Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire - Nembhard, Kessler Headline Week 9 Adds

Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire - Nembhard, Kessler Headline Week 9 Adds

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

Welcome back. Rookie season is upon us, as several of the top options this week are first-year players. Not only is it fun when the young players start to make an impact, but each of this week's two top adds help in one of Fantasy's scarcest two categories – blocks and assists.

This week's article also includes a segment on players nearing a return from injury who require attention, highlighted by a certain big man known for altering shots, as well as our fundamental understanding of space-time. 

The schedule is once again balanced for the first time in several weeks. No days have more than 10 games, and the quietest night still has four. It's a welcome return, and it means managers can return to their typical schedule-management patterns – whatever that means for their league.

As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.

Adds for all leagues

Walker Kessler, Jazz (40% rostered)

Stop reading and add Kessler now. Then come back to read why you've just made such an excellent decision. Kessler supplanted a healthy Jarred Vanderbilt as the Jazz's starting center on Wednesday, and though Utah described the move as temporary, a more lasting shift may be coming. Regardless of who started, Kessler has seen his minutes jump lately, playing at least 22 minutes in three of their

Welcome back. Rookie season is upon us, as several of the top options this week are first-year players. Not only is it fun when the young players start to make an impact, but each of this week's two top adds help in one of Fantasy's scarcest two categories – blocks and assists.

This week's article also includes a segment on players nearing a return from injury who require attention, highlighted by a certain big man known for altering shots, as well as our fundamental understanding of space-time. 

The schedule is once again balanced for the first time in several weeks. No days have more than 10 games, and the quietest night still has four. It's a welcome return, and it means managers can return to their typical schedule-management patterns – whatever that means for their league.

As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.

Adds for all leagues

Walker Kessler, Jazz (40% rostered)

Stop reading and add Kessler now. Then come back to read why you've just made such an excellent decision. Kessler supplanted a healthy Jarred Vanderbilt as the Jazz's starting center on Wednesday, and though Utah described the move as temporary, a more lasting shift may be coming. Regardless of who started, Kessler has seen his minutes jump lately, playing at least 22 minutes in three of their last four games after previously reaching that total only twice all season. 

Kessler's primary value is as a shot-blocker. Over the last four games, he's played 22.0 minutes and is averaging an absurd 3.5 blocks per game. As ridiculous as that total is, it is also not surprising, as Kessler swatted a downright silly 4.6 per game last year as a sophomore at Auburn. Outside the blocks, Kessler is a typical Fantasy big, capable of close to a double-double per game as long as he's getting enough minutes, paired with excellent FG% and a poor FT%. But the blocks are better than elite. If the minutes keep expanding, Kessler could be a season-defining pickup. 

Andrew Nembhard, Pacers (52% rostered)

Nembhard quietly stepped into the Pacers' starting lineup a month ago when Chris Duarte (ankle) got hurt. As Duarte remains sidelined without a timeline to return, Nembhard presents a strong argument for becoming a permanent starter. His two points-assists double-doubles in the past week put him on the Fantasy radar, just days after many fans got to hear him receive glowing praise on Zach Lowe's popular podcast. He's averaging 15-5-7 with 2.0 threes over his last five starts. Managers shouldn't expect his production to stay quite that good, but he's worthy of a roster spot until he cools off. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks (62% rostered)

Bogdanovic made his season debut last week, and the results so far have been terrible. The 30-year-old veteran is shooting 29% from the field. However, we shouldn't forget how good a healthy Bogdanovic can be. He averaged 15-4-3 with at least two threes a game for four seasons in a row. The Hawks have less wing depth than they've had in years and continue to be plagued by injuries. Better days are probably ahead for Bogdanovic, as long as he can stay healthy himself.

AJ Griffin, Hawks (33% rostered)

While we're talking about surging rookies, we ought to mention Griffin, who has started the last three games with the Hawks shorthanded. I'm not sold on Griffin as a reliable Fantasy play, but he has earned some attention. He's put up 15-3-2 in 31.3 minutes across those three starts, though most of the scoring came in a single game. With Dejounte Murray (ankle) now joining De'Andre Hunter (hip) and John Collins (ankle) on the injury report, Griffin may continue to see extra minutes.

Other recommendations: Tim Hardaway Jr, Mavericks (68% rostered); Malik Monk, Kings (54% rostered); Moe Wagner, Magic (15% rostered); Jalen McDaniels, Hornets (34% rostered); Markelle Fultz, Magic (61% rostered); Zach Collins, Spurs (27% rostered); TJ Warren, Nets (22% rostered); Marcus Morris, Clippers (59% rostered); Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves (32% rostered); Jaylen Nowell, Timberwolves (35% rostered); Dyson Daniels, Pelicans (12% rostered)

Injury Return Watch

Robert Williams, Celtics (74% rostered)

Williams was a top-40 player last season – top-20 from Christmas through the end of the season. We don't have a specific timeline for his return, but the Celtics sound optimistic that his return is coming soon. If he's available in your league, the time to act is now. The reward is too high to risk waiting and missing out. I'd prioritize adding Williams above any other player in this article.

Cameron Johnson, Suns (47% rostered)

This article is published 31 days after Johnson (knee) underwent surgery and was given a "1-to-2 month" return timeline. The fact that we still don't have another update implies that his actual return might be more toward the end of that window. Nonetheless, it's time for Johnson to get back on our Fantasy radar. When you pick him up depends on your particular situation. Do you have extra bench room or an available IR slot? Are you particularly desperate for threes and steals? Once he's fully healthy (assuming he gets there), I have confidence in Johnson's ability to be a top-100 player, with potential to get a little higher.

Dennis Smith, Hornets (36% rostered)

Smith (ankle) doesn't have a timetable for return, and he's set to miss his seventh consecutive game Friday. We have absolutely no information here, but I've got to assume he's getting close to a return, given that he's been out two and half weeks already, and the Hornets continue to treat him on a game-to-game basis. LaMelo Ball (ankle) also remains out, and at this point, the now-tanking Hornets have lots of incentive to keep Ball sidelined. If Smith returns and Ball is still out, he'd be viable in all but the very shallowest of leagues, especially if Gordon Hayward (shoulder) is also still sidelined. Standard league managers don't need to add Smith yet, but they should act as soon as he gets upgraded to questionable for a game.

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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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