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Waiver Wired

NBA Waiver Wired: Week 3 Pickups

by Jonas Nader
Updated On: January 4, 2021, 9:44 am ET

Hello and welcome back to another edition of Waiver Wired. Last week we were able to pick up Keldon Johnson who is now rostered in 61% of leagues, 39% fewer than it should be. He’s the early frontrunner for Waiver-Wire pickup of the year and has top-50 upside the rest of the way now that we know Derrick White will have no impact on his minutes. Johnson is averaging 15.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 triples, and he’s just getting warmed up.

There isn’t a player of Keldon’s caliber on the wire this week, but there’s still some talent to be had. I’m going to keep it simple and limit this list to players available in 55% of leagues or more, and I’ll write them up in the order that I would prioritize them. For any questions or fantasy advice, find me on Twitter talking about Jaren Jackson Jr. here!

 

Week 3 Games Played:

4 Games: BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA

3 Games: ATL, DAL, IND, MEM, NOP, PHO, POR, WAS

 

Back-to-Backs:

Monday-Tuesday: None

Tuesday-Wednesday: CHI, LAC, UTA

Wednesday-Thursday: CLE, PHI

Thursday-Friday: BKN, LAL, MEM

Friday-Saturday: CHA, MIL, ORL, PHO, SAC, WAS

Saturday-Sunday: DEN, MIA, MIN, SAS

Sunday-Monday for next week: NYK, TOR

 

Top Pickups for Week 3:

Luguentz Dort (45% rostered)- What a week for this stud. Dort was on my preseason sleeper list for the Rotoworld Draft Guide as a pure mystery box upside play, but no one anticipated his improvement on the offensive end. This is a player who was asked to stand on the 3-point last season and not to shoot unless necessary, but now he’s firing at will and also driving to the rim with force with scouting reports telling players to sag off him. Yeah, those reports will be changing.

After hitting 29% from deep as a rookie, Dort is shooting 44% this season on 5.4 attempts. He’s also feasting at the rim (13-of-24), and he only has one mid-range attempt in five games. Everyone knows what he brings on the defensive end, just ask James Harden, but Dort becoming a two-way player dramatically raises OKC’s ceiling in the years to come. He’s putting up 8th-round value in 9-cat with 14.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks and 2.4 triples, and while the scoring could come down slightly, I think he’ll offset that with more defensive stats.

Robert Williams (14%)- Is No. 2 too high on this list? Not for me. If we’re strictly speaking upside, Williams would be No. 1 on this list. Think about it… He’s already 77th in 9-cat in 15.8 minutes per game. The Celtics don’t want to outright bench Daniel Theis or Tristan Thompson, so in order to find minutes for Williams they have been using a suboptimal jumbo lineup with Theis next to Thompson. Well, it hasn’t worked, as the starting lineup is giving up 113.7 points per 100 possessions over 56 minutes so far.

Something has to change with Boston now 3-3 after a laughable loss to Detroit, and the calls for Williams to get more minutes are getting louder. He only played 11 minutes in his last outing, but would’ve likely closed if he didn’t hobble to the bench with a knee contusion (he’s day-to-day). With 6.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 dimes, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals in limited playing time, the sky’s the limit when Brad Stevens does the right thing and feeds his best big man.

George Hill (26%)- There’s so much to like about Hill in OKC, but as everyone knows, his fantasy value is on a timer as the Thunder are a lock to move him around the deadline for yet another pick for their stockpile. He has already rested in one game and that will continue going forward as the Thunder look to keep their trade asset healthy, but the good news is that OKC has four games this week and none of them are back-to-back. 

Hill is putting up top-60 9-cat numbers of 15.3 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.3 triples on a blistering 56% from the field, and while the shooting will cool off at some point, there’s obvious mid-round upside here.

Deni Avdija (29%)- The danger of rookies is that their value is volatile as they learn the ropes in the NBA, but there’s a lot to like here in the long run. The Wizards are 1-5 and have a daunting schedule ahead, so their goals could shift to player development much sooner than anyone thought. Deni got the chance to showcase his talents on Friday with Russell Westbrook resting, effortlessly running the pick-and-roll, finishing with a career-high 11 points (4-of-7 FGs) with seven rebounds, three rebounds, three steals and three triples in 27 minutes. That pushed him just inside the top-100 in 9-cat with the playmaking forward averaging 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 triples on 51% shooting in 26 minutes. 

The best part? He’s done this with a usage rate of just 10%. More touches are going to come his way for a player who leads all rookies in net rating, and his head coach is saying all the right things. "He's 19 years old," Brooks said. "He picks up things so quickly. He's a really good basketball player."

Josh Jackson (45%)- It would be foolish to write off Killian Hayes this early in his career with no Summer League and a shortened preseason, but it’s clear he’s not as NBA-ready as originally thought. That has put more on the plate for Josh Jackson who is posting a career-high usage rate of 26.1% and is touching the ball over 42 times per game. That has translated to some solid fantasy value with Jackson averaging 10th-round 9-cat numbers of 16.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.4 triples and 2.2 turnovers on 49% from the field and 63% from the line. Jackson is Dwane Casey’s next reclamation project and it’s obvious that he’s going to play a huge role for Detroit.

Cameron Johnson (33%)- I wish he was getting more run (22.2 minutes per game), but man, Johnson is making the most of every single one of them. Thanks to some red hot shooting, Johnson is posting top-60 numbers of 13.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 triples on 51% from the field. He doesn’t turn the ball over and is a great glue guy for the end of rosters if you were unable to grab Davis Bertans, Malik Beasley or Duncan Robinson in your draft.

Gary Trent Jr. (16%)- After missing two games with a right calf strain, Trent Jr. will be back on Sunday vs. the Warriors. In his last game before going down, he went bonkers for 28 points, seven triples, three rebounds and one assist in 24 minutes. He broke out inside the Orlando bubble but I’d be a little higher on him if the Blazers weren’t so deep. It also doesn’t help that Terry Stotts has some messy rotations, with Trent Jr. only playing six minutes in the game prior to his 28-point outburst. For that reason, this is more of an upside play.

Naz Reid (24%)- The second-year big man has improved a lot since his rookie year and still has a path to fantasy value as long as Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) is out -- KAT still has no timetable as far as we know. Over his last three games, Naz is posting top-90 numbers in 9-cat with 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 triples, stats that could be even higher if the Wolves weren’t run out of the building in all three of those.

De'Anthony Melton (6%)- This is a pure upside flier with Melton finally clearing the COVID-19 protocols. Melton can play positions 1-3 and the Grizzlies valued him enough to pay him $35M over the summer. With no Ja Morant (ankle) for a while, a big workload could be on the cards for Melton who has per-36 stats of 14.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.2 triples (2019-20 stats).

Justin Holiday (9%)- With T.J. Warren (foot) out indefinitely, a lot of people grabbed Aaron Holiday, but his brother Justin is the guy you want. In just his last four games alone, Justin was already on the rise with top-70 numbers of 11.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 triples. He has multiple stretches of mid-round value on his resume in past seasons and is very underrated in category leagues.

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Monte Morris (12%) Gary Harris and Will Barton look washed this season and the Nuggets are really relying on the combo of Morris and Jamal Murray. Morris has an amazing assist-turnover rate and the Nuggets extended him over the offseason for a reason. In his last four outings, Morris has flirted with top-75 numbers of 14.8 points, 3.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.5 triples.

Tyus Jones (15%)- Ja Morant (ankle) is out several more weeks, so we have a nice little window for Jones to have some value. His ceiling isn’t as high as you’d think since Kyle Anderson turned into LeBron James overnight, but Jones will still be serviceable. He’s averaging 6.0 points, 7.0 dimes, 1.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 0.5 blocks in his first two starts, but is usually a little better than we’ve seen so far. Assists are really hard to find on the wire, so that helps his case too.

Jae Crowder (42%)- Crowder has some Dillon Brooks to his game, and no I’m not saying that as a compliment. He’ll either shoot his way to a big game or single-handedly cripple your FG% with some 3-point attempts that hit the side of the backboard. He’s averaging 10.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.2 triples, but he’s as likely to score 20 as he is to go scoreless. Are you going to roll the dice?

Ivica Zubac (29%)- His minutes are way down and that’s a shame. Zubac was supposed to be playing close to 25 minutes per game following his bubble breakout, but is only averaging 18.4 minutes. He has still managed to post 10th-round numbers with 10.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 0.5 steals on 75% from the field, so holding onto him isn’t the worst idea because they will need him down the stretch.

Nicolas Batum (20%)- Marcus Morris (knee) is still out and there’s no timetable for his return. Batum has found new life with the Clippers and has done a little bit of everything on the stat sheet, posting top-100 numbers of 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 dimes, 0.8 steals and 1.2 triples. He’s not going to generate headlines with these numbers but looks like a solid glue guy to have at the end of your roster.

Bismack Biyombo (26%)- It doesn’t get much more boring than this, but Biyombo has about 2-3 more weeks of low-end value until Cody Zeller is back. Over his last four, Biyombo is putting up 11.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.8 blocks. 

 

Watch List:

Matisse Thybulle (5%)- Coach Doc Rivers wants to find more minutes for him and Thybulle has one of the best steal/block rates in the NBA for wings.

Talen Horton-Tucker (5%)- With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (ankle) injured and Alex Caruso quarantined, can the Lakers finally reward the preseason standout? THT has some insane per-minute upside.

Immanuel Quickley (4%)- Seriously, how long will it take for him to run circles around Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr.? I’d imagine he could start soon.

Eric Paschall (5%)- Has looked much better with the second unit with the Warriors putting the ball in his hands. Minutes are still too low.

Jarred Vanderbilt (1%)- A freak athlete and one of the best rebounders I’ve ever seen. The Wolves are reeling and could turn to Vanderbilt. Over his last three, he's averaging 5.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks in 14.4 minutes. He has some unicorn DNA with his playmaking ability at his size.

Derrick Jones Jr. (8%)- His peripheral stats have been solid, and for a player who lives off lobs and dunks, his FG% is due for some positive regression.