando Thursday night.

Up two points, Wall broke free, penetrating to the basket for a layup to make it a two possession game with less than 20 seconds remaining.

"I'm basically the head of the snake on the offensive and defensive end, so (against Miami) we didn't have the same kind of intensity," Wall said. "I knew we couldn't go into the season 0-2, so I'm going to come out with more energy and play better on the defensive end."

Wall made 10 of his 21 shots, including 2 of 5 from behind the arc, and 8 of 9 from the free throw line. He finished with 30 points and 12 assists for his second double-double of the season. He also chipped in with five rebounds and two assists while logging 37 minutes of game action in a 105-98 victory.

Wall became the first Washington player to hand out 10 or more assists in each of his first two games since Michael Adams in 1991.


 
 
 
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