Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Long-Term Pickups After the Break

Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Long-Term Pickups After the Break

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed your week off of lineup-setting, rehabbed those clicking fingers, and are feeling refreshed for the home stretch. 

Since there has only been one day of games since last week's column, we're going to change it up today.  Today we're zooming out and looking at the next six weeks as a whole – who can help for the entire stretch run? Or who might be primed for a championship-defining breakout? No short-term injury replacements or unsustainable hot streaks this week, just guys who could help over the long haul.

If you want a more traditionally focused article, check out last week's piece

As always, a player must be rostered in fewer than two-thirds of leagues to qualify. Within each section, players are listed in the order I would recommend adding them (assuming all were equally good fits for your needs).

Adds for all leagues

Tre Mann, Hornets (58% rostered)

Since the trade deadline, the Hornets have settled on Mann as their new starting point guard. An eventual LaMelo Ball (ankle) return will change up the rotation, but A) we don't know if or when Ball will return, B) Ball is once again a tanking-season shut-down risk, and C) it is possible (likely?) that Mann would see a ton of minutes alongside Ball, maintaining Mann's value even if Ball is active. Mann is excelling in his new role, already averaging 14-7-7 with 2.0 threes and 1.5 steals as a Hornet – and that's including

Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed your week off of lineup-setting, rehabbed those clicking fingers, and are feeling refreshed for the home stretch. 

Since there has only been one day of games since last week's column, we're going to change it up today.  Today we're zooming out and looking at the next six weeks as a whole – who can help for the entire stretch run? Or who might be primed for a championship-defining breakout? No short-term injury replacements or unsustainable hot streaks this week, just guys who could help over the long haul.

If you want a more traditionally focused article, check out last week's piece

As always, a player must be rostered in fewer than two-thirds of leagues to qualify. Within each section, players are listed in the order I would recommend adding them (assuming all were equally good fits for your needs).

Adds for all leagues

Tre Mann, Hornets (58% rostered)

Since the trade deadline, the Hornets have settled on Mann as their new starting point guard. An eventual LaMelo Ball (ankle) return will change up the rotation, but A) we don't know if or when Ball will return, B) Ball is once again a tanking-season shut-down risk, and C) it is possible (likely?) that Mann would see a ton of minutes alongside Ball, maintaining Mann's value even if Ball is active. Mann is excelling in his new role, already averaging 14-7-7 with 2.0 threes and 1.5 steals as a Hornet – and that's including his first game when he saw fewer minutes. Not that you should need extra convincing, but Charlotte has an extra game remaining compared to most of the league, and they play four games in each of the last three weeks of the season.

Grayson Allen, Suns (58% rostered)

What, you thought I'd forget? The focus of this article is long-term adds – what's more long-term than the entire season? He's arguably been the best shooter in the NBA this year, and he plays a ton of minutes. I'm not going to miss a chance to remind you that there's a top-80 player available for free and that he should already be on your rosters.

Trey Murphy, Pelicans (42% rostered)

Murphy is awesome, but the Pelicans are deep. As the Pelicans were battling multiple injuries late last season, Murphy was unleashed. Over a hefty 19-game stretch, he put up 20-3-2 with 3.8 threes, 1.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks while shooting 51-45-90. For those six weeks, he was a top-25 Fantasy producer. He was top-10 in 9-cat! He's been slowly recovering from an offseason knee injury, and there are less minutes for him now that the Pelicans are in the midst of an unusually healthy season. New Orleans long had a well-earned reputation for having one of the worst medical staffs in the league, though things have improved a bit over the last few years. It'll be a few more years before we can know whether things have really improved on the health-management side, or if they just hit a run of good luck. As things currently stand, Murphy is most likely to remain a fringe Fantasy option. But if that old friend the injury bug does return to the bayou, then Murphy could quickly become an elite stretch option.

Jordan Goodwin, Grizzlies (4% rostered)

The Grizzlies are devastated by injuries, and it's worse at point guard than elsewhere. Jacob Gilyard has frequently filled in as starter and is averaging 20.1 minutes since the new year. But Gilyard is on a two-way contract and can only be active for two more NBA games this season – technically there are ways to get him to a full NBA contract, but given the Grizzlies' current roster and cap situation, that appears unlikely. That means there should be a ton of available minutes for Goodwin going forward. He's no superstar, but as long as his playing time is up he should be able to help in assists and steals while breaking even in rebounds and threes.

Note, I'd rather bet on Goodwin than teammate Ziaire Williams (12% rostered). But Goodwin is still on a 10-day contract, so he might be gone soon, too. If Gilyard is ineligible and they let Goodwin go, then it probably means Williams is probably going to benefit.

Cam Whitmore, Rockets (34% rostered)

The Rockets don't own their own pick this season (1-4 protected), and they are therefore unlikely to tank even if they fall out of the Play-In race. That said, they are likely to fall out of the Play-In race sooner rather than later. They have more road games remaining than home games, including six of their next 10, most of which are against Western Conference contenders. They are 3.5 games back of the 10 seed, and that 10 seed happens to be a smoking hot Warriors squad. Though Houston will never fully lean into the tank, once they accept that the Play-In is out of reach they are likely to start shifting more minutes over to Whitmore. Whitmore fell to 20th in last summer's draft, but most had projected him as an early lottery pick before some medical red flags emerged. The 19-year-old has flashed lately, putting up 16-5-1 in just 21.3 minutes over an 11-game stretch. If injuries or fading postseason hopes lead to extra minutes, Whitmore could become a high-impact pickup.

Toumani Camara, Trail Blazers (7% rostered)

The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, never stopped tanking. They're currently fifth in the tankathon, but if they really focus their efforts (as we saw them do last year) they could make a zealous run at third. I typically advise against trying to predict which currently healthy players will get shut down. That said, given Portland's recent history, I'd expect at least one (and possibly all three) of Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, and Deandre Ayton to start his/their summer early. Grant's absence would have the most direct impact on Camara, but his minutes could increase following a shut down for any of the three. He's best in steals, but he can also help in rebounds and his scoring has increased through the season. 

Duop Reath, Trail Blazers (5% rostered)

This is functionally an extension of the Camara blurb, above. The big difference is that for Reath to emerge, Ayton has to get shut down. That may happen, but he needs that specific path to become a Fantasy option, while Camara has multiple possible routes. Reath averaged 12-7-2 with 1.4 stocks and 1.7 threes across his 11 starts this season.

Guys I wanted to write about, but are too widely rostered to qualify: Keyonte George, Jazz (71% rostered); Brandin Podziemski, Warriors (78% rostered); Ausar Thompson, Pistons (74% rostered);

Other recommendations: Aaron Nesmith, Pacers (59% rostered); Gregory Jackson, Grizzlies (58% rostered); Simone Fontecchio, Pistons (28% rostered); Marvin Bagley, Wizards (64% rostered); Jaime Jaquez, Heat (56% rostered); Bilal Coulibaly, Wizards (33% rostered)

Guys for whom it's probably not going to happen, but I really wanted to mention on the small chance everything breaks right for them: Marcus Sasser, Pistons (14% rostered); Max Christie, Lakers (1% rostered)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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