November 26, 2023, 10:02 pm
This last week of action may have delivered our first real wave-making injury of the fantasy season. On Sunday, news broke that Jalen Johnson would miss 4-to-6 weeks with a left wrist injury, opening up a starting spot in Atlanta. We’ve had big injuries already — Robert Williams out for the season — but none to someone so universally fantasy-relevant that leads to a scramble on waivers. With all due respect to Anfernee Simons, who was also hit with a 4-to-6 week timetable, the replacements there were obvious and likely rostered in competitive leagues already. That’s not the case with Johnson, as the Hawks who are about to fill in are a cut below the Malcolm Brogdons and Shaedon Sharpes and are likely available on plenty of waiver wires. Without further ado…
Saddiq Bey, F, Atlanta Hawks
Bey is available in over half of all leagues on Yahoo and ESPN as of Sunday afternoon. The guy that Johnson bumped from the starting five, it’s only natural to expect him to return to the opening lineup now that there’s a space available. Bey isn’t a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination but he hits 3-pointers, grabs rebounds and pokes the ball away just enough to contribute in steals. If he gets hot as a shooter than he’s a treat, but otherwise he’s going to get enough minutes to grind out late-round value with spurts of top-100 play. He has a month to get himself going.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Atlanta Hawks
Bogdanovic’s history of producing smooth top-100 value might actually make him a better pickup than Bey, though he’s less likely to be available. Even so, he’s your top choice this week if available to you. It’s well worth the five seconds it takes to double-check.
Keyonte George, G, Utah Jazz
We’ve mentioned George a couple times here but managers continue to drag their feet; he’s available in over half of all Yahoo leagues and in the vast majority of ESPN leagues. He’s locked up the starting PG spot and the Jazz’s latest wave of injuries will allow him to feature more as a scorer. Maybe don’t look here if you’re building a team with elite FG% numbers, but George has enough gas in the tank for points, assists, steals and 3-pointers that he shouldn’t be on many, if any waiver wires these days.
Coby White, G, Chicago Bulls
Part right-now pickup and part proactive add for Chicago’s eventual trades, White managed to land near the top-50 mark last week (Sunday’s results not included), catching fire from the field and making a huge impact in points and 3-pointers. It feels like he’ll end the season in Chicago’s starting lineup given his age, new contract and the overall state of the Bulls. A popular late-round dart who got tossed to the wire after a slow start and demotion, White is worth a second look.
Norman Powell, G, LA Clippers
Powell has taken a step up the ladder now that the Clippers have dialed Russell Westbrook’s minutes way down, and he’s a player that has always seemed to do better when he can play off star-level teammates. Some guys benefit from running their own lineups or just pummeling their way to big volume numbers, but Powell has always been at his best when he can attack off the catch and punish defenses who are too locked in on someone else. There won’t be a shortage of that with the Clippers, and he shouldn’t have trouble returning 12-team value as a result.
Jaden Ivey, G, Detroit Pistons
Ivey has risen back to the starting lineup and given the fact that the Pistons probably want him there for the next decade-plus, they have every incentive to let him grab the spot that had so far belonged to Killian Hayes. He’s shooting extremely well from the field so far even though it has only resulted in two eye-catching games, but his standing in the organization should mean that he gets every opportunity to prove that this is no fluke. Ivey is a good source of scoring upside, and apparently now he’s an FG% booster too. We’ll see how long that one lasts, but you should consider adding Ivey in the meantime.
Buddy Hield, G, Indiana Pacers
Buddy Hield isn’t on waivers in your league, right? Good. Just checking.
Jose Alvarado, G, New Orleans Pelicans
Alvarado made his long-awaited season debut after rehabbing an offseason ankle sprain, and through four games he’s been the guy we expected to see. He’s totaled six 3-pointers and six steals in that span with a single-game high of only 23 minutes, and although Alvarado is being aided by the absence of CJ McCollum (lung), managers in deeper leagues probably can’t ignore that kind of production. A timeshare situation is brewing but Alvarado always has legs as a steals specialist and doesn’t need a ton of playing time to be worth your while in 16-team leagues.
Isaiah Joe, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
Joe might slide under the radar a bit because the Thunder only had two games last week, but he averaged 16.5 points and 4.0 3-pointers without the benefit of a hot shooting streak — he went .435 from the field. Already a reliable 3-point specialist, Joe was feasting in the absence of Jalen Williams and looks like a solid fantasy option whenever OKC is down a starter.
Aaron Nesmith, F, Indiana Pacers
Nesmith has moved back into the starting lineup, or at least he did before getting injured. Either way, Obi Toppin looked good with the bench group and there’s proof of concept here for Nesmith as a low-maintenance starter who can space the floor. He won’t dazzle you often but makes for a nice fit as Indiana’s starting power forward; if he continues to slot in there once he’s healthy, steady top-200 numbers are well within reach.
Jamie Jaquez Jr., F, Miami Heat
Jaquez got some more room to operate last week thanks to absences from some key Heat players, but the rookie continues to make the most of his opportunities. He’s a consistent presence on defense and has been able to knock down his corner 3-pointers at a great clip, which is all you can ask. Jaquez has played at least 21 minutes in the last 10 games, and in that stretch he has one game under 27 minutes compared to seven at 30-plus. Deep-league GMs should be able to find a spot for a young player who is a great culture fit with his team that’s pitching in points, rebounds, assists, steals and 3-pointers on a positive mark from the field.
Craig Porter Jr., G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Porter has been a smashing success so far for the Cavs, emerging as a rotation option after coming in as an undrafted free agent. The team’s ever-rotating backcourt injuries have opened the door for Porter, and he’s stepped right through. He’s able to score efficiently while bringing assists, steals and even blocks to the table. There’s a lot to like about how Porter’s game translates to the box score, but be aware that he’s not guaranteed to play every night when the Cavs are healthy.
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