I'm filling in for Dr. A in this week's Waiver Wired, which retains the usual format -- after the games-played list, I discuss three or four potential pickups at each position. Enjoy.
Week 4 Games Played
4 games - Nets, 76ers, Rockets, Suns, Blazers, Raptors, Mavs, Spurs, Thunder, Warriors, Nuggets, Pelicans, Celtics
3 games - Pistons, Bucks, Hawks, Grizzlies, Clippers, Heat, Bulls, Wolves, Knicks, Hornets, Lakers, Kings, Pacers, Cavs
2 games - Magic, Wizards, Jazz
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Cory Joseph is living up to the four-year, $30 million deal he landed this summer, providing steady defense and playmaking for Toronto's second unit. His minutes have crept up to 27.8 over the past five games, during which he's averaged 11.8 points on 59.5% shooting, 0.4 threes, 3.2 boards, 3.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and only 1.0 turnovers. Even more encouraging is that he's shared the court with Kyle Lowry for 119 minutes this year. “Defensively he’s been a pit bull," Dwane Casey said last week. "He’s helped our defense with the second unit, so we love to go small with him. He doesn’t play small.” Owners looking for a late-round value at PG should think about scooping him up.
Owners who picked up Jerryd Bayless during Michael Carter-Williams' injury may have dropped him once MCW was cleared to play on Saturday -- if so, he makes for a decent waiver-wire claim. Carter-Williams played 40 minutes in the double-OT thriller, yet Bayless still racked up 17 points, three 3-pointers and five assists in 39 minutes. With O.J. Mayo (hamstring) still out indefinitely, Bayless' sixth-man role looks quite secure.
Patty Mills isn't scoring much, and his assists are sporadic, but despite averaging only 21.0 minutes per game he's doing enough for top-120 value in 9-cat leagues. His appeal comes from 3-point shooting (1.6 per game) and steals (1.2), as well as a handful of assists and steady 48.3% shooting. His upside won't be realized while Tony Parker is healthy, but owners searching for 3-pointers and steals might find him useful.
Trey Burke began the season with a scoreless dud, missing both of his shots in 16 minutes vs. Detroit. Since then, however, he's scored double-digit points in seven of eight games while shooting with surprising efficiency (47.9% overall, 46.4% from deep). His 12.9 points per game are supported by 1.4 triples, 2.2 boards, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals. Those numbers are good enough for low-end value, even if his strong play doesn't chip away at Raul Neto's playing time.
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Will Barton is the No. 1 waiver wire target this week -- if he's still available, go get him. His minutes have fluctuated over the past five games, from a high of 39 to a low of 17, but there's no arguing with his averages in those games: 16.2 points (51.7% FGs, 91.7% FTs), 2.0 threes, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.4 blocks. We saw him sustain value after joining the Nuggets last season and Wilson Chandler's hip surgery solidifies Barton's role. All signs are pointing in the right direction.
Bojan Bogdanovic is emerging as Brooklyn's go-to scorer off the bench, a role that suits him well. Ignoring his 1-of-6 disaster vs. the Warriors on Saturday, Bojan was averaging 13.0 points, 1.4 threes, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals in his previous seven games. The lack of boards, assists and defensive stats does suppress his value, but his role is only expanding -- he's played at least 34 minutes in three straight games. With such hefty playing time, he's at least worth a speculative add in 14-team leagues.
Dion Waiters should have a nice week if Kevin Durant (hamstring) misses more than one game. OKC plays on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday this week, and Durant's initial timetable had him returning somewhere between Wednesday and Friday. Waiters is averaging 19.3 points and 2.3 triples in OKC's past three games, taking full advantage of an expanded offensive role in KD's absence. He may have some extra motivation this week, too, as a recent report suggested that he hopes to land a max-money contract with Philly next year. Best of luck, Dion.
Jeremy Lamb is also an excellent pickup, as Steve covered in last week's WW column.
Jeff Green has been lousy to start the year, leading plenty of owners to dump him on the wire, but he returned to the Grizzlies' starting five on Sunday and scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting with some other goodies. He played 35 minutes, easily a season high, and he makes sense as an opportunistic pickup. Green's durability is one more reason to like him -- he's missed a total of five games in three seasons since returning from heart surgery.
In leagues with 14 or more teams, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is worth a long look. He's getting a nice opportunity in Brooklyn, starting on the wing alongside Joe Johnson, and is coming off a strong game vs. Golden State in which he had seven points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. His offense has been brutal this year (3.6 points, 40.0% on free throws), and he's inconsistent, but he's shown nice potential in rebounds and defensive stats. Keep an eye on him.
In his six-year NBA career, Omri Casspi has never done much more than score and hit a handful of 3-pointers. That hasn't changed too much this year, but he's doing it better than ever before -- he's scoring 10.1 points with career highs in FG% (49.4%), 3-pointers (1.3), rebounds (6.0) and steals (1.0). His 24.1 minutes per game are sustainable and George Karl likes him, making Casspi a viable low-end play until he cools off.
Specialist Special: Doug McDermott is canning 2.2 triples while shooting 52.9% from the field this season, making him a 3-point specialist in 12-team leagues. Unfortunately, he does almost nothing else and his role is uncertain -- he's awful defensively and Fred Hoiberg recently confirmed that he'll play "whoever is producing" on a given night. Again, he's not worth deploying unless you need help from downtown.
Dwight Powell continues to impress for Dallas. The second-year forward is making smart plays on both ends of the court and Rick Carlisle has taken notice -- Powell is consistently the first big man off the bench. His PER of 22.4 is second on the team behind Dirk Nowitzki, and he's helping fantasy owners in all leagues with 10.9 points, 8.1 boards, 1.5 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. When you add his 55.6% shooting and mere 0.6 turnovers per game, Powell surfaces as a top-100 play in 9-cat leagues.
Nemanja Bjelica shouldn't be available in competitive leagues, but it doesn't hurt to re-state the case for him. He's averaging 28.9 minutes per game, third-most on the team, and he's been a solid contributor in every category except points (8.9), blocks (0.3) and FT% (57.9%). Plenty of waiver wire guys can hit a couple 3-pointers, but not many can do it while shooting 50.9% from the field with 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Amir Johnson's huge game on Friday reminded everyone how good he can be -- 19 points, one 3-pointer, eight boards, four assists, three steals and three blocks vs. the Hawks. His role has been maddening thus far, as is the case for all of Boston's big men except red-hot Jared Sullinger. Out of the group that includes Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and David Lee, however, Johnson is the best bet to lock down the starting job. He's worth a quick pickup in case he plays his way into a 28-minute role.
Aaron Gordon is an ideal pickup this week -- his long-term potential is coupled with short-term potential, as his role has expanded with Victor Oladipo (concussion) on the sidelines. Impatient owners may have cut him due to low playing time, but he's averaging 29.5 minutes over the past two games, and is stuffing the stat sheet as a result. Plug him into your lineups and hopefully his strong play will earn him more minutes even when Dipo is healthy.
Steven Adams' defense has earned him the starting job ahead of Enes Kanter, a situation that seems unlikely to change any time soon. Adams is worth targeting for the typical trio of big-man stats: rebounds (5.2), blocks (2.2) and FG percentage (61.0%). His rebound-rate of 11.3% is well below his career average so the boards should rise in coming weeks, and he should remain a steady top-120 play.
Zaza Pachulia's hot start has him flying off the waiver wire, but if he's still available go get him. Rick Carlisle loves him and Pachulia is currently averaging a double-double for the first time in his 13-year career. He still doesn't block shots, and his FG% isn't great for a center, but the good has easily outweighed the bad through his first 10 games in Dallas.
Joakim Noah has been a liability this season. Between DNPs and non-existent offense, he's found himself floating on the wire in plenty of leagues. He won't approach the fantasy dominance he's displayed in past years, but Noah still has enough potential to be scooped up -- in his past two games he's averaging 14.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. It doesn't hurt that Fred Hoiberg might be thinking about starting Joakim ahead of Nikola Mirotic in the near future.