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Waiver Wire: Magic's moves making some sense

Fantasy Writer
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Lottery-bound teams might not be much fun to watch, but the Magic have become something of an exception lately -- especially for Fantasy owners. General manager Rob Hennigan has done a great job starting out the post-Dwight Howard era, snagging a handful of young, promising players in a slew of moves, both big and small, that has the future looking bright even as they hurtle toward the bottom of the standings.

A big reason why the Magic have actually been watchable since the trade deadline has been the emergence of newly acquired forward Tobias Harris, a 20-year-old tweener who is starting to tap into his considerable upside. Harris is averaging 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in six contests since the trade. He ranks second on the team in scoring in that span, despite coming in fourth in minutes played. Some in Orlando are already calling for the Magic to insert Harris into the starting lineup.

It is little surprise, then, that Harris has been the most-added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues over the last week. He has gone from a Fantasy non-entity to the most highly coveted player around, and we have to figure out whether he can sustain that. To do that, we have to look at how Harris has been coming into his success.

Harris' success has been built on extremely efficient scoring, and it is easy to see that the foundation for that has been built on scoring near the basket. According to Stats.NBA.com, Harris' 59.4 percent shooting mark from the field is buoyed by an 87.0 percent mark within the restricted area; he is shooting a rather more pedestrian 45.6 percent from beyond three feet.

Harris is an impressive athlete, registering a 37.5-inch vertical leap at the 2011 combine, but it still might be too much to expect him to sustain that type of mark. After all, LeBron James is shooting 10 percent lower in the restricted area than Harris during his streak.

Even if we assume that Harris is due for some regression in his hot shooting, however, there is still a valuable player there, and one that is likely to remain a central part of the Magic's plans. He is still getting most of his shots from close to the basket as well, so there is little reason to think Harris is due for a dramatic drop-off. Fantasy owners might not be able to expect 17 points per game from Harris moving forward, but something close to 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game seems reasonable.

Most Added Guards

Marcus Thornton, Kings Thornton was one of the biggest busts around for the first three-fifths of the Fantasy season, making my All-Disappointment team at the All-Star break. Thornton, who led the Kings in scoring a year ago at 18.7 points per game, was averaging just 11.5 points per game at the break. He has been the player we expected since then, as his role has grown along with his comfort level in the offense. Thornton is shooting a blistering 53.6 percent from the field since the break, a mark that the career 43.8 percent shooter almost certainly will not keep up. So, don't expect him to flirt with 20 points per game once his shot levels off. Still, Thornton might be worth hanging on to anyways, as he is averaging almost four more minutes and two field-goal attempts per game over the last seven. (77 percent owned; +26 percent)

E'Twaun Moore, Magic: Moore enjoyed a nice six-game stretch as the team's starting point guard over the last few weeks, averaging 31.7 minutes per game with 11.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. That run of Fantasy relevance came to a crashing halt Monday, and it not coincidentally coincided with Jameer Nelson's return to the starting lineup. In 16 games as a starter, Moore is averaging 12.1 points and 5.5 assists per game; he averages just 7.3 points and 2.1 assists per game otherwise. As long as Nelson is healthy, there is little reason to roster Moore. (33 percent owned; +15 percent)

Wilson Chandler, Nuggets: Chandler is listed as a shooting guard in CBSSports.com's system since that is the position he most recently started at, but he has become a front-court play for the Nuggets. According to 82games.com, Chandler is playing the majority of his minutes at power forward this season, with the rest mostly coming at small forward. He is benefiting from matchups with big men who can't possibly keep up with him on the perimeter, averaging 15.9 points per game since the All-Star break, while shooting a blistering 46.2 percent on three-pointers. The Nuggets are a perfect fit for Chandler, and he is taking advantage of his role on the team now that he has put his hip issues behind him. As long as Chandler is getting close to 30 minutes per game, Fantasy owners have to consider him worth grabbing off the wires. (55 percent owned; +26 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets: Motiejunas has had plenty written on him recently, due to his ascension to the starting lineup of one of the league's most explosive offenses. Motiejunas has started three games so far, and is averaging 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 three-pointers made in those games. He is a perfect fit for the Rockets' offense, as a stretch-four in a team offensive philosophy that emphasizes floor spacing. I remain a bit concerned about his conditioning and subsequent ability to play a large minute load, but teammate Omer Asik put similar concerns to rest this season already. I love Motiejunas' skill set in the Rockets' offense, both as a floor-spacer off the ball as well as in the pick and roll, and think he is worth snagging in most deeper Fantasy formats. (40 percent owned; +32 percent)

John Salmons, Kings: As with teammate Thornton, Salmons has seen his production improved since the All-Star break, leading to a boost in ownership. Unlike Thornton, Salmons' role on the team has mostly remained the same, as he is averaging just 1.6 minutes per game since the break. Salmons is averaging 13.3 points per game over the last seven games, a 4.4 point increase, despite the similar role. The reason for this boost has been a wholly unsustainable shooting mark from three-point range, with Salmons shooting an unimaginable 61.8 percent on long-range attempts in that span. Salmon is a pretty good long-range bomber, but there is no way he keeps this up. I doubt those Fantasy owners who picked him up will hang on to him for too long. (26 percent owned; +15 percent)

Thomas Robinson, Rockets: A week ago, Robinson was the most-added player, garnering a full write up wherein I expressed my doubts about his abilities to live up to expectations. Robinson is still a work in progress as a player, and the Rockets have been notoriously patient with their young players in recent years, and especially big men. Robinson has played just 34 minutes over three games since the trade, however he did put up 10 points and eight rebounds in his most recent game against the Mavericks. Robinson can give the Rockets a sorely-needed rebounding presence, but I just don't he currently fits what they want to do as much as Motiejunas, and should be owned in far fewer Fantasy leagues. (33 percent owned; -15 percent)

Most Added Centers

Jermaine O'Neal, Suns: From a personal standpoint, O'Neal has had a tough go of it this season, which makes his recent performance all the more impressive. Unfortunately, things keep cropping up for him off the court, and O'Neal is expected to miss at least a week of action, and possibly more, with his daughter set to undergo heart surgery in the next few days. Obviously family is going to be O'Neal's first priority, and you cannot be upset about him feeling that way. Fantasy owners might be frustrated by their new piece's absence, because O'Neal has been terrific recently while playing a much bigger role in the Suns' plans. I would still say he is worth stashing, given the lack of other viable center options. (55 percent owned; +26 percent)

Enes Kanter, Jazz: Kanter has absolutely feasted over the last two games without Al Jefferson, totaling 41 points and 32 rebounds. His and Derrick Favors' play when given the chance continues to underscore how shortsighted the Jazz were at the trade deadline by standing pat. Kanter could be a starting caliber Fantasy center with the minutes, as he is averaging 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per-36 minutes on the season. Unfortunately, his value remains inextricably tied to the status of Jefferson's balky ankle. Jefferson is being considered day to day, but is already out for Wednesday's game. As long as Jefferson remains out, Kanter looks like a good play for Fantasy owners. Enjoy the boost while it lasts, however, as he will likely not prove to be a worthy long-term option on your roster. Be ready to cut Kanter loose when Jefferson is available to return. (34 percent owned; +20 percent)

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Player News
Heat G Norris Cole (finger) questionable to return Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:08 pm ET) Heat guard Norris Cole is questionable to return to Thursday's game against the Clippers with a dislocated left middle finger, the team announced.

Cole was taken to the back after suffering an apparent hand or finger injury in the first half, and it's possible he could be held out of the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons with the Heat down big already. He missed all three of his shots in 10 minutes of action before suffering the injury.


Jazz SG Rodney Hood to be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:18 pm ET) Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood is out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis in his foot and will be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks, the team announced Thursday.

Hood will be limited treatment, conditioning and restricted weight training over the next few weeks before getting checked out. He's been sidelined since Nov. 7 with the injury.


76ers SG K.J. McDaniels frustrated by reduction in minutes
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:21 pm ET) 76ers shooting guard K.J. McDaniels played a season-low 11 minutes in Wednesday's loss to the Celtics as the roster continues to get healthier, and the rookie expressed frustration with the reduced role Thursday, CSNPhilly.com reports.

"It is frustrating," McDaniels said. "But the minutes I do get, I have to go out and play as hard as I can. I can't determine the playing time, I just have to stay humble about it and keep grinding."

Coach Brett Brown indicated that there are areas of McDaniels' game that need to improve for him to be effective at tne NBA level. "It is important we don't forget what [McDaniels] can do," Brown said. "He can stand still, catch and shoot it, and he can play defense, particularly weak side defense where he is a great shot blocker for his size. But growing him is going to require more skill-related things about passing and dribbling especially."

McDaniels has averaged 8.5 points while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor in his first 11 games.


Rockets don't expect Dwight Howard to play Saturday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) Rockets coach Kevin McHale indicated Thursday that the team will "probably" be without center Dwight Howard Saturday against the Mavericks, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Howard is listed a day-to-day as he recovers from a strained right knee. The Rockets play four times in a six-game span starting Monday.


Hornets' Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal probable Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) Hornets guards Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal have been ruled probable to play in Friday's game against the Magic.

Henderson is dealing with a sprained ankle after playing 24 minutes Wednesday and failing to score. Neal has missed the last two games while recovering from a concussion.


Hornets' P.J. Hairston, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist ruled out Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:50 pm ET) Hornets guard P.J. Hairston and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been ruled out for Friday's game against the Magic, the team announced.

Hairston will be missing his second straight game with an ankle injury. Kidd-Gilchrist has been sidelined sicne Nov. 11 due to a stress reaction in his foot.


Brian Shaw 'can't say enough about' Wilson Chandler
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Nuggets small forward Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds in Wednesday's win over the Thunder, and his recent elevated play hasn't gone unnoticed by head coach Brian Shaw.

"He's getting more and more comfortable, more and more confident," Shaw told the Denver Post Thursday. "And he's doing a lot of different things - rebounding, pushing the ball himself, posting up, spotting up hitting jumpers, on the move and in catch-and-shoot situations. It's what we need from him. Especially as (Danilo Gallinari) is trying to get his feet under him and get going. I can't say enough about Wilson. He's been good. He's been one of our most solid and consistent players from training camp all the way until now."

"Will has been playing good basketball all year long, just picking his spots, being aggressive offensively," guard Arron Afflalo added. "He's been given some tough defensive assignments as well. He's been a complete player this early season. I'm happy for his progression."

Chandler has averaged 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over his first 11 games but has shot just 39 percent from the field, which would represent a new career low if that mark was maintained through the season.


Celtics PG Marcus Smart: 'I doubt I'll play Sunday"
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Celtics point guard Marcus Smart doesn't see himself returning from an ankle injury this weekend, saying after Thursday's practice, "I doubt I'll play Sunday," MassLive.com reports.

"I couldn’t really tell you (an expected return date). It just depends," Smart added. "One day my body feels good, probably one day it doesn’t. I’ve got to listen to my body."

Smart has continued to progress from his ankle sprain and could return to full practice next week. He was able to do some straight-line movement during Thursday's practice. After Sunday's game, the Celtics are off until Friday.


Heat Fs Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts set to play Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:33 pm ET) Heat coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed that forwards Luol Deng (wrist) and Josh McRoberts (toe) are expected to play Thursday against the Clippers, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Center Justin Hamilton, who's questionable for the game, is available if needed as well. Guard Dwyane Wade will miss Thursday's game.


Report: Warriors C David Lee has re-evaluation pushed to Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:27 pm ET) Warriors center David Lee will have the re-evaluation of his injured hamstring on Friday rather than Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The team is expected to provide an update of Lee's status before Friday's game.

 
 
 
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