Remember that Ma$e comeback single and the video for “Welcome Back”? Of course you do. The yellow and turquoise air forces, his two-step in front of the crowd on the rain washed streets of Harlem, and all those Bad Boy cameos (I see you Elliot Ness and Babs). Well, I was humming that track on Tuesday as the NBA, and of course, the fantasy season, tipped off.
Because of the Tuesday start, week #1 was already a day short for owners. The Knicks, Bobcats, Celtics, Hawks, T-Wolves, and Clips had to wait until Friday to get their seasons started, and this meant a two-game week for a lot of superstars. Whenever theres a shortened schedule the number of games played becomes a serious factor, so if you’re looking at a 0-1 start, hold your head and let that trash-talking owner know you’ll get him next time.
It doesn’t matter how dedicated your draft preparation is, inevitable some guys are going to slip through the cracks. Week #1 has already given us a number of players who were likely forgotten on draft night but are poised to make a big impact this season.
With that said, for this weeks column I want to focus on the wire, no, I don’t mean Marlo, Omar, and Michael… I’m talking about the waiver wire, the lifeline of a fantasy owner. Proper waiver wire management is the difference between the teams that stay on top, and the owners that are content sitting on their biscuits, never having to risk it.
Here is a list of guys who may be available in your league and deserve serious consideration heading into week #2:
Kyle Lowry – I might be a touch early on Lowry, but I’m crazy about his upside. Saturday night he went for 19 points and 6 assists. The PG responsibilities in Memphis are being split between Damon S. and Lowry right now but, we all know Stoudamire’s history of injuries, so if you can stash Lowry on your bench, I think it’s a good pickup. If you don’t have room for a fringe guy right now, wait on Lowry, but if something happens to Damon, sprint to your computer and grab Lowry. In the meantime Mike Conley Jr. is stapled to the bench, so get rid of the rook.
John Salmons – The hottest pickup in fantasy basketball, period. Salmons had a huge week for Sacramento and is benefiting from the absence of both Artest and Bibby. If he’s available if your league, pick him up and then send wakeup calls to the other owners, they’re sleeping.
Jason Williams – Often slowed by injuries, Williams is healthy and getting major tick in Miami. He’s Riley’s guy and should be a solid source for dimes and points, even after Wade returns. He is available on most waiver wires, give him a shot.
Francisco Garcia – A solid sleeper pick this season, Garcia’s value rose after Bibby went down with injury. He started at PG for the King’s on Saturday night and responded with strong numbers. He’s owned in most leagues but check the wire and if he is still out there, grab him.
Cuttino Mobley – If you read my season previews you saw Mobley’s name in my sleeper picks. Hopefully you took that advice and enjoyed his big game off the bench Friday night. If not, what can I say, other than, if he’s somehow still available in your league, snatch him up asap.
Rashad McCants – All eyes were on rookie Corey Brewer coming into the season but don’t forget about McCants. On Friday night he dropped 23 points and three trey balls. Brewer is a nice talent but for now, McCants is the guy in Minnesota.
Damien Wilkins – Rashard Lewis is out of town and although Wilkens wont be confused with Orlando’s maxed out SF, he is doing an admirable job of filling the box score in Seattle. So far he’s averaging 32 minutes of tick, and that equates to fantasy value. Scoop him up.
Kelenna Azubuike – On top of making Chris Kaman the YouTube clip of the week, Keleena put up monster numbers for owners with the foresight to start him. His big week naturally has made him a hot waiver wire pickup, but I don’t see him as a longterm solution. For one thing Stephen Jackson will take his tick, and the Warriors only play 2 games in week #2. But for now he is a smart play and an exciting pickup in all leagues.
Reggie Evans – He will average less than 6 points per game this season but the Sixers are thin up front, and he has a shot to lead the league in rebounds. If you are in a league that counts total rebounds and offensive rebounds, he’s a smart pickup.
Joel Przybilla – The GhostFaced Killa is starting in Portland, and although he struggled Friday night due to foul trouble he should be a strong second or third option for blocks and boards for the Blazers.
Al Horford – He was my #2 ranked rookie coming into the season and with Zaza Pachulia slowed by injury he’s already starting in Atlanta. Al is NBA ready and if the Hawks can stay hot he may not relinquish that starting job all year. Scan your league in the off-chance he is available, if so, make it happen.
Theo Ratliff – Although he should come with a warning label reading, “proceed with caution”, word on the curb is that Ratliff is healthy. On Friday night he had 14 points, 6 boards and 3 blocks, and if you can get that kind of production, especially in swats from the wire, that’s a good look.
Another factor I weigh heavily when deciding which players to pickup is the amount of games that guy is going to give me during the week in question. I realize for some this is considered a bit extra, but fantasy hoops is all about the numbers, and this one is as important as any. If you’re on the fence about a guy isn’t it nice to know he will be suiting up 4 times this week versus 2? So keep that in mind before pulling the trigger on an acquisition.
It’s too early in the year to be giving yourself too much dap, but Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, and LaMarcus Aldridge all had some question marks coming into the season, and all performed very well in week #1. Same goes for owners who grabbed Mike Dunleavy, Hedo Turkoglu and Brendan Haywood, all providing excellent value for late round picks.
As I mentioned earlier, Mike Bibby’s thumb will keep him out until after Christmas. Owners who were expecting a bounce back season from #10 have got to be feeling the burn on that one. I don’t own Bibby in any leagues, but if I did, we would have parted ways by now. Randy Foye’s knee has him out indefinitely and with all the studs available on the wire, I showed him the door. Chuck Atkins injury doesn’t change much because Allen Iverson will just slide into that spot and eat up those field goal attempts.
Jason Maxiell was a popular sleeper selection coming into the season but the Pistons rotation isn’t ready for him to have consistent value yet. I also liked the potential of Trevor Ariza in Orlando. However, it appears Stan Van Gundy is going to keep the lineup 8 players deep, so he will be continuously clawing for burn.
Disgruntled Euro Sasha Pavlovic got his check from the Cavaliers and looks to build on the improvements he showed last season. The fact is LBJ doesn’t have many options in Cleveland, so Sasha is going to get minutes, and shots. Keep your eye on him.
That’s all for the first week. Thanks for checking in with me fellas, stay on top of those boxscores and keep your finger on the trigger for those hot waiver wire pickups. Feel free to email me your lineup or trade questions/comments and I will get back at you. Until next time…