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Waiver Wired

Wired: Week 9 Top NBA Pickups

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Games Played Week 9




2 Games: DET, UTA


With Jabari Parker out for the season for the Bucks, someone is going to have to step up in his place. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing well and living up to the hype, and should be owned in all leagues. But things get cloudy when looking at available players like Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova. I initially believed that Middleton would step up and be the man, but he scored just one point in 18 minutes on Tuesday, and has scored in single digits in three of his last six games. Dudley has actually been starting and playing fairly well (and very inconsistently), but I have serious trust issues with him. And speaking of trust issues, Ilyasova is the next man up, once he’s healthy. I’m not going to tell you to pick up any of these guys right now. But if you’re looking for someone to stash in hopes of a big second half, Ilyasova is your guy. He’s dealing with a broken nose and a concussion, but is seemingly getting close to a return. But if you take the plunge and pick him up, you might want to hit your local drug store for a new bottle of aspirin. You’ll probably need it. If you’re looking for help right now, Middleton is the guy I’d target, despite Thursday’s disaster.


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Point Guards


Ricky Rubio Wolves 83% owned – He’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from a severely sprained ankle, and while he’s not going to make it back by Christmas like he wanted to, he’s getting close. If he’s sitting on waivers in your league, the time to act is now.


Mario Chalmers Heat 67% - Mario C likes to keep it clean, but he doesn’t like going off when Dwyane Wade is healthy and playing well. However, Mario has hit double figures in four straight games and has racked up some threes and steals along the way. His shooting is dreadful right now and he’s hit just 14-of-44 shots over his last five games, good for 32 percent. Norris Cole has been a disaster as the Heat’s starting point guard and Chalmers finally replaced him in the lineup on Friday. Hopefully it’s a permanent move, and if it is, you’ll be happy you own him once he straightens out his shot.


Marcus Smart Celtics 46% - Smart had eight points, four assists and two 3-pointers on Friday night in his return from an Achilles injury. Rajon Rondo now plays for Dallas and the Celtics were so desperate on Friday that they started Evan Turner at point guard. They’re probably not done making moves, but if they don’t pick up another point guard, Smart’s going to be a blast town the rest of the way. It may be a slow start for him and he’s not the best shooter around, but he can get it done on both ends of the court, hit threes, and should have a green light to do whatever he wants for a textbook definition of a rebuilding team. My biggest concern is his ability to stay healthy, but at this point I would probably say the same thing about 90 percent of the league.


Cory Joseph Spurs 7% - Tony Parker’s been out with a hamstring injury so Joseph’s been starting. He’s been a popular daily-league play due to his cheap salary, but his overall production hasn’t made him a household name in standard leagues. Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili are all out on Saturday, and they’re going to miss more games. Joseph is averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists in eight starts this season, so he might be worth a look in deeper leagues, as the old guys continue to get nights off.


Jarrett Jack Nets 15% - Deron Williams is currently down with a calf strain, so it's Jack time. He had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer on Friday, and should have another nice game on Saturday night. As long as Williams is out, Jack’s a fine play. And even when Williams is playing, Jack is capable of doing things.


Shaun Livingston Warriors 5% - Livingston is getting nice run off the bench and has scored 12 points in three straight games. He’s not going to do much in terms of steals or threes, but if you need a warm body in a deep league, he might be able to help. He’s averaging 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists over his last five games.


Shooting Guards


Shabazz Muhammad Wolves 31% - Muhammad was already ballin’ due to the loss of Kevin Martin, and now that Corey Brewer plays for the Rockets, the sky’s the limit. He’s averaging 20.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.6 3-pointers over his last five games and is shooting 53 percent from the floor during that stretch. I just can’t figure out why he’s still owned in so few leagues.


Tim Hardaway Jr. Knicks 27% - Iman Shumpert’s shoulder is wrecked and J.R. Smith has struggled to get back from his foot injury. Add in the fact that Carmelo Anthony is on the verge of shutting it down, and Hardaway looks like a must-own player. My prediction is that Melo will be on the shelf for the rest of the season by Jan. 15, which means you should be trying to move him, if I end up being right. The problem is that his knee problem is no secret, and you might be lucky to get a 30-pack of Natty Light for him at this point. In any case, Hardaway has scored in double digits in six straight games and is averaging 17.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers over his last five games. He’s hit just 35 percent of his shots over that stretch, or the numbers would be even better. I think his shot will come around and that he’ll remain relevant even when Smith is back. Pick him up.


Avery Bradley Celtics 53% - Bradley had 14 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block on Friday, and missed all three of his 3-point attempts. He’s averaged 32 minutes over his last three games and should continue to start at shooting guard until further notice. He’ll also play some point with Smart still not a full strength, so now that Rondo’s gone, Bradley looks like a must-own player.


Tony Wroten Sixers 42% - Wroten has been a bit hit-or-miss since his return from a knee injury, but had 19 points on Friday after failing to score a point on Monday. His free throw shooting is horrendous, his field goal shooting isn’t a lot better, and he turns it over, but he should be able to score, assist, steal and hit some 3-pointers. It’s time to get back on board with Wroten.


Gary Neal Hornets 6% - Lance Stephenson is out with a hip injury, forcing Neal into some nice minutes for the Hornets. He had 10 points, six dimes and two 3-pointers on Friday, scored 13 with three 3-pointers and four assists on Wednesday, and blew up for 25 points on Dec. 12. As long as Stephenson is out, Neal’s worth a look – especially in daily play. And while I didn’t include him in this list, Gerald Henderson is starting and also deserves some attention right now.


Small Forwards


Matt Barnes Clippers 56% - Small forward pickings are slim, as evidenced by Barnes leading the way on this list. Barnes had just three points in 31 minutes on Wednesday, but scored 16 with two steals and two blocks on 8-of-10 shooting on Friday. He’s averaging 13.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers over his last five games, which includes Wednesday’s dud, and is finally starting to play like I thought he would when the season started.


C.J. Miles Pacers 9% - If Miles could stay healthy he’d be owned in a heck of a lot more leagues right now. He missed last Saturday’s game, but in the four he’s played in recently he’s averaging 18.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 3.3 3-pointers. He’s a boom-or-bust daily tourney play, and as long as he’s getting 30 minutes for the Pacers, he deserves some attention in standard leagues. His next injury could be right around the corner, but if he’s healthy, he should score and hit 3-pointers.


K.J. McDaniels Sixers 33% - K.J. played 27 minutes on Friday and had six points and two blocks, which isn’t anything to write home about. He’s taken a back seat to Robert Covington, but the fact Alexey Shved was traded should mean good news for KJM. He’s not startable right now, but could be soon. I still like the idea of grabbing and stashing him, as he’s shown that he can score, block, board and hit some threes.


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Hornets 11% - MKG has been starting again lately and had nine points, eight boards and two steals on Friday. He’s averaging 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals over his last five games, and gets a bump in value with Stephenson sidelined. He’s still not a must-own player in standard 12-team leagues.


Sergey Karasev Nets 0% - Karasev is dealing with an abdominal injury but started on Friday and scored a season-high 12 points to go along with two 3-pointers, four boards, two assists and two steals in 37 minutes. If he sticks in the starting lineup, he’ll be worth a close look in deeper leagues.


Kyle Anderson Spurs 0% - Anderson could get some starts with Kawhi Leonard out with a torn ligament in his hand. He scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting last Monday, but totaled just five points over his next two games. He should get some nice run on Saturday with four of the Spurs’ main players out of action, and deserves some deep-league attention going forward.


Power Forwards


Robert Covington Sixers 49% - Covington is averaging 17.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 3.8 (that’s right) 3-pointers over his last five games. And he’s only owned in 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues? Really?


Marreese Speights Warriors 29% - Andrew Bogut is going to be out indefinitely with his knee problem, which could mean that Speights is ready to bust loose. He’s putting up solid numbers in very limited minutes, but those numbers could be ready to take a big leap with Bogut out. He’s averaging 11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and a block over his last five in just 20.6 minutes a game, and like I said, all of those numbers should be ready to get a bump.


Tristan Thompson Cavaliers 39% - Thompson’s scoring is a concern while coming off the bench, but he’s still playing well, averaging 8.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and a block while hitting 57 percent of his shots over his last five games. And when Anderson Varejao eventually goes down, look out.


James Johnson Raptors 8% - James Johnson absolutely posterized Andre Drummond on Friday with this dunk and posted his best line in several games. He had 12 points, eight boards and a block in 29 minutes in that one. He still hasn’t really gotten it going, but Friday’s big play might give him a boost, along with a head injury for Landry Fields. In my opinion, JJ is a much better player than Fields, so I would not be surprised to see him overtake him in the starting lineup at some point. But for now, Johnson is just a guy I’d put on your radar, unless you’re in a deeper league. He has the potential to get a steal, a block and a 3-pointer every night, so he’s worth a look.


Shawne Williams Heat 11% - Chris Bosh is down and out with a calf injury and Williams is averaging 22.6 minutes over his last five games. He’s not exactly crushing it though, averaging just 5.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 3-pointers over that stretch. But I still think he’s on the verge of getting it turned around if the minutes stay that high.


Thomas Robinson Blazers 6% - T-Rob got a surprise start on Wednesday and went off for 15 points, 16 rebounds, a steal and a block in 29 minutes, causing a panic at the waiver wire in some leagues. However, he came off the bench against the Spurs on Friday and had just two points and six boards, despite playing 27 minutes. Robin Lopez is going to miss a couple months, and someone is going to have to fill in the gap. I thought it was going to be Chris Kaman, but the Blazers are being smart and limiting his minutes in hopes of keeping him healthy. I still think Kaman will emerge with the most value due to Lopez’s injury, but for now T-Rob looks like the big winner, at least as far as minutes are concerned.




Kelly Olynyk Celtics 65%- Olynyk is killing it right now, averaging 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers over his last five. The arrival of Brandan Wright isn’t going to do him any favors, but I think Oly is playing well enough to hold Wright off. Even if Wright somehow takes over a majority of the starter’s minutes and crushes the value of Olynyk, he’s worth picking up until it happens. My favorite type of fantasy player is a big man who steals, blocks and hits triples. I’m not going to highlight Tyler Zeller this week, but he’s a better option than the guys at the bottom of this list, and is starting at center for the Celtics, at least for now.


Mason Plumlee Nets 47% - When Brook Lopez went down with his back injury I told you to grab Plumlee. He responded by doing almost nothing for the first game or two, but has since blown up. He’s averaging 17.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over his last five games, but he’s a free throw killer, hitting just 15-of-30 over that stretch. Free throws aside, I have no reasonable explanation for why he’s owned in so few leagues. Lopez’s eventual return will crush Plum’s value, but then again, who’s to say Bro-Lo will be able to stay healthy for any length of time? Plumlee should be owned in all leagues until Bro-Lo ruins him.


Chris Kaman Blazers 20% - When Robin Lopez went down it felt like Kaman would suddenly become the man in the middle. However, the Blazers are being really smart with his minutes and keeping him in the same role he was in prior to RoLo’s injury. Therefore, his value hasn’t changed at all with the injury to their starting center, which is a buzzkill. I still think that the cream will rise to the top and Kaman will start producing at a higher level, but that’s far from a guarantee. If you need help at center and your wire is bare, Kaman is still worth a flier in hopes that he can get 25 minutes a night instead of 18.


Henry Sims Sixers 28% - Sims had back-to-back nights recently with 12 and 14 points, but his scoring is always an issue. He’s averaging 7.8 points, just 3.6 rebounds and zero blocks over his last five games, so he’s not a guy you’ll want to run out and grab. But he’s better than those numbers suggest and could get hot at any time. Just keep an eye on him.


Alex Len Suns 4% - Len is starting over Miles Plumlee, but the results have not been all that impressive. He’s averaging just 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over his last five games, but is also chipping in a steal and 1.8 blocks. He’s you and is still learning his way around the NBA, so the numbers could improve with each month that passes. 


And finally, my buddy Brian Rosenworcel of the band Guster requested that I share this Darko Milicic kickboxing video with the world, so here you go! 

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.