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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 7

Fantasy Writer
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The Lakers have been one of the biggest surprises of the season, turning into the kind of fast-paced, system-drive offense that Mike D'Antoni has long been known for. The implications for Fantasy have been fascinating, with a different offensive star emerging on a seemingly weekly basis -- no one player ranks in the top 30 in field-goal attempts this season, and eight different players are attempting at least 7.5 field goals per game.

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As a result of their team-first offense, the Lakers have been waiver-wire gold this season. At different points throughout the first six weeks, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Jordan Hill have all been among the most-added players in the league for Fantasy purposes.

Having said all that, things could be changing dramatically in the coming weeks. We'll see how the return of Kobe Bryant impacts the rest of the roster. Nick Young has been on fire for a few weeks now, averaging 16.1 points per game over the last 10. However, Fantasy owners have been wary of buying into Young (38-percent owned) or any of the Lakers' other wing options, as Kobe's return looms over everything the team does right now.

The Lakers could go any way from this point on. If Kobe is himself, he's going to use up a huge proportion of the team's possessions, leaving much of the rest of the roster a Fantasy ruin. If he isn't quite back, he might take on more of a playmaking role, as he showed in his rusty debut, where he was probably forcing his passes a bit much. For now, the rest of the roster remains in limbo, and I wouldn't suggest moving on any Lakers on the waiver wire right now.

Most Added

Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Pelicans: Anthony Davis is the latest stud to be hit by the injury bug, and Aminu looks to be the winner. At least, he did for the first two games, when he averaged 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds. Friday's seven-point, 10-rebound game against the Thunder might be a better indication of what Aminu is capable of, as he remains an extremely limited offensive player. Rebounds should be one thing he can consistently deliver for you, but at this point in his career, we know Aminu isn't worth much more than that. Given how low his ownership had been, Aminu's big jump makes sense, but I think he's probably going to end up stalling at around 50-percent ownership.(44 percent owned; +30 percent)

Taj Gibson, F, Bulls: After a couple of disappointing seasons, Gibson finally seems to be breaking out as an offensive player. Gibson has a pretty consistent track record as a decent shooter who can be counted on to make between 48.5 and 49.5 percent of his field-goal attempts, and that has held true this season as well; he sits at 49.2 percent. His recent explosion, then seems entirely out of character, as he is averaging 21.4 points per game over the last five on 60.8 percent shooting from the field. His shooting is sure to regress from this current level, but there are signs that he might be here to stay as a Fantasy-relevant player, as he is attempting one free throw for every three field-goal attempts during his hot streak, which is in line with his best seasons. Gibson has been a surprising beneficiary of point guard Derrick Rose's absence, and Fantasy owners are reaping the rewards. While I don't expect 20-plus points per game from here on out, Gibson might be able to settle in to the mid-teens in scoring, making him well worth a claim. (65 percent owned; +29 percent)

Timofey Mozgov, C, Nuggets: Fantasy owners are always going to be looking for the next big thing at the center position, which explains why Mozgov's ownership jumped recently. He had a huge two-game stretch that saw him top 30 minutes in each game while totaling 33 points and 35 rebounds. Unfortunately, his minute totals for the next three games show why this might not be the savior Fantasy owners are looking for; 17, 19 and 18. The Nuggets' frontcourt has been consistently inconsistent this season, as Brian Shaw seems unwilling to rely on any one player for too long. That makes sense given the limited skill set of each player, but it also makes it very difficult to rely on any for Fantasy purposes. Mozgov is a low-end player, and now one I would want to rely on a consistent basis. He'll be back on waivers soon. (38 percent owned; +25 percent)

Khris Middleton, F, Bucks: Middleton has playing a much bigger role in recent weeks, with Caron Butler sidelined by a knee injury. Butler was taking on a bigger chunk of the team's offense than expected this season, taking 12 shots per game, but wasn't proving to be particularly successful anyways. This is a team that probably needs to build toward a youth movement, despite their efforts to remain competitive in the offseason. Middleton, just 22, could keep playing solid minutes just as a result of that, let alone his extremely solid play. He doesn't do much beyond score, but is averaging 13.0 points and 2.1 assists per game over the last 10. Right now, Middleton doesn't look like much more than a low-end starting Fantasy option. (35 percent owned; +18 percent)

Jeff Taylor, F, Bobcats: Taylor looked to be on the rise after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's injury, but he went down with one of his own that cost him at least Monday's game. Fortunately, Taylor's is likely just a day-to-day issue (read more about Kidd-Gilchrist's below), so he should be back in the lineup shortly. I'm a fan of Taylor's game, though he hasn't been particularly good so far this season, shooting just 39.2 percent from the field and 25.9 percent on 3-pointers. I think he will almost certainly find his shot, and is probably going to get plenty of chances to do so as the Bobcat's small forward. He scored 20 points on 16 field-goal attempts in his first start Friday, and I bet his ownership will rightly start to rise once he gets healthy. (17 percent owned; +14 percent)

Most Dropped

J.J. Redick, Clippers: You couldn't be disappointed with Redick's play in his first month with the Clippers, as he averaged 15.8 points and 2.1 assists per game in his first 17 contests. Unfortunately, a wrist and elbow injury is going to knock him out for two months, just another big blow in this injury-filled season. When it is someone like Marc Gasol going down for an extended period of time, you hang on to them. With Redick, I'm not so sure he is the type of player worth stashing for six to eight weeks while he heals, especially since this seems like the type of injury that could put a hitch in his shooting motion. Unless I have a designated injury slot, I think I'm cutting Redick loose based on his timeline. (60 percent owned; -16 percent)

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Bobcats: I guess news travels slow, because there really isn't any reason for Kidd-Gilchrist to still be owned in this many leagues. Though he carries the pedigree of a former No. 2 pick, his production has never warranted much attention as a Fantasy option in two seasons. He'll only be out four to six weeks, but even that short of a time is too long to wait for MKG's inevitable nine points and five rebounds per night. Even if I had an open injury slot, I'm not sure Kidd-Gilchrist is worth it; the way this season has gone, you'll need it soon enough. (52 percent owned; -16 percent)

Jordan Hill, F, Lakers: Two weeks ago, Hill was riding high with seven consecutive double-digit scoring games. He added four double-doubles in that span, but hasn't recorded one in five games since. He is actually a pretty good example of why the Lakers have been so frustrating for Fantasy purposes, and why I'd be wary of trusting anyone right now. This team is more than willing to ride whichever player that happens to be hot, and Hill isn't exactly scorching right now, shooting 36.4 percent over his last five games. Hill, like any number of Lakers, will have his uses. But he'll also spend much of the season bouncing from roster to roster on the waiver wires. You can do better. (69 percent owned; -14 percent)

Flavors of Next Week

-- by Joe Polito (@JoePo89)

Do you feel that? Trade winds are a blowin'. Though it's only a slight breeze so far, in-season swaps keep things interesting for Fantasy, sometimes proving the change of scenery players need to become Fantasy relevant.

The Kings have been the busiest franchise when it comes to player movement, already having traded for Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay to start the year. But their latest move will likely affect the other side of the deal when it comes to Fantasy. In the short term, it should mean slight upticks across the board for the other Raptors. Looking ahead though, this is in all likelihood just the first of many moves prepping Toronto to rebuild through free agency and the 2014 super draft.

One thing is for certain: The Raptors now have almost 19 field goal attempts per game to pass around to their other starters. Sunday night Amir Johnson went ahead and laid claim to 17 of those en route to a career-best 32-point, 10-rebound outing against the Lakers. Safe to say he'll be enjoying these newly afforded opportunities in Gay's absence. Having gone 14 of 17 from the field, Johnson clearly knows how to make the most of his chances.

At 82 percent owned, Johnson has already seen an 11-percent increase since last week, so if for whatever reason he's out there still go ahead and scoop him up because he'll likely be in the 90-percent range come next week. Johnson was being drafted in the first 90 players in CBSsports.com leagues, so a lot was expected from him coming into the season. He's been ball hogged out of relevance and even benched for Tyler Hansborough, but I'm speculating that this trade will provide Johnson the space he needs to reach must-own status. He's far from a sure thing, but I'd be willing to part ways with any member of the Suns, aside from their starting backcourt, to gamble on the possibility of a new role for Johnson -- one that involves more shots and heavier minutes.

Greivis Vasquez, G, Raptors (78 percent): With the addition of Vasquez, Toronto now has five point guards on the roster. Not the best news for a PG who just left a backcourt platoon, but I'm willing to bet the Raptors aren't done dealing just yet. Shipping out Rudy Gay was a cap-clearing move, ridding themselves of Gay's contract in exchange for some expiring deals, such as Vasquez's.

Seems like Raptors' starting PG Kyle Lowry will be next to go in a trade, and if that's the case, Vasquez will be much closer to playing the same role he did for the Hornets last year, when he led the league in total assists. This pickup won't pay off until the other shoe drops, but when it does, Vasquez has the assist potential that makes dropping score-only guys like Rodney Stuckey, Dion Waiters and Gerald Henderson a worthwhile move. Those guys are a dime a dozen, whereas assists are too rare and valuable to leave out on the waiver wire. Even if they don't trade Lowry, the slim possibility exists of another platoon gig, with Vasquez being tall enough to guard opposing twos. Pick him up just to see what happens.

Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors (81 percent): By now you've realized the theme here. We referred to the Rudy Gay/DeMar DeRozan combo as the Fantasy black hole for a reason -- they rendered their teammates irrelevant. Now half the black hole is gone, meaning more of a role in the offense for a breakout-candidate center who simply hasn't gotten the touches he needs to even approach his potential. Johnson hogged the spotlight Sunday night, but we can chalk that up to a celebratory casting off of the Rudy Gay shackles. The numbers will distribute more evenly in the long run.

Valanciunas has been disappointing to start the year, but if his surroundings continue to change, it will likely benefit his production. The addition of Vasquez means the most to Valanciunas' value because it's hard for a plodding big man to get the ball without a traditional point guard. All it will take is a couple more entry passes per game and the occasional pick and roll to get the 6-foot-11 Lithuanian closer to double-doubles on a consistent basis.

Terrence Ross, G, Raptors (9 percent): Here's where it gets real juicy. There's a strong possibility both Lowry and DeRozan are next to go. DeRozan's value is peaking with his shooting numbers up and his passing at least adequate for a scorer. But even as we wait on that to happen, the Gay move alone thrusts Ross into a larger role. He didn't start, but still logged 28 minutes in the Raps' first post-Gay outing.

Just like Valanciunas, Ross hasn't gotten the looks he needs to continue developing in his second year. When you look at his slam-dunk champion athleticism combined with his capable skill set and youth, it's easy to see that Ross has the most upside on the whole Toronto roster. Consider him a deep-league lottery ticket for now, but if savvy general manager Masai Ujiri continues to sell off the pillars of this middling franchise, a path will be paved for Ross. He's exciting enough to sell tickets, and green enough to produce on a lottery-bound team. Sounds like a good time to me.

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) 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
(1:04 pm ET) 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. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


 
 
 
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