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Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12

by George Haw | @georgeWarfieldH | Featured Writer
Jan 13, 2016


Cody Zeller has been great since Al Jefferson was injured

Hello again and welcome back – unless this is your first time here, in which case, we’re glad you finally found us. The idea here is to provide who we think is the best player at each position that’s also currently available on the waiver wire in more than 50 percent of fantasy leagues. This week the waiver wire is pretty stacked at the frontcourt positions and a bit thin in the back.  There aren’t many point guards capable of impressing, left on the wire at the moment. In fact, both the point and shooting guard positions are rather dry, void of almost any talent worthy of keeping longer than a few days. Luckily for you, however, we have still managed, through our very own blood, sweat and tears, to come up with some worthwhile picks at every position. Thanks to the backcourt depth, we’ve added some extra names that didn’t make the cut, but are still worth checking into. So read on, and hopefully the following will aid you in your journey to the top.

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Ownership totals are in ESPN leagues as of January 12.

Jose Calderon – PG – New York Knicks – 11.9%
As was mentioned in the introduction, the point guard spot is rather thin at the moment, so welcome Jose Calderon. He’s won back the starting position in New York, ahead of Jerian Grant, who was one of our waiver picks earlier in the season. Grant has fizzled since then, and Calderon has returned – well, somewhat. He’s not going to wow you in any single category (or as a whole for that matter), but he is capable of producing useful numbers across the board. So far, in the month of January, Calderon is averaging 9.3 points (53.5% FG, 66.7% FT, 61.5% 3PT), 3.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.3 threes in 32 minutes. The scoring will probably drop a bit, but the rest of the stats will likely hold steady as long as he’s seeing upwards of 30 minutes a game. Again, those numbers aren’t all that sexy, but if you’re in need of a point guard, Calderon can be trusted to consistently put up numbers similar to those averages with scoring being the most fluid. If you are in need of a scoring point guard, however, your best bet is probably with Trey Burke at the moment. He’s averaging 14 points on 41.9% shooting over his last 10 games for Utah, and while Burke is more than capable of putting up duds, he’s currently the best scorer on the wire at the point guard position – now available in 41.2% of leagues.

Devin Booker – SG – Phoenix Suns – 32.2%
The shooting guard position isn’t all that deep either, but luckily there’s Devin Booker still left to help save face. He’s by no means a consolation add like the two guys we have at point guard as Booker is currently averaging 16.6 points (49.2% FG, 75% FT), 4.6 rebounds, two assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.4 steals and 1.4 threes in 32.4 minutes over his last five games. Those numbers are great on their own, but remember that Booker is a rookie on a bad team that just lost its starting point guard in Eric Bledsoe. They still have Brandon Knight, but even with him getting the start, Booker is a lock to see starter’s minutes. The Suns aren’t going to be competing for a playoff spot this season, so with a rookie as talented as Booker, it only makes sense to spend time developing his potential rather than working towards wins that could end up only hurting the team in the long run. Booker should be picked up in all leagues as he’s currently putting up universally useful scoring totals, and those numbers should continue to improve as the season moves forward and he gains more experience.

Aaron Gordon – PF/SF – Orlando Magic – 10.5%
Gordon is definitely a wait and see kind of guy for standard leagues. He’s currently producing low-end value in deeper leagues as over his last five games the sophomore is averaging nine points (54.5% FG, 83.3% FT), 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.4 steals, 0.8 threes and one turnover in 24 minutes, but those numbers aren’t yet strong enough to give him immediate value in shallower leagues. He is, however, averaging more minutes on the season than the current starter, Channing Frye, and that margin seems to be growing. In Sunday’s game, Gordon played a whopping 30 to Frye’s 18 minutes and was able to come away with a double-double as a result. We have yet to see what he’s capable of when given starter’s minutes for more than a couple games at a time, but with the way things are going, it may not be too long until he gets that chance. There really isn’t anyone in his way other than Frye, and he’s becoming less and less relevant as the season progresses. If you have room on your bench or have a player worth dropping and can sit on him for a little while, it may be time to pick Gordon up in standard leagues. If you’re in a deeper league, he can provide value now and is, therefore, practically a must own. If you do happen to be in a standard league and are in need of immediate production from the small forward position, Matt Barnes could be a nice pickup. Owned in just 19.3 percent of leagues, he’s averaging 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, one block and 1.3 threes over his last three games. He was recently suspended for two games and just missed his Tuesday night game due to an injured thumb, but neither of those issues should continue to impact him go forward.

Cody Zeller – PF/C – Charlotte Hornets – 39.8%
Zeller is averaging 10.7 points (50% FG, 75% FT), 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 steals in 29.8 minutes over his last six games. He’s seen a pretty consistent uptick in his minutes from month to month and has played over 30 in each of his last three contests. He’s also coming in as a top-60 player in nine-category leagues over the last two weeks. Zeller’s surge is due in large part to the absence of Al Jefferson who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Jefferson is expected to be out somewhere in the neighborhood of six weeks, which is good news for Zeller, but it could be even longer. Even when Jefferson does come back, there’s little guarantee that he will see many minutes as he was relatively ineffective before injuring his knee, serving a suspension and injuring his calf. It’s been a rough year, to say the least, for Jefferson, so there’s a definite chance Zeller could keep most of his playing time, even after Jefferson becomes healthy. Only in his third year in the league, Zeller still has room to improve and could very well do just that as the season continues. He makes a nice grab in eight and nine-category leagues and is a low-end value in standard points leagues.

Ian Mahinmi – C – Indiana Pacers – 32.2%
Mahinmi comes in as a top-40 player in nine-category leagues over the past week. Over his last five games, the Pacers’ center is averaging 12.2 points (66.7% FG, 65.4% FT), 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, one block, 0.6 steals and one turnover in 27 minutes. He’s having a career year so far and has already started more games this year (35) than he has in his previous seven seasons combined. Mahinmi is a double-double threat every night (as long as he sees around 25 or more minutes), is extremely efficient from the floor and is more than capable of blocking a shot here and there. As long as he continues to log those kinds of minutes, Mahinmi should be picked up in standard leagues.

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With there currently being so many useful big men on the wire, here are a few honorable mentions still worth consideration:

George Haw is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from George, check out his archive and follow him @georgeWarfieldH.

Correspondent, NBA, Waiver Wire