Waiver Wire Add – Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted 7’0, 250 pounder, Tyler Zeller, with the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  Zeller was a four year player at North Carolina where he averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over a 117 game career.

Zeller got off to a rough start to the 2012-2013 NBA season by getting injured in the Cavs fourth game of the year.  He suffered a concussion and non-displaced fracture of the orbital bone.  That type of injury would knock many guys out for weeks, it kept Zeller out just four games.   The kid is definitely tough, but the injury put him behind in his development this season.  He’s just now looking healthy and ready to improve.

Since returning from the injury, Zeller has logged nearly 24 minutes a game while posting 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and .7 blocks.  His only drawback is the 3.2 fouls that he’s averaged in his 24 minutes.  It isn’t bad, but it definitely needs to improve a little and it should once he gets a little more familiar with playing defense at the NBA level.

While the above numbers don’t scream ‘must add’, the fact that the coaching staff trusts him with 24 minutes a game says quite a lot.  Also, the Cavs aren’t exactly loaded with big men that have anywhere near the ceiling for improvement that Zeller has.  Given that trust and lack of real competition, Zeller should continue to see 25-28 minutes a game.

Zeller’s current outlook makes him an attractive add in redraft leagues and a definite add in keeper leagues, but the real upside here is the possibility that the Cavs decide to trade Anderson Varejao now that his trade value is probably at it’s absolute peak.  If the Cavs trade Varejao, it opens a ton of playing time for Zeller, either at power forward or more likely at center.

Zeller has a bright future in the NBA and should be rostered in most standard to deep sized leagues, and definitely in keeper leagues.

Waiver Wire Watchlist – Jimmy Butler

The Bulls are currently sitting at 7-7 and tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the number eight seed in the East.  If they don’t pick it up soon or if it becomes clear that the Pacers are going to pass them, it might be wise for the Bulls to start looking toward next season.  If they do, Jimmy Butler could be in line for playing time later this season and could make a great bench stash, especially in keeper leagues.

The Bulls currently have soon to be 35 year old Rip Hamilton manning the SG spot and he hasn’t been exactly lighting it up lately.   There’s also a good possibility that they decide to amnesty Carlos Boozer.  And of course, everyone knows that Derrick Rose might not return this season.  There’s also the possibility that Luol Deng could opt for the wrist surgery that he’s been putting off for over a year if the Bulls fall far enough out of the race.  If the Bulls decide to tank it this season, Taj Gibson, Marquis Teague and Jimmy Butler could all get some developmental minutes.

So far, Butler has been more of a defensive minded player, but his offense is progressing to the point where his shot selection is better and Thibodeau seems to be slowly working him into some backup minutes.   Butler is currently averaging 5.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.6 MPG.    If you take a look at his per/36 stats, that works out to 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds.  Not bad for a 23 year old, but the most encouraging thing for Butler is that he’s raised his FG% from 40.5% last season to 52% this year.  He’s also a career 81.5% free throw shooter.  We’re still dealing with a small sample this season, but there is clearly some improvement there.

I wouldn’t pick Butler up just yet, unless you are in a very deep keeper league.  Put him on your watchlist for now and keep an eye on how the Bulls progress as a team during January.  If it looks like the wheels are coming off and they begin looking toward next season, you may want grab Butler for a late season run.


Waiver Wire Add – Terrence Ross – Toronto Raptors

Terrence Ross had a big game Tuesday night going for 19 points and 5 rebounds in 36 minutes off the bench.  The biggest positive for Ross was the 17 shot attempts, which would be fantasy gold if he can continue to get 33-35 MPG.  The Raptors have a hole at SF and could move DeMar DeRozan to that spot and insert Ross into the starting SG spot.  These two guys had a preseason position battle going on at SG, but could find themselves on the court together soon if the Raptors decide they want more offense on the floor.   Redraft league owners may want to put Ross on their watchlist to see if the minutes trend continues, but he is definitely a waiver pickup right now for keeper league owners.