Hello and welcome to another edition of Waiver-Wired. I wasn’t overly excited about any pickup last week, but this week is a different story with some exciting talent available headlined by Jarred Vanderbilt. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Week 6 Games Played:
4 Games: BKN, CHA, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, IND, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIN, NOP, ORL, PHI, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, HOU, MIL, NYK, OKC, PHO, POR, SAC
2 Games: CHI
1 Game: MEM
Tuesday-Wednesday: ATL, UTA, WAS
Wednesday-Thursday: DET, GSW, LAL, MIA, PHO
Friday-Saturday: CHA, DAL, MIL, NOP, SAC, SAS
Sunday-Monday of next week: CLE, DEN, MIN, NYK
Top Pickups: These are players that are available in 55% or more of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues. The format I traditionally use when talking about rankings are 9-category leagues, and these players are listed in the order that I’d prioritize them.
Jarred Vanderbilt (6%)- How is he available in this many leagues? Vanderbilt is running away with the starting PF job in Minnesota as we speak, and yes I think the Wolves have to start him alongside Karl-Anthony Towns when he recovers from COVID-19 -- KAT’s floor spacing means the two can coexist despite Vanderbilt’s lack of a jumper.
Vanderbilt has the look of an All-NBA defender, leading the league in steal rate with 2.8 per 36 minutes and also has 4.2 deflections per 36. Simply put, he’s everywhere and opponents are going out of their way to avoid attacking him (last week Trae Young had Vanderbilt in a 1-1 isolation and immediately got rid of it. I don’t blame him -- opponents score 9.0 less points per 100 possessions when Vandy is on the court vs. off which ranks in the 87th percentile, and the Wolves force turnovers on 3.4% more of opponent's possessions with Vandy on the floor which ranks in the 93rd percentile.
Over his last four games he’s posting 8th-round value with 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks on 56% from the field, but his free throw percentage needs a “viewer discretion is advised” warning. He tallied season-highs with 16 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday and is my top pickup of the week with the wind at his back.
Jeremy Lamb (38%)- We talked about stashing Lamb last week but I’d be lying If I said I expected him to ramp up this quickly. After a modest debut with 10 points in 19 minutes, Lamb went rogue in his second game, racking up 22 points (7-of-14 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs) with one 3-pointer, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. He has a 24% usage rate early on which would be a career-high, and this season his path to value is as wide as it’s ever been with the Pacers missing Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren indefinitely.
Lamb has per-game finishes of 90, 54 and 104 in his previous three seasons, so the resume is strong and he fits almost any roster build as an efficient low-turnover player with 15/5/3 upside with good steal and triple production. Vanderbilt has the higher upside in my opinion but Lamb is more likely to be a consistent producer every night. Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said he wants to keep Lamb with the second unit, but that may be a blessing in disguise since his usage will be higher when he’s not sharing the floor with Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. There is top-75 upside here.
Delon Wright (39%)- My analysis on Wright hasn’t changed because as we’ve all seen from his rollercoaster of a season, sometimes fantasy is more about opportunity than talent. That’s not to say Wright isn’t a good player, but the Pistons are just throwing him to the deep end as a point guard since they are so thin on ball-handlers without Killian Hayes (hip) and with Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin getting so many mini-vacations.
The shooting will come and go, but he’s been a 7th-round value over his last five with 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 dimes, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.0 triples in 27.3 minutes. You won’t find that kind of upside in steals and dimes on the wire in most leagues.
Wayne Ellington (18%)- This ranking may be a bit bold for a 3-point specialist, but not when he’s this hot. Ellington is a human flamethrower at the moment with 24 triples over his last five games. This is a player who once set Miami’s single-season record for 3-point makes in a season before Duncan Robinson came along, so the resume is strong. Coach Dwane Casey said Ellington’s consistency has been “huge” for the Pistons and said he’s exactly what the team needs at that position right now. Sure Saddiq Bey will take some minutes from him later in the season, but right now let’s pick up Ellington and enjoy the fireworks from beyond the arc. Over his last five he’s putting up 8th-round value with 16.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 0.6 steals and 4.8 triples.
Cameron Johnson (32%)- Devin Booker (hamstring) could miss up to a week according to Monty Williams, but Cam will hold standard-league value regardless of his status despite some cold shooting last week. Cam will get a bump without Booker though as we saw on Saturday when he scored 19 points with three rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes. He’s only hitting 35% of his catch-and-shoot 3s which lags 5% behind where he was last season, so he still has another gear to hit. He’s an 11th-round value in 24.8 minutes but I think he cracks the top-100 soon as his minutes climb closer to the 28 range.
Robert Williams (19%)- Probably the most mentioned name in this column this season. COVID-19 robbed Williams of precious time over the last few weeks, but he’s back and ready to compete for more minutes. Tristan Thompson has been laughably bad over the last few games, averaging 3.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 25 minutes over his last three games. I would love to hear Brad Stevens try to justify that.
Williams ranks 81st in 9-cat in 16.3 minutes, so just a slight bump in workload will send him to the top half of the rankings. There are only a handful of bigs with this type of per-minute upside, and as we’re seeing with Chris Boucher this season, it’s always worth gambling on sheer upside.
Monte Morris (22%)- Will Barton is officially cooked, scoring just two or fewer points in two of his last four games. Morris has seen a spike of minutes in two-PG lineups in response, averaging 13.9 minutes of action alongside Jamal Murray. Over his last five games, he’s starting to make an impact with 12.6 points, 2.8 dimes, 2.8 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.4 triples. The dimes are due to come up with 6.3 potential assists per game according to NBA.com, and his steal rate is usually much higher than we’ve seen in recent games.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20%)- KCP is the hottest shooter in the NBA right now, hitting 55.6%(!) of his 3-point attempts. He’s had some duds sprinkled in, but over his last seven games he’s returning 7th-round value with 11.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 1.1 steals and 3.0 triples on 53% shooting in just 22.9 minutes per game.
Doug McDermott (19%)- There are tons of 3-pointers available these days and McDermott has earned a spot on this list with some impressive play. Over his last six, McBuckets is averaging 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 dimes and 2.5 triples. He’s allergic to defensive stats though.
Rudy Gay (29%)- We’ll have to accept that Gay is not going to play heavy minutes this season with the Spurs having so much young talent on the wings, but his strong play is too hard to ignore. Over his last three games, Gay is a 7th-round value with 16.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 blocks and 2.7 triples in 23 minutes. You could do a lot worse with your last roster spot.
Jeff Green (25%)- The Nets are using him all over the floor including some minutes as a small-ball five. They are resting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving whenever they feel like it, and they are playing at a break-neck pace. They also don’t know what defense is, so that bodes well for Green at this stage of his career. He’s been a 7th-round value over his last six games, averaging 12.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 dimes and 2.7 triples in a whopping 32 minutes per game. He’s also good friends with Durant, so we like we’ve seen with DeAndre Jordan, that is going to help. \
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Streamers- I have not listed these players in the order I would prioritize them because it all depends on what categories you’re searching for.
Naz Reid (22%)- Must-start player until Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19) gets clearance. In seven starts this season, he’s averaging 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 dimes, 1.6 blocks, 0.9 steals and 1.3 triples.
Nerlens Noel (35%)- Probably the best shot-blocking specialist in all of fantasy basketball. He’s swatting 2.4 blocks per game in just 17 minutes over the last two weeks. Workload is unlikely to go up much with Mitchell Robinson thriving.
Jakob Poeltl (18%)- He’s as likely to hit a free throw as Dillon Brooks is to take a smart shot. Averaging 9.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 dimes and 2.0 blocks in 23.4 minutes over his last four, and it’s easy to see the Spurs moving on from the fossil of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Gary Trent and Rodney Hood (15%)- Whoever wins this position battle has a clear runway to top-100 numbers for as long as C.J. McCollum is out. Hood ran circles around Trent Jr. in the last game and has the early lead, but Trent offers more upside as an electric 3-point shooter -- just look at what he did in the bubble.
Carmelo Anthony (37%)- He can’t be bothered to play defense but the Blazers will need a spark from him over the next several weeks. Has been a 9th-round value over the last two weeks with 12.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 1.4 steals and 2.2 triples.
Joe Ingles (34%)- If his minutes weren’t so low, I probably would’ve thrown him into the pickups section. Has still been a beast over his last three with 12.0 points, 4.7 dimes, 1.3 rebounds and 3.3 triples.
Ivica Zubac (18%)- Coach Ty Lue has been talking him up, but he did that in the offseason too and he played just 15 minutes in his last outing after a string of good games. Still a 9th-round value over his last four with 7.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 0.5 steals in 18.6 minutes.
Taurean Prince (16%)- I didn’t expect him to be in the rotation, but here we are. Prince has fooled us before and hasn’t passed the eye test in a couple years, but he’s averaging 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.5 triples over his last two and is officially on my watch list.