By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
We’re about eight games into the NBA season for most teams and, as we all expected, Orlando and Boston are tied for first place in the East, while the Cavaliers and Nets are tied for 12th. Meanwhile, Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo are combining for 36.9 points, 15.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
Let’s try to sort through the chaos to find some value off the waiver wire. (Note: stats as of action prior to Thursday’s slate)
Alex Len (37% owned) or Tyson Chandler (27%), Suns
If you’re in a categorical fantasy format and need rebounding, Len and Chandler are both solid options off the wire. It’s hard to recommend one heavily over the other, since Len is posting 8.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and Chandler is producing 6.9 points and 8.9 boards per game. Len may have more long-term value, though, as the Suns opted to sit Chandler after the All-Star break last season to get a better look at some of their younger players. Phoenix has looked better of late, but another second-half tank job isn’t out of the question.
Marcus Morris, Celtics (40%)
With Gordon Hayward (ankle) out of the picture, Morris is seemingly in line to have a bigger role with the Celtics than originally projected. He’s coming off a knee injury, however, so don’t get too discouraged if he starts slowly. He averaged 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 41.8 percent shooting last year. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but it’s possible a drastic change of scenery helps the 28-year-old. He should also be in line for around 30 minutes per game considering the lack of experienced depth in Boston.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets (34%)
Coach Kenny Atkinson is opting to play D’Angelo Russell and Dinwiddie nearly equal minutes following the loss of Jeremy Lin (knee) for the season. It’s been a smooth transition for Dinwiddie, as he’s posted 15.8 points, 6.3 assists and 1.8 steals across 26.5 minutes per game in the team’s most recent four matchups. He’s also shot 55.6 percent from three on 4.5 attempts per contest over that stretch. While that certainly won’t continue, Dinwiddie seems to be at least a safe source of assists next to Russell, who has taken on more of a scoring role for Brooklyn (21.7 points per game).
T.J. McConnell, 76ers (24%)
There’s been plenty of reason for fantasy owners to avoid McConnell. Namely, the presence of two No. 1 picks, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who do his job as a ball-handler and distributor. However, Fultz is dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out for the team’s last four games and may keep him sidelined into late November. Since Fultz has been in street clothes, McConnell is posting 11.0 points, 7.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest. Even with Ben Simmons flirting with a triple-double seemingly every night, McConnell is clearly finding ways to get involved in the offense. McConnell’s fantasy value is mostly contingent on Fultz’s health (or lack thereof), so he doesn’t provide a long-term solution. However, considering the controversy and confusion surrounding Fultz shoulder, McConnell’s value could maintain for the whole month of November, and perhaps beyond.
Emmanuel Mudiay, Nuggets (12% owned)
If you shook a magic 8-ball and asked it about Mudiay’s long-term role with the Nuggets, it would respond: Reply hazy try again. However, that’s a significant upgrade from Outlook not so good, which was mostly the case last season. Over the past four games, Mudiay has averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 steal across 23.5 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from long range. A significant reason Jamal Murray was drafted over Mudiay in fantasy leagues was his higher upside as a long-range shooter, which led many to believe Murray would establish himself as the legitimate starting point guard in Denver. Now, Mudiay has muddied the waters. It’s important to note, however, that Murray averaged 23.3 points per game over the Nuggets’ last three games. The battle is far from over.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings (19% owned)
The rookie missed the Kings’ first three contests while nursing an ankle injury but has established himself as a legitimate rotation player since then, averaging 10.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals across 24.0 minutes per game. Bogdanovic may be more of a “watch list” guy, rather than an “add immediately” guy, but it’s still hard to imagine the Kings would drop a three-year, $27 million deal on a rookie and not give him significant run (depending on your thoughts on the Kings organization, I suppose).
Internal decisions aside, Bogdanovic, while shooting just 23.1 percent from deep thus far, is no slouch as a long-range shooter. Over 22 EuroLeague games last season, he hit 2.1 threes per game at a 43.0 percent clip. Sure, the NBA three-point line is longer and the competition is stiffer, but we should probably allow the 25-year-old some time to adjust. If you’re in a standard league, you are probably safe holding off for now. Owners in deeper leagues should take the role that Bogdanovic is garnering seriously.
Austin Rivers, Clippers (50% owned)
With Milos Teodosic (foot) in a walking boot and out indefinitely, Rivers should see more time on the floor and touch the ball more often. Over the team’s past five games, the guard has posted 15.2 points and 2.0 steals across 31.2 per game. Looking to Rivers as a source of anything other than points is probably misguided, as he’s never averaged more than 2.8 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals in any given season. He did drill 1.5 threes per game last year, however. All that said, there aren’t many players receiving 30-plus minutes a game that are still on the wire in half or fewer fantasy leagues. He has some potential to get hot as well, as he totaled 11 games last season with 20 or more points.
Kris Dunn, Bulls (43% owned)
If you’re a Dunn believer, now is probably the time to grab him off the wire if he’s available. In his two games back from a finger injury, he’s averaged 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks across 25.5 minutes per contest. His 37.5 percent shooting from the field is tough to swallow, but expecting Dunn to be efficient at this point simply isn’t realistic, as he shot just 37.7 percent from the field last year and his touch was an area of concern coming out of college. What’s more important, however, is that he’s taking 12.0 shots per game — a number that can certainly result in solid scoring production. His true value as a fantasy commodity lies in his upside as a passer, defender and rebounder, however.