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Waiver Wire: Week 1 speculations

by | Fantasy Writer
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With the preseason over and the regular season yet to begin, we find ourselves in limbo as far as free agency goes — caught somewhere between devaluing preseason stats and overreacting to injury concerns. Still, there are moves to be made if you need to replace one of your injured draft picks or to want speculate on someone stepping into a new role.

The results from Week 1 should answer a lot of your lineup questions, but until then, why not try and get ahead of the trends? We'll have a more in-depth waiver column next week, but in the meantime, here are a few free agents whose value could see a boost as the regular season gets under way.

Will Bynum, PG, Pistons (5 percent): Between Detroit trading for Brandon Jennings, drafting Peyton Siva and signing Chauncey Billups, it seemed like Will Bynum would fade into irrelevance. Heck, he wasn't very relevant to begin with. But inspired play this preseason should have Fantasy owners paying closer attention to the lesser-known veteran. Bynum finished second in preseason in assists per game (trailing Chris Paul by just 0.1), and capped it off with a 17-point, nine-assist performance in Detroit's final exhibition. On one hand, it's difficult to take preseason stats seriously. On the other hand, with Brandon Jennings projected to miss four games and Chauncey Billups expected to receive ample rest, the Pistons could decide to ride the hot hand this first week. Bynum also showed a knack for feeding Andre Drummond down low, which should help his chances of playing time going forward. Jennings owners especially should consider picking up Bynum as a potential handcuff.

Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Jazz (1 percent): You might have just looked up at the top of the page to make sure you weren't reading a column from 2006, but rest assured this is indeed up to date. Utah reached an agreement with 10-year veteran Jamaal Tinsley out of necessity, with rookie point guard Trey Burke sidelined for two to three months. At 35 years old, Tinsley isn't an exciting long-term prospect, but he could be useful in the early going -- especially if you drafted Trey Burke, Russell Westbrook or any other injured point guard. He'll likely start out backing up John Lucas, but even off the bench Tinsley could end up running the Jazz offense -- similar to how Andre Miller orchestrates for the Nuggets. Utah's young lineup provides the perfect situation for Tinsley's pass-first skillset, and he should be able to get close to his career average of 8.3 assists per 36 minutes.

Miles Plumlee, PF, Suns (27 percent): We knew Phoenix would likely deal Marcin Gortat at some point, but the Suns went ahead and got it over with before the season even began, leaving them with a starting job to fill at center. Because first round pick Alex Len isn't quite healthy enough to log big minutes, Phoenix will turn to a player who most regarded as a throw-in from the Luis Scola trade. Miles Plumlee only logged 55 total minutes in his rookie season, but he'll begin the year as the de facto starting center in a hollowed out Suns frontcourt. You'd have to go back to his senior year at Duke to see Plumlee logging anything close to significant minutes, but he did look competent enough in summer league play -- capable of scoring, rebounding and blocking shots with the sound fundamentals typical of a former Blue Devil. Until Len and Channing Frye get up to speed, consider Plumlee a low-end pickup for the foreseeable future. Those who drafted Kevin Seraphin might consider dropping him for Plumlee, as Gortat's arrival will force Seraphin back onto Washington's bench.

Jeremy Lamb, SG, Thunder (36 percent): If you want to speculate on a bench player's upside, you probably can't do much better than Jeremy Lamb. The Thunder had enough confidence in his offensive abilities to let last year's sixth man, Kevin Martin, walk away in free agency, so Lamb will at least get the opportunity to prove he can carry the offense when Durant needs a break. He's only owned in 32 percent of leagues -- probably because he didn't exactly dazzle in the preseason, averaging 11.6 points in 31.9 minutes per game. But if Lamb can find his footing and shoot a higher percentage this week, his ownership should see a sizable increase. Critics of the Thunder's personnel decisions will have no choice but to compare Lamb's production to James Harden's, but Fantasy owners can be more realistic with their expectations of a 21-year-old about to play his first meaningful NBA minutes. Lamb will have the green light to fire away, so consider him a low-risk, high-reward pickup this week.

Lance Stephenson, SG, Pacers (23 percent): Danny Granger owners shouldn't hit the panic button just yet, but those who were looking to start him this week might be in the market for a short-term plugin -- as it looks like Granger will miss about three weeks with a calf injury he sustained in the preseason. Lance Stephenson showed what he can do as a starter in last year's playoffs, making him a useful Granger replacement for the time being. Attempting to win back the role he played in last year's playoffs, Stephenson reached double-figure scoring in three out of six preseason games. One night when he only scored six, he still contributed with eight assists and zero turnovers in a win over Atlanta. He's the kind of player whose hustle alone is enough to keep him on the court, so if that motor translates into stats of any kind, Stephenson could become a regular contributor or even land a starting role ahead of Granger.

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Player News
Cavaliers' LeBron James scores team-high 33 in Game 2 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Cavaliers forward LeBron James bounced back from a Game 1 loss to score a team-high 33 points on 13 of 29 shooting in his team's 106-91 win over the Bulls in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday.

James had his worst shooting night of the postseason in Game 1, making only nine of his 22 shots, but he was able to do his part to stake the Cavaliers to an early 38-18 after one quarter. The Cavs and James didn't look back from there, finding a win to even the series at one game apiece. The forward also added eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in 34 minutes Wednesday.

The Cavaliers head to Chicago to face the Bulls in Game 3 Friday.


Derrick Rose doubles up, Bulls lose Game 2 to Cavaliers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Bulls guard Derrick Rose scored 14 points on just 6 for 20 shooting, including 2 for 5 shooting from behind the arc, as his team fell to the Cavaliers 106-91 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday.

Rose dished out 10 assists to earn his first double-double of the postseason, but he wasn't able to find the scoring touch that helped lead the Bulls to a Game 1 upset. He also racked up seven rebounds and one block in 37 minutes in the loss.

The two teams enter Friday's Game 3 in Chicago with series tied 1-1.


Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert suffers groin injury Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert was forced to leave Wednesday's Game 2 matchup against the Bulls with a left groin strain, reports TNT.

Shumpert left the game in the second quarter, but he was able to return.


Pelicans G Jrue Holiday undergoes surgery on leg
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday underwent surgery Wednesday to have a screw removed from his leg, the team announced.

Holiday had the screw removed from a rod, which was previously placed in his lower right leg. He does not have a timetable to return to basketball activities. 


Clippers G Chris Paul (hamstring) will not play in Game 2
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Clippers guard Chris Paul has been ruled out of Wednesday's Game 2 matchup at Houston, the team announced.

"He's not moving well," coach Doc Rivers said, per the Houston Chronicle. "That concerns me. It was not that hard of a decision."

Paul is dealing with a hamstring injury, which he suffered during the Game 7 win over the Spurs in the opening round. He also missed the first game of the series against the Rockets because of the injury. Guard Austin Rivers is expected to start in place of Paul.

The Clippers are 7 1/2-point underdogs at Houston on Wednesday.


Report: Bulls F Jimmy Butler to be named Most Improved Player
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Bulls forward Jimmy Butler will be named the NBA's Most Improved Player this week, sources told ESPN.

Butler averaged 13.1 points last season, but he raised his scoring average to 20.0 during the 2014-15 season. He also set career highs in assists, rebounds and steals. His shooting average also improved from 39.7 percent last season to 46.2 percent this season.

Butler, 25, is set to become a free agent in the offseason.


Report: Pelicans Quincy Pondexter, Jrue Holiday go under knife
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Two Pelicans underwent procedures Wednesday, per The Advocate.

Included is small forward Quincy Pondexter, who had arthroscopic knee surgery. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 7.2 points in 24 minutes per game.

In addition, point guard Jrue Holiday had a screw removed from his leg. He missed much of the season due to a stress reaction and played in three of the four playoff games against Golden State.


Nets want Brook Lopez back, but open to dealing other stars
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) The Nets want center Brook Lopez back. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson? Not so much.

General manager Billy King confirmed Wednesday his commitment to sign Lopez if, as expected, he opts out of his contract in favor of unrestricted free agency in July.

"For us to get in the playoffs that stretch, [Lopez] was the guy who carried us," King told the New York Post. "He was our best player. Without Brook Lopez, there's no way we even get to where we go to this year.

"I'll say it again: We want him back. I want him back, [coach] Lionel [Hollins] wants him back, ownership wants him back. We've all said it. There shouldn't be any more doubts about it."

King, however, is open to trading Williams and Johnson.

"We're going to explore all options, as we have [previously]," he added. "Will there be a trade? There could be, but I'm not sure."

Though his numbers were down from the previous year, Lopez was particularly productive as the Nets fought for and won a playoff spot. He finished the season averaging 17.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.


Thunder GM: We'd like to bring back Kyle Singler
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) Thunder small forward Kyle Singler has expressed a desire to stay in Oklahoma City. And general manager Sam Presti hopes to oblige.

"Finding a player in free agency that can shoot close to 40 percent from the three-point line over the course of a season, embrace various roles, and stand as one of your most fundamental players at 6-9 is unlikely when over the cap and tax," Presti told The Oklahoman. "Therefore, we are hopeful we will be able to keep working with him."

Singler performed well after a deadline deal brought him to Oklahoma City. He finished the season shooting a career-best 39.8 percent on three-pointers.


Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving: I've 'got to be better' in fourth quarter
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/6/2015) LeBron James has already accepted some of the blame for a Cavaliers loss in Game 1 of their second-round series to the Bulls. Now teammate Kyrie Irving is heaping some on himself as well.

Irving scored 30 points in the defeat, but blamed fatigue for his performance in the fourth quarter, when he shot 2-for-7 from the field and a Cleveland comeback was met and exceeded by Chicago.

"The shots I was taking, especially down the stretch, they were fatigued shots," he told ESPN Wednesday. "It just wasn't in the flow of our offense. Regardless of if I'm hot or not or Bron's hot or not, it's just the guys out there on the floor, I just have to make better decisions - whether it's going to be making one of my teammates better or me taking a shot. ... I've just got to be better."


 
 
 
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