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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 23

by | Fantasy Writer
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We've come to the end. If you're reading this, it means you're one of the lucky ones who somehow avoided season-derailing injuries or value-killing trades. You've made the right starts, sits, adds and drops. You hit on the risers and avoided the fallers, so congrats.

But you're not out of the woods yet.

That's why I've taken a look ahead at Week 23 find the best free agents for your finals rounds, factoring in schedules, playoff seeding and injury concerns.

Standard league guard: Vince Carter (56 percent) GS, @LAC, @LAL, @SAC

Carter's role with the Mavericks basically boils down to a designated hitter. He jogs around firing up threes, and lately they've been going in. Over the last four weeks, he's averaged 22 Fantasy points per game and ranks in the top five for three pointers made over that span.

He doesn't do much other than score, but an upcoming slate against possession-maximizing teams should give him a boost in assists and rebounds. There are plenty of guys like him (Nick Young, Gerald Green), but none as widely available as Carter. This isn't your boom-or-bust assist guard, but he's been steadily scoring enough to make a safe play.

Upside play: Ramon Sessions (60 percent) @DET, @MIA, @CHI, TOR

What happens when a score-first guard gets placed on a tanking team and starts assisting on occasion? About 25 Fantasy points per game happens -- what Ramon Sessions has produced since being traded to Milwaukee.

He's coming off back-to-back 20-plus point, 5-plus assist games propelling him to the top of the most added list. His schedule isn't the best for Week 23, but he does play four times against eastern conference opponents. It's very hard to rely on any of the Bucks, but Sessions' abilities make him a constant double-digit scoring threat with potential for assists and rebounds to edge out the competition.

Roto guard: Shaun Livingston (30 percent) HOU, @NY, DET, @PHI

Livingston is tied for third in the league among point guards in field-goal shooting (47.1 percent), a top-20 free-throw shooter (84.8 percent) and has averaged just a hair under two steals per game over the last 30 days. So basically you can count on Livingston to play 25-plus efficient minutes, with potential for steals and assists.

The Nets have a nice schedule in Week 23, especially catching Philadelphia at the tail end. In four games against the 76ers this year, he's averaged 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists on 57.1 percent shooting. So at worst, he's efficient and steal-prone. At best, he can pretty much help out in any category other than three pointers.

Upside play: Mario Chalmers (64 percent) TOR, MIL, MIN, NY

A string of home games against bad teams and the possibility of Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen missing them means Mario Chalmers will have the ball in his hands a lot more down the stretch. If you know anything about Chalmers' track record, you know he's only capable of playing great and terrible -- nothing in between.

He was the latter Wednesday night against Indiana, so I'm guessing he'll be looking to get back into his teammates' and coaches' good graces for the rest of the regular season. So if you're sure about your team and just need an injury fill-in to stem the tide, you might choose someone steadier. But if you need a miracle, pick up Chalmers and hope that he doesn't morph into Wario when you need him most.

Standard league forward: Tiago Splitter (46 percent), @IND, GS, @OKC, MEM

You know how prone Popovich is to rest his stars, so why not capitalize on that tendency by picking up Splitter? He's kind of boring, but lately he's shown some passing ability, finishing with five assists in his latest outing.

He'll definitely make a good handcuff for Tim Duncan down the stretch, but even if San Antonio sends out their usual starting five, Splitter can still be productive in pick-and-rolls and on the offensive glass. He has recorded four double-doubles in his last seven games, and with the way the Spurs move the ball, low-end assists won't be hard to come by.

Upside play: Andray Blatche (65 percent), HOU, @NY, DET, @PHI

Blatche is one of the riskiest propositions in Fantasy. He hasn't done much lately, but to me that means he's about due for one of his heat-checking performances of high scoring and moderate peripheral stats. The Nets' three-game stretch against bad Eastern Conference teams increases the odds of a payout on this dice roll.

Jason Kidd hasn't had many answers for when Kevin Garnett might return to the floor, so Mason Plumlee will be the only person standing in Blatche's way for extended minutes. He averages double-figure points and about seven rebounds a game against the Knicks, Pistons and 76ers, so he'll at least get to 20 Fantasy points, and has the potential to do more.

Roto forward: Chris Andersen (13 percent) TOR, MIL, MIN, NY

Ignore his stats from Wednesday's game against Indiana, because Andersen has been historically ineffective against the staunch Pacers. Instead, take a look at his previous 30 days, specifically in the blocks department. Birdman has swatted more shots than Anthony Davis over that span despite having played 200 fewer minutes.

He's also made a ridiculous 67 percent of his field goals on the season as well as 70 percent of his free throws, which isn't too shabby for a big man. Andersen's picked it up in the scoring and rebounding departments as of late, and if Bosh or LeBron get any rest down the stretch, Birdman will be swooping in to collect those minutes.

Upside play: Jordan Hill (57 percent) POR, @SAC, DAL, @LAC

The Lakers have come full circle with Hill once again earning Fantasy relevance. With Pau Gasol dealing with vertigo, Hill has put together two 28-point double-doubles in the last three games. I call him the upside play because there's a nine-pointer shoved in between those scoring outbursts.

It's pretty simple really: If Hill gets the minutes, he'll be effective. He's a scrappy rebounder whose shots come very close to the rim, which has led to a 70 percent field-goal rate over the last week. But sometimes Mike D'antoni just ignores the fact that Hill has put up several Kevin Love-esque lines this year, and rolls with Robert Sacre, Chris Kaman or someone even smaller. A schedule that features up-tempo teams and poor defenses gives Hill a good shot at producing in Week 23.

Standard Center: Zaza Pachulia (22 percent) @DET, @MIA, @CHI, TOR

Sometimes his stats look like Zaza Pachulia's (10, two and two last game). But other times, they look like Joakim Noah's (14, six and eight two games ago). That assist number is what makes Pachulia intriguing. Typically he hovers around three or four a game, which is still great for a free agent big man, and every once in a while he doubles that.

Right now the Bucks are working with Ramon Sessions, Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo -- none of whom are known for their passing. This means that anytime Pachulia's getting heavy minutes (27.5 per game over the last two weeks), he'll be capable of good assist numbers.

Roto Center: Gorgui Dieng (58 percent) LAC, MEM, @MIA, @ORL

We thought Dieng was only good for blocks, but he's been rebounding like a mad man and scoring in bunches since getting the starting nod. He's just like a lot of the other big men on this list in that he doesn't attempt shots outside of his comfort zone.

The tail end of his Week 23 schedule should offer Dieng ample chances for high rebound numbers and block totals. His field goal percentage and even free throw percentage will also give you a boost in categories leagues.

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Player News
Heat G Norris Cole doubtful for Orlando game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters following morning shootaround that point guard Norris Cole has been deemed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Orlando because of a dislocated finger.

Cole sustained the injury to his non-shooting hand on Thursday against the Clippers. In 12 games, he is averaging 7.4 points, 3.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 41.7 percent from the field.


Heat G Dwyane Wade will miss fifth straight game Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:53 am ET) Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade will not make his return on Saturday. Miami has ruled him out for their game against Orlando because of a strained hamstring, the Sun Sentinel reports. Wade did some light shooting during Miami's morning shootaround session, but is not fully recovered. He will now have missed five consecutive games due to injury.

He is averaging 19.8 points, 6.4 assists and 32.4 minutes per game this season. He's also shooting 50.8 percent from the field through eight games.

His next chance to return will come Sunday against the Hornets.


Bulls' Pau Gasol says he's getting closer to return
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:49 am ET) Bulls center Pau Gasol took to his Twitter account to share information on his recovery from a calf injury. The veteran center said he's "getting closer" to his return after taking part in on-court drills on Saturday.

The 34-year-old has missed the previous three games with a strained calf. He got off to a fast start before getting hurt, averaging 18.6 points and 10.6 rebounds through 10 games while shooting 48.7 percent from the field.

His status remains uncertain for Chicago's game on Monday against Utah.


Bulls could add another PG if Derrick Rose can't play Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) The Bulls are considering adding another point guard to the active roster, if Derrick Rose is unable to return Monday against Utah, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. Rose has appeared in only five games this season and has missed the past four games because of a hamstring injury.

Aaron Brooks is the only active point guard on the roster. Mike James and Will Bynum are both free agents with ties to coach Tom Thibodeau.


Report: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook could return next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (foot) and guard Russell Westbrook (hand) are both "healing at an accelerated rate" and could be back in the starting lineup as early as the end of next week, according to the Oklahoman.

Both players made some progress while working out this week and are scheduled to take part in non-contact practice Saturday and will be re-evaluated next week.

"Probably not any of the contact stuff," Brooks said. "(But) they will go through some of our practice and we'll go from there."

Both will certainly miss Sunday's game against Golden State. Oklahoma City will face the Jazz on Wednesday and the Knicks on Friday.


Raptors coach Dwayne Casey impressed with Bruno Caboclo's debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Raptors forward Bruno Caboclo made his season debut during Friday's 124-83 win over Milwaukee. With the game well in hand, Caboclo checked into the game at the start of the fourth quarter and played the final 12 minutes of the game. He finished with eight points on 3 of 6 shooting from the field, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc. He added one rebound and one block.

Following the game, coach Dwayne Casey told reporters he was impressed with the Brazilian's shot selection, per the National Post.

"Lack of fear? Is that what you call it? There's nothing wrong with being naive sometimes," Casey said. "He's not afraid. That's one thing about Bruno: He's not afraid of anything. He's a tough kid. He's a tough kid. He reminds me so much of Rashard Lewis. Rashard gives you that nicey-nice look, but he's a tough kid. Bruno is, too. That's what you like about him."


Pelicans C Omer Asik in danger of sitting out second straight game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Pelicans center Omer Asik aggravated his lower back injury during warmups on Friday, which caused him to sit out New Orleans' 117-97 loss to Denver. According to Utah's radio announcer, Asik "seems unlikely" to play Saturday night against the Jazz. If Asik is unable to play, the team will likely have Alexis Ajinca in the starting lineup to replace him.

In eight games, Asik is averaging 9.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest.


Knicks PG Jose Calderon on track for season debut on Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Knicks point guard Jose Calderon was a full participant in practice on Friday and remains on track to make his season debut on Saturday against the 76ers, per the team's official website. Calderon has missed the first 13 games of the season because of a calf injury. The team will see how he feels during morning shootaround before determining his status for Saturday.

Mavericks' Devin Harris is expected to play Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:23 am ET) Mavericks coach Rick Carlislie indicated that guard Devin Harris is expected to play in Saturday's game against the Rockets, according to the Star Telegram. Harris has missed the previous two games due to soreness in his lower right leg. He is averaging 8.6 points and 4.4 assists in 11 games played.

Knicks' Andrea Bargnani won't play Saturday due to calf strain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) An MRI on Knicks center Andrea Bargnani's right calf revealed a strain. Bargnani suffered the injury Friday during practice and has been ruled out for their Saturday game against Philadelphia, per the team's official website. Bargnani previously missed the first 13 games of the season with a hamstring injury.

 
 
 
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