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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 11

Fantasy Writer
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Injuries always tend to cause the biggest ripples on the waiver wires, but it isn't just the biggest of names going down that causes the biggest splashes. Nobody would ever think to argue that Steve Blake or Jordan Farmar are in the same universe as a Chris Paul, but injuries to the modest Lakers duo has led directly to Kendall Marshall's ascension to the top of the most-added players list over the last week.

A week ago, Marshall was a Fantasy afterthought, owned in just 3 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. I cannot confirm, but my gut feeling tells me his 78 percent jump in ownership in seven days is probably the largest for any player at least since the heights of Jeremy Lin's Linsanity period in New York. Though Lin, a Harvard grad who went undrafted, had a much less overtly impressive pedigree than Marshall, there is one common denominator involved in their sudden rises to something resembling stardom: coach Mike D'Antoni.

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D'Antoni's pick-and-roll heavy offense is notorious for leading to inflated numbers for point guards, and I would argue is the primary reason Fantasy owners should be optimistic about Marshall's chances. Marshall's performance in his first two starts can be attributed to a number of factors beyond D'Antoni, of course: poor opposing defenses in his first two starts, inflated assists numbers playing at Staples Center, where the Lakers average 20.4 percent more assists per game compared to the road. Even while acknowledging those factors, we can still look at D'Antoni's track record with point guards and have confidence that Marshall can sustain something like this kind of production.

Blake put up a career-high 36.7 percent assist rate as the Lakers' starting point guard prior to an elbow injury, a trend that runs consistent throughout D'Antoni's career. The following point guards have also posted career-best assist rates while starting for D'Antoni-led teams: Jordan Farmar, 2013-14 (37.5 percent); Jeremy Lin, 2011-12 (41.0 percent); Raymond Felton 2010-11 (37.3 percent); Chris Duhon posted the second-best mark of his career in 2008-09 at 27.9 percent.

Marshall remains something of an unknown commodity at the NBA level, but he came into the league with a reputation of being a clever passer and creator on the floor. His ability to score on his own might be overstated by a couple of hot-shooting games, but I am a believer in his playmaking skills, if nothing else. Marshall is now owned in 81 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and that number will probably continue creeping higher, given how valuable assists are for every Fantasy format. If he is available, Marshall should be considered a must-add.

Most Added

Darren Collison, G, Clippers: Collison's rise up the ownership ranks is the result of a much more troublesome injury, as Chris Paul's shoulder is likely to keep him out at least a month. That should provide ample opportunity for Collison to reassert himself as a viable Fantasy option, at least until Paul returns. I noted his impressive numbers (15.9 points, 5.0 assists per-36 minutes with Paul on the bench this season) in a column earlier this week, and there are plenty for Fantasy owners to like here while Collison is starting. The Clippers don't have much to back him up, so Collison might get just about as many minutes as he can handle. He is available in just 15 percent of CBSSports.com leagues right now, and has the ability to slide in pretty easily as a No. 3 Fantasy guard, so there is little reason not to add him if you see him on the waiver wires. (13 percent owned; +72 percent)

Iman Shumpert, G, Knicks: Shumpert is not here because of an increased role due to injury, or anything tangible like that. No, his increase in ownership is due solely to a two-game stretch that saw him catch fire from three-point range, resulting in 53 points in a span of about 27 hours. Unfortunately, Shumpert is not, in fact, an 85-percent three-point shooter, so it should come as little surprise that he was not capable of sustaining that level of production over the next two games. The Knicks remain stubbornly invested in playing big lineups featuring Carmelo Anthony at small forward, while also bringing J.R. Smith off the bench to serve as a spark plug. As long as those statements remain true, Shumpert's most obvious paths to a consistent 30-plus minute role are blocked, limiting has Fantasy appeal. Shumpert is not a high-volume scorer in a limited role, and he doesn't create much for others either, so a part-time role dooms him to Fantasy irrelevance. I would expect a decent number of the owners who scooped Shumpert up over the last week to part ways with him shortly. (63 percent owned; +30 percent)

Kris Humphries, F, Celtics: Humphries has been in and out of the rotation for the Celtics this season, a role that makes sense. A rebuilding team has little need for a 28-year-old big man on an expiring contract, so playing time has been difficult to find. Still, when he plays, we know he can put up numbers, as he showed in averaging 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over the last five. Frankly, the Celtics have better big men options to turn to long term, so consider this just a nice run for Humphries before he returns to irrelevance yet again. He is the definition of "waiver-wire fodder."(32 percent owned; +25 percent)

Gerald Green, G, Suns: Maybe Green is only going to be good every other year, or something. His inability to do, well, just about anything for the Pacers last year did not come as much of a surprise after he fell out of the league for a few years, though it was a disappointment based on how well he played in a late-season cameo with the Nets the year before. This season certainly counts as a major surprise, as Green has turned into one of the better high-volume three-point shooters in the league, and is averaging a career-high 13.4 points per game. With Eric Bledsoe dealing with a knee injury, Green has seen his role increase and is averaging 15.0 points per game over the last five. He doesn't provide much beyond his scoring, but Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has to be considered a wizard just for getting this much out of Green. If you are hurting for three-pointers in a category-based league, snagging Green off waivers makes a lot of sense right now.(55 percent owned; +19 percent)

Most Dropped

Jordan Farmar, G, Lakers: For a while, it looked like Farmar was going to get the D'Antoni point guard bump, but the Lakers' injury woes probably caused him to return from a hamstring injury earlier than was needed. Farmar will now likely miss at least four more weeks and will likely not even return to a starting role once he's back. Even if Marshall isn't starting by that point, Steve Blake could be back. I see little reason to stash Farmar. (16 percent owned; -31 percent)

Khris Middleton, F, Bucks: A week ago, Middleton was the most-added player, though I noted Fantasy owners were hesitant to rely on him even as he was steadily putting up 15-point games. This last week showed why that reluctance to buy in on Middleton was the right way to look at things all along. Middleton has shown some solid scoring chops, but the Bucks' rotations have been entirely inconsistent this season, and he isn't so productive that he can make up for a lack of playing time. Coach Larry Drew is searching desperately for answers and he will probably end up turning to Middleton again down the road. However, he is clearly not someone worth hanging on to tightly, so go ahead and drop Middleton given his current role. 59 percent owned; -25 percent)

Flavors of next week

-- by Joe Polito (@JoePo89)

Chris gets to have all the fun up there writing about Chris Paul's replacement and the point guard who seems destined to break Scott Skiles' single-game record for assists. But if you lost the race to Darren Collison and Kendall Marshall, this is the section for you! (Hear that, Chris? You can't keep us down!) Because this is the section that told you about Marshall two weeks ago as a speculative add. And the thing about speculation is you have little to lose and so much to gain.

This week's cast of characters is far less interesting, but the guy I'm looking to add is Raymond Felton. He made his return from a groin strain Tuesday night and put together a solid 12-point, 6-assist performance in 31 minutes. The fact that Felton's been out since December 12 knocked his ownership down to 70 percent. There isn't a lot of upside to his game, but when you look at the Knicks' other options at point guard, there isn't much downside either.

It's also encouraging that most of Felton's production has come without his pick-and-roll partner Tyson Chandler on the floor -- including Tuesday's return game. Once Felton gets up to game speed and the Knicks (somehow) get healthy, you can expect Jose Calderon-like numbers from him going forward. I'd probably set the bar at George Hill (81 percent) as for who to drop for him, as well as most other point guards owned in fewer leagues than that.

J.J. Redick, G, Clippers, (59 percent): This one's a preemptive add for those of you with a roster spot to play with. The latest on the injured Clippers shooter is that he's "real close" to returning, according to his coach Doc Rivers. That means when Redick gets back in a week or so, he's going to have to do some heavier lifting in a backcourt sans Chris Paul. Redick was averaging 15.8 points and 1.9 made threes per game before fracturing his hand. His scoring should remain the same as the absence of both Paul's passing and scoring should even out. One area you might see an uptick is in the assist column. Redick averaged 4.4 per game while playing for Orlando last season, so if he's tasked with more ball-handling responsibilities, the assists will come naturally. He's a must-add for category players as his 92.7 percent free-throw shooting and volume three-point shooting are hard to come by. You won't get to use him right away, but he won't disappoint once he's back.

DeMarre Carroll/Pero Antic, F/F, Hawks, (44 percent/19 percent): The first guy is much more of a sure thing. With three straight games of at least 10 points and seven rebounds, Carroll is looking like a Martell Webster-like Fantasy option for three-pointers and rebounds. Grab him if you need a steady forward as an injury replacement if you're worried about Chandler Parsons or were banking on Ryan Anderson. Pero Antic is the speculative add on the Hawks. He made his first start Friday to the tune of 16 points and 7 rebounds. His numbers to follow haven't been anything special, but in those three games he started at center, Antic hit a combined nine three-pointers at a 56.3-percent clip, meaning he'll hold more value in Roto leagues. At 6-foot-11, he's certainly tall enough to grab a few rebounds, as his 7.8 average per 36 minutes suggests. But if for nothing else, pick up Antic because of his eligibility. You probably have more guards than you know what to do with, but a starting forward who should gain center eligibility sometime soon -- those don't just fall out of the sky very often. Think of Antic as Mirza Teletovic with more opportunities to play, or Jon Leuer without the Marc Gasol expiration date. He might be headed back to the bench, but pick him up just in case.

Ersan Ilyasova, F, Bucks, (71 percent): This one's fairly risky because the Bucks' rotation has been perhaps the most volatile in the league. Use Ilyasova's game log as an example. Here are his minute totals for the last eight games: 18, 49, 22, 20, 33, 18, 21 and 31. That last total led him to one of his best performances of the season, a 20-point, 6-rebound outing against the Warriors. It's not easy to put your faith in Larry Drew to get his best guys out there every night, so if you want a steadier option, go with Taj Gibson (71 percent), as he'll probably see a slight scoring boost due to Luol Deng's departure. But if you want to add a proven second half of the season player, grab Ilyasova and pray he gets enough minutes to be worth a roster spot. This is a similar frustration Fantasy owners experienced last season, when Ilyasova went from averaging 10 and 6 to 16 and 8 after the All-Star break. If you can hold out until he gets it going, he's been worth the wait the last two seasons. Otherwise, grab Gibson for help at the forward spot now.

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Player News
Report: PF Jason Smith earns starting job for Knicks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:41 pm ET) Jason Smith will serve as the starting power forward for the Knicks to open the season, according to the New York Post. He has emerged with the job ahead of Quincy Acy and Amar'e Stoudemire, who will be used as a super sub.

The former Pelican who is coming off knee surgery has performed well in the preseason. He is set to start the Friday exhibition finale against Toronto, then will likely maintain the spot when the team opens the regular season with back-to-back games against Eastern Conference studs Chicago and Cleveland.

The Knicks signed Smith for the mid-level exception of $3.2 million in the offseason.


Rajon Rondo ramping up contact work in Celtics practice
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Celtics guard Rajon Rondo could be cleared by the team's medical staff early next week, and coach Brad Stevens expressed optimism when discussing his point guard's potential availability Friday for the start of the season.

"Now it's just a matter of getting clearance, really," said Stevens. "Because everything else, from a skill standpoint, from an understanding standpoint -- he's been running our offense in 5-on-0, up and down the court, for 10 days now. And he picks it up pretty quickly anyways. And we spent some time watching film, whether it's of the team when he's not on the floor, or just simple stuff that he's been able to do in practice to just try to expedite being ready." 

Rondo is dealing with a fractured left metacarpal, and has already begun taking part in some contact activities, though not clear contact. He is wearing extra padding on the hand during practice, and there at least remains a chance Rondo will be in the lineup for the start of the regular season if he receives clearance.

"It's not my call, that's the way I look at it," Stevens said. "When [team trainer] Ed [Lacerte] tells me that someone is ready to play, that's the go-ahead to let them play."


No guarantee Jason Richardson plays for 76ers
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:27 am ET) The 76ers are probably going to keep veteran guard Jason Richardson and his $6.6 million contract for the upcoming season, but there is no guarantee he will see the floor.

"I think it's going to be a challenge," coach Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday. "But I really don't know. I just feel like he's been out of it for a while, and it's going to be a really difficult task."

Richardson has not played since January 2013 due to a knee injury, but the team wants to keep him around to help with a young locker room, Brown said. 


Nets exercise options for Mason Plumlee, Sergey Karasev
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) The Nets exercised third-year options on center Mason Plumlee and forward Sergey Karasev Friday, the team announced. The decision will keep both players in Brooklyn through the 2015-16 season, and both players have team options for their fourth seasons in 2016-17.

Plumlee appeared in 70 games as a rookie and was surprisingly effective, averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game. He shot 65.9 percent from the field and road his success to an appearance on Team USA's gold medal-winning FIBA World Cup appearance.

Karasev appeared in just 22 games after the Cavaliers made him the 19th overall pick in last year's draft. Karasev was acquired by the Nets in a three-team deal in July. 


Magic guard Victor Oladipo out indefinitely with facial fracture
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:44 am ET) Magic guard Victor Oladipo has been making progress in his recovery from a knee sprain, but was already uncertain for the team's season opener Tuesday. Friday he received more bad news, as the team announced he is out indefinitely with a facial fracture and will almost certainly miss the start of the regular season.

The injury occurred during practice Thursday, when he took an elbow to the face. He will undergo surgery Saturday, the team announced, and at this point it is not clear how long the injury is expected to keep Oladipo out or who might step into the starting lineup for him. Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless have both filled in at shooting guard in the preseason, and seem to be the top contenders.

Oladipo managed to avoid injury almost entirely last season, as he averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 80 games en route to a second place finish in Rookie of the Year. 


Fantasy Basketball Today: Ronnie Price could have a role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Lakers guard Ronnie Price has actually dominated playing time at the point guard spot for the Lakers this preseason, given Jeremy Lin and Steve Nash's injury issues. With Nash out for the season, Price may have a role that can push him towards the fringes of Fantasy relevance, as I discussed at the Fantasy Basketball Today blog Friday:

"Price appeared in six preseason games and averaged 29.5 minutes per game, with Lin dealing with some injury concerns. Price put up a couple of big assist games, and ultimately averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 assists per game in that time. He is certainly not someone you will want to pick up on Draft Day, but Price might have value as a waiver-wire pickup down the road."

Price is still probably not worth drafting, but if he can get 25 minutes per game as the point guard, he could have some utility, especially with how valuable assists are in Fantasy. 


Fantasy Basketball Blog: Jeremy Lin's new role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:20 am ET) At the Fantasy Basketball Today blog, we took a look at the Fantasy implications of Steve Nash's injury, and how his absence will impact Jeremy Lin now that he is the de facto lead point guard for the Lakers. Here's some of what I had to say about Lin:

"Lin has appeared in four preseason games in Byron Scott's offense, and has looked to have a solid command. He is averaging 8.8 assists per-36 minutes in his preseason action, and gives this team an element of off-the-dribble creativity that might be sorely lacking if Kobe's athleticism is missing. Lin is going 74th on average in CBSSports.com leagues, and that number should only creep up now that there are no real roadblocks to him getting 30-plus minutes per game."

Lin should be considered a top-30 guard in all Fantasy formats at this point, and he could be good for 15 points and 6 assists per game this season. 


Pelicans F Anthony Davis returns from wrist injury
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Pelicans forward Anthony Davis was back from a wrist injury in Thursday's preseason game against the Mavericks.

Davis, who was three days removed from the injury, scored 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting, including 5 of 8 from the charity stripe. He added six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 21 minutes of work.


Knicks' J.R. Smith: Learning triangle offense has been struggle
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/23/2014) Knicks guard J.R. Smith told reporters that learning the triangle offense under coach Derek Fisher and influenced by president Phil Jackson has been "a struggle" for him, per ESPN New York on Thursday.

"Trying to think about the rest of the team over myself or my scoring is something that I never really had to do before," Smith said. "I've always been in a situation to score, [now I'm] in position to take my time and let the game come and let my teammates succeed more than myself, I think that's the ultimate win."


Report: Lakers' Steve Nash ruled out for season due to back issues
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/23/2014) Steve Nash's career may be coming to an end. The 40-year-old has been ruled out for the 2014-15 season with recurring nerve issues in his back, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report on Thursday. The Lakers made an announcement shortly after the report. 

Before the season started, the Lakers point guard vowed to play one more season before retiring. In 2013-14, he was limited to 15 games due to the issue after injuring himself getting out of bad. During the preseason, he appeared to have aggravated the issue while carrying his luggage.

The eight-time NBA All-Star has career averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds over 18 seasons.


 
 
 
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