Khris Middleton (Bucks, owned in 38 percent on Yahoo!/ 19 percent on ESPN) is reportedly eyeing a return around the All-Star Break, according to multiple reports. Middleton tore his hamstring in September and the original timetable had him missing up to six months. A mid-February return would complete nearly five months of rehab, a plausible amount of time to return from this type of injury. Nonetheless, his ownership percentages need to be higher based on his potential alone.
Last season, Middleton was a Top-30 player in both eight and nine-category formats that include turnovers as a category. He was a solid player early in his career, yet, last season broke out, producing both across the board and in an efficient manner. In 79 games Middleton averaged 18.2 points on 44.4 percent shooting with 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 triples and 1.7 steals per game. He was better than the likes of Isaiah Thomas, DeMar DeRozan and Kyrie Irving.
For those of you are worried about him taking away from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, I’m here to calm you down.
The second half of last season was when Jason Kidd finally let The Greek Freak run the point and Parker was fully recovered from his ACL injury. All three (Middleton included) saw a spike in their production. Specifically, Middleton’s field-goal percentage skyrocketed up to 47.4 percent while his steals went up to a whopping 2.4 per game. When Antetokounmpo runs point, it makes everybody else’s lives easier as defenses try to stop him.
Add Middleton now in 10-team leagues or deeper, especially if you have an Injured Reserve spot or play in a weekly lineup league.
Garrett Temple (Kings, owned in 24 percent on Yahoo!/ 8.1 percent on ESPN) is looking like the biggest beneficiary of the Rudy Gay Achilles injury. Originally, I thought it might be Matt Barnes, but Barnes is just too inconsistent at this stage in his career. Although Temple doesn’t have tremendous upside and won’t wow anybody in any specific category, he’s a solid contributor and the playing time is there.
Since Gay has gone down, Temple has started each of the past three games, playing at least 30 minutes in each. Over the past week, Temple is averaging 10.5 points on 46.9 percent shooting with 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, one steal and 0.8 blocks per game. He’s a top-120 player over that span and in fact he’s a top-120 player over the course of the entire season as well. He’s not going to look for his own shot often, but he is a solid complementary piece on a Fantasy team.
Where Temple has been able to help the most is his efficiency and his defensive statistics. Temple has posted a career-high 57.4 percent true-shooting percentage this season while averaging 1.3 steals per game this month. Like I mentioned, Temple doesn’t have the most upside but is a player who can stabilize your categories while providing some steals and blocks. He should be owned in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Iman Shumpert (Cavaliers, owned in 23 percent on Yahoo!/ 8 percent on ESPN) has moved into the starting lineup for the Cavs while J.R. Smith is still over a month away from returning. For a few seasons, the Cavs have been trying to convert Shump into a 3 and D type player and it seems like they’ve finally succeeded.
Shumpert has started five straight games, playing at least 26 minutes in each. Over the past two weeks, he’s averaged 12.5 points on a robust 56 percent shooting with three rebounds, 2.7 triples, and 1.5 steals. In nine-category formats, he’s a top-60 player during that span. Going even further, over the past week he’s ranked 43rd overall. His shooting efficiency has been lights out while providing elite steals. Shump has recorded at least one steal in five straight games with multiple steals in three of those contests.
As for his shooting efficiency, Shumpert is finally knocking down long-range shots consistently. To this point, he’s posted a career-high 58.1 percent true-shooting percentage. Shumpert has also turned in a career-high 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. All the Cavs really need him to do is make open shots once the double teams occupy LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
I’ve long been a fan of Shumpert’s game because he’s a high-effort defense first type player who is finally developing his jumper. He’s worth a look in 12-team or deeper leagues for owners who need help in threes and steals.
David Lee (Spurs, owned in 43 percent on Yahoo!/ 29.4 percent on ESPN) has been the guy for San Antonio since Pau Gasol went down last week; honestly, his ownership percentages should be higher. Gasol fractured a bone in his left hand and will miss the next 4-6 weeks (Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas suffered a similar injury last season which forced him to miss 17 games). The Spurs are a little light on big men, however, which means Lee should start in his absence.
Besides Lee, the only other big body they have on the roster is Dewayne Dedmon and he is what he is: nothing more than a hustle center who can rebound and block shots. Lee is closer to the player Gasol is in that he has a solid offensive game and knows how to get to the right spot on the floor. The Spurs don’t need him to do much. They just need him to be ready when defenses try and stop Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. To this point, Lee has answered the call. Since Gasol has gone down, Lee is averaging 12.5 points on 60.5 percent shooting with 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks in nearly 29 minutes per game. He’s scored double digits with two double-doubles in that span.
Over the last week, Lee is ranked inside the top-75 in nine-category leagues due to his efficiency. He rarely turns the ball over and has been shooting lights out. On the season he owns a true-shooting percentage of 61.5 percent, his highest since the 2006-07 season. Owners should get another month from Lee as a starting center/power forward, which warrants him being owned in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Shabazz Muhammad (Timberwolves, owned in three percent on Yahoo!/1.8 percent on ESPN) is going through his yearly hot streak, which makes him worth owning in deeper formats. Minnesota has won six of their last eight games entering Thursday’s contest against the Pacers, with Muhammad providing a spark off the bench.
Over his last four, Muhammad is averaging 14.5 points on nearly 62 percent shooting with four rebounds and 1.8 triples in just over 25 minutes per game. One glance at the Timberwolves roster and you realize they don’t have much firepower off the bench. Nemanja Bjelica does have talent but doesn’t get the minutes and rookie Kris Dunn is more of a defensive presence at this point. Minnesota now depends on Muhammad’s scoring and he doesn’t need to be shy about shooting frequently when on the court.
The common theme throughout this week’s waiver wire adds is that they’ve all been efficient, including Muhammad, who is currently shooting at a personal best. His 56.6 percent true-shooting percentage is the highest mark of his career, helped a ton by his career-best 42.6 percent three-point shooting. He doesn’t shoot many threes but he’s making them at a higher clip than ever before.
Muhammad’s upside is limited by his minutes but he makes for a great add in 14-team leagues or deeper for owners in need of efficient scoring and a few rebounds.
Willy Hernangomez (Knicks, owned in nine percent on Yahoo!/ 3.1 percent on ESPN) is the latest New York big man to supplant Joakim Noah. The problem is Coach Jeff Hornacek has not shown any consistency in his minutes. He often rides the hot hand, yet has been hesitant to show faith in perhaps his most consistent player in recent games.
Hernangomez has double-doubles in two of his last three games despite not playing more than 24 minutes in either. Against the Celtics on January 18, he poured in 17 points on eight of 13 shooting with 11 rebounds and an assist in just 20 minutes. Against the Pacers on Monday, he dropped 14 points on 5-8 shooting with 10 boards, two assists, two blocks and a steal and followed up with a 16-rebound effort in Wednesday’s loss to the Mavericks.
Hernangomez is another one of those per-36 monsters that we wish would get more minutes. On a per-36, his numbers are 15.1 points, 13 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
Just 22, Hernangomez has the size at 6’11 and surprisingly good footwork to be a successful offensive player. The block numbers are a little misleading because he is raw defensively (but hey, he’s still young). The most obvious problem is the team signed Noah to a four-year deal but he has been dreadful this month. Hernangomez is more of a stash in a deeper league but if the Knicks choose to shut down Noah or he gets hurt, Hernangomez will be a must-add in all leagues.
All stats used before the January 25 games.