Waiver Wire Pick-ups for Assists, Rebounds and More
When looking to improve your fantasy basketball team with a waiver wire pickup, don’t ask “is this guy better than this guy?” Ask “does this guy improve the categories where I need the most help?” Here are a couple of players available in most standard 12-team fantasy leagues who could provide a boost in key categories.
I’m going to be honest – this article is being published just before NBA trade deadline plays out, so the fantasy waiver wire situation could change dramatically in the next few hours. We’ve already seen Steve Blake go to Golden State (more playing time freed up for Jodie Meeks, who I talked about last week). There’s going to more deals to come.
For now, let’s look at a few guys available in many leagues who might have some short term upside while we wait for the effects of the trade deadline to play out.
Assists / Steals
Patrick Mills (PG – San Antonio, 22% owned) and Cory Joseph (PG – San Antonio, 2% owned)
The fallout from Tony Parker being out for the “foreseeable future” is an increased opportunity for the two backup point guards on the Spurs – Patrick Mills and Cory Joseph.
Mills is the sexier pick up – he’s been red-hot shooting the ball, nailing almost half his threes since the start of 2014, throwing up insane percentages, and now scoring big totals with Parker out (25 and 29 in the two games since the All-Star break). The problem with shoot-first guards – even on efficient teams like the Spurs – is that shooting and opportunities can ebb and flow. Think Danny Green’s streakiness. Something to worry about, but in the mean time he’s worth grabbing in most leagues while he's hot to give you a few extra assists and steals, with great percentages and low turnovers, plus tons of points and threes while he's shooting well.
As for Parker’s other fill-in, Cory Joseph is the guy actually starting at point for the Spurs while Parker is out, even if the minutes aren’t so different from Mills. Joseph isn’t the scorer that Mills is, and while he's not a top of the line distributor, but he does enough in assists and rebounds (3.1 and 2.9 per game in February, respectively), and more than enough in steals (1.5 per game in February) to consider him into a rough approximation of Patrick Beverley, with a better impact on FT% in exchange for much less in the 3 point department.
Joseph is not a must-add at all, but he's a guy to add to your watch list as a streaming option in H2H leagues, especially if threes don't matter much (either because you’re punting or crushing the category). He can add incremental value to some of your other counting categories, while bringing those solid Spurs efficiency rates with plus percentages and few turnovers.
Rebounds / Blocks
Dante Cunningham (PF – Minnesota, 2% owned)
Cunningham is a very speculative short-term pick-up, as I don’t know the severity of the knee injury suffered by Ronny Turiaf on Wednesday night. However, if Turiaf were to miss any amount of time with Nikola Pekovic already out, Dante would become one of the last men standing in the front court for the ‘Wolves alongside Kevin Love, and a much more promising option than either his fellow reserve forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute or Gorgui Dieng, the only true center left behind Turiaf.
While he’s not much of a shooter, Cunningham has managed 7.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes this year. If he can get anywhere near 30 minutes a game, he can put up plus numbers in each category. Heck, he even has the occasional massive game in him, like his February 5th start against the Thunder in place of Kevin Love, when he put up 18 points on 9/13 shooting, with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in a season high 42 minutes. Scoring like that won’t happen often, but if he gets minutes, the rebounds, blocks and steals are something you can believe in.
Cunningham becomes a reasonable streaming option if Turiaf does miss any games. If Turiaf is fine, forget I said anything and go back to reading about ridiculous trade rumors.