Welcome back to another season of Waiver Wired. It’s my favorite column to write and I’ve been doing it for at least 15 years or so. It’s also going to be the subject of Monday’s podcast with Matt Stroup this week, as well as possibly a weekly video, but the details are still being worked out on that. In any case, I hope your season is off to a great start!
Week 2 Games Played Schedule:
4 Games: CHA, CHI, DAL, GSW, LAL, MIL, PHX, UTA, WAS
3 Games: BOS, BKN, CLE, DET, IND, LAC, MEM, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR
2 Games: ATL, DEN, HOU, MIA, OKC
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Sunday night update: Iman Shumpert started for the Kings on Sunday and went nuts. He'll struggle once Bogdan Bogdanovic is ready to go, but the huge stat line will turn heads. Alex Len was nice for the Hawks and Montrezl Harrell had a big Sunday for the Clippers. Kent Bazemore should also be owned and it seems like only a matter of time before Collin Sexton is starting for the winless Cavs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also played well for the Clippers and is closing games. Keep a close eye on him. Buddy Hield is also having a nice start and should be owned in most leagues.
Trey Burke Knicks 22% - Burke has scored in double digits in two of his three games and nearly double-doubled with 11 points and nine dimes on Saturday. The season numbers are at 11.3 points, 3.7 boards, 5.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 3-pointers on 41 percent shooting. Frank Ntilikina is playing off the ball and Burke looks locked into the point guard role for the foreseeable future.
Derrick Rose Timberwolves 19% – Rose was plodding along modestly for a couple games and then Jimmy Butler sat out on Saturday night. Rose responded with a monstrous 28 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 11-of-21 shooting. The absence of Jimmy B was a direct cause of the explosion, but it’s still a good sign for Rose, who is now averaging 16 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.7 3-pointers through three games. Maybe I should be higher on Rose, but it’s only a matter of time before he starts missing games. And I’m really interested to see what he does when Jimmy is back. If he has another good outing in that one, he’ll be well on his way to becoming a must-own player.
Bryn Forbes Spurs 7% owned in Yahoo! leagues – Forbes is quietly starting at point guard in the absence of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, and has hit six 3-pointers in two games. He’s averaging 14 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.0 3-pointers on the season, and should get a few more weeks of run as White recovers from his heel injury. Forbes isn’t a must-own player, but he’s sneaky.
Isaiah Canaan Suns 5% – The point-guardless Suns have decided to roll with Canaan in that role until they can trade for a veteran starter, but it’s possible Canaan could be in the role for some time. He had 15 points and three 3-pointers on Saturday, and is averaging 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 3-pointers through two games. Another guy who’s not exactly a must-own player, but if you need a guard, you could do much worse.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Clippers 24% - SGA had 11 points, four dimes, a steal and a block in his pro debut on Wednesday and then posted a dud on Friday with two points, three boards and four assists. He’s yet to hit a 3-pointer, but with Milos Teodosic hanging on by a thread and Patrick Beverley coming off a major injury, the plan is for SGA to get at least 20 minutes a night. He’s also been closing games and the best is yet to come. I’m a little surprised that he’s so heavily owned, but he makes sense as a stash if you can do it.
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Josh Hart Lakers 70% – I drafted Hart everywhere and a bunch of you did too, given his 70% ownership. But for the 30% of leagues where he is available, he’s a must-own player. He should be starting for the Lakers before it’s all said and done, and with Brandon Ingram’s Saturday night meltdown, Hart should be ready to step right in and fill the hole that’ll be left in his absence, not too mention Rajon Rondo’s pending suspension, as well. Hart’s already averaging 15.5 points, 4.5 boards, 1.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting, and should be on the verge of having a big four-game week. I don’t care who you have to drop to get him, if Hart’s somehow available in your league, he needs to be owned.
Rodney McGruder Heat 20% – The Dwyane Wade era is coming to a close and the McGruder era is just getting going. After an eight-point debut on 2-of-9 shooting on Wednesday, McGruder took off on Thursday and Saturday with 20 and 19 points respectively. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.0 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting, and is getting a whopping 36 minutes a night. McGruder is still a relatively cheap DFS option and now looks like he should be one of the hottest pickups of the week. And unlike Hart (and Monk), McGruder’s still available in most leagues.
Malik Monk Hornets 41% – Monk has scored in double digits in all three of his games and is averaging 14.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers on 41 percent shooting. He looks better than Jeremy Lamb and has been the primary ball handler for the second unit. He’s already at 27 minutes per game and should get better as he gets more experience under his belt. He’s been one of the most pleasant surprises or the young season.
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Jordan Clarkson Cavaliers 20% - Clarkson has hit double digits in both his games and is averaging 17 points, 3.5 boards, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.5 3-pointers thus far. There’s not a lot to love about those numbers outside of the scoring on 52 percent shooting, but the Cavs need offense and he can provide it. And some of the peripheral stats should start coming in as the season develops.
Austin Rivers Wizards 5% - Rivers is averaging 10.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers on 53 percent shooting. He’s getting 26 minutes per game thus far and there is concern that he’s eating into Otto Porter’s minutes and role. I still think Porter will be fine, but if Rivers keeps getting these kind of minutes, he will eventually get hot and could be worth owning.
Bonus: J.J. Redick is owned in most leagues already, but just in case he’s on the wire in yours, he’s a must-own now that Ben Simmons could miss time with his back injury, although it’s not thought to be too serious.
Cedi Osman Cavaliers 69% – Osman is off to a hot start, averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.0 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting and 34 minutes a game. He’s owned in a lot of leagues, but if he’s available in yours, find a way to get him.
P.J. Tucker Rockets 40% – I’m not a P.J. Tucker kind of guy, but the stats don’t lie. He’s averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers while shooting 47 percent from the floor. He’s also getting 35 minutes a night in a starting role, and his ability to rebound and hit 3-pointers, he needs to be owned in a heck of a lot more leagues.
Allonzo Trier Knicks 6% – Trier was a second-round pick by the Hornets last year and signed a two-way deal with the Knicks this year, simply in hopes of making the team. He then went off in the preseason, became a part of the rotation, and dropped an impressive 15 points on opening night. And now Kevin Knox will miss a few weeks with a left ankle injury, thrusting Trier into the forefront for the near future. He joined Kristaps Porzingis and Patrick Ewing as the only other Knicks rookies to score 15 points in their first game, which is incredible. He’s averaging 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting, and is getting 22 minutes a night. But those minutes (and stats) should be on the rise with Knox being down and out for the Knicks. I like him better than…
Mario Hezonja Knicks 42% – Hezonja has been overshadowed by Trier thus far and after a promising 15-point opener, he’s scored just two points in each of his other two games. He’s averaging just 6.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 3-pointers on 36 percent shooting thus far, but he’ll also get a boost in the next few weeks with Knox sidelined indefinitely. I’d rather own Trier, but there’s an excellent chance that Hezonja will start to get it going in his next game.
Nemanja Bjelica Kings 12% – Bjelica has started in both games and had 18 points, eight boards and two 3-pointers in Game 1, but just four points, one board and no 3-pointers in just 11 minutes in Game 2. He picked up three fouls in that second game and the Kings never went back to him. But Wednesday’s opener was really promising and as long as Bjelica is starting for the Kings, he’s worth a long look in 12-team fantasy leagues.
Bobby Portis Bulls 66% – Portis has been one of the best early-season surprises thus far, averaging 13 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers on 37 percent shooting. He’s getting 31 minutes a night and looks locked and loaded for a breakout season for the Bulls. He should be owned in all leagues.
Marvin Bagley Kings 71% – After a quiet six-point, 12 minute debut, Bagley blew up for 19 points, eight boards, three assists, three steals and a block on 7-of-10 shooting in 33 minutes on Friday. He came off the bench in that one, but led the way in minutes and rebounds, and was the second leading scorer behind Willie Cauley-Stein’s 20 points. Bagley’s not available in many leagues, but if he’s sitting out there in yours, go get him.
Jae Crowder Jazz 30% - Crowder’s getting 31 minutes a night and is averaging 15 points, 6.0 boards, 2.0 assists, a steal and 2.0 3-pointer over two games. He’s buzz killing Derrick Favors and could end up being one of the waiver wire players of the year in fantasy.
Jerami Grant Thunder 50% - Grant’s off to a slow start, despite getting 28.5 minutes a night for the Thunder. He’s averaging just 5.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists, but has also blocked five shots in his two games. I’m guessing he’ll have a big game in the near future and his ownership should climb when it happens. Patrick Patterson is starting, but we've read that book before.
Noah Vonleh Knicks 2% – Despite limited minutes, Vonleh has been a rebounding machine thus far and is averaging 7.0 points, 9.7 boards, 2.0 assists and is shooting 70 percent in just under 17 minutes a night through three games. And as Tommy Beer tweeted recently, Vonleh is No. 2 in the league in rebounding percentage right now, trailing only Andre Drummond. His per-36 minute averages thus far are 15.3 points, 21.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Yeah, it’s early, but more minutes please!
Forwards Note: With Will Barton potentially out for an extended time, it would make sense to have his replacement in this column. However, it would appear that Torrey Craig will start in his place, while it could be Trey Lyles who blows up. I’m not sure what’s going to happen here, but if I had to pick one of them up today, I’d probably go with Craig. Mike Gallagher would go Lyles. I just don’t see either one of them going beast mode, and we still don’t know how long Barton will be out.
JaVale McGee Lakers 75% – Man, was I sleeping on McGee. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 4.0 blocks on 71 percent shooting. That’s all I got.
Tristan Thompson Cavaliers 24% - Thompson had just three points in the opener, but also had 13 boards. He then double-doubled with 14 & 10 on Friday, and is now averaging 8.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.5 blocks on 57 percent shooting thus far. He’s not the most exciting fantasy center around, but he tends to get the job done.
Boban Marjanovic Clippers 43% – After teasing us all and make us question reality with 18 points and eight boards in the opener, Boban came back on Friday with 13 points and five boards in 16 minutes. He’s averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 boards on 71 percent shooting thus far and it’s been well documented that the guy only needs 15 minutes a night to provide value. Our please for freeing Boban apparently have been answered, but then again, we’re just two games into this thing. I picked up Boban in a bunch of leagues and don’t feel bad about it. Yet.
Damian Jones Warriors 23%- Jones is the starting center in GSW until further notice (DeMarcus Cousins still has a long way to go) and had 12 points, three boards, two assists and three blocks on 6-of-7 shooting in Tuesday’s opener. He ruined Jordan Bell in that one, and then Bell didn’t even play on Friday, despite Jones getting in foul trouble and playing just 18 minutes in that one. I’ve cut Bell in most leagues and Jones is worth an add in many, averaging 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.5 blocks in 22.5 minutes a night.
Dwight Powell Mavericks 5% - Powell is known for his crazy field goal percentage and is off to a hot start, averaging 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in just 17 minutes through two games. He’s hit 12 of his 15 shots thus far and there should be more where that came from. He might be the best center pickup out there right now, despite playing behind DeAndre Jordan.