Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Specialists: Waiver Wire Gems

Monday, March 19, 2018


With so many injuries impacting the fantasy landscape, I thought I’d try something different this time around.


Rather than highlighting a handful of names, we’re going to run through a list of potential waiver-wire targets in position to take advantage of additional playing time. It’s roster turnover time with every day (or every week) a new opportunity, and although it can be tough to let go of emotional attachments—for me, that’s Gary Harris (knee), who is expected to be out for at least the next week—anyone taking zeroes at this stage of the game is more of a liability than an asset.  


Mike Muscala, Atlanta Hawks: 3-pointers (2%)


Regardless of what we hear on the John Collins (ankle) front, Muscala figures to flirt with at least 20-25 minutes for the remainder of the campaign due to Atlanta’s laughable frontcourt composition. And if he can produce like he has over his last five games—11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 2.2 triples on 51.4% (19-of-37) shooting—Muscala promises to be a popular pluck from the waiver wire.


Cameron Payne, Chicago Bulls: Assists (6%)


Kris Dunn is a lock to miss multiple games with a “like a turf-toe-like injury,” and that means Payne is going to play as many minutes as he can handle for a blatantly tanking Bulls team.


Although the young point guard has really seen his stock drop since he entered the league, Payne is coming off a career-high 10-assist game and has shown enough to be considered over his last few games with averages of 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 3PM on 12-of-30 (40.0%) from the field. It’s hard to get really excited about Payne’s prospects due to circumstance—remember both Zach LaVine (knee) and Lauri Markkanen (back) remain out of the lineup—but the Bulls do play four times this week and the action begins with a favorable matchup vs. the Knicks.


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Denzel Valentine, Chicago Bulls: Points, 3-pointers (24%)


With Dunn, LaVine, Markkanen all out of the lineup and the Bulls in desperate need of offensive production, Valentine is in an excellent spot to produce.


Despite the fact that Valentine—the 14th overall draft selection less than two years ago—is sometimes treated more like an afterthought than a priority by a directionless front office trying desperately to rebuild this Bulls team, the Michigan State product continues to show flashes of why he should be considered part of the club’s uncertain future. And after exploding for a career-best 34 points (eight 3PM) vs. the Cavs on Saturday night, Valentine could be a busy man down the stretch of the season with his team openly trying to lose and zero incentive to rush back any of its “Small Three.”


Kyle Korver, Cleveland Cavaliers: 3-pointers (18%)


J.R. Smith has gone cooler than cold, Rodney Hood’s ability to stay on the floor has made him a “never again” in fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and so long as Korver’s personal matter does not extend into this week, the veteran sharpshooter is an attractive pickup with a very enticing schedule ahead this week with Milwaukee, Toronto, Phoenix, and Brooklyn on the docket.


In his last three games, Korver has averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and a whopping 4.0 3-pointers on a crisp 17-of-26 (65.4%) shooting. In other words, Korver is a categorical difference-maker who is sitting on over 80% of wires. Don’t fall asleep toward the end of the journey after you’ve navigated the course so successfully to date.  


Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks: Field Goal Percentage (37%)


Mark Cuban should never be allowed to talk about tanking again after the current season concludes, and I have 600,000 reasons to believe he never will again.


The Mavericks have no clear foundation in place to transition from the Dirk Nowitzki era, two overpaid complementary players who are unlikely (at best) to be desirable commodities on the trade market, and now rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is sporting a walking boot. Needless to say, things aren’t exactly going well.


However, Powell has been a bright spot for Dallas, and the big man continues to show why he’s banging on the door for more playing time as the Mavericks wrap up a forgettable season. If we throw out his seven-point dud in which he played an inexplicable nine minutes vs. New York, Powell has averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 boards, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 3PM on a ridiculous 23-of-31 (74.2%) shooting.


Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons: 3-pointers (36%)


Bullock has been a constant since the Blake Griffin acquisition, and he’s been awesome as a specialist since the All-Star Break (11 G) with averages of 15.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.5 triples, and just 1.1 turnovers on 45.5% shooting, including 40.6% from deep and 85.7% from the free throw line in 32.5 minutes per game. The former 25th overall pick has been even better in March with 16.4 points, 3.3 boards, 2.3 assists, and 2.9 3-pointers, and he’s really shined in his last four 18.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 3.0 3PM on 28-of-47 (59.6%) shooting.


There’s something to be said for getting hot at the right time, and Bullock has everything working in his favor right now to keep the momentum flowing.


Nick Young, Golden State Warriors: 3-pointers (21%)


Klay Thompson’s timeline to return remains uncertain despite his optimism, and he’s not even expected to be re-evaluated until Thursday. The Warriors only play once between now and Friday, but it would be surprising to see Thompson immediately cleared and re-inserted into the starting lineup literally overnight. Dependent upon your level of desperation, the best play—to avoid burning an add for no reason and given the Warriors play the Spurs on Monday—is to wait until we receive an update on Thompson’s progression before potentially adding Young ahead of matchups vs. Atlanta on Friday and against Utah on Sunday.


Corey Brewer, Oklahoma City Thunder: 3-pointers, Steals (30%)


In the last six games, Brewer has established himself as a legitimate play in 12-team leagues, checking in with averages of 14.0 points, 2.7 steals, and 1.7 3-pointers on 27-of-52 (51.9%) from the field. Over that same period of time, the Thunder is 6-0. Ergo, Brewer was the missing ingredient in the OKC mix. Amazingly, just one of the sentences in this blurb is false.


Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies: Points, 3-pointers (23%)


It shouldn’t have taken the Grizzlies getting their first win in six weeks (!) to take notice of this rookie. Brooks has been ballin’ all month long with averages of 18.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.1 treys on 45.1% from the field, and he’s been playing big minutes with 30-plus on the regular. Given the lack of offensive options in Memphis paired with the fact that the franchise is openly trying to establish itself to be in the best position possible for the NBA Draft Lottery, there is no reason Brooks should see his role reduced as the Grizzlies’ campaign whimpers to its conclusion.



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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