What a wild week it was in the NBA! The Golden State Warriors finally lost a game, to the Milwaukee Bucks no less. The loss brought their record to 24-1 and ended a 28-game winning streak, which dated back to last season. Most fans were hoping the streak would at least make it to Christmas Day, when the Warriors take on LeBron James and the Cavaliers. It seems like Kobe Bryant will provide at least one throwback performance per week this season and it comes as no surprise he saved this one for former teammate Dwight Howard. Too bad the Lakers’ defense resembles that of Swiss cheese, ultimately resulting in a loss. Finally, if there wasn’t enough drama, Rajon Rondo influenced Bill Kennedy to come out as the first openly gay referee, so there’s that. Alas, if you’re suffering from more injuries or underperformance, refer to the group of waiver wire targets below. Good luck!
A big part of the Bucks’ unfathomable upset was O.J. Mayo, who has recently been inserted into the starting lineup. Head coach Jason Kidd has been looking for a spark and it has come from Mayo running the point. Michael Carter-Williams has been extremely inconsistent and, at times ineffective, which led to this change in the rotation. Over the last six games, Mayo is averaging 14.3 points, four assists, and an impressive 1.8 steals per game. He actually has at least one steal in nine straight games with multiple steals coming in five of those contests. His minutes are all the way up to 29.6 per game, his highest mark since the 2012-13 season. He will provide at least one 3-pointer per game and is an excellent free-throw shooter. The only category in which he might bring Fantasy owners down is field-goal percentage, which has always been the knock on Mayo. Despite his minutes being way up, he’s limited his turnovers to just 1.6 per game thus far. It’s currently the lowest turnover per minute ratio of his career. At 28 years old, maybe Mayo is finally finding that balance between production and efficiency. As long as he’s starting and remains on Jason Kidd’s good side, Mayo should be owned in leagues of 10-teams or more.
Looking Deeper: If we’re talking efficiency, then we have no choice but to mention Allen Crabbe of the Portland Trail Blazers. Crabbe has cemented himself as one of the first names off the bench and for good reason. Over his last eight games, he’s averaged 14.4 points and 1.8 3-pointers per game. He will chip in a few rebounds as well but really helps as a scorer and long-range shooter. The reason he’s so efficient is that despite being mainly a shooter this season, he’s maintained a field-goal percentage of 49-percent overall. Barring an injury, Crabbe should consistently see 25-plus minutes per night since the Blazers don’t have many scoring options off their bench. He should be owned in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Initially, the thought was Shane Larkin would be the biggest beneficiary of the injury to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but it’s turned out to be Bojan Bogdanovic. The Yugoslavian import is proving his worth on a team that could use all the role players they can get. He very much so fills that shooting/long-range role similar to Kyle Korver and J.J. Reddick for their respective teams. Over his last four games, Bogdanovic is averaging 13.5 points with 2.3 3-pointers made per game on impressive 49-percent shooting. The Brooklyn Nets are extremely devoid of talent, so Bogdanovic will continue to see 32-plus minutes per night, which is more than enough opportunity to score in the double-digits with a few 3-pointers made consistently. With RHJ out until at least February, expect Bogdanovic to be a steady performer until that time.
Looking Deeper: The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be a hard team to decipher for Fantasy purposes beyond LeBron James, but the return of Iman Shumpert should not go unnoticed. In his first game back, Shump played 25 minutes and scored 14 points on 5 for 7 shooting with two 3-pointers made. Now Kyrie Irving is also set to return and J.R. Smith is still in the mix, but Shump could provide value. He gives the Cavaliers versatility if they ever want to play small with Kevin Love at center and LeBron at power forward. That would allow Shumpert to play small forward when Kyrie returns. Head Coach David Blatt should find interesting ways to get the 25-year-old minutes. He will provide some 3-point shooting as well as some steals for those in category/rotisserie formats.
It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are one of the most frustrating teams in the NBA when it comes to their rotation and minutes distribution. One Celtic who is making the most of his time as of now is Kelly Olynyk. The third-year player has been on a tear and nearly lifted the Celtics over the Warriors in double overtime when he dropped 28 points. Over his last six games, he’s averaging 16.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 3-pointers per game. The rebounds are underwhelming but any time owners can get long-range shooting out of their center position it’s a huge bonus. The Celtics have a crowded frontcourt but it’s pretty obvious Olynyk is one of, if not the best offensive talent of the bunch. His 22.6-percent usage rate is a career-high, as well as his 17.2 PER. Hopefully, this influences Brad Stevens to get Olynyk 25-plus minutes per night. He should be owned in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Looking Deeper: As mentioned earlier, the Brooklyn Nets are struggling for talent, which has led to a role for Andrea Bargnani. Yes, THAT Bargnani. He’s currently the team’s only backup center, which means they have no choice but to give him minutes here. Since returning from injury, he’s scored 11 or more points in three straight games, including a 23-point outburst last week. He’ll chip in a few rebounds as well, but really only contributes points in category leagues. He’s only worth looking at in 14-team leagues or deeper, assuming you’re desperate at the center position.