By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Here are are in the midst of yet another slow news week in the NBA. The only things that happened were: DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles, Kevin Love broke his hand, John Wall got knee surgery, Blake Griffin was traded to Detroit, Tyreke Evans is officially on the trading block, Nikola Mirotic got traded to the Pelicans (again), Greg Monroe got bought out, Marcus Smart punched a picture frame, Isaiah Canaan’s ankle exploded, and Jarrett Allen is the Nets’ new starting center. When will this league get interesting?
It’s safe to say some players have surfaced as potential waiver wire pickups in the wake of the aforementioned news. That said, while some circumstances merit an obvious addition, like Terry Rozier due to the Smart injury, other situations are murkier. For example, do any of the Pistons’ wing players — Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard — see a meaningful bump in production? Who really benefits from the Kevin Love injury?
This week, considering the influx of news, I’ve decided to organize this article by news, rather than specific player.
If I refer to a player’s ranking, it’s in regards to eight-category formats that do not account for turnovers.
DeMarcus Cousins Injury/Nikola Mirotic Traded to New Orleans
Cousins going down for the season opens up 36.2 minutes and 18.0 field-goal attempts per game in the Pelicans’ rotation. Prior to the Mirotic trade, it appeared that usage would be dispersed to a rag-tag combination of Dante Cunningham, Darius Miller and E’Twaun Moore, with Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark maybe getting in on the action as well. Those players may still see some extra usage, but bringing Mirotic into the fold probably destroys their potential waiver wire value, as Mirotic has proven to be a high-usage player himself (17.5 field-goal attempts per 36 minutes) this season and should slide comfortably into the power forward role next to Anthony Davis. Mirotic, himself, is 75-percent-owned in fantasy, so it’s unlikely he’s available.
Mirotic’s outlook could become a bit less rosy in the event that the Pelicans are able to add Greg Monroe. At least on paper, New Orleans looks to be the front-runner for Monroe, who grew up nearby and would likely be intrigued by the possibility of starting alongside Davis — or, at the very least, playing a significant role off the bench, similar to the one he held last season in Milwaukee.
On the Bulls’ side of things, Bobby Portis (42 percent owned) should see a rise in his 20.5 minutes per game and is worth a look in all leagues. When he sees at least 24 minutes, Portis averages 15.9 points (46.1 percent shooting), 8.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 threes. His field-goal percentage won’t do you any favors, but he’s at least a threat for 20 points and 10 rebounds almost every night.
Kevin Love Injury
Love is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks while recovering from a broken hand. In his first game out, Jae Crowder (52 percent owned) slid into the starting power forward spot, playing 27 minutes and taking seven shots in a close game against the Heat. Tristan Thompson (39 percent owned) played just 23 minutes and took five shots, Jeff Green (9 percent owned) saw 22 minutes and took two shots, and Channing Frye (13 percent owned) garnered 21 minutes and took nine shots.
All in all, the only player who really saw significant gains compared to where they were before was Frye, who’s averaged just 12.1 minutes and 3.7 shots per game this season. He doesn’t provide much by way of peripheral stats, but could be a valuable addition in deeper formats for three-pointers, as he averages 1.6 threes made this season when seeing between 20 and 29 minutes.
John Wall Knee Surgery
Wall is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks while recovering from the surgery, but we aren’t coming into this situation blind, as he missed nine games from late-November to mid-December after receiving inflammation-reducing injections in the same knee. In games that Wall has missed this season, Tomas Satoransky (18 percent owned) and Tim Frazier (6 percent owned) saw their minutes take the biggest leap. Satoransky goes from 14.4 minutes per game when Wall plays to 22.6 with Wall out, while Frazier goes from 11.2 to 22.8 minutes. Neither player is worth adding in 12-team formats, however. When Wall missed those nine games earlier in the year, Satoransky averaged just 8.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds, while Frazier posted 5.4 points, 3.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.
The Blake Griffin Trade
On the Clippers’ side, I’m not sure much changes, as Griffin’s minutes and shots may seamlessly transition to Tobias Harris. Avery Bradley’s presence will cut into the team’s backcourt, but the main effect will probably be just rendering fringe guys such as C.J. Williams and Tyrone Wallace nearly irrelevant. It could also cut into the usage of Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams (assuming he doesn’t get traded) and Austin Rivers, once he’s back from injury.
For the Pistons, Harris and Bradley departing creates a massive void on the wing. The main candidates to benefit are Stanley Johnson (22 percent owned), Reggie Bullock (25 percent owned) and Luke Kennard (4 percent owned). Johnson only averages 8.7 points (on 9.7 shots), 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals when he sees at least 30 minutes. He’s also shooting 35.1 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from three on the season. I don’t believe his horrendous shooting will change due to a trade.
I think Kennard and Bullock stand to benefit the most. Both are top-notch three-point shooters (Kennard at 43.0 percent and Bullock at 44.0 percent) and should see more attempts, especially with the defense probably focusing highly on Griffin. Per 36 minutes, Kennard averages 2.2 three-pointers made, while Bullock averages 2.3. Kennard also now ranks fifth on the team in usage among players who have played at least 500 minutes (minus Reggie Jackson), boding well for increased touches. Neither player is a must-add in standard formats, but both are worth looks as the team finds its new identity.
Tyreke Evans on the Trading Block
In all likelihood, we’ll have to use a wait-and-see approach here, especially since we don’t know what Memphis would be getting back in a potential trade. But there may be some value to be had in deeper leagues by speculatively adding guys like Wayne Selden (13 percent owned) and Andrew Harrison (3 percent owned). In the team’s most recent game with Evans sidelined, Selden saw 31 minutes and took 14 shots (10 from three), dropping 24 points while adding four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Meanwhile, Harrison played 25 minutes, taking eight shots and recording 13 points, six assists and five boards. Harrison, himself, has been the 90th-ranked fantasy player over the past seven days, while Selden is 68th over that same time period. With Mike Conley already ruled out for the year, both Selden and Harrison could see big minutes down the stretch if the Grizzlies don’t bring back another useful guard in a deal for Evans.
Greg Monroe (47 percent owned) Bought Out/Isaiah Canaan Broken Ankle
I don’t think the Monroe buyout means too much for the Suns’ frontcourt, as Monroe had only been playing when one of either Tyson Chandler or Alex Len were injured or resting. If anyone stands to benefit, it’s Marquese Chriss (43 percent owned), who will probably now see more minutes at center when Chandler or Len are unavailable. He could be worth a flier in 12-team leagues, but it’s a more comfortable risk in 14 or 16-team formats. In the 16 games where Chriss has seen at least 24 minutes this season, he’s averaging 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
Rumors are swirling about a potential destination for Monroe, such as Boston or New Orleans. Many fantasy players have held onto him through the ups and downs this season, but he’s still available in most leagues. He could be worth a speculative add considering he’s known to be a productive player in somewhat-limited minutes. When he sees between 20 and 29 minutes this season, Monroe averages 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 61.9 percent from the field.
Canaan’s injury could open up usage for the likes of Josh Jackson (29 percent owned) and Troy Daniels (3 percent owned), as Canaan was seeing 21.1 minutes per game. Coach Jay Triano has been running Devin Booker at point guard as of late, which was already allowing Jackson and Daniels more run, but that should be amplified now. Over the past five games, Jackson has averaged 16.2 points (on 14.2 shots) and 6.0 rebounds across 26.6 minutes per game. Daniels is averaging only 10.2 points over the same time period, but is drilling 2.8 threes on 7.0 attempts, making him a realistic option in deeper, categorical formats.
Marcus Smart Punched a Picture Frame
Smart will be sidelined for two weeks as a result of his action, opening up time for Terry Rozier (30 percent owned) to see a boost in workload and usage. With both Kyrie Irving (quad) and Smart out Wednesday, Rozier dropped a triple-double in his first career start, posting 17 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and two blocks while adding three triples. Even when Irving comes back, Rozier is worth a look, as he sees his minutes jump from 22.7 to 28.7 per game when Smart is on the shelf. In the 22 games in which Rozier has seen between 24 and 30 minutes, he’s averaged 11.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 threes and a combined 1.1 steals/blocks.
Jarrett Allen (22 percent owned): Starter
This news doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the rookie has been outpacing 28-year-old Tyler Zeller over the past five games. Over that span, Allen has posted 12.4 points, 7.6 assists and 1.0 block per game on 83.3 percent shooting across 21.4 minutes per contest. That’s resulted in him being the 59th-ranked player over the past seven days. Jahlil Okafor (24 percent owned) could be worth exploring as well in deeper formats, as it appears he and Allen will essentially be splitting time from here on out. Over the past three games, Okafor has averaged 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds across 21.0 minutes.