Welcome (back) to Deep Waivers!
Reading this means you’re already an invested fantasy hooper considering that you’ve got access to the Rotoworld Premium. Congratulations—that’s the first step in complete league domination.
One of the next steps you can take to grabbing the trophy is reading this column. In “Deep Waivers,” we’re going to be examining those players that may not be getting enough attention in your league. While some of the names on here could provide enough value to be relevant in 12-team formats, these suggestions are best-suited 14 and 16-team leagues.
The NBA season is officially lit, live, on and popping. Let’s get to work.
Solomon Hill, F New Orleans Pelicans (33%)
Let’s take a look at the small forward situation in New Orleans, shall we? Tyreke Evans (knee) is out indefinitely and nobody has any idea when he might return or what kind of player (minutes, production) he’s capable of being when he’s finally back on the floor. Quincy Pondexter (knee) hasn’t played in over a calendar year and can’t be counted on for anything while Dante Cunningham is a depth piece that looks better on paper than he ever does on the court. That leaves Hill, the man the Pelicans just paid approximately $50M, to be the unquestioned leader of the pack.
To expect Hill’s numbers to jump off the page would be unrealistic, but there is a discount DeMarre Carroll appeal when assessing what Hill can bring to the table. An already-banged up New Orleans group will need Hill to bring it on defense and translate those contributions to offense. Although he’s not exactly dripping with upside, Hill can be a solid if unspectacular contributor at the end of your roster and is being too often overlooked.
Larry Nance, F Los Angeles Lakers (24%)
Nance was a surprise in his rookie season when he showed more than the Lakers organization or Lakers fans expected, and there is strong reason to believe that trend will continue under new head coach Luke Walton. Walton has shown an inclination to play Julius Randle in a Draymond Green role, and that opens up another path for Nance to get minutes alongside “Young Bull.” Additionally, regardless of whether most want to believe it, Nance’s skillset is actually a better on-paper fit for what Walton is striving to do. Don’t be surprised if (when?) Nance steals playing time from Randle.
The Wyoming product will play a significant role off the bench, and 20-25 minutes should be treated as an expectation. For a player capable of contributing in multiple categories with upside when it comes to defensive stats, Nance deserves real consideration after the first 120 players come off the board.
Tyler Johnson, G Miami Heat (20%)
I’m certain it’s going to be talked about plenty given how Chris Bosh’s Miami career came to its unfortunate conclusion, but let me reiterate it one more time: This is a very, very different Heat team. Dwyane Wade is back home in Chicago, Hassan Whiteside—a guy who had to go play in Lebanon to keep his NBA dream alive—is now the face of the franchise after signing his $100M deal this summer and Tyler Johnson—the same guy who faced an uncertain future in the D-League not even two years ago—has returned with new expectations in a brand new role and $50M richer. This is the point in the column where you’d start singing along to “I’m Different” by 2 Chainz.
Many expected TJ to move on and join the Brooklyn Nets after the team extended the lucrative offer sheet in restricted free agency, but Miami made the decision to match and didn’t do so just to keep the Nets down. This is an organization that has invested in Johnson’s development, views him as an asset and is banking on him being a real contributor with still plenty of room to grow. With Josh Richardson (knee) out to begin the season and Miami mixing and matching at shooting guard, expect Johnson to see time at both backcourt spots with the potential to play 25 minutes per contest. He’s admittedly only a flier at this juncture, but there is much to like about his situation and his potential path to produce.
Dwight Powell, F/C Dallas Mavericks (7%)
Powell was a popular early-season stash that really fell off during the 2015-16 campaign, but a new year brings new opportunity. After again whiffing in free agency, things are shaping up for Powell to be in a prime spot. DP should be the first big off the Dallas bench, should see minutes at the four behind Dirk Nowitzki and at the five behind Andrew Bogut and is just one injury away from a serious bump in the rankings. The depth behind Nowitzki and Bogut is uninspiring at best, and Powell brings something to this frontcourt that it simply wouldn’t have without him.
November of 2015 was the only real chance that Powell got to strut his stuff, and he responded with the type of averages that makes it easy to see why there is so much intrigue here. In just 20.5 minutes per contest, Powell averaged 8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks on 52.4% shooting. Bogut isn’t gong to play more than 25 minutes in an effort to keep him healthy, Nowitzki is only getting older and Powell is currently the only reliable option behind either one. Giddy up, Cosmo.
Kelly Oubre, F Washington Wizards (3%)
I’m not as high on Otto Porter as some of my Rotoworld buds, and the improvement Oubre displayed this offseason is very real. First-year Wizards lead man Scott Brooks came into this head-coaching job with no predisposition about the starting small forward spot, and Oubre showed that he was more than capable of holding his own in both summer league and the preseason.
Although the 20-year-old possesses nice versatility, the Wizards got deeper on the wing and at power forward, so that puts a limit on the sophomore’s immediate ceiling. Having said that, Bradley Beal is notorious for his recurring leg injury and Porter has durability concerns of his own, so Oubre could shoot up the rankings in a hurry should something happen in front of him. Oubre belongs on the wire in 12-team formats for now, but those in 14 and 16-team formats should really give him careful consideration when making that final selection or looking to pluck a potential waiver wire gem before he shines for everyone to see.