Jonas Nader

NBA Roundtable

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Top Pickups of the Year

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! As you know, a strong fantasy draft will get you to the fantasy playoffs, but championships are won on the waiver wire. The wire has been stronger than usual this season because of a rash of injuries, tanking and a strong rookie class, so let’s take a look at our favorite pickups so far. I’ll start us off…



Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)


Tomas Satoransky


Since he moved into the starting lineup 14 games ago, Tomas Satoransky is averaging 11.2 points, 5.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He’s shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 56.2 percent from 3-point range, and he’s yet to miss a free throw.  The Wizards have gone 10-4 in that stretch with Satoransky running the offense, and his net rating is 8.9 in that span, second only to Otto Porter. The Wizards were supposed to struggle without John Wall (knee), but they actually moved up from 6th place to 4th. We still don’t know if Wall will return in time to help owners in the fantasy playoffs, but Satoransky is at least keeping his owners afloat for the time being. 


Spencer Dinwiddie


Just like Satoransky, Dinwiddie went undrafted in most fantasy leagues. The Nets got a lot of heat for letting Yogi Ferrell go in favor of Dinwiddie, but now they are laughing all the way to the bank. Dinwiddie stepped up for the Nets following injuries to both Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, and he quickly established himself as a franchise cornerstone. He had the highest assist-to-turnover ratio through the All-Star break, and only Russell Westbrook, James Harden and LeBron James had a higher assist percentage. With top-75 value in standard 9-category leagues, Dinwiddie has been one of the waiver-wire pickups of the year so far and his outlook is still strong, as the Nets are now using him alongside D’Angelo Russell. 


Jarrett Allen


We waited a long time before Allen to get it going, though it wasn’t his fault. Coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets had a plan to bring Allen along very slowly, and as frustrating as that was, it looks as though that move will pay off. Still only 19 years old, Allen is averaging 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in 24 minutes per game over his last four, shooting 58.8 percent from the field. Once he reaches 30 minutes consistently and I think he will, Allen will offer legitimate top-50 upside. 


Donovan Mitchell


I drafted him in the late rounds in a lot of leagues, but nearly dropped him after his brutal start. I was also fortunate enough to scoop him off the wire in a couple more leagues when erupted for 23 points, three steals and three triples against the Lakers back on Oct. 28. He’s going to be on a lot of championship teams this season and it’s going to be interesting to see how high he goes in fantasy drafts next season. As of right now, he’s in the conversation as a 3rd-round pick with lots of room to grow. 


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Daniel Dobish (@danieledobish)


This is a tough one for me. In the Ultimate Basketball Challenge (UBC), a collection of experts competing in a league dating back to the early 2000's, I am usually very active in FAAB. This season, the stars aligned and I drafted a strong team consisting of Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, Hassan Whiteside, Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Favors, so I have made a total of just three transactions even when injuries have occurred. It isn't a great team, but it has been very consistent.

Outside of Kent Bazemore and Kyle Lowry, however, the guard play has been uneven at times. However, the stars aligned once again, and I had a full FAAB budget to blow out on Tomas Satoransky, shoring up the position. Not only do I like him because he is from the Czech Republic, where some of my family came from back in the day, but because he has rolled up big fantasy production since John Wall went down. When his scoring is down, he adds plenty of assists. He also chips in with a handful of rebounds and steals, and despite a higher usage rate, his turnovers haven't skyrocketed. While he could take a hit in late March when Wall is expected to return, it should be a fun ride until then.



Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)


*Nikola Mirotic:

Mirotic was left on waivers in plenty of leagues after a Bobby Portis punch sidelined him for the first six weeks of the season. However, since he returned, Niko is averaging career-highs in points (16.1), rebounds (7.0), treys (2.6) and field goal percentage (44.7 percent). He has slumped a bit of late with the Pelicans, but I’m expecting a strong close to the season. 


* Kris Dunn:

Like Mirotic, Dunn started the 2017-18 campaign sidelined. He was also coming off a horrendous rookie season. As a result, he was not drafted in many leagues and was floating around the wire into November. However, Dunn is currently one of just two players averaging at least 13 points, six assists and two steals per game this season. Russell Westbrook is the other. 


* Josh Richardson:

J-Rich was dropped in one of my shallow leagues after his slow start. Over the season’s first 20 games, Richardson averaged 8.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists, while shooting 36.9 percent from the floor and 27.1 percent from downtown. In the 40 games J-Rich has played since, he is averaging 15.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, to go along with 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks, while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range. Stay patient, my friends. 


* Mario Hezonja

The Magic have dealt with a ton of injuries over the last couple of months. The bright side has been increased opportunities for Hezonja, who is playing the best basketball of his career and averaged over 15 points and five rebounds per game in February. 



Steve Alexander (@Docktora)


Josh Jackson


I love this kid and a recent injury to T.J. Warren has him looking even better. JJ averaged 17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers on 45 percent shooting in February, and 14.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 3-pointers in January. He got off to a really slow start this season, but appears to be ready to finish up strong. Spencer Dinwiddie may have been the waiver-wire pickup of the year, but Jackson's not too far behind him. 


Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)


I'm with you on Jarrett Allen, Jonas, though I'd like to see more consistency from him as a shot-blocker. He's averaging 1.0 bpg since joining the starting lineup, but has no blocks in six of those 12 games. I'm nitpicking to some extent, but he has essentially been frustrating in half of his games as a starter. On a related note, he's 19 years old. 


Another name I'll add to the mix is Andrew Harrison. Over his last 10 games, he's posting 15.6 ppg, 4.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg and 1.5 3s, with strong percentages (47.4 / 80.5) and low turnovers (1.7). It certainly helps that Tyreke Evans has missed seven of those 10 games, but Harrison did put up 28 points with Tyreke in the lineup, so it's at least theoretically possible that both can produce if (repeat: if) Evans avoids a shutdown. 


Also - David Nwaba. The Bulls have four games on the schedule three out of the next four weeks. Nwaba as a starter this season (seven games): 11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 0.9 3s.



Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)


If Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t the pickup of the year, it has to be Donovan Mitchell after just about everyone jumped off the bandwagon in late October. He was off to a brutal start to the year and at one point his usage rate was higher than his eFG% in his season’s infant stages, but he’s been a high-round player since he snapped out of his early funk. Plus, he’s a treat to watch almost every night with plenty of highlight-reel jams.


I’m all about Jarrett Allen but fellow non-lottery dunk machine John Collins is also free. He’s playing two positions and he’s starting to get the ball more on offense. Plus, the blocks are starting to show up. As long as he dodges foul trouble, Collins should be in for a fantastic finish.


Dwight Powell looks like the real deal and is coming off a big 21-point game against the Thunder. Sure, Nerlens Noel could be a factor in this rotation, but I’d expect Powell to hotdog his way to a difference-making finish.


A lot of shallow-league owners are probably loving how many people gave up on Jamal Murray and Josh Richardson. Both have been in the hunt for the playoffs with big minutes and have been top-30 players in nine-category leagues since Dec. 1. Patience, folks.



Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)


I agree with everyone's picks thus far, with Donovan Mitchell taking the cake IMO.


Let me just add one more name to the list: Tyreke Evans.


Hey, I get that he's been rather annoying to own essentially ever since the break, but it sure was fun while it lasted. And if, and that's a big if, he doesn't get shut down or miss a large number of games over this second half the season he could be a difference maker on a championship squad.

Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)

All great names I can't argue with...Jarrett Allen, Tomas Satoransky, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc. I co-manage a team with Jared and we managed to grab Donovan Mitchell off the wire a few weeks into the season, which has obviously been a coup. And lest we forget, Josh Richardson's ADP in Yahoo leagues was No. 160 on Oct. 6, and he was outside the top 200 in ESPN leagues. Oops.
To expand the pickup pool, I'll give some love to Taj Gibson. The 32-year-old has benefited from Tom Thibodeau's tight rotations, averaging a steady 12.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game. He's shooting 58.0% from the field with just 1.1 turnovers, too, which makes him a solid mid-round guy in 9-cat leagues. He drops a few rounds in 8-cat, and is just inside the top-100 for NBA Official/FanDuel points scoring, but even that's not shabby for a waiver-wire pickup.
Courtney Lee's run of fantasy prominence is winding down in a hurry -- in three games since the All-Star break, the veteran has averaging just 13.7 minutes. Still, it was a fun ride in most formats as he quietly chipped in across-the-board value for four months. 
Kyle Anderson is another player who thrives in roto leagues while clinging to low-end value in points formats. With Kawhi Leonard's injury saga unfolding in the background, Anderson has quietly stepped up with 8.1 points (51.7% FGs, 74.1% FTs), 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, 0.2 triples and just 1.4 turnovers. 

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