Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 13
Now, officially past the half-way point of the NBA season, it’s the perfect time to start investing in your team’s future rather than spending more time worrying about the present. Leading up until now, it may have been more beneficial to focus on the short-term rather than plan too far ahead when scouring the waiver wire. Wins are always important (not to state the obvious), and that will never change, but how you go about acquiring those wins usually does. Earlier on in the season, it makes sense to focus on players who can provide immediate value, regardless of how long it could last, but as we move deeper into the season, future value becomes much more important. All the wins in the world won’t matter if you end up with a team lacking the depth to survive the playoffs. So, while we’re in no way suggesting that you ignore wins and losses, if you have room on your bench, it’s a good time to start looking for players you can stash that might come around and produce later in the season when you need it most. So, with that being said, let’s get started.
Ownership totals are in ESPN leagues as of January 19.
Donald Sloan – PG – Brooklyn Nets – 21.3%
The point guard position is a little thin at the moment, at least when it comes to standard sized 10-team leagues (for deeper leagues Marcus Smart is worth checking out as well), but that should, by no means, detract from Sloan’s current value. After Jarrett Jack went down with a season-ending knee injury, Shane Larkin was the next man up, however, he was unable to impress and eventually gave way to Donald Sloan. Forgetting about a forgettable performance against a great defensive team in San Antonio, over his last five games, Sloan has averaged 11 points (51.4 percent FG, 85.7 percent FT), 8.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 three-pointers in 27.6 minutes. He’s recorded nine or more assists and scored 13 or more points three times in that span, and if he can keep up that kind of production, Sloan will likely continue to hold the starting spot over Larkin. In the two most recent games that Sloan managed to see more than 30 minutes, he put up great numbers, averaging 14.0 points, 7.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds, providing a possible glimpse into what he’s capable of when receiving starter’s minutes. Those numbers might be right at his ceiling, but the main point is that as long as Sloan’s play remains this efficient, he’s worth picking up – especially if you’re in need of assists and/or a boost to your shooting percentages.
Jamal Crawford – SG – Los Angeles Clippers – 36%
Over his last six games, Crawford has averaged 17.0 points, 1.8 threes, 2.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.2 blocks in 29.7 minutes. He’s also shot 42.7 percent from the field and 90 percent from the line over that stretch. It’s no secret that Crawford is primarily a shooter, unlikely to help you in any categories other than shooting percentages, points and three-pointers, but that is often enough, especially in category leagues. Much of his recent success, just about all of it actually, has come after Blake Griffin went down with a quad injury, so there should certainly be some tempered expectations considering Griffin is nearing his return. There is, however, one important thing to note, and that’s the efficiency that’s accompanied Crawford’s recent resurgence. Not only is he scoring more points, but he’s doing it while shooting a better percentage from the field. In other words, it’s not only the loss of an offensive star that’s added to Crawford’s value, but he’s also simply shooting the ball better. Before the Griffin injury, Crawford’s efficiency was spotty at best, as he shot just 39 and 34 percent from the field in December and January respectively. Since the injury, however, Crawford has shot an improved 44 percent, and while that’s a bit higher than his career average of 41 percent, it wouldn’t be unheard of to see him keep it up, even after Griffin returns. That will be the moment to key in on, so, at the moment, Crawford is worth an add in standard leagues and should be monitored going forward to see if he can, in fact, keep up his current pace after the Clippers’ star makes his impending return.
Joe Johnson – SF – Brooklyn Nets – 49.4%
Coming in at just under the 50 percent ownership rate, Joe Johnson will likely be owned in more leagues than not any day now, and that makes total sense. While it’s been a disappointing season overall for the Nets’ vet (averaging just 11.7 points on the season compared to a career average of 17 points per game), over his last five games, Johnson has managed to turn things around and average 16.2 points including 2.6 threes while shooting 58.5 percent from the floor. His previous lack of production was a direct result of both fewer attempted shots and a poorer efficiency from the floor than we’re used to seeing. While he’s unlikely to keep up his current pace for the rest of the season, it’s definitely worth riding for the time being. Even if (or when) his efficiency starts to decline, it won’t necessarily return to the uncharacteristically poor level it was earlier in the season. Furthermore, because Johnson is currently in the last year of his contract, sources have hinted that the Nets aren’t likely to trade him this season as it would probably mean acquiring multiple new contracts that could last into next year or beyond, thereby cutting into their salary cap space. That means that there’s a good chance he’ll stay in Brooklyn for the rest of the year, and with that, keep up his usual 30-plus minutes per game. Johnson should currently be owned in all standard leagues.
Aaron Gordon – PF/SF – Orlando Magic – 9.7%
Yep, Gordon is back again, for the second straight week, and it’s not for a lack of waiver wire competition at the power forward position. As mentioned last week, Gordon’s value rests more in his potential than it does in his immediate value. Seeing as how his ownership rate has actually declined over the past week, the word on Gordon must not have spread too far, but since then, he’s played in two games, one of which saw the promising second-year pro put up 18 points in 27 minutes. When he’s gotten the minutes, he’s put up the numbers, and Orlando coach Scott Skiles may be on the verge of rewarding that timely production. According to Skiles himself, a lineup change may be in order for Wednesday’s game against the 76ers. While no more specifics have been released, if a change is made, one of the more likely candidates to head to the bench would be the rather ineffective Channing Frye, who just so happens to hold the starting spot ahead of Gordon. It’s never been easy to predict what Skiles will and will not do, but even before this bit of news, Gordon’s minutes were already improving, so, once again, he’s worth an add if you can afford to sit on him for the time being.
Taj Gibson – PF/C – Chicago Bulls – 44.6%
If you’re in need of consistent rebounding, Gibson is now your man. With Joakim Noah having just undergone successful shoulder surgery, ending his season and keeping him out of action for four to six months, Gibson is likely going to be the Bulls’ next best option to replace the defensive void left by Noah. Since Noah only played in three games this month (after returning from injury and then undergoing surgery), Gibson’s January numbers are a fairly reasonable representation of what we can expect going forward. In that time, he’s averaged 8.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 0.9 assists in 29.2 minutes. Gibson should now be owned in all leagues as his minutes are practically guaranteed from here on out.