Trends, Waivers and Surprises in the Eastern Conference
Two weeks are in the NBA books and it’s time to take a look around the league and start tweaking those fantasy basketball rosters now that the picture is getting a little clearer. In just about every league, I always make it a rule not to make any big roster decisions in the first couple of weeks, patience is best during the early season with your star players, but now that we’ve reached that point, it’s time to make some moves.
Boston Celtics – The shooting guard spot for Boston has been a bit cloudy with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry competing for minutes, but it looks like Terry has assumed the starting role and is now getting the bulk of the minutes. Avery Bradley will return in about a month and I think you can safely drop Lee if you have your eye on a free agent. The power forward spot has also been a difficult fantasy situation for owners with Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green all fighting for minutes. Bass is getting about 30 MPG and I’d stick with him for another couple of weeks to see if he can gain the upper hand in this battle.
Brooklyn Nets – Gerald Wallace is already hurt and Marshon Brooks isn’t looking so good either. If you own Wallace, you simply have to ride out this injury and wait for him to heal. If you own Brooks, the decision isn’t so easy. I’m really starting to question whether Brooks will ever be able to get 25 MPG in his role with the Nets. I’d give him a week or two to get healthy and then if he still isn’t getting 25+ minutes a night, then cut him to the wire. The other disappointment for the Nets is Kris Humphries. He’ll have a one big game and then disappear for two or three games in a row. With all the weapons that the Nets have, it doesn’t appear that they are going to ask for much offense from Humphries. He’s still tough to cut, but if there is anyone on your wire with a bigger team role, then make the move.
New York Knicks – Amare Stoudemire is probably going to be a huge disappointment when he returns. I’ve got him in a few leagues and right now you either have to go all-in or fold on Stoudemire. Either you hold him until he returns and gets back in shape, which could take until late January, or you simply admit a bad draft pick now and move on. The decision will likely depend on the size of your bench. J.R. Smith and Ronnie Brewer have been nice surprises for the Knicks. Both guys should hold their value while Stoudemire is out, with Smith likely holding his even when Amare returns.
Philadelphia 76ers – Jrue Holiday is quickly making the leap to elite status so try and work a trade with an owner who is looking to sell high, if you can get him at a reasonable price. Jason Richardson returned last night and has been a great pickup for the Sixers. He should continue to produce as long as his health holds out. There’s still no timetable for Andrew Bynum to return, but you have to hold him if you own him. Evan Turner seems to finally be figuring things out and should be held.
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry is out right now with an ankle injury and Jose Calderon has been lighting it up. He’s a great short term waiver wire pickup. It could also be an audition for a trade, which would maximize his value. Landry Fields has been a disappoinment and can probably be safely cut. Rookie Jonas Valanciunas has looked better than I thought he would. He’s still getting pushed around on the boards, but with no other rebounding on the team, he should get his numbers. The talk of a DeMar DeRozan / Terrence Ross position battle was exaggerated. DeRozan has a firm grasp on the position and has had a very good season so far, he’s a hold.
Chicago Bulls – The problem spot for the Bulls is at poing guard where Kirk Hinrich can’t seem to get healthy. He missed Monday’s game with a hip injury which gave Nate Robinson the start. Nate put up 11 points, 7 assists and 2 steals, which is a pretty good short term grab off the waiver wire.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving has picked up right where he left off last season. He’s a star. Dion Waiters started off slowly, but he’s progressing nicely and should continue to start alongside Irving as long has he’s healthy. C.J. Miles has been a huge disappointment and can be cut to the wire. Alonzo Gee has a hold on the starting small forward spot and won’t be giving it back to Miles. Tyler Zeller will be out for a bit longer with a mild concussion and facial fracture, but he was playing well before the injury and should be a prime target for keeper league owners.
Detroit Pistons – Just about everyone on the Pistons has been a disappointment. Brandon Knight’s playmaking has gotten much better, but his shooting has been horrible. Rodney Stuckey had an early illness that has him sitting with a 28.2 FG%. He’s still a hold though. Kyle Singer and Andre Drummond should soon get their shot over Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell. Detroit really has no reason to keep these average players in the starting lineup when they desperately need to get their young guys some playing time. There could be big roster changes by Christmas.
Indiana Pacers – David West is showing his form from before his knee problems and looks like a draft steal. Danny Granger is out for the next three months with knee problems and can safely be dropped. Gerald Green has taken over for Granger, but hasn’t shown much. Give him 3-5 more starts before making a decision. George Hill has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners and hasn’t shown too many bad effects from his hip injury. He might be dealing with some lingering pain, but it hasn’t hurt his production.
Milwuakee Brewers – Larry Sanders has probably been the biggest surprise for the Bucks, as he’s gotten significant minutes at center in place of Samuel Dalembert. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Sanders take over the job after Christmas. Ersan Ilyasova has been the biggest disappointment on the Bucks, but you have to hold him right now and give him a chance to snap out of his slump. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have performed as expected, but be careful about a possible late season trade for Ellis.
Atlanta Hawks – I was high on Devin Harris as a late round pick, but that hasn’t really panned out and he can probably be dropped for a hot waiver wire claim. Lou Williams has been all over the place with his production, but I’d expect that he’ll get it going soon and be a solid middle round producer. Josh Smith is having a hard time getting going, but don’t sell low. The small forward spot is a fantasy black hole with Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson being fantasy irrelevant.
Charlotte Bobcats – Byron Mullens has been one of the biggest surprises in the league this year, jacking up a ton of threes. He should keep it up and is a must add. Kemba Walker has show flashes of all-star ability, but he’s just too inconsistent to use in daily fantasy games. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has lived up to his draft hype and should be a dependable, but unspectacular, contributor. Gerald Henderson is going to be out for a few more weeks, so give Ben Gordon a flier if you need scoring and threes. He put up 34 points in a game last week, so he has the ability.
Miami Heat – Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have been a little banged up in the early going, but the production is still there and they will only improve as the season goes on. Chris Bosh has successfully made the transition to playing center and should find himself easily in the top 7 or 8 big men. Mario Chalmers has had a few double digit assist games, but trying to pick those games is difficult.
Orlando Magic – Nikola Vucevic has been a big draft surprise and owners who took a chance have really been rewarded. On the other hand, if you took a chance on Gustavo Ayon, you can probably dump him now. Glen Davis has also shown some fantasy improvement and seems to be the primary offensive option. Arron Afflalo and J. J. Redick have really benefitted from the broken hand suffered by Hedo Turkoglu. Both guys have seen increased minutes and scoring chances. E’Twaun Moore has had his opportunity to shine with Jameer Nelson sidelined and he has produced. He could be a keeper even after Nelson returns.
Washington Wizards – A.J. Price has been pretty effective filling in for John Wall, but probably won’t be worth enough to keep after Wall returns. Bradley Beal has gotten off to a slow start, but he’s been coming on lately an should make a big jump once Wall returns. The small forward spot has been a nightmare for fantasy owners with Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster both looking like D-League material. Nene is out for at least another three weeks, which should give Kevin Seraphin time to prove he belongs in the rotation.