Nothing quite breaks the Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire like a big injury or trade in the NBA. This past week, owners saw Jonas Valanciunas suffer a fractured hand that will keep the big man out for up to six weeks. Valanciunas was enjoying a career-high in rebounds at 9.3 to go along with 12.7 points per game in just over 27 minutes of play each night. The Raptors, being somewhat of a contender in the Eastern Conference, will have to find ways to fill the void in the meantime. More on that later on. To a lesser extent, the polarizing Derrick Rose missed much of last week with an ankle injury. While he couldn’t control suffering the injury, we know the past that haunts Rose nowadays. These issues lead us into this week’s waiver wire targets and much more.
Heading into the season, most Fantasy owners were foaming at the mouth when it came to the Denver Nuggets and their potential based on Average Draft Position. Danilo Gallinari was way undervalued based on his usage rate, Jusuf Nurkic was primed for a breakout season as the starting center, but lurking in the background was Gary Harris. The former standout at Michigan State was drafted just outside the lottery in 2014, and it was based on his scoring prowess. He is one of those scoring role-players, much like that of J.R. Smith minus the horrendous shot selection. He averaged nearly 17 points in his sophomore (final) season at Michigan State with nearly two steals per game to go along with an 81-percent free-throw rate. An uptick in minutes recently has led to production for the 21-year old. Over the past four games, Harris is averaging 15.8 points and 1.8 3-pointers per game while shooting 57-percent from the field overall. A season-ending injury to Wilson Chandler has contributed to a more consistent role for Harris this season, and barring some unforeseen event, the rotation should stay this way. Harris won’t contribute many other stats but he will help in points, three-point shooting, percentages and a few steals now and then moving forward. Don’t be afraid to spend 5-10 percent of your FAAB budget on Harris if you need guard help.
Looking Deeper: As alluded to earlier, Derrick Rose is nursing an ankle injury, the first of potentially many this season. Rose hasn’t topped more than 51 games in any season since 2010-11 so there’s no reason to believe this year will be any different. Savvy Fantasy players have heard of handcuffs in Fantasy Football and, yes, I am suggesting a handcuff in Fantasy basketball. Kirk Hinrich has recently returned and has played well in the starting lineup while Rose has been out. Over the past two games, he has five 3-pointers made while averaging 15.5 points per game. If you’re a Rose owner in a 14-team league or deeper, Hinrich should be owned just based on Rose’s propensity to get hurt.
As mentioned, the Valanciunas injury has many implications, leading to a few pickups here over the next month. One player that has directly been affected by his absence is veteran forward Luis Scola. The 35-year-old Argentine won’t provide the highest upside at this point in his career but if you’re an owner in need of decent consistency, Scola is your guy. Since Valanciunas went down against the Lakers, Scola is averaging 15.5 points on 13.5 field-goal attempts per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. If you look one game further while Valanciunas was still on the floor, Scola had a big game then as well, pouring in 22 points on 10-15 shooting in 30 minutes of play. The Raptors need a third scoring option behind Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan now, and really, they have no choice but to get Scola involved. He won’t hurt owners’ percentages and could even contribute a few three’s here, as he’s averaged nearly one per game on 45-percent shooting from downtown this season. He’s worth 5-7-percent of your FAAB if you need to fill a power forward position or you were a Valanciunas owner.
Looking Deeper: Omri Casspi falls into that “Jack of all trades” category and is averaging career-highs across the board because he’s finally being given a chance to play. He’s averaging nearly 11 points, 6.1 rebounds, one steal, and one 3-pointer made per game thus far in 25 minutes of action every night. He won’t be a star by any means but when you’re looking for a decent role player in one of these deeper formats, Casspi can produce in multiple categories. The Kings don’t have much depth and he seems to be a staple in the rotation at this point in the season. The only thing that might hurt his value is if George Karl is fired.
Who steps into the starting center role with Valanciunas out in Toronto? You guessed it: Bismack Biyombo! You don’t have to be a basketball analyst to realize there is little to no offensive upside with Biyombo. What you can realize, however, is that he’s a Fantasy Basketball specialist who will contribute in the rebounds and blocks categories. Biyombo was never coached up properly, and despite being just 23-years old, it’s likely too late to really develop his offensive game. Think of him as the second half of Dikembo Mutombo’s career; we’re talking 34-year-old Mutombo and later. In his first start since the injury, Biyombo scored six points on 3-5 shooting but did pull down 14 rebounds against the Clippers. If he can rebound against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Biyombo can rebound with anybody. Look for him to contribute elite rebounding numbers over the next month with nearly two blocks per game. Owners’ void of those categories could really use the boost, spending five-percent of their FAAB budget on Biyombo.
Looking Deeper: Michael Jordan loves selecting players in the NBA draft who enjoyed successful college career and that’s exactly what he did when he selected Frank Kaminsky III. FK3 has a unique skill set at 7 feet tall, as he can shoot from the perimeter on offense while providing decent rim protection on defense. A glance at the Hornets’ depth chart reveals their best lineup might be one that includes Kaminsky starting at the power forward position. A starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Marvin Williams, Kaminsky, and Al Jefferson not only offers offensive prowess but contains considerable length on the defensive end as well. He’s averaging just under 10 points per game over his last three contests while blocking at least one shot in three of his last four. The minutes aren’t there yet but given his potential, FK3 is a high-upside stash pickup right now that could pay off later on.