NBA Waiver Wire: Deeper League Pickups (Week 20)

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Ahhh, yes! I can smell it now! The spring is upon us and basketball fans are in for a treat for the next couple of months with March Madness set to start in less than a week, the end of NBA regular season about a month away and that's when the real fun starts. The NBA playoffs!

But before all that, all of us Fantasy Basketball nuts have to prepare for playoffs of our own, don't we? My fantasy playoffs, like the majority of Yahoo leagues, start next week and those final tweaks need to be made sooner rather than latter. In the end, that one assist, rebound or block can prove to be vital once the final tally is in and either you or your friend (arch nemesis for the week) will advance to the next round and eventually lift the cup.

If you still haven't finalized your roster and have an extra spot or two, here are today's Week 20 deeper league waiver wire pickups for your fantasy basketball teams.

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Deep League Waiver Wire Add

Jameer Nelson, PG, DEN (24% owned in Yahoo! leagues)

The Nuggets have been kind of a surprise this season. Not many people really expected them to contend for the playoffs, at least not yet. They have a young core with plenty of talent like Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, led by my fellow Serbian Nikola Jokic. Those youngsters seems to have a bright future ahead of them. But at the moment, Denver's primary focus is making the playoffs this year. And they need some experience on the court to tie all the loose ends. That's where they turn to Jameer Nelson.

The 35-year-old floor general brings calmness and rationality to Denver's lucid offense. The Nuggets finally seem to have given up on their "point guard of the future" Emmanuel Mudiay who saw a total of 30 minutes of action since Feb. 5 due to injury, poor play and several DNP-CDs.

In that same period Jameer averaged 10.4 PTS with 1.7 3PM on 49.2 FG% and 50.0 FT%, 3.4 REB, 6.2 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.1 BLK and 1.7 TO in 31 minutes a game and he even notched two double-doubles. He is not usually that bad from the line with his career average at 80.1%, but neither is he that good from the field with him shooting 43.8% over his 13 NBA seasons.

Even though he has slowed down a bit lately, scoring in single digits in four straight, he is still the starter and that isn't going to change soon. Nelson will have to make way for Jamal Murray at some point, sure. But I doubt that the Nuggets will resort to such an experiment with the battle for fantasy playoffs heating up. Unless, of course, Murray goes on a Nikola Jokic-like spree of performances, which is highly unlikely.

If you're in need of some three-pointers, assists and steals you should take a look at Jameer. He is going to get minutes in the high-20s to low-30s and with him being owned in less than a quarter of Yahoo leagues is a very decent source of those stats for a deeper league. Denver does play just 10 games during fantasy Weeks 20-22, so check how well he fits your team's schedule, just in case.

 

Super Deep League Waiver Wire Add

Ivica Zubac, C, LAL (13% owned in Yahoo! leagues)

It's all about upside with Ivica Zubac. He's been in and out of the rotation for the past two months or so, and just when you think, "This is it. He played so well, he has to get 20+ minutes from now on.", -BAM! He plays 10 minutes. He gets injured. He picks up a DNP-CD. It's been a bumpy ride for the 19-year-old rookie, but recent comments do give his owners hope.

The new president in town, Magic Johnson, said that he would like to see if Zubac is a 30-35 minute a night player. Now it's still unclear how much impact the Lakers front office will have on coach Luke Walton's decisions concerning his team, but it definitely doesn't hurt to have such a legend talk about Zubac in that way. And if there's ever going to be a time to test Magic's theory, it's in the next month or so, with Lakers out of playoff contention.

Let's look at what Ivica can do when given a proper shot. Since he entered the rotation more regularly on Jan. 18 he averaged 8.0 PTS on 52.0 FG% and 56.0 FT%, 4.8 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.4 AST, 1.2 BLK and 0.9 TO in just over 17 minutes a game. In that period he played over 25 minutes just four times, and on three of those four occasions he had a double-double.

So, if you believe that Zubac will get the time he needs to become fantasy relevant, and, according to his team president, the time he deserves, don't think too much about it. Zubac can produce a decent amount of boards and defensive stats with a few points on decent field goal shooting. He will hurt your FT% though so keep that in mind.

The Lakers play 4-3-4 games in the next three weeks but two of their four games in the last of those weeks (Week 22 in Yahoo leagues) come on nights with only five games scheduled.

 

Insanely Deep League Waiver Wire Add

Ian Mahinmi, C, WAS (7% owned in Yahoo! leagues)

I really like Ian Mahinmi and was very high on him last season when he was playing 26 minutes a game in Indiana. He struggled with injuries back then too, but justified my faith in him by flirting with top-100 value in 71 games played. This season, unfortunately, he was hit even harder by the injury bug, tearing his meniscus just before the start of the season.

It took him four months to fully recover, but he's back now! And he's doing wonders for his patient, or intuitive owners, who either stuck with him this whole time, or, more likely, picked him up from the waiver wire at just the right time. In his past four games Mahinmi is averaging 8.8 points on 65.0 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from the stripe along with 6.3 boards, 1.0 dimes, 2.5 steals, 1.3 swats and 1.3 turnovers in just 21 minutes per outing. He even set a career high with seven steals on March 7 against the Phoenix Suns.

Now Ian has never been a good free throw shooter, and you shouldn't expect him to get THAT many defensive stats the rest of the way either. But you wouldn't be wrong to believe that he will keep his rebounding, steals, blocks and FG% at such a level that would make him very valuable to all teams that don't mind his poor FT% (on only 2.8 attempts per game, mind you) and lack of scoring. Furthermore, Washington has four games in each of the three default fantasy playoff weeks, so that's a positive here as well.

 

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By popular demand, RotoBaller has aggregated all of our fantasy basketball NBA waiver wire pickups into a running list of NBA waiver options, so bookmark the page and check back often for updates.