Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 11
Welcome to Week 11. Now that the NFL regular season has come to an end, there’s more time to spend focusing on fantasy basketball. That’s why we’re now putting this article out a couple days earlier than we have so far this season, but don’t fret, as the advice will continue to be as timely and valuable as ever! So, with that being said, let’s get to it.
Ownership totals are in ESPN leagues as of January 5.
Norris Cole – PG – New Orleans Pelicans – 6%
When Cole first returned from injury this season, it was difficult to tell how much playing time he would see with Ish Smith having come on strong as the Pelicans’ backup point guard. After New Orleans traded Smith to the 76ers in return for draft picks, however, Cole saw an immediate bump in the depth chart. Over his last three games, Cole has averaged 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals over 34 minutes. One of those games was without Tyreke Evans, so an uptick in production was to be expected, but the other two had Cole coming off the bench without seeing any hit to his production. Head coach Alvin Gentry is trying to implement a new, uptempo, offense this season in New Orleans, and Tyreke Evans is struggling to adapt. That struggle was even more apparent in Evans’ absence, as the Pelicans looked better than they had all season and came away with a nice win at Dallas. There’s a chance Evans could eventually move over to the shooting guard position, but even if he doesn’t and continues to start at the point, Cole is still managing to see starter’s minutes as the third-string point guard. As long as Evans is out, Cole is a low-end value (at worst) in standard leagues. However, because he’s also proven capable of producing off the bench, when Evans gets back, Cole’s value won’t necessarily take a hit and could even improve if things go his way.
Jeremy Lin – PG/SG – Charlotte Hornets – 41.1%
In the two games since returning from injury (ankle), Lin has averaged 14.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 steals and 1.0 three-pointer in 32.5 minutes. It seems like a small sample size, two games, but over the last six games before his injury, Lin was playing even better, averaging 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a handful of threes and blocks across 33.3 minutes. He’s likely seen a boost in minutes played over the last two games because of Nicolas Batum missing time (sprained toe), but it’s apparent that Lin’s value isn’t dependent on a Batum-less Hornets team. It’s not quite time to go full “Linsanity,” but it may be a good time to pick him up, especially in deeper leagues.
Rodney Hood – SG/SF – Utah Jazz – 45.6%
Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Rudy Gobert are currently injured and out for the Jazz. That means that two of their top three scorers and their top rebounder are all sidelined. They may not all play the same position as Hood, but those three players have commanded a huge chunk of playing time this season, which means there’s currently plenty to go around. And Hood hasn’t let the opportunity go to waste as, over his last three games, he’s averaged 24.3 points 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, one steal and 4.7 threes in 36 minutes. He’s been a top player in standard leagues over that stretch and his Week 11 fantasy rating has him at 57th in the league. He’s a must play as long he continues his current pace, and with Alec Burks possibly out past the All-Star break, that pace could last a good while. If he’s still available, consider yourself lucky and pick him up before someone else does.
Larry Nance Jr. – PF – Los Angeles Lakers – 15.3%
Lakers head coach Byron Scott is extremely high on Nance Jr., going as far as to say, “I think if you were to re-do the draft he’d be a lottery pick, so we got a steal at 27.” It sounds like hyperbole but Scott may not be overexaggerating. It’s taken a few months, but Nance Jr. is starting to see elevated court time and is making the most of it. Over his last three games, Nance Jr. is averaging 11.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and shooting 64.7 percent from the field in 28.5 minutes. He has yet to establish the block, but the scoring and rebounding is already starting to hold value. With fellow rookie power forward Julius Randle trending in the opposite direction, Nance Jr. could very well hold onto his role as a starter for an extended period of time. He is currently a nice spot play for those in need of points and boards but is also worth a grab and stash to any owner with room to spare on their bench.
Cody Zeller – PF/C – Charlotte Hornets – 27.6%
Over his past five games, Zeller has averaged 11.6 points (60% FG, 80% FT), 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in 28.4 minutes. He’s currently logging minutes as a starter, and with an ailing Al Jefferson missing more and more time from injuries, Zeller should continue as a starter for the near future. His only competition, at the moment, is from Frank Kaminsky III, and while Kaminsky could also be a good waiver wire pickup, he’s likely to remain behind Zeller in terms of production and place on the depth chart. It’s still too early to tell how long this uptick in playing time will last, but for now, Zeller is worth a start in most leagues.