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Waiver Wire: Will Robinson get his chance?

Fantasy Writer
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The trade deadline passed without nearly as many rotation-shaking deals as we expected, but Fantasy owners seem to betting on Thomas Robinson to be one of the bigger beneficiaries given his move to Houston. Robinson is set to debut with his new team Wednesday (Feb. 27), so we have not yet gotten a glimpse of how he fits in with his new team.

Despite that, Robinson is the most-added player in CBSSports.com over the last week, with his ownership jumping from 14 to 48 percent since the trade. This could turn out to be a fantastically lucrative move for the Fantasy owners who have jumped on his bandwagon so early. There are signs that it is a very risky move, however, as Robinson is not guaranteed to see big minutes in Houston.

Robinson has tons of upside in the Rockets' fast-paced offense, as he fills a niche the team does not currently have. He is already a strong rebounder, averaging 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and his athleticism could fit in extremely well for a team that likes to run and spread the floor as much as the Rockets. He shot just 42.4 percent from the field with the Kings, but the Rockets actually have a functioning offense, so I would expect him to improve drastically from that standpoint. If given the minutes, I think Robinson could approach a nightly double-double status if everything clicked.

Unfortunately, the Rockets are painfully patient when it comes to developing their young players, as talented young big men like Marcus Morris and Terrence Jones can attest. Robinson might make sense as a piece for the Rockets' playoff push, but the organization likely views him as a long-term building block, one they will move as slowly as everyone else.

The Rockets and coach Kevin McHale have embraced the spread pick and roll offense this season, so a lineup featuring both Robinson and starting center Omer Asik may be too cramped for their liking, at least while Robinson continues his development. He is shooting just 30.1 percent on jump shots this season, so the team might be hesitant to rely on him too heavily. They have already announced that Donatas Motiejunas will move into the starting lineup in the short term and it is not yet clear whether Robinson will be able to work his way into the starting lineup.

The Rockets are savvy enough to know Robinson's long-term development is more important than their push toward the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race, so they will not push him to take on a bigger role than he needs. Robinson's upside makes him worth a speculative look, but if he ends up buried like so many young big men in Houston have been in recent years, I would not hold on too long.

Most Added Guards

Carlos Delfino, Rockets: Delfino has been the short-term winner following the Rockets' trade of two rotation big men, as the team has switched to a much smaller starting lineup that spaces the floor incredibly well. Delfino made 13 three-pointers in three games in the starting lineup, but will return to the bench beginning Wednesday, with Motiejunas' ascension. That news kind of throws Delfino's status for the future up in the air, but I would expect the team to continue giving him solid minutes even off the bench. Delfino is an inconsistent player on a nightly basis who nonetheless has been pretty useful category-based formats this season. Unfortunately, I would not expect much improvement down the stretch, with him likely settling into the same 25-minutes-per-game role he has been in.(53 percent owned; +22 percent)

Beno Udrih, Magic: One possible winner of the trade deadline is Udrih, who goes from a crowded backcourt in Milwaukee to one that might actually require his services. The Magic are hurtling headfirst toward the lottery, so it is probably a stretch to say they "require" a 30-year-old, but they certainly might put him to use anyway. He has little upside long-term, but the Magic are currently dealing with an injury to starting point guard Jameer Nelson that could put Udrih to use with his new team. In his first two games with the Magic, Udrih put up 16 points and 16 assists total, while coming off the bench behind E'Twaun Moore. If Nelson continues to sit out, I could see Udrih being useful in deeper Fantasy formats. (19 percent owned; +16 percent)

Isaiah Thomas, Kings: So often, players see a spike in ownership thanks to little more than a random hot streak, and that could certainly be the case with Thomas. He is averaging 18.8 points per game in February, far higher than his season total, so this could just be a fluke that regresses quickly. I don't have much confidence in saying that, though, as Thomas emerged as an unlikely playmaker late last season and has consistently improved as his second season has gone on. Thomas has fought off all intended usurpers to his starting spot and has averaged at least 12.3 points per game in the last three months. The Kings are such a mess offensively (not to mention organizationally) that it might take a while for the players to settle into their roles. Thomas is averaging 33.3 minutes per game in February, and I would consider adding him in all remaining formats moving forward. (84 percent owned; +11 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Maurice Harkless, Magic: In Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, the Magic have created a real headache for Fantasy owners. Ever since Glen Davis went down with an injury, the two have both flirted with Fantasy relevance, with neither really holding on to their opportunities. Harkless has recently emerged as the more productive option of the two and he is getting minutes a bit more consistently. Unfortunately, the Magic complicated matters by adding Tobias Harris to the fold at the trade deadline, a 20-year-old who totaled 30 points in his first two games with the team. So far, Harris has taken more of Nicholson's minutes than Harkless', who has topped the 30-minute mark in both games since the trade. Harkless is averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in the month of February and looks to have solidified his role. He is probably the best bet still available on your waiver wire. (63 percent owned; +29 percent)

Jeff Green, Celtics: Good luck making sense of Green, who followed up a career-best 31-point game against the Suns with a pair of stinkers on back-to-back nights earlier this week. Green has been playing a huge role for the Celtics recently, averaging 15.3 points per game in the last 10 games, so a pair of bad games should not scare you off too much. Green's ownership has been steadily increasing recently, but I would have expected the pace to quicken given how well he is playing. Fantasy owners might be waiting for the other shoe to drop with Green, who was a consistent disappointment to begin the season, but I think he is here to stay as a useful Fantasy option. Green has quit relying as much on inefficient mid-range shots during his hot streak, which indicates it might not be just a random hot streak. He is shooting 49.5 percent from the field over the last 10 games, scoring 153 points on just 105 shots with 65.7 percent of his shots coming from within five feet of the rim or beyond three-point range. His role has increased, but he is also doing more with each shot. If he can keep that up, I see little reason why Green should still be available on any waiver wires. (79 percent owned; +20 percent)

Michael Beasley, Suns: For a little while, at least, it seemed like Beasley was earning the trust of interim Suns' head coach Lindsey Hunter. And then this happened. Actually, Beasley's role was already fading before earning that response from his coach, but the look Hunter shoots him during that clip neatly sums up why Beasley is averaging just 12.2 minutes per game over the last five. The former No. 2 overall pick in the draft might look like an All-Star in workouts and pre-game warm-ups, but when the lights come on and the time for actual winning basketball comes around, it is not difficult to see why coaches have soured on him at every stop in his career. Beasley has been the most dropped player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues, and for good reason. You cannot get off this sinking ship fast enough; even much-maligned Wesley Johnson is seeing more minutes than him now. (57 percent owned; -18 percent)

Most Added Centers

Jermaine O'Neal, Suns: Fantasy owners have been understandably slow to pick O'Neal up, despite his consistently solid production during the month of February. It is a small sample size still, but O'Neal is now averaging 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 11 February contests, while pulling close to even with starter Marcin Gortat in playing time. O'Neal has played a total of 237 minutes in 11 February games, while Gortat has played 294 in that same span. O'Neal's recent track record is very spotty, but if I was in need of held at the notoriously shallow center position, O'Neal would be at the top of my list while he is playing this well. (20 percent owned; +11 percent)

Samuel Dalembert, Bucks: Eight days. That is how long Dalembert's re-emergence as a useful Fantasy option lasted. From his career-high 35-point game on Feb. 5 to his 17-point effort Feb. 13 against the 76ers, Dalembert was a moderately useful Fantasy option for all of four games. He has been pushed back to his spot on the end of the bench since, and he was suspended by the team for failing to show up to a function on time. According to reports, the Bucks are not looking to buy out the remainder of Dalembert's contract after failing to find a suitor for him at the trade deadline, which just about closes the book on Dalembert's Fantasy season. Barring another injury to Larry Sanders, Fantasy owners in the remaining 40 percent of leagues that still have Dalembert can go ahead and cut him loose. (40 percent owned; -22 percent)

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Player News
Lakers sign Wayne Ellington right before training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/22/2014) With one week before the start of training camp, the Lakers have signed five-year veteran guard Wayne Ellington to a contract, the team announced. Ellington is now with his fourth team since June, after failing to crack the rotation with the Mavericks in 2013.

Ellington averaged 3.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field over 45 games for Dallas.

Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


 
 
 
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