Steve Alexander

Waiver Wired

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Wired: Top Pickups Week 19

Sunday, February 18, 2018


With only about seven weeks left in the regular season and the All-Star break at hand, I thought I’d look at the games-played schedule the rest of the way for analyzing pickups down the stretch. Of course, there are serious shutdown candidates to consider, as well as bad teams with nothing left to play for, which I’ll also take into consideration for this column. But the main focus will be on games played and who might be available on your waiver wire, on a per-team basis.

 

Week 19 Games Played (upcoming week)

3 Games: CHA, CLE, PHI, WAS

2 Games: BOS, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHX, POR, SAC, SAS, UTA

1 Game: ATL, BKN, IND, TOR

 

The Sixers still have 27 games remaining, the most in the league, while the Timberwolves limp home with just 21 games left in their season. That’s six whole games if you own Joel Embiid instead of Karl-Anthony Towns, although with Embiid’s injury history, and KAT’s tendency to never rest, they could end up even by the time it’s all said and done. Here’s a look at every team in the league's remaining games played.

 

27 Games – Philadelphia 76ers

 

Not only do the Sixers have the most games remaining on their schedule, they also get three games in Week 19, while all but three other teams play just one or two times that week. That gives you at least two big reasons to target Sixers down the stretch. The only problem is that pickups in Philly are going to be slim to none. I have zero faith in Markelle Fultz and wouldn’t burn a pickup on him, even with the great schedule. T.J. McConnell had a recent triple-double, but is unreliable, and Marco Belinelli had a big game, but is also a huge question mark with his new team. If you’ve been thinking about dropping Robert Covington, the schedule is probably enough to hold onto him, while Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson might be worth a look in case Joel Embiid is shut down. If J.J. Redick is available, you should pick him up. Otherwise, there’s not much on the wire when it comes to Philly.

 

26 Games – Cleveland Cavaliers, L.A. Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies

 

Like the Sixers, the Cavaliers play three games in Week 19, giving them an advantage over most of the league. They also play more games than most teams in the league over the final couple months of the season. This increases the value of guys like George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, Jeff Green, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance. If any of them are available in your league, the schedule favors them enough for you to pick them up for a guy playing several fewer games at the bottom of this list.

 

The Clippers have a nice schedule, making guys like Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic interesting. Avery Bradley could also finish on a high note after a disastrous season, meaning he’s worth a look if for nothing more than the extra games he’s going to play down the stretch. Just keep in mind that he’s been really bad thus far, so there are no guarantees that he’s going to get it turned around. Rivers looks like the pickup here.

 

The Grizzlies might be the most interesting team on this list. They have a lot of games left, but guys like Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans are on the shutdown watch list. Meanwhile, Andrew Harrison looks like a fine pickup to me, while players like Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Deyonta Davis, Jarell Martin, Mario Chalmers and Wayne Selden all deserve consideration. That’s the order I’d put them in. And as far as a Gasol or Evans shutdown watch goes, I’d put both of their target dates around March 12. Maybe they finish out the year in a lost season, or maybe a tweaked back or ankle shuts them down early. If Evans leaves, Harrison becomes must-own (although I think he’s there already) and if Gasol leaves, we might finally see a Davis breakout. He’s a speculative add if you’re with me and think Gasol might not finish this thing out.

 

25 Games – Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards.

 

Most teams have 24 or 25 games left, so you’re not going to find any huge advantages here. But the Hornets do play three games in Week 19, while most others play just once or twice, and they take a hit in the final couple weeks of the season, playing just four times when everyone else tends to play five or six times. Hornets pickup candidates include Nicolas Batum (if he was dropped), Jeremy Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky and Willy Hernangomez, in case Dwight Howard leaves early, although I don’t think that’s likely. I could see Marvin being shutdown at some point, which would help Kaminsky. The Hornets are 5.5 games out of the playoffs, so it’s likely they have nothing to play for over the final month of the season.

 

The Bulls season is basically over. Kris Dunn should be back, but Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne should play down the stretch, hurting all three of them. Zach LaVine could be shut down at any point coming off surgery, but has looked great in his return. Justin Holiday should be safe, Denzel Valentine is fading, but could play this thing out, and Bobby Portis has been solid over the last month. And if they decide to shut down Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio or Willie Reed could become relevant. David Nwaba is the guy to keep an eye on here, as the Bulls could decide to turn him loose in a lost season.

 

The Pistons are only 1.5 games out of the playoffs, so there’s a decent chance the regulars keep playing until the end. Reggie Bullock is a strong pickup right now, while Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver could stay relevant throughout the rest of the season.

 

The Rockets have the opposite problem of the Pistons, as they’ are cruising and are basically guaranteed either the first- or second-seed in the West. Maybe guys like Chris Paul and James Harden get a couple games off down the stretch, but there are no must-own pickups in Houston. Ryan Anderson had a monster game recently, and plays enough games to make him worth a look, while Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and Joe Johnson all warrant some attention.

 

The Lakers are only playing for the fans and we still don’t know when Lonzo Ball will be back, or how long he’ll play the rest of the way given his knee problems. Isaiah Thomas should be good to go and I’m still a huge fan of holding Josh Hart. My guess is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will soon fade away, while Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma are all young enough that they should finish this thing out. Brook Lopez is a shutdown candidate, simply because of his tenure in the league, but the only player that helps is probably Randle. Hart looks like the pickup here.

 

The Bucks are locked into the playoffs, but would like to improve their position, as they currently sit at No. 6 behind the Pacers and in front of the Sixers in the East. Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Tony Snell should all get plenty of run the rest of the way, but there are no obvious pickups here.

 

The Pelicans are clinging to the No. 8 seed in the West, but sit just ½ game ahead of the Clippers and 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz. It should be fun to watch them down the stretch and Anthony Davis has managed to stay pretty healthy thus far. Rajon Rondo should probably be owned, E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller are worth a look in most leagues, and Ian Clark, Cheick Diallo and Emeka Okafor are watch-list candidates.

 

The Magic are battling the Hawks for the worst record in the East (and the league) and have nothing left to play for. As someone who has been holding injured Aaron Gordon for too long, it makes me quite nervous. Yes, he’s a shutdown candidate, especially if he’s not ready to go right after the break. D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack are still pickup candidates with no one else to play point guard in Orlando, and Jonathon Simmons is young enough to keep playing in a lost season. Mario Hezonja should be owned until we find out the fate of Gordon, while guys like Jonathan Isaac and Khem Birch could make some noise down the stretch. The Magic have Nikola Vucevic set to return from a broken hand, but really don’t have many reasons to play him. Bismack Biyombo could finish up strong, especially if the Magic decide to shut Vuc down.

 

The Kings have an advantage over the rest of the league with five games in Week 20, but only have four games over the last couple weeks of the season. The five-game week in your playoffs is huge. They have nothing to play for, but young guys like De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic (Rising Stars MVP), Willie Cauley-Stein, Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere, JaKarr Sampson and Buddy Hield could all finish up strong for the disaster that is the Kings. Zach Randolph has been solid for several weeks, but I find it hard to believe he’ll finish out the season, and I don’t trust Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos or Vince Carter at all.

 


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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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