Trey Burke is ready to knock off the early-season concerns, Ed Davis is going to make Carlos Boozer a staple of the second unit, and it's officially time to bring out the hats, horns and party favors for the Donatas Motiejunas fiesta.
You want those who are going to help you win categories in every given week when looking for low-end trade targets or waiver-wire scoops, and that's exactly what we're about to get into.
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Wilson Chandler, SF Denver Nuggets: Three-Pointers
The move to the starting lineup was supposed to be a temporary one for Wilson Chandler, but he’s taken the gig and run with it in impressive fashion. In 18 games as a starter, Chandler is averaging 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and an impressive 2.5 triples on a healthy 47.1 percent shooting.
Chandler has come on nicely over his last three contests with averages of 22.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 3-pointers. Chandler has been making an effort to get on the glass, and the scoring increase is encouraging because he’s taken at least 13 shots in all three of those games.
As someone who’s long had an intriguing skillset for fantasy purposes, Chandler’s major obstacle has always been health and opportunity. Now that he’s got a great dose of both, it’s time to put Chandler back onto your radar. With the ability to help you now and later, as well as his actual value exceeding his market value, Chandler makes for a great target.
Trey Burke, PG Utah Jazz: Assists, Three-Pointers
I’ve been pumping Trey Burke up since before the season started. I’ve gotten countless “when is he going to turn it around?” questions, and owners have gone as far as to completely write him off after less than one-quarter of the NBA season had been played out.
Breathe, stretch, shake & repeat after me: Patience is a virtue.
After a three-point, three-assist game on November 29, Burke has responded in serious and emphatic fashion. Averaging 15.3 points, 9.0 assists and 2.7 three-pointers over his last three games, Burke is finally showing signs of being able to put it all together on a consistent basis. He’s never going to be one of those point guards who impresses with his shooting efficiency, but that’s not why you drafted him in the first place. There’s a reason Burke was available where he was in your draft before the season began.
Dante Exum is not a threat to Burke’s minutes—Burke does not have a real threat to his time on the floor, and the unbridled support of Coach Quin Snyder only supports that notion. If Burke’s current owner doesn’t realize that the sophomore point guard is ready to start turning heads, you should know exactly what to do.
Donatas Motiejunas, PF Houston Rockets: Points, Rebounds
To say the Houston Rockets have injury issues would be an understatement. To say that the Donatas Motiejunas has played a larger role than anyone anticipated would also be an understatement.
Playing without Dwight Howard (knee) and Terrence Jones (leg), Motiejunas has earned a very real role in a shortened Rockets rotation. As a result, he’s playing with increased confidence, not looking over his shoulder and really showing us what made him a first-round draft prospect when the Rockets traded for his rights back in 2011.
In 15 starts this season, Motiejunas is averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 29 minutes per game. Those are solid numbers, but unspectacular production. However, over his last four games, it’s been a different story: 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks on 62.8 percent shooting. Motiejunas must have put on his big boy pants, because those are big boy numbers. No word on if Pau Gasol approves.
Without timetables for Howard and Jones, and now with Kostas Papanikolaou dealing with a Grade 1 knee sprain, Motiejunas’ path to playing time remains clear.
Ed Davis, PF/C Los Angeles Lakers: Blocks
This isn’t the first time Ed Davis has made an appearance in this column, but this will be the last opportunity (for a while) that you’ll be able to buy Davis’ stock at a price that’s below what he should be going for on the market. With Boss Hog now in the starting lineup in place of Carlos Boozer, the Lakers are going to give the talented shot-blocker an opportunity to keep the starting job.
Although the Lakers were blitzed in Davis’ debut as the new full-time starting power forward, Davis played the second-most minutes behind Kobe Bryant. With an efficient 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting to pair with seven boards and two blocks, it’s easy to see why Davis’ game is so appealing for fantasy owners in need of what he brings.
The one consistent theme that has followed Davis around throughout his NBA stops so far has been a lack of real opportunity. With the Lakers now 10-plus games under .500 and Los Angeles desperately needing his defense, the Boss is about to cash in.
Davis isn’t going to light it up on any given night, but impressive consistency paired with his ability to contribute on the defensive end make him a very worthy gamble. He should be owned in all formats now that he has a starting role in hand.
Khris Middleton, SG/SF Milwaukee Bucks: Steals
Khris Middleton is a recommendation for those in deeper formats and reserved for owners who can handle the rollercoaster ride in Milwaukee. Jason Kidd’s rotations can be crazier than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Middleton has already fallen out of favor once previously this season.
Middleton has at least one steal in every game since November 28, and he’s averaging 2.17 steals over that stretch. Although he hasn’t eclipsed 30 minutes in any of those efforts, Middleton isn’t unlike Ed Davis in that all he really needs is a consistent opportunity. It may or may not come in Milwaukee, and that’s why this recommendation is best served for those in deeper (14-plus teams) formats with larger rosters.
If you’re looking for someone on your wire who you can gamble on because you’re desperate to dump someone from your roster, grab Middleton and see what he can do over the next few games. Just don’t be afraid to make another move in order to move on if Middleton slides back under 20 minutes per game. That’s not going to be good for anything—especially the sanity of fantasy owners looking to rack up wins.