Hello and welcome to another edition of Waiver Wired! This isn’t the most exciting week around the wire which may come as a surprise with half the NBA apparently in the medical protocols, but a couple rookies caught my eye and we had another Lu Dort sighting. As always, I’ll discuss the top pickups in the order that you should prioritize them, followed by some players that didn’t make the cut but could still provide some streaming value. To qualify, a player must be available in over 55% of Yahoo Leagues.
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Week 5 Games Played:
4 Games: ATL, BKN, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHO, POR, SAS, TOR
3 Games: BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, IND, LAC, LAL, NOP, OKC, PHI, SAC, UTA, WAS
Justin Holiday (32% rostered)- Despite a down week that included a postponed game, Justin Holiday remains a priority add. The Pacers flipped Victor Oladipo to Houston with Caris LeVert heading to Indiana, but sadly, LeVert is out indefinitely after a pre-trade physical revealed a small mass on his left kidney. Hopefully everything works out for that young stud.
Holiday has been an 8th-round value over his last 10 games, averaging 11.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.1 triples on 55% from the field and 77% from the line in 29.9 minutes. With T.J. Warren (foot) still without a timetable, Justin is locked in as a mid-rounder in category leagues.
Delon Wright (35%)- After a nightmare showing vs. the Bucks on January 13th, Delon Wright redeemed himself with seven points (3-of-7 FGs), four rebounds, 10 assists, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes vs. Miami. Coach Dwane Casey is a big Delon fan, and despite not having Killian Hayes (hip, out indefinitely), he hasn’t turned to Josh Jackson or Saddiq Bey loose yet.
Delon doesn’t pass the eye test and honestly hasn’t since his Memphis days, but sometimes in fantasy, opportunity is more important than talent. Love him or hate him, but Delon has a career per-36 line of 13.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.1 triples and the Pistons don’t have any alternatives (that Casey is willing to use).
Lu Dort (32%)- He had a rough patch after his hot start to the season, but reminded us all what he’s capable of on Jan. 15th when he dropped 21 points with eight rebounds, six steals, one block and four triples in 40 minutes. Dort, who may already be the best perimeter defender in the NBA (just ask James Harden), finally made a dent in the steals column to bring him up to 1.1 per game. Honestly, that number should be closer to 1.5 for as disruptive as he is. It won’t always be pretty, but Dort is a 9th-round value in 28 minutes per game, averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.3 triples on 46% from the field.
“Lu was outstanding. He made huge plays defensively down the stretch – he took the charge on LaVine, and then he had the loose ball (link), which was a huge play also,” coach Mark Daigneault said. They don’t call him the «Dortress» for no reason.
Gary Trent Jr. (11%)- Trent hasn’t broken out like many were expecting, including myself, but he has a huge opportunity with the Blazers losing two starters — Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) is looking at eight weeks on the shelf and we don’t know how long C.J. McCollum will be out after spraining his foot on Saturday. Trent Jr. had 18 points, three rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers in 27 minutes on Saturday, so he could step into a huge role with McCollum posting a 28% usage rate this season. In a 135-minute sample size, Trent has a per-36 line of 18.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 0.5 steals and 4.3 triples with C.J. off the court. If we learn that McCollum is going to be out a while, Trent Jr. probably shoots to the top of this list.
Kelly Olynyk (44%)- He’s coming off his worst game of the season, but if you picked up Olynyk recently you don’t have much to complain about. He ranks 85th in 9-cat with 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.4 triples, putting some distance between his competition of Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless. Basically, Miami doesn’t have an alternative right now and historically, Olynyk has always produced in the past when the minutes were there. He’s a strong hold/pickup, despite his dud vs. Detroit.
Patrick Williams (21%)- The Bulls were mocked when they took Williams 4th overall but so far he has lived up to that draft slot and more. He’s gone through some ups and downs, like all rookies do, but has really turned it on in his last two with 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.5 triples with 36 minutes in each. I don’t love how many mid-range shots he takes, but to be fair, he’s really good at it with 17 makes on 43 attempts, including 10-of-20 shots classified as “long twos.” Coach Billy Donovan did say that he wants to eventually trade those in for more triples and shots at the rim, but it’s encouraging to see the NBA’s second youngest player with a good foundation to build on.
Immanuel Quickley (22%)- This bold ranking factors in some mystery box upside and the possibility of the rookie out of Kentucky moving into the starting lineup sooner rather than later. The Knicks have lost five straight, Elfrid Payton looks like a poor man’s Tony Wroten and coach Tom Thibodeau said everything was on the table in regards to a rotation change.
Quickley had a career-high 23 points (9-of-17 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) on Friday with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, three triples and zero turnovers in 28 minutes, and he was coming off a 19-point game with three triples, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and one turnover. “We’re still evaluating. So we’ll keep evaluating, we’ll keep working to improve and then we’ll find the best combinations to go forward with,” Thibs said. “But we’re constantly evaluating and talking about who plays well with whom. And if something can help the team, we’ll do it.’’
Naz Reid (9%)- Karl-Anthony Towns tested positive for COVID-19 and is going to miss a handful of games, a gut punch for a player who has lost so much during the pandemic. Reid is the next man up for the Wolves, though I do think Jarred Vanderbilt could be very interesting as well. In three starts this season, Reid averaged 14.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 triples on 55% from the field and 80% from the line. That workload could go up too with how bad Ed Davis has been.
Lonnie Walker (38%)- I still feel like Lonnie’s fantasy value may have an expiration date when Derrick White (toe) comes back, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. He’s coming off a dud, but is still averaging 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 blocks and 2.5 triples on 42% from the field over his last four.
Xavier Tillman (2%)- Gorgui Dieng has played well this season in limited minutes, so it’s telling if Tillman has already taken his job. This rookie is gifted and his last two games are evidence of that with 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 3.0 steals and 0.5 triples in 23.0 minutes. Valanciunas has picked up five fouls in three straight which gave Tillman some breathing room, but it’s going to be hard for Taylor Jenkins to keep Tillman off the court at this point.
*Unlike the list above, these players are not listed in order of how I’d prioritize them as it depends what category you’re in need of.
Cole Anthony (30%)- He’s been pretty much as advertised as a good source of points (13.2), assists (3.6), rebounds (3.2), steals (1.2) and triples (1.0) since Markelle Fultz (knee) went down, but has only hit 36% from the field and 78% from the line. Things will get a little more complicated too when Evan Fournier (back) comes back. Anthony hasn’t been a top-200 player in 9-cat in that span but will get the job done if you don’t care about your percentages.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13%)- Has quietly produced top-100 numbers of 10.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 1.2 steals and 2.1 triples, but these are streaming-level numbers and nothing more.
Cameron Johnson (35%)- He’s a really talented player but his lack of significant minutes makes him a dollar store version of Duncan Robinson. Ranks 99th in 9-cat with 12.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 triples. He deserves more than 23 minutes per game, but Monty Williams loves Jae Crowder.
Isaiah Roby (3%)- The Thunder are going to be insane in a few years with this much young talent on top of a stockpile of draft picks. Roby will get plenty of burn for as long as Al Horford (personal) is out and is averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 0.5 triples in 25.0 minutes over his last two.
Daniel Theis (42%)- I still think Robert Williams (COVID-19) takes his job at some point this season, but Theis has a nice little window for a bigger role. Theis ranked 79th in 9-cat last season but has struggled to find his rhythm this season after offseason knee surgery.
Willie Cauley-Stein (18%)- Eventually, I think Kristaps Porzingis will play a lot more center but right now they are without three frontcourt players. WCS has played 30 minutes in two straight with averages of 7.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.5 steals and 2.0 blocks. Eventually, I think he settles around 24 minutes.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (20%)- Lonzo Ball (knees) could be back this week, but I’m going to keep rolling with NAW until then. The second-year guard has turned some heads over his last two starts, posting 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 3.5 triples on a blistering 64.5% from the field.
Marc Gasol (26%)- He only moves about three feet on every possession at this stage of his career, making Andrew Bogut look like an Olympic sprinter. Yet he’s still managed 10th-round value in 20.0 minutes over the last two weeks with 4.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 0.7 steals and 2.0 blocks. If the blocks trail off, drop him. Nerlens Noel (31%) is another option if you need blocks with 2.2 per game in just 14.1 minutes in that same span.
Jarred Vanderbilt– Monster per-minute upside as we’ve all seen. With Juancho Hernangomez (medical protocols) and Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19) out, could this be the week Vanderbilt gets consistent burn?
Jeremy Lamb (9%)- Was recently cleared for full practice and has per-game finishes of 90 and 54 over his last two seasons. Very talented wing with a huge path to minutes in Indiana.
Kevin Porter Jr. (15%)- Was one of my top sleepers this offseason before he got in trouble off the court. Had a strong finish to his rookie season and can play multiple positions. Plus, the Cavs were talking about running a bunch of offense through him. For the first time this season, KPJ was spotted on the bench Friday.