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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
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.


Report: Nets G Marquis Teague eyed by 76ers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10/23/2014) The 76ers have been discussing a trade with the Nets to acquire guard Marquis Teague, sources have told Yahoo Sports.

The 21-year-old Teague, who was selected by Chicago in the first round of the 2012 draft, averaged 2.7 points in 11 minutes per game last season with the Bulls and Nets.


 
 
 
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