Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 9 (2019)
Christmas is almost upon us, so it’s time to whistle along with the elevator music and actually drop something into that Salvation Army pail. It’s the Spirit of Giving, after all. Not in the real world of fantasy basketball, though. It’s sweep-the-leg and crush-thy-enemy time. There will be no freebies and handouts. If you seek fantasy glory, you’re going to have to earn it. By this point of the season, the waiver wire has been picked clean like a buffalo carcass that’s just been worked on by a pack of hyenas. But fear not. There are still players who can be of use hiding in the weeds. Hopefully, I can lead you to those who will help you ascertain that fantasy glory.
Ownership percentages are from the Yahoo database, and only those players owned in fewer than 50% of leagues will be highlighted.
Isaiah Thomas (PG – WAS): 36% owned
After missing five games due to a calf injury, Thomas returned to the starting lineup last game and played 26 minutes. His stat line? 23 points, a rebound, six assists, a block, and three three-pointers. He shot 69% from the field and 71% from beyond the arc. The usage rate was a healthy 25. Thomas will likely continue starting and provide points, three-pointers, and assists. He won’t contribute much in the defensive categories, though. Now, the fantasy environment in the nation’s capital doesn’t get much better, as the Wizards are second in offensive pace and last in defensive efficiency.
Bruce Brown Jr. (SG – DET): 8% owned
Over the past three games, Brown has been a top-20 player in fantasy. He’s averaged 14.3 points, six rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals, and a block. He’s converted 52% of his shots from the field and 83% from the line on six attempts. He’s a career 41% shooter from the field so far in his young career, so the efficiency will regress, and the points won’t be as bountiful. With that said, the turnover rate has been a minuscule 0.7, and his play has made fans forget about Reggie Jackson. There’s a chance that Brown has carved out a significant niche for himself. The risk/reward ratio is favorable for a Brown pickup.
Derrick Jones Jr. (SF – MIA): 6% owned
Jones Jr., AKA Airplane Mode, missed 14 games due to injury, but he’s played the last eight games. Over the past six games, he’s averaged 29.2 minutes, 9.7 points, 0.8 three-pointers, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks. An offensive force he is not, although his jumper is much improved. What he is, though, is a defensive maven due to his length and athleticism. Now, he’s been getting a ton of playing time lately because Justise Winslow has been out, but I think he’s carved out a significant niche for himself. The minutes may be more mid-20s instead of high-20s, but he should still be able to deliver those defensive stats.
Donte DiVincenzo (SG – MIL): 20% owned
Eric Bledsoe is out for two weeks due to a leg injury. DiVincenzo has been the player to replace Bledsoe in the starting lineup. In the two games that DiVincenzo has started, he’s averaged 27.4 minutes, 10 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and three steals. He’s a decent add for the short term if you need assists and steals.
Bismack Biyombo (PF/C – CHA): 17% owned
Biyombo has started the last 11 games for the Hornets. In two of those games, he played around 34 minutes in each game because Cody Zeller was out due to injury. The five games after that, the minutes were in the mid-teens. Now, the past four games, Biyombo has been seeing playing time in the mid-20s, as PJ Washington broke his finger and will be out for a few weeks. If you need rebounds and blocks, Biyombo is a viable option.
Jalen Brunson (PG – DAL): 27% owned
Luka Doncic is out for two weeks due to an ankle injury. Brunson is the guy that will be replacing him. As a starter in four games this season, Brunson has been a top-150 player, averaging 29.5 minutes, 11.3 points, 1.5 three-pointers, four rebounds, and 5.3 assists. The turnovers are low at 0.8 per game, and the percentages from both the field and line are decent. When Luka returns, Brunson will get buried on the depth chart, but he’s a cheap source of assists until then.
Landry Shamet (PG – LAC): 12% owned
Shamet returned from injury and played 21 minutes. The playing time should get ramped up as he gets up to speed. Shamet is a three-point specialist. Playing alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should afford him plenty of good looks.
Elfrid Payton (PG – NYK): 32% owned
Frank Ntilikina is still starting for the Knicks, but Payton has been playing well himself. Over the past three games, he’s averaged 27.3 minutes, 13.3 points, five rebounds, 6.7 assists, and a steal. Even if he continues to come off the bench, Payton can still provide top 125-ish value. There’s upside, though, if he elevates the depth chart and grabs hold of the starting role.