October 23, 2022, 3:36 pm
Welcome, SportsEthos family and hoops fans alike! I am Jeremiah Nacorda and I have been writing for SportsEthos for almost a year now. I started with blurbs, covered a majority of the Summer League content this season and was given the awesome opportunity to take on Working the Wire for 2022-23. Each week, we will be getting into the weeds with a few players worth taking a look at to grab off your leagues’ waiver wires.
These players will be evaluated each week on if the prediction was an overall win or loss, while also providing more players to keep an eye on moving forward. The key here is not to grab someone solely with the purpose of utilizing their stat set for just one game; instead, we want to target the players who may have consistent long-term value or elite short-term streamability.
The values of the rostered percentages will be pulled from Yahoo. Also, keep in mind that the deeper kind of league you are in (14-team or 16-team), you will need to be tracking the “very low” rostered players in the range of less than 20% rostered altogether.
Week 1 is tricky because it is a balance between the hype becoming real for many and the disappointment settling in (far too early, shall I mention) for some as well. The key here is to take everything with the knowledge that most things are speculative at this point. Thus, the following players will be more of a leap of faith than a statistical surefire. Do not overthink things this early my friends, this is a marathon instead of a sprint. Let us take a crack at this for the first time in the 2022-23 season.
Santi Aldama, PF/C, Grizzlies (68% rostered)
Typically, guys on this list will not be rostered quite this much but the rise of Aldama in Memphis is worth highlighting in this last-call effort. Some casual fans still do not know who this man is, but through three games he is making considerable progress. The starting job looks like a lock for Aldama as Jaren Jackson Jr. waits to be cleared from his latest injury. This is not necessarily a top-100 kind of guy outright right here; however, 18 points, 11 boards, and one assist bodes well for the young man keeping his job safe as Ja Morant and Desmond Bane simply need frontcourt guys to blend in with the offensive flow as the Grizzlies try to outrun teams in the league. This rostered number is only going to rise over time, and the final call of this train has occurred.
Jalen Duren, PF/C, Pistons (53% rostered)
At this point, Duren is getting more minutes than expected while adding some value to his game by just locking in on defense. On a per-minute basis, Duren is already looking like an awesome guy to have on any roster. If you are targeting low-end points, with rebounds, decent field-goal percentage and blocked shots then it is Duren who you are likely to want as a low-floor/high-ceiling rookie flier. Many have their doubts about this rookie due to the crowded nature of the Pistons rebuilding roster, but if you watch even one tape of his games thus far you can see that his athleticism and impact inside are uncommon at the speed with which Duren can move.
Cam Reddish, SF/PF, Knicks (29% rostered)
Reddish had a nice game against the Grizzlies in the season debut, but again it simply is too early to tell. There has always been an aura of hype around Reddish, but this season seems somewhat different with how talent-starved the Knicks are. If there is an injury to any of the starting wings, the stock of the former Blue Devil would rise quite quickly. For now, do not overreact too much to success from Reddish since he has shown glimpses on multiple occasions. Reddish wasn’t even expected to be in the rotation but got a lifeline with the Quentin Grimes injury, and hopefully the Knicks can figure it out so they do not continue becoming a graveyard for young talent like we have seen in recent years.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG/SF, Nuggets (28% rostered)
My personal pick as a sleeper that is not talked about very much, KCP is somewhat of a boom-or-bust fantasy basketball option. Some nights, he will score 17 points with four rebounds and four steals like he did on Friday against the Warriors. Other times, like in the opener, he will score two points with six assists, two steals and one block. As the many 1-1-1 candidates show their real worth to start the season, KCP is someone who can constantly put up triples while playing nice perimeter defense for the contending Nuggets. He usually gets scooped up after some solid games, and do not be surprised he is more rostered overall sometime soon.
Trey Murphy III, SF/PF, Pelicans (27% rostered)
Look, let me make it clear first that this one might take some time to come to fruition. In fact, this may not blossom fully this season without an injury to a starter out in New Orleans. However, Murphy has looked fantastic in his first couple games this season in just over 20 minutes per game off of the bench. A smooth scorer who can really get it going when he is hot, Murphy can be a nice fantasy contributor if he can keep up his defensive efforts alongside solid scoring and decent rebounding. Playing behind Brandon Ingram has truly influenced the young wing in the best way possible.
Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Charlotte Hornets (23% rostered)
Smith has never met the hype in fantasy, but right now he’s the last man standing in the Charlotte backcourt. With LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier both recovering from ankle sprains, Smith has the PG role all to himself. He’s struggled with efficiency in each of his previous stops in the league but can rack up counting stats, and there’s nobody standing in his way for the time being.
Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Orlando Magic (17% rostered)
Orlando’s continued backcourt injuries have opened the door for Ross, who wasn’t even in the rotation down the stretch last year. He’s starting at SG and has plenty of latitude to get his shots up, and so far Ross has shown flashes of the old Human Torch persona. It wasn’t that long ago that Ross was a solid top-120 guy thanks to his points, triples and steals, and he’s got a great opportunity to get back to that level. There’s also the added motivation of both Ross and the Magic playing to increase his trade value, as his long-term future clearly isn’t in Orlando.
Malik Beasley, SG/SF, Jazz (17% rostered)
In a similar vein, if you need some solid scoring on a high volume of 3-pointers, Beasley will be your guy all season. Despite averaging only 0.6 steals in his career, there is reason to believe that he can improve on this in Utah if given the time to shine on the floor. He will always be more of a chucker than a team type of player, but Beasley is not taking this “tank for Victor Wembenyama” situation quite seriously. If Beasley continues to light up the scoreboards while doing so from downtown with any sort of defensive numbers, there is value here — just not for every fantasy team.
Nick Richards, C, Hornets (17% rostered)
Richards had quite the debut off of the bench, putting up 19 points and 10 boards in only 21 minutes. There were no defensive contributions, but the percentages were all nice for the center position in a reserve role. This was a nice sign for the young big, who is taking advantage of the opportunity he is being presented with. Last season, he started in five games but appeared in 50 total contests. It is simply far too early to tell what the rotation will be for the Hornets, or if Richards will gain from being alongside LaMelo Ball when he is healthy. For now, Richards is worth the roll of the dice in deeper formats especially.
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