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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
Spurs upgrade Tony Parker to questionable Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:30 pm ET) The Spurs announced guard Tony Parker has been upgraded to questionable for Monday’s game against the Clippers.

Parker has missed the last five games while dealing with a hamstring injury. Guard Cory Joseph has been starting in Parker’s absence. Joseph is averaging 12.1 points over the last six games.

The Spurs are 1 1/2-point underdogs.


Trail Blazers list LaMarcus Aldridge as questionable at Houston
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:21 pm ET) The Trail Blazers announced forward LaMarcus Aldridge is listed as questionable for Monday’s game at Houston.

Aldridge is dealing with an upper respiratory illness. In 27 games, Aldridge is averaging 22.8 points and 10.7 rebounds. If Alrdige is unable to play, forward Thomas Robinson is expected to fill Aldridge’s role. In 13 games, Robinson is averaging 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds.

The Trail Blazers are 3-point underdogs to the Rockets.

Report: Nuggets list Darrell Arthur as doubtful at Charlotte
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur is listed as doubtful for Monday’s game at Charlotte, reports the Denver Post.

If Arthur does not play, it will be the second straight game he has missed while dealing with a lower leg strain.


Report: Nuggets' Ty Lawson will be game-time decision Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:02 pm ET) Nuggets guard Ty Lawson will be a game-time decision for Monday’s game at Charlotte, reports the Denver Post.

Lawson is dealing with a back issue, but he has not missed a game this season. He is averaging 15.2 points and 10.7 assists. If Lawson cannot play, guard Nate Robinson will see an increased role.

The Nuggets are 2 ½-point underdogs against the Hornets.


Pacers upgrade George Hill to questionable vs. Pelicans
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:47 pm ET) The Pacers announced guard George Hill has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans.

Hill has not played this season while dealing with a knee and quadriceps injury.


Bulls expect Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson to play vs. Raptors
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:39 pm ET) Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters the team expects guard Derrick Rose and forward Taj Gibson to play Monday against the Raptors, reports ESPNChicago.com.

Both Rose (illness) and Gibson (ankle) are listed as probable heading into the game. The Bulls are 4-point favorites.


Report: Rockets list Trevor Ariza as probable vs. Trail Blazers
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:29 pm ET) The Rockets listed guard Trevor Ariza as probable for Monday’s game against the Trail Blazers, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Ariza is dealing with a sore left calf. He has not missed a game this season and is averaging 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds.


Pistons waive forward Josh Smith
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) The Pistons announced they have waived forward Josh Smith on Monday.

"Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and direction," coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person."

The Pistons signed Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract in 2013 and Smith is due $14 million each of the next two seasons. To minimize the financial impact of Smith's release, the Pistons are expected to use the stretch provision which allows teams to stretch out contracts more than $25 million over twice the amount of years in the contract, plus one year, reports the Oakland Press.

Smith has struggled to fit into Van Gundy’s system. In 28 games, Smith is averaging 13.1 points while shooting a career-low 39.1 percent from the floor. 

With Smith's departure, forward Greg Monroe is expected to see an increase in minutes. Monroe is averaging 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds over 29.0 minutes.


Hornets list Al Jefferson as probable vs. Nuggets
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:41 am ET) The Hornets announced center Al Jefferson is probable for Monday’s game against the Nuggets.

Jefferson sustained a left groin strain during Saturday’s game against the Jazz. In 27 games, Jefferson is averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. 

The Hornets are 2-point favorites over the Nuggets.


Spurs to keep Tiago Splitter out of back-to-back games for now
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) After sitting out the last game of the Spurs’ recent back-to-back games, center Tiago Splitter told reporters he is unsure how long the team will keep him out of back-to-back games, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

"Pop just tells me if I’m playing or not playing," Splitter said. "I think they’re just trying to be careful with me."

Splitter recently returned after missing 20 of the team’s first 21 games due to a calf injury.  The Spurs' next back-to-back set is Thursday against the Thunder and Friday at New Orleans.

In six games, Splitter is averaging 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds.


 
 
 
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