FANTASY BASKETBALL WAIVER WIRE
A 7-3 run has improved the Mavericks to 19-30 overall entering Thursday night’s play. With the likes of PG Deron Williams, SG Wesley Matthews, PF Dirk Nowitzki and C Andrew Bogut each missing extended time during the recent spurt, new faces stepped up and placed themselves front and center for this week’s waiver wire.
Seth Curry (Mavericks, owned in 39 percent of leagues)
Steph Curry’s ‘lil bro is making a name for himself after rattling off three games of at least 20 points in his last five, including a 22-point outing against the 76ers on Tuesday night. He has twice proven this year that he can be a solid Fantasy contributor if given the minutes to play.
Curry averaged 29.2 minutes per game in January, resulting in 13.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists. The latter category has seen an uptick, as Curry has four straight games of at least four dimes. Accuracy runs in the family, with Curry shooting a blistering 50.3 percent in January while hitting half of his 3-point attempts.
The Mavs are lottery bound. Once Williams does return from his toe injury, expect Curry to continue seeing his minutes in the 25-29 range. The shooting won’t tail off much and his assist totals will climb as he becomes more acclimated with being in the starting lineup.
T.J. McConnell (76ers, owned in 38 percent of leagues)
Like the Mavericks, the Sixers are heading toward lotto land, yet they also played well in January, capping off the month with a pair of wins over the playoff-bound Bucks and a victory over the Raptors. Much of that success goes to Joel Embiid, but McConnell showed he can quarterback the team on a full-time basis.
McConnell averaged just 8.1 points per game in 14 starts last month, but his 9.3 assists per game placed him among January’s league leaders in the category. Consistent assists are hard to find, especially this late in the season, which is why McConnell’s availability is a mild surprise. His 45 percent shooting mark is acceptable, but he’s not a good shooter from long range (25 percent), a liability that causes him to lose some Fantasy cred.
He’s going to have more value in deeper leagues, but if you’re in a standard league starving for assists, and don’t care too much about his brickmanship from beyond the arc, McConnell deserves a strong look.
P.J. Tucker (Suns, owned in 18 percent of leagues)
Phoenix’s youth movement made Tucker a forgotten player of sorts, yet the veteran (who also has F eligibility in most leagues) has had a surge of late with six games of double-digit scoring in his last seven. As his 10.9 usage rate in his last five suggests, Tucker doesn’t need much attention to produce. He’s always been a player who can make the most of limited opportunities and his 27.6 Fantasy points per game in the last five are a strong indication of that. Tucker is also a strong defender, having averaged nearly two steals per game in the last two weeks.
A subject of trade rumors, Tucker’s recent run could end up with him playing a significant role for a playoff team. I can’t make a strong recommendation to pick him up in standard leagues, but deeper leaguers certainly should consider him, even if he remains in the Valley of the Sun post-trade deadline.
Robert Covington (76ers, owned in 49 percent of leagues)
Despite missing a second straight game on Thursday with a bruised right hand, Covington has emerged as the Sixers’ second-best Fantasy option behind Embiid. On nights when The Process is left sidelined, Covington has shown he can be a solid contributor. Prior to his injury, Covington recorded consecutive 20-10 performances, and he’s pulled down at least five rebounds in 11 of his last 12. At 38.8 Fantasy points per game in his last five, Covington was second only to Embiid (56 FPPG) on the team and should remain as no worse than a top-three option with only Ersan Ilyasova threatening his status.
Covington is eighth in the league with 1.8 steals per game and averages just under a block per night, numbers that only enhance his value. My only beef with him is a 39 percent shooting mark, a number that was improving as Covington averaged nearly 46 percent from the field in his last five. He’s a steady contributor who deserves run in both standard and deeper leagues. If Ilyasova is moved at the trade deadline, Covington’s numbers will take an uptick for better.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Nets, owned in 49 percent of leagues)
Still something of a role player, Hollis-Jefferson received just his 17th start of the season and had 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block in Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks. He’s averaging 21.1 Fantasy points per game in his last ten and could be on the verge of a breakout second half.
RHJ’s rookie season was ruined by a fractured ankle that cost him more than two months of play before returning on a limited minutes basis the rest of 2015-16. He is an explosive player who many feel is only lacking a consistent outside game from becoming the focal point of the franchise. Per-36, Hollis-Jefferson averages 13.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals a night. There is a ton of upside sitting here, which is why I’d grab him right now.
Lucas Nogueira (Raptors, owned in 28 percent of leagues)
There’s center eligibility with Nogueira, who has seen his minutes rise over the past couple of weeks. He’s not going to offer much scoring (6.8 per game in his last five), but Nogueira is becoming a nasty presence in the paint. Averaging 2.2 blocks in each of his last five, Nogueira is worthy of consideration in both standard and deeper leagues.
The shot-swatting is worth the price of admission, as Nogueira has six games of at least two redirected attempts in his last 12, including a five-block performance at the Celtics on Wednesday. He also has shown surprising fleet of foot for a seven-footer, recording a steal in each of his last seven contests. Needless to say, there is a lot to like about Nogueira’s upside. The Raptors continue to increase his role and if starter Jonas Valanciunas goes down for an extended period, Nogueira’s numbers will take a sudden climb to near 50 percent ownership across the board.
Ivica Zubac (Lakers, owned in 19 percent of leagues)
Whoa! Where is this coming from? Finally given a chance at more minutes, the rookie came into Thursday’s game at the Wizards with three games of at least 30 Fantasy points in his last six. Zubac also has three double-doubles in this span to go along with a pair of three blocked shot outings.
I love the potential here. If you look at Zubac’s per-36, you see a seven-footer averaging 15.9 points, 10.8 boards and 1.7 blocks. The mediocre 49 percent shooting is only going to get better with the increased minutes, but if you’re looking for a stealth reason to grab Zubac, take a gander at his 87 percent mark from the charity stripe.
Zubac is part of the Lakers’ future, one that will also benefit Julius Randle, who will move to power forward once coach Luke Walton makes the full commit to Zubac. The ownership is going to climb, so pick him and embrace the upside coming from Zubac the rest of the season.
Frank Kaminsky (Hornets, owned in 16 percent of leagues)
Coming off a career-high 24 points in Wednesday’s loss at the Warriors, Kaminsky is more of a deeper league reach, yet his ability to come off the bench and trigger the Hornets second team makes him a consideration. Kaminsky has had a solid usage rate over the last five games (22 percent) while his rebounding rate hovers just under ten.
His shooting percentage has fluctuated during the season, yet Kaminsky can be a good matchup play in deeper formats. He can be awfully streaky, so if Good Frank’s long-range touch decides to show up, he can rattle off points in a flurry.
Willie Cauley-Stein (Kings, owned in 19 percent of leagues)
The talent and opportunity has been there for Cauley-Stein, who has flashed signs of deserving more PT. WCS has averaged just over 19 minutes per game in his last five, making the most of it by averaging ten points, 4.6 rebounds and a block in that span.
Cauley-Stein is never going to be a prolific scorer, but if the Kings just go WTF and hand him 25-30 minutes a night the rest of the way, you could see 10-12 points, seven boards and nearly two blocks. Sacramento is going to have to decide sooner or later if WCS is part of the team’s future, so keep an eye on how his numbers develop and act accordingly.