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Waiver Wire: Can you replace Rondo?

Fantasy Writer
  •  

The Celtics' season seemingly went down in flames last weekend, with the news that guard Rajon Rondo suffered a torn ACL against the Hawks Friday. That news might have taken down plenty of Fantasy owners' seasons with it, as one of the league's most uniquely gifted stat sheet stuffers will be out of commission until at least the 2013-14 season.

Fantasy owners who were relying on Rondo are now left searching for options. And, like a weary wanderer stuck in the desert, some might see a mirage in the distance in the form of Rondo's teammate, Avery Bradley. From a distance, Bradley might look like a possible season-saving pickup to the owners in 48 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues who nabbed him over the last week. But what appears to be a quenching oasis will almost certainly prove to be a trick of the eyes upon further inspection.

Yes, Bradley is likely to see 25-plus minutes per game moving forward, however that was likely to occur whether Rondo was there or not. Bradley's defense on the perimeter has proven to be a big plus for Boston over the last season-plus. What Fantasy owners are hoping for from Bradley is that he will take on an added ball-handling role in Rondo's absence. Upon initial inspection, Bradley seems to be the most natural fit on the Celtics' roster to take on a bigger role, as he is undersized to play the off-guard spot and seems to be more natural a fit at point guard.

Unfortunately, Bradley is particularly ill-suited for the task of taking on play-making duties in Rondo's stead, as his NBA career has clearly shown. The 22-year-old has just nine more assists than turnovers -- total -- over 108 career games, with an average of just 1.0 assists per game. Last season, Bradley spent plenty of time as the team's backup point guard, a role that did not lead to positive outcomes for him or the team as a whole. According to 82games.com, Bradley averaged just 4.1 assists per 48 minutes last season while playing point guard. In his time running the point, the Celtics were held to just 87.0 points per-100 possessions, a mark that would put them a full 10 points behind the Wizards' league-worst pace this season.

In the first full game without Rondo Sunday, Bradley failed to record an assists in 28 minutes, and he has multiple assists in just one game since returning from a shoulder injury. The Celtics will certainly need some players to step up in Rondo's absence, but Bradley does not seem like a likely choice to do so. He is now owned in 60 percent of leagues, but I expect Fantasy owners to realize Bradley is no season-salvaging oasis before long.

Most Added Guards

Courtney Lee, Celtics: Fantasy owners might be hedging their bets a bit with regards to Bradley, as Lee comes in as the third-most added player, and I think he has a chance to provide more return on investment than Bradley. Bradley has been a player who gets minutes because of his shut down defense and cutting ability, two traits that do not lend themselves to big Fantasy production. Lee, on the other hand, has proven his ability to knock down jumpers over the years, and he has shown the ability to run an offense, at least more so than Bradley. Lee is averaging just 1.8 assists per game over the past 10 games, despite averaging just 20.3 minutes. He will not be mistaken for Rondo in any way, but his ability to bring more to the table than Bradley might prove useful for a Boston team that is going to badly require some offensive creativity moving forward. Even having said all of that, I do not expect big things from Lee, who has been little more than a role player in the past. Of the Celtics' guards, Jason Terry strikes me as the one most likely to break out in Rondo's absence, given his proven ability to run an offense. I'm not sure I would pick up any of them in most formats, though.(28 percent owned; +21 percent)

Jerryd Bayless, Grizzlies: Bayless has seen his role grow over the last few games, with the biggest boost coming due to an ankle injury to Mike Conley. It might be easy to write that off as a result of Memphis' lack of depth behind Conley, however he was starting to play a bigger part in the team's plans even before Conley left Sunday's game with the injury. Bayless played 30 minutes off the bench Friday, despite Conley being active; his value might be improving even if Conley is able to make a quick return. Bayless is averaging 14.0 points and 5.8 assists per game over the last four games, with Conley sitting out two of them. Bayless has proven himself to be a playmaker in the past, and Memphis' moribund offense could certainly use an injection of off-dribble creativity, so it has been a surprise to see his role shrink so much this season. Expect him to continue improving. (32 percent owned; +19 percent)

Nick Young, 76ers: Young has been playing a much bigger role in the Sixers plans recently, due to a lingering knee injury hobbling Jason Richardson. He has taken advantage of Richardson's absence to put together his best stretch of the season, averaging 14.8 points per game over the last five. He has taken on much of Richardson's role as primary floor-spacer in the first-team offense, averaging 5.0 three-point attempts per game in that span, while making 36.0 percent of those attempts. Young has a tendency to hijack the offense, but seems to be making strides to correct that flaw in his game this season. 26.5 percent of his possessions come in spot-up situations, with another 25.3 percent coming off screens or on hand offs, according to MySynergySports.com's play-tracking data. Young will never be an efficient scorer, but Sixers coach Doug Collins seems to be getting through to him, and it is paying dividends recently. As long as Richardson is out, Young appears to be a decent waiver-wire pickup. (30 percent owned; +16 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Jimmy Butler, Bulls: Butler played a big part for the Bulls without Luol Deng around, and it will be interesting to see how his role evolves with Deng back from the hamstring issue that limited him last week. In Deng's first game back Monday, Butler still played 31 minutes, as he forced coach Tom Thibodeau to roll with him on a 19-point night. The Bulls use a short rotation as it is, but the key to determining Butler's Fantasy utility moving forward will be how Thibodeau uses him on a night when the shot is not falling. Deng has been a security blanket for Thibodeau, ranking in the top-five in minutes per game across the league over the last three seasons, so the Bulls will have to juggle the rotation to keep them both out there. Butler has been on the floor for 1,676 offensive possessions this season, according to NBAWowy.com, and only 39.7 percent of them have been shared with Deng. If Deng is back to monopolizing minutes, it would spell trouble for Butler, so keep a close eye on the rotations in Chicago. (38 percent owned; +33 percent)

Marreese Speights, Cavaliers: Speights has seen his Fantasy value improve since the trade from Memphis to Cleveland, an outcome that makes perfect sense. Memphis had a pair of All-Star caliber franchise big men blocking Speights from playing time, while Cleveland ... well, doesn't. Cleveland has been leaning heavily on a young frontcourt of Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller that they hope is long on potential, if not present-day production at times. Speights has a perfect opportunity to put up some solid production in the last half of the season as he possibly heads into free agency (he holds a $4.5 million player option for next season). He has reached double figures in each of his first three games as a Cavalier, and could end up pushing both Thompson and Zeller for playing time at the big positions. The Cavaliers may choose to flip Speights for an additional draft pick before the deadlin, given his looming free agency, but they will almost certainly showcase him before doing so. Consider him a solid pickup in deeper formats. (34 percent owned; +18 percent)

Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks: Writing about Ersan Ilyasova is a fool's deed this season, I have come to realize. After breaking out for 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game after the All-Star break a year ago -- and earning a big multi-year contract for his troubles -- Ilyasova promptly fell right on his face to begin this season. Over the first 36 games of the year, Ilyasova averaged just 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while showing very few signs of life. I will admit, at that point, I was ready to give up on him as a significant Fantasy contributor. So, of course, he bounced back with one of the best four-game stretches of his career last week, averaging 25.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Was that a last-gasp attempt to avoid Fantasy irrelevance (and keep his spot in the rotation), or has Ilyasova finally turned the corner after a rough start? His career path falls more in line with the production he showed to begin the season, but he has shown the ability to sustain something resembling this in the past. In the end, Fantasy owners have to bet on his potential, which is why he is deservedly owned in 97 percent of leagues right now. (97 percent owned; +12 percent)

Most Added Centers

Andrew Bogut, Warriors: Bogut's somewhat surprising return to the floor Monday led to a mini rush to add him this week, but Fantasy owners will need to make sure they don't expect too much from the one-time star. The center position is exceedingly thin, so even the chance that Bogut will live up to his former heights makes him worth at least a speculative pickup, however Fantasy owners will certainly need to keep expectations low for now. Bogut already sat out the second night of a back to back Tuesday, a pattern that will almost certainly continue moving forward. Bogut is not four seasons removed from his career campaign of 2009-10, when he averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and he has not consistently shown that kind of high-end ability since. The Warriors are surprisingly poised to make a long run in the Western Conference playoffs, so expect them to take it easy with Bogut, who has played just 17 games over the last two seasons. Bogut might not be the answer you are looking for at center right now. (83 percent owned; +17 percent)

Tiago Splitter, Spurs: Making the move from a per-minute specialist to a bona fide NBA starter is one of the most challenging jumps a developing NBA player has to make. Putting up solid numbers second units or in blow outs is a completely different assignment than doing it against the best players each opponent can throw at you. It is a testament to the 28-year-old's development as a player that he has been able to make that jump this season, and he seems to be improving more and more as the season has gone. Splitter is averaging career highs across the board for the season as a whole, and has maintained a steady rate of improvement through the season. Over the last 10 games, Splitter has taken on a larger role in the team's offense, averaging 14.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, while shooting an absurd 68.2 percent from the field. According to MySynergySports.com, Splitter ranks second in the league in points per possession as the roll man in pick and roll players, and it is little surprise that a plurality of his possessions come in that play time. The Spurs know exactly how to put each of their players in the best position to succeed. The biggest issue for Splitter moving forward might just be his conditioning, as he has not played extensive minutes like this before. As long as he is up to the task, however, I would snatch Splitter in whatever leagues he remains available in, given his eligibility as center. (76 percent owned; +15 percent)

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Player News
Knicks' Anthony available, Stoudemire and Smith both out Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:55 pm ET) Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is available to play Sunday against the Raptors while forward Amar'e Stoudemire and guard J.R. Smith are out.

Anthony, who scored 25 points in New York's loss Saturday, missed Thursday's game with knee soreness and is averaging 23.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

The Knicks did not list the reason for Stoudemire missing Sunday's game. He missed Saturday's game for rest. Smith is dealing with a heel injury which will cause him to miss his seventh straight game.

 


Celtics guard James Young doing non-contact drills Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:39 am ET) Celtics rookie James Young is working his way back from a shoulder injury and coach Brad Stevens said Sunday he is doing non-contact work during shootaround. 

Young, who has only played in five games for Boston this year, has bounced between the Celtics and their D-League affiliate most of the season.

Young is averaging 2.2 points and 0.4 rebounds per game this year. 


Newly acquired Jameer Nelson to make debut for Boston Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) Point guard Jameer Nelson will make his Boston debut Sunday when the Celtics take on the Heat in Miami. Nelson, along with Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder were traded from Dallas to Boston for point guard Rajon Rondo. 

"It's an opportunity to play for the Celtics with all the tradition and the legacy," Nelson said at shootaround Sunday.

Nelson is averaging 7.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game.


Clippers PG Chris Paul scores team-high 27 points vs. Bucks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:20 am ET) Clippers point guard Chris Paul scored a team-high 27 points on 6 of 16 shooting, including 4 of 6 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 106-102 win over the Bucks in Los Angeles Saturday.

Paul nearly managed his second consecutive double-double in the win, dishing out nine assists after racking up 15 assists the previous night. He also delivered three rebounds, two steals and one block in 36 minutes in Saturday's win. The Clippers will move forward to face the Spurs Monday.


Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo scores team-high 18 Saturday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:17 am ET) Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting in his team's 106-102 win over the Clippers Saturday.

Antetokounmpo came close to delivering what would have been his second double-double of the season, as he managed to grab nine rebounds in the loss. He also tallied six assists and two steals in a December-high 38 minutes of action. He'll square off with the Hornets Tuesday.


Mavericks G Monta Ellis erupts for season-high 38 points
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis went off again, scoring a season-high 38 points, leading his team to a 99-93 victory over the Spurs on Saturday.

Ellis knocked down 15 of 23 field goal attempts, including 5 of 6 from downtown, and 3 of 6 from the charity stripe. Four of his five treys came in the first half. He also added one assist and four steals while logging 40 minutes of game action.

Ellis has registered six 30-point games this season. He's averaging 25.4 points, 5.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds over his last five games.


Nuggets SF Danilo Gallinari scores season-high 19 vs. Pacers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting in his team's 76-73 win over the Pacers Saturday.

Gallinari was able to lead his team in scoring while playing 28 minutes off the bench and taking at least 10 shots for the first time this season. He also tallied three rebounds and one assist in the low-scoring win. The Nuggets will square off with the Hornets Monday.


Rajon Rondo scores six points in Mavericks debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Rajon Rondo, who played his first eight-plus seasons with the Celtics, made his Mavericks debut on Saturday against the Spurs.

Rondo got the start alongside Monta Ellis, but had a hard time finding his shot. He finished the game with six points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field. He also added nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals while logging 34 minutes of game action.

"He's going to do great," coach Rick Carlisle said of Rondo, per Dallas Morning News. "He's really smart, picks things up quickly, so I don't see a big adjustment period. He's just got to get ready to compete with our guys."

Rondo is averaging 7.6 points, 10.2 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals over his last five games.


Pacers PF David West doubles up vs. Nuggets
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Pacers power forward David West scored a season-high 19 points on 8 of 22 shooting while grabbing 10 rebounds in his team's 76-73 loss to the Nuggets Saturday.

West didn't have a double-double before Wednesday but has managed to post two straight performances with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. He led his team in both categories Saturday while kicking in five assists and one block in 32 minutes. The Pacers are set to square off with the Timberwolves Sunday.


Rockets G James Harden hands out career-high 14 assists
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Rockets shooting guard James Harden registered a career-high 14 assists in his team's 104-97 defeat to the Hawks on Saturday night.

Harden scored 18 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the floor, including 2 of 7 from downtown and a perfect 6 of 6 from the charity stripe. He also added six rebounds, one block and one steal while logging 39 minutes of game action.

He is averaging 29.6 points, 9.4 assists and 6.2 rebounds over his last five games.


 
 
 
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