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Wait, you thought you were going to catch a break? In fantasy sports?
Just one week into the season and fantasy hoops owners are already witnessing some of their star players deal with unfortunate injuries. Of course, there was Kevin Durant, but now Russell Westbrook is sidelined for the next few weeks, Derrick Rose is banged up, along with Dwight Howard and some others. But there are also interesting position battles that need to be monitored for fantasy purposes, as guys who started the season coming off the bench are beginning to emerge into starting options.
Waiver wire savages are well aware.
Sure, drafting a strong, balanced roster is the first step, but more often than not, your league is won or lost by the decisions you make when playing the waiver wire. Guys emerge every single year, in any fantasy sport, not just basketball. And you’re on your computer 18 hours a day anyway, so why not just stalk your league’s waiver wire every single waking hour and get the edge over the competition? Wait, I’m the only one who does that?
Well then …
Note: Ownership percentages are based off Yahoo! leagues.
D.J. Augustin, Detroit Pistons (23%)- Augustin continues to play a bigger role on this offense than many originally thought, as he’s played more minutes than counterpart Brandon Jennings in two of the three games this year. He’s averaging a healthy 13.7 points, 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds per game to start the season, and he fits well with what Stan Van Gundy wants to do in this new offense. It still isn’t a lock that Augustin is going to overtake Jennings this year, as Jennings played 17 more minutes than him on Saturday, but he’s still certainly worth a speculation add until we figure out what Van Gundy wants to do with his point guard position. But we saw Augustin have some very fantasy relevant moments in Chicago last year, so he’s definitely worthy of attention.
Norris Cole, Miami Heat (40%)- Cole opened the season as the Heat’s starting point guard, and it doesn’t appear like that will be changing anytime soon. He exploded for 23 points on Wednesday night, and is also providing some assists and steals. Cole is also averaging a strong 73.3 offensive touches per game on the young campaign, while averaging nearly 30 minutes per game, too, so there is some nice volume to be had. You also have to imagine that Dwyane Wade is going to miss at least 25 games this season, so Cole’s usage will only increase once that happens.
Donald Sloan, Indiana Pacers (31%)- With the Pacers being so ridden with injuries, Sloan has served as the starting point guard, and has been providing fantasy owners with some solid all-around contributions. He’s played at least 34 minutes in every contest this year, and with George Hill out for the next few weeks, the Pacers don’t really have anyone to threaten his playing time at the moment. Sloan is a sneaky good rebounder, grabbing 10 during the Pacers’ opening game, while hauling in five and three in the other two games. On the year, he’s averaging 14 points, 6.7 assists, six rebounds, and a steal per game, making for a very valuable fantasy asset if you need a point guard.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons (17%)- KCP was a sleeper of mine heading into the season, and while he has yet to find his stroke this year, he is playing heavy minutes for the Pistons thus far, averaging 39.3 minutes per game. Jodie Meeks will be out for the first few months of the season, giving Pope all the run in the world. Detroit likes him for his perimeter defense, as he’s averaged a steal per game. He’s only shooting 26 percent from the field, so you’d have to imagine that number will go up, and once it does, he’ll be even more valuable for fantasy owners. He definitely needs to be owned in more than 17 percent of leagues, if you ask me.
Perry Jones, Oklahoma City Thunder (59%)- Jones is clearly going to be one of the most sought after free agents in fantasy with both Durant and Westbrook sidelined. Over the last two games, Jones has been a workhorse for the Thunder, scoring 55 points on 35 shot attempts, shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc during that span, as well. He’s also played over 40 minutes in each of those games, and that trend will likely continue until Jeremy Lamb returns, but Jones will still log plenty of minutes to keep him fantasy relevant. A 6-foot-11 small forward, Jones has versatility that can help him exploit defensive matchups. Granted, he did go off for 32 points against a team with zero small forward depth in the Clippers, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in Week 2 against deeper lineups. But there’s no doubt that he should be one of the most added players in all of fantasy basketball based on opportunity. He’s not a guy who can create his own shot like some of the other scorers in the league, but I love his versatility and size at the position, and simply put, the Thunder really don’t have any other choice but to feed both Jones and Serge Ibaka.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets (43%)- It may be difficult to trust him, but there’s no denying that MKG has been playing spectacular basketball to open the year. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. It is worth noting that he did suffer a rib contusion after a hard fall against the Knicks, and is going to be considered day-to-day for the time being. The defensive numbers he can provide you with are pretty strong, and he simply looks like a much improved player from the last couple of seasons in Charlotte.
Ed Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (31%)- With Julius Randle done for the year, an opportunity has presented itself for Davis, who has been very productive for the Lakers thus far, averaging over 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, and a block per game, and that’s coming off of the bench. Head coach Byron Scott still won’t change his rotation for the first 20 games or so, but Davis should see an uptick in minutes with the way he’s been playing lately. The Lakers play at one of the highest paces in the entire NBA, so Davis should see plenty of rebounding and shot-blocking opportunities as opposing offenses fire up plenty of shots against them.
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