Hello and welcome back to another Waiver Wired. This week we begin with probably the most mentioned name in this column so far this season, Christian Wood. For Wood to break out he needed one of two things to happen, either an Andre Drummond trade or an injury to Blake Griffin. Well, it looks like both doors have opened, as Griffin is essentially playing on one leg and could be shut down with lingering knee soreness (the same one he had surgery on) and Drummond is on the verge of being moved. The Pistons are taking calls from teams such as the Hawks, Mavericks, Celtics and Raptors, and the asking price isn’t as high as you’d think since Drummond is essentially a half-season rental with him hitting free agency this summer (he’s 100 percent opting out of his player option for 2020-21).
Now Drummond has publicly said that he wants to remain in Detroit, but didn’t Kemba Walker say that about Charlotte too? It’s in Detroit’s best interest to move their most valuable trade chip to kickstart a rebuild as they don’t want to make the same mistake Charlotte did by not getting an asset in return before their franchise player walks. With the NBA so wide open, teams are going to be taking some gambles and you could argue that Drummond is one of the best players in the NBA that has a good chance of getting traded.
And once he’s moved, the only thing standing in Wood’s way will be Thon Maker and coach Dwane Casey. Maker is one of the worst rotation players in the NBA and Casey has been much better in recent weeks about letting Wood play through his mistakes, so I’m confident that he’ll truly be unleashed. And with Drummond off the floor, Wood has an insane ceiling with per-36 stats of 23.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.8 steals, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 triples on 62.8% from the field. Those are the kind of stats that could win you a fantasy championship.
Week 12 Schedule: Games Played
4 games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, MIL, NOP, NYK, OKC, SAS, UTA, WAS
3 games: CLE, DET, HOU, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, ORL, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, TOR
2 games: LAC
For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here! And let’s do something different this week… Instead of sorting the players on this column by their Yahoo ownership, let’s list them in order of how I would prioritize them (I’m using 9-category leagues as my basis for rankings). And if you like this format, drop me a note on Twitter. Let’s dive in!
1) Christian Wood (23%)- Don’t overthink this one, he’s the best stash in fantasy basketball and he’s going to be a “silly season” hero in March.
2) De’Anthony Melton (10%)- He continues to get overlooked and I’m with OK that because it means Rotoworld readers will continue to profit from this stud. In just 18.7 minutes over the last two weeks, Melton is returning top-75 numbers with 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.5 triples and 1.7 turnovers on 51.1% from the field and a perfect 100% from the line. Melton has been so good that he has even started to get some attention from the national media, as Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote a neat bit about him here (link).
I have no idea why he’s not starting yet, as he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, he’s a solid secondary playmaker and he’s also a legit shooter, hitting 41.4% on his catch-and-shoot 3s. My prediction? Melton is starting by the All-Star break and begins getting 28+ minutes on a regular basis. He’s the ideal player that you want next to Ja Morant, and I think coach Taylor Jenkins will finally realize that.
3) Jordan McRae (40%)- I have to admit that I was too slow to jump on the McRae hype train so I apologize for that. A proven scorer that has never seen a shot he didn’t like, McRae has emerged as the tank commander in Washington with the team missing so many warm bodies, most notably Bradley Beal. Beal’s injury is to his lower right leg which is the same leg that gave him so many issues earlier in his career, so expect the Wizards to tread carefully whenever they can.
McRae is getting so much usage right now, averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.6 blocks and 3.4 triples in 31.4 minutes over his last five games. He had a 27.7 usage rate in that stretch, and you have to love that coach Scott Brooks called him the “focal point” of the offense. I have no idea how much longevity McRae has with so many Wizards out, but I’m riding him everywhere I can while we find out.
4) Bruce Brown Jr. (14%)- Christian Wood is one of a few Detroit players that will make the column, as the inevitable rebuild is going to open up so much value. Brown is trending up in a hurry as the Pistons transition him to be a full-time point guard, and the results have been terrific with Brown ranking 74th in 9-cat over his last five games. He’s posting averages of 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks and 0.6 triples, hitting 52.4% from the field. His schedule coming up is appetizing too, as he gets two games vs. the Cavaliers followed by the Bulls and Pelicans. He could end up being last year’s version of Delon Wright as a good steals guy with the potential to be a 15-5-5 guy as well.
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5) Aaron Holiday (35%)- He was fresh off a couple duds before finally righting the ship vs. the Hawks with a 16-6-4 line to go with one steal, one block and a triple in 32 minutes. Malcolm Brogdon (back) still isn’t practicing and remains without a timetable, so Holiday is a no-brainer plug-and-play every time Brogdon sits. When Brogdon is off the floor, Holiday has per-36 stats of 17.9 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks and 2.6 triples over a 587-minute sample size. Just keep in mind that he’s likely not a long-term solution since Brogdon’s injury isn’t too serious and because Victor Oladipo (leg) should be back by February.
6) Gorgui Dieng (37%)- Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) has missed nine games in a row, and despite carrying a questionable tag for most of those games, there’s been no indication that he’s on the verge of a return. Maybe that changes soon, but Dieng is a rock-solid option until then. Over that nine game stretch, Dieng is ranked inside the top-40 for 9-cat with averages of 12.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.7 triples in 29.1 minutes. Most of his fantasy value will expire when KAT returns, so if you’re coasting in your fantasy league you may want to consider someone with a bit more longevity.
7) Derrick Jones Jr. (14%)- The future is incredibly bright for DJJ, and while I’m skeptical that he will show us top-75 upside this season with so much depth in Miami, I think he can be a top-100 guy going forward even with Justise Winslow (back) nearing a return. DJJ has established himself as the sixth man in Miami, playing 30.0 minutes over the last month with 8th-round value in 9-cat. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 triples, but he’s also helping your FG% and not turning the ball over which makes him an excellent glue guy for fantasy teams.
8) Troy Brown Jr. (26%)- With half of Washington’s team on the sidelines, Brown has had his hands full in recent weeks. He’s getting 31.5 minutes per night over the last two weeks, returning top-70 numbers in that span with 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 triples and 1.4 turnovers on 43.8% from the field. Jordan McRae is “the man” in Washington right now with the hot hand, but Brown is the Robin to his Batman and is getting a ton of reps as the secondary playmaker. He’s definitely a guy that you’re going to want on your fantasy team when the H2H playoffs come around with Washington speeding up the tank.
9) Maxi Kleber (34%)- Kristaps Porzingis (knee) is expected to miss his fourth straight game on Monday and remains without a timetable, but there is some talk about him possibly returning in the near future. Kleber has been awesome in Porzingis’ absence, ranking 19th over his last three games with 18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 4.3 triples. Kleber had a lot of stretches of mid-round value last season so he does have a nice resume, but he’s not higher on this list because his minutes are volatile when Porzingis is active.
10) Sekou Doumbouya (17%)- After keeping him hidden in the G League for so long, the Pistons are finally getting a look at their 2019 lottery pick with Blake Griffin’s knee giving up on him. Sekou drew the Kawhi Leonard assignment in his first game which says a lot about coach Dwane Casey’s trust level, and the rookie responded with two-game averages of 13.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.0 triples. He does have an interesting stat profile and averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.1 triples in the G League, and he’s still scratching the surface at age 19.
I’m also a huge fan of his shot selection, as he only has one mid-range attempt out of 32 career shots in the NBA. He’s a player that is mobile enough to get to the rim at will and has shown that he’s a willing 3-point shooter, so there’s some fun upside here if you want to take a flier.
Shabazz Napier has exploded over his last three games with 22.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 triples and 1.7 steals, but historically he’s a player that runs red hot or ice cold. He’s a backup point guard at best and the Wolves know that, and we have to keep in mind that the Wolves have been without their two best offensive players. Plus, it’s no secret that the Wolves are actively looking for another PG. He’s a fine short-term option though.
Jarrett Culver still has percentages that will scare away most, but the counting stats are trending up fast. He’s putting up 13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 dimes, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.3 triples over his last three games, numbers that would be in early-round territory if he could just get his percentages up to the league average. If he finds the offensive rhythm that made him a top-3 player in the country at Texas Tech, Culver could become a fantasy stud sooner rather than later.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has played 26 or more minutes in three straight, and Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol remain out indefinitely. RHJ put up 12.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.7 steals in that span, but his ceiling is limited since he rarely takes 3s.
Cedi Osman and Darius Garland are both trending up for a Cavaliers team that will continue to unload veterans, most notably Kevin Love. Both players are streaky shooters that have been very inconsistent, but they are at least worth monitoring.