Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12 (2020)
The injuries are piling up in the NBA. In addition, the trade deadline is a month away, so we have a better sense of which teams are sellers. Potential trade candidates could have front row seats to the action, while the young bucks could be thrust into action. With great opportunity comes great responsibility, or something like that. Now, not all opportunity was created equal. Some are for the short term only, while others have a chance to be league winners. In this post, I will guide you as best I can to differentiate between the two.
Ownership percentages are from the Yahoo database, and only those players owned in fewer than 50% of leagues will be highlighted.
Shabazz Napier (PG/SG- MIN) – 33% owned
Over the past three games, Napier has been the #11 player for fantasy! He’s averaged 31.4 minutes, 21 points, 2.7 three-pointers, 5.7 assists, 1 steal, and 0.7 blocks. The field goal percentage has been 68% on 10.7 shot attempts, the free-throw shooting has been 84% on 4.3 attempts, and the turnovers have been low at 2.3 per game. Small sample, I know, and he’s not going to continue shooting 68% from the field. On the season, he’s shooting 40%, so the heater won’t continue, but the opportunity may. Napier was initially thrust into the starting lineup because of injuries to Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Jarrett Culver. With all three back, he has continued to start and receive over 30 minutes of playing time. Will that continue going forward? It could, but there’s also a chance he goes back to coming off the bench and playing 24 minutes per game. If you need assists and steals, Napier is a viable option. There’s some upside if he continues starting, but it comes with a field goal percentage tax.
Gorgui Dieng (PF/C – MIN) – 45% owned
In 12 games as a starter, Dieng has been a top 15 player for fantasy. He’s averaged 27.7 minutes, 13.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks. The free-throw shooting has been an excellent 84% on 3.2 attempts, but the most eye-opening stat has been the 1.8 three-pointers. Now, Karl-Anthony Towns has missed 10 straight games due to a knee issue. After never missing a game in his first three seasons in the league, KAT has morphed into the new Anthony Davis. There have also been trade rumors surrounding KAT. All indications are that Towns isn’t going anywhere, but you never know. In addition, the Timberwolves aren’t contending this year, so there’s little motivation to push Towns, which could open up more starts for Dieng. Finally, even if Towns does return, there’s a chance that Dieng gets playing time alongside him, especially now that he’s shown the ability to stretch the floor.
Ish Smith (PG – WAS) – 37% owned
Over the past four games, Smith has been a top 50 player, averaging 31.8 minutes, 21.3 points, 1.3 three-pointers, 3.5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.3 steals. The field goal percentage has been a robust 56% on a whopping 16.5 shot attempts, but the free-throw shooting has been a poor 60% on 2.5 attempts. The usage rate has been 24.6, an increase of six percent, and the turnover rate has been a paltry 1.3 per game. Now, much of the increase is due to the absence of Bradley Beal from the lineup, but the last game (1/1/2020) in which they both played, Smith still received 28 minutes of playing time. Smith isn’t going to continue shooting over 55% from the field. 46% is a more realistic outcome, but the Wizards play at one of the fastest paces in the league, so the environment is fantasy-friendly. In addition, he may have built up enough equity with the coaching staff to receive consistent playing time going forward.
Darius Garland (PG – CLE) – 34% owned
Garland hasn’t been great and isn’t the sexiest name, but there’s a reason for optimism. For starters, over the past four games, he’s averaged 34.6 minutes per game. The Cavaliers will likely trade-off more assets and backup shooting guard, Kevin Porter Jr., is down with a knee injury, so Garland should get as much playing time as he can handle. Secondly, the usage rate has been around 20, but the turnovers have been low at 1.8 per game and the assists have spiked up to 5.3 from 3 earlier in the year. The shooting efficiency isn’t great at 41%, but he is converting 83% of his free throw attempts, so there’s a chance the field goal percentage improves. Let’s not forget that he’s a rookie and just now getting up to speed.
Damion Lee (SG – GS) – 44% owned
Lee is starting for the Warriors and averaging over 32 minutes per game. He’s provided points, three-pointers, rebounds, some assists, and steals. The free-throw shooting has been excellent, while the field goal percentage has been just okay at 42%. The main thing regarding Lee was his contract. He was a two-way player, but the Warriors just released Marquese Chriss and are in negotiations to complete a deal to keep him on the 15-man roster.
Sekou Doumbouya (SF/PF – DET) – 28% owned
Doumbouya is an intriguing player for fantasy. He’s only 19-years-old but has excellent size at 6′ 8″ and 230 pounds. What most impresses me about his game is the ability to utilize screens and get open for clean looks from downtown. Now, the field goal percentage hasn’t been great at 42% and the free-throw shooting has been an abysmal 66%in his three starts, but the stroke looks good, so there’s some reason for optimism. The biggest thing comes down to playing time, though. Both Blake Griffin and Markieff Morris have been out, which has given Doumbouya the opportunity. Griffin is a shutdown candidate, but even if Morris returns, Doumbouya could supplant Tony Snell at small forward. With the Pistons going nowhere, it would make sense for them to give their young guys experience and see what they have.
Derrick Jones Jr. (SF/PF – MIA) – 13% owned
Jones received the start for Jimmy Butler the other game, played 36 minutes and produced 19 points, 1 three-pointer, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. Starting is not going to be a regular thing, though, but that’s ok because he’s still been receiving over 30 minutes of playing time while coming off the bench. Jones has carved out a niche and been the first player off the bench for the Heat due to his defensive versatility. If you need defensive stats, Jones is a viable option. He’s even added a shot from downtown.