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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
Victor Oladipo will see time in summer league
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Magic guard Victor Oladipo maybe be one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have room to improve. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel in Thursday's exit interview Oladipo will take part in the summer league yet again, but may not be used in every game this time around.

Oladipo ended up playing in 80 games for the Magic, and finished in the top-five in most major categories among rookies. He averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He also played the most minutes total among rookies. 


Danny Granger expects to play in first postseason game
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Clippers forward Danny Granger took part in practice Thursday and plans to be available for the start of the team's first round playoff matchup against the Warriors Saturday.

Granger missed the final nine games of the regular season with a hamstring strain, and ended up playing just 41 regular season games. He averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for the Clippers.  

 


Tyreke Evans could push Eric Gordon to bench
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans closed his season out strong after a slow start, and the impetus was a move to the starting lineup March. After he found success as a starter, the team might make the move permanent next season.

From March 1 on, he averaged 20.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, while starting 21 of the team's final 22 games. His success could lead the team to consider a full-time switch next season, and coach Monty Williams told the team's official website that is something they will consider, especially with incumbent shooting guard Eric Gordon's inability to stay healthy yet again.

Evans ended up finishing fifth on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game, while adding 4.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and appearing in the third-most games. 


Steve Nash plans to get healthy in offseason
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Lakers guard Steve Nash was rarely healthy while appearing in just 15 games this season, but he told reporters in exit interviews Thursday he is in better shape than he was at this point a year ago.

Nash said he could be fully healthy in three-to-four weeks, after it took him five months last offseason. Despite this, he isn't sure if he will be able to maintain his health by the start of training camp. He plans to be at training camp, but will need to evaluate his health before the start of next season, after being extremely limited by ongoing nerve issues.

Nash finished the season averaging 6.8 points and 5.7 assists per game in his 15 appearances, but has maintained he is not planning to retire. He is under contract for one more season, and will be paid $9.7 million next year. 


Andre Drummond puts finishing touches on one-of-a-kind season
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Pistons center Andre Drummond is a unique talent; anyone can see that. He finished one of the most unique seasons in modern league history Wednesday in typical fashion, as he snared his 57th double-double in a loss to the Thunder.

Drummond finished the game with 22 points and 13 rebounds, including eight offensive rebounds to push his league-leading total to 440. That represents the eighth-highest total since 1979-80, and it isn't the only place where Drummond's season stands out.

Though he shot 62.3 percent from the field, Drummond remained the league's worst free-throw shooter. He became just the third play since 1979-80 to play 2500 total minutes while shooting below 42.0 percent from the free-throw line, as his 4-for-8 performance Wednesday raised his average to 41.8 percent.

Drummond improved his production across the board in his second season, averaging 13.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game while appearing in 81 games.  


Andrew Bynum out for first round
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Pacers center Andrew Bynum has not played since the middle of March, and even a month off has not given him enough time to recover from knee troubles. Pacers.com reports Thursday Bynum has already been ruled out for the first round of the playoffs against the Hawks.

Bynum ended up appearing in just two games for the Pacers and 26 games overall this season, averaging 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. 


Danilo Gallinari will be ready for training camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari was with the team over the last few games of the season, and he has reportedly made great strides in his recovery from ACL surgery.

Gallinari told the Denver Post he has already progressed to running and jumping as part of his recovery from January surgery. He has progressed so quickly he even dunked for the first time Tuesday, and said he will be fully recovered by the start of training camp.

Gallinari did not play all season after attempting to return from a partially torn ACL, which ultimately required surgery. 


Joel Freeland passes postseason test
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Trail Blazers forward Joel Freeland proved himself ready for the playoffs Wednesday, as he returned from a two-month absence due to a knee injury. Freeland played 18 minutes in the game, scoring six points and adding seven rebounds and two assists in the 110-104 win.

After the game, coach Terry Stotts told NBA.SI.com he has no reservations about relying on Freeland in the team's upcoming playoff series against the Rockets, though he will have to play with a knee brace.

Freeland finished the regular season averaging 3.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 52 games, appearing in one more contest than his rookie season. 


Mike Conley closes out regular season with overtime win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Grizzlies guard Mike Conley did not appear limited at all by a hamstring injury Wednesday, as he played 42 minutes in the last game of the regular season against the Mavericks.

Playing for playoff seeding, the Grizzlies held nothing back in a 106-105 overtime win. Conley scored 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting and added four rebounds, five assists and a steal, while turning the ball over three times in the win.

Conley ended up missing 10 games this season, his highest total since he was a rookie, but he played well when healthy. He averaged a career-high 17.1 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting, while adding 2.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals in 33.4 minutes per game. 


Anthony Bennett returns off bench in finale
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2014) Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett was back in action after missing more than a month with a knee injury Wednesday, and played well in the team's final win over the Nets, 114-85.

Bennett was limited to 15 minutes off the bench but shot the ball well, scoring seven points on 3 of 6 shooting. He added seven rebounds and turned the ball over just once in the win.

Bennett's rookie season was an unqualified disaster, as he showed little more than brief flashes of competence in 52 appearances. The No. 1 overall pick struggled with injuries and conditioning, and finished averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting just 35.2 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from three-point range.  


 
 
 
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