By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Against all odds, no notable, long-term injuries have occurred since last week, so we have to do some digging to find value off the waiver wire.
The Clippers continue to be decimated by injury, but with Milos Teodosic (foot) day-to-day and Blake Griffin (concussion) likely to return soon as well, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which of LA’s reserves — such as Tyrone Wallace, Jawun Evans and C.J Williams — will have long-term value, especially with Lou Williams taking massive control of the offense. As such, many of the following waiver wire options have words of caution attached to them, as some of their roles will be fleeting or are up in the air.
If I refer to a player’s fantasy rank, it’s for standard, eight-category leagues that don’t account for turnovers.
Denzel Valentine, Bulls (19 percent owned)
With teammate Nikola Mirotic (illness) sidelined over the Bulls’ past two games, a significant chunk of his minutes have been handed to Valentine. He’s responded by averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.5 threes per game (though Monday’s contest against the Knicks was a double-OT win). Regardless, Valentine has demonstrated all-around fantasy value throughout the season, despite some inconsistent play, coming in ranked as the 90th overall fantasy player over the past 30 days. At that level of production, he’s simply under-owned at 19 percent. Some of that may be due to his numbers not being flashy — 10.4 points (50.0 percent from the field), 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 threes and 0.8 steals across 28.7 minutes per game over the past month.
Still, I’d only recommend him for leagues of 12 teams or more. Zach LaVine will be making his Bulls debut Saturday after being sidelined while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. His return will muddy up coach Fred Hoiberg’s rotation, especially with regard to Justin Holiday and Valentine, who occupy the majority of the team’s minutes on the wing.
And, while there are plenty of rumors swirling around about Nikola Mirotic being traded, a deal to send Mirotic elsewhere wouldn’t necessarily benefit Valentine. So, while I believe Valentine is worth a look in deeper formats, I’d advise to do so with caution, not dropping any significant members from your team in the process.
Mario Hezonja, Magic (7 percent owned)
I’m suggesting Hezonja with the same vein of caution as I am Valentine. After two years of relative disappointment, the third-year wing was given a chance at an expanded role recently due to a myriad of injuries plaguing the Magic. That resulted in him drawing nine starts and averaging 14.2 points (49.0 percent from the field), 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 threes, 1.8 assists and just over a steal in those outings, while becoming the 94th-ranked fantasy player over the past 30 days. Now, with the team more healthy, his role will surely diminish — the question is: how much?
Ideally, we’ll hear something official from coach Frank Vogel regarding Hezonja’s role moving forward. But that hasn’t been the case. Personally, it’s hard for me to imagine him slipping below 20 minutes per game from here on out considering his recent output, versatility and state of the team (12-30 and 14th place in the Eastern Conference). He’s a viable option at three positions (shooting guard, small forward, power forward) and is a 48.0 percent shooter overall and 34.9 percent three-point shooter since Dec. 9. Even with all that in mind, it’s tough for me to recommend Hezonja for anything other than deep leagues until we know what his true role moving forward will be.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings (26 percent owned)
One of the only consistent members of the Kings’ rotation, Bogdanovic has continued to grow more comfortable in the NBA. Since Dec. 20, he’s seen 30.1 minutes per game, averaging 13.2 points (55.4 percent from the field), 4.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 threes. Especially in deeper leagues, it’s tough to find productive players with consistent 30-plus minute workloads on the waiver wire at this point in the season. He’s been notably improved over the past seven days, ranking as the 83rd overall fantasy player.
Tyler Ulis, Suns (3 percent owned)
Ulis can make for a streaming option this week in deeper formats due to Isaiah Canaan (groin) being on the shelf. Canaan is expected to return by Jan. 17 at the latest, however, so Ulis’ fantasy value will likely be fleeting. That said, in the two games that Canaan has been out, Ulis has averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals — the assists and steals being the main draw. His scoring has a chance of increasing, as he’s taken 10 threes over those two contests, making just one. As a 27.4 percent three point shooter, going 1-for-10 isn’t too surprising, but the potential is certainly there for him to make a couple moving forward.
Davis Bertans, Spurs (9 percent owned)
Bertans remains a viable fantasy option while Kawhi Leonard (shoulder), who is currently day-to-day without a timetable for a return, is in street clothes. Over the past four contests, Bertans has been given 29.3 minutes per game, resulting in an average of 15.3 points (53.5 percent from the field), 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 threes, 2.3 assists and 1.0 block. That production has vaulted him to become the 53rd ranked player over the past seven days. Exercise caution when picking him up off the waiver wire, however, as Leonard could seemingly be back any time.