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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
New Mavericks starter J.J. Barea posts 17-13 line in Game 4
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:15 am ET) Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea drew the start in Game 4 against the Rockets Sunday and scored 17 points on 7 of 15 shooting, including 2 of 6 shooting from 3-point range, while dishing out 13 assists in his team's 121-109 win.

Barea was in the lineup due to Rajon Rondo being sidelined indefinitely with a back injury and he shined in the starting opportunity, helping to stave off elimination in Dallas.

"We're going to fight," Barea said, per the Associated Press. "We're not going to quit. We've got to go to Houston, and we've got to bring it back to Dallas."

The Rockets missed 12 straight shots to open the second half, and the Mavericks were able to build up a 24-point lead behind the new starting point guard.

"We couldn’t get Barea stopped at all," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Our coverages were really loose. And they just played harder than us. That is the bottom line. They played with more desperation. They played harder than we did. Bottom line is they deserved to win that game more than we did."

Game 5 is in Houston Tuesday.


Rockets forward Josh Smith scores 23 points in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Rockets forward Josh Smith scored 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, in Houston's 121-109 loss to the Mavericks Sunday.

It was Smith's first 20-plus point playoff game since 2013 when he scored 29. Smith, who also went 3 of 6 from the free throw line, added six rebounds and three assists to his totals.

He and the Rockets will look to close out Dallas in Game 5 Tuesday.


Mavericks guard Monta Ellis scores 31 to force Game 5
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis scored 31 points on 13 of 21 shooting from the field, including 2 of 6 from 3-point range, in Dallas' 121-109 win over the Rockies Sunday.

It was Ellis' second consecutive playoff game with at least 30 points and is averaging 26.3 points per game in the series. Ellis also pulled down six rebounds and dished out three assists in the contest. 

He and the Mavericks will look to stay alive in Game 5 from Houston Tuesday.


Marcin Gortat goes for 21 points, 11 rebounds in Wizards' clincher
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Center Marcin Gortat delivered 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the Wizards' 125-94 victory on Sunday to close out the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, 4-0.

Gortat shot eight of nine from the floor and also added two steals and a block in the win.

"I guess I'm the weakest link out there, so they're going to leave me open a lot," Gortat said. "One day, if I'm going to play a perfect game, I might crack the Wilt Chamberlain record of 100 points."


Report: Cavaliers F Kevin Love may miss two weeks
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who disclocated his shoulder in Sunday's Game 4 victory over the Celtics, is expected to be out of action for a minimum of two weeks according to a report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.

Love still must undergo an MRI on Monday, but the report says that sources within the organization feel the injury is severe enough to keep Love sidelined for a while. 

Love felt that Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk deliberately injured him during the game. 


Blake Griffin grabs playoff career-high 19 rebounds in Clippers' win
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Forward Blake Griffin pulled down a playoff career-high 19 rebounds in the Clippers' Game 4 victory over the Spurs on Sunday.

Griffin scored 20 points and also collected seven assists in the win. At one point, with Chris Paul on the bench with five fouls, coach Doc Griffin ran a play for the power forward to take a dribble handoff, which he followed with a hook pass to a teammate.

When asked after the game why he would draw up such a play for a power forward, Rivers said, "Because after Chris, Blake is our best passer," per the San Antonio Express-News.


Grizzlies G Mike Conley to undergo facial surgery Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, already ruled out of Monday's Game 4, will travel back to Memphis and undergo facial surgery to repair multiple fractures, per TNT's Lewis Johnson. 

Conley left Saturday's game and did not return after getting hit by an inadvertent elbow from the Trail Blazers' CJ McCollum during the third quarter. Beno Udrih will start for Memphis in Conley's place. 

It remains unclear how much time Conley would miss after the surgery. If the Grizzlies advance to the Western Conference semifinals, they would play the Golden State Warriors. 


Mavericks' Felton probable, Jefferson questionable for Game 4
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said pregame that he expected guard Raymond Felton (hamstring) to play in tonight's Game 4 against the Rockets but that veteran forward Richard Jefferson (calf) remained a question mark, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  

Felton tweaked his hamstring in Game 3 and did not return after playing 13 minutes. Jefferson has been dealing with a toe injury but has played in all three games of the series thus far. 

The Mavericks are 3-point underdogs. 


Cavaliers' J.R. Smith 'nervous as hell' about possible suspension
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, who was ejected from Sunday's series clinching victory after striking the Celtics' Jae Crowder in the face and drawing a flagrant foul 2, said there was "nothing malicious" about the foul, per ESPN.com.

Smith now faces a possible league suspension for the next round of the playoffs after the NBA reviews the penalty. Smith said he was drawn into the action by Crowder pushing him in the back on the play. 

"I know I'm nervous as hell to see what could come out of this," Smith said. 


Clippers F Matt Barnes (sore right shoulder) probable for Game 5
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) The Clippers have announced that forward Matt Barnes (sore right shoulder) is probable for Tuesday's Game 5 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Spurs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Barnes started in the Clippers' Game 4 win on Sunday, scoring four points in 23 minutes.


 
 
 
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