• Hello friends, and welcome to Working the Wire after Week 7 of NBA action! The NBA season is just over 25% complete, but there are a few players who are stabilizing into a role that means they should not be left on waiver wires for long. Injuries are a clear issue for many teams in the NBA, but some players are having their roles tangibly changed by a shift in minutes they receive.

    One great example of how grabbing guys with new roles can lead to success is with the ever-tantalizing Bol Bol. He was on our Week 2 edition as a “last-call” to grab before he was widely rostered. Now, he is pushing top-50 value in 9-cat due to his minutes sticking all season as his stat set is hard to find anywhere. In last week’s article, Marvin Bagley and Killian Hayes were highlighted as taking on new roles for the injury-riddled Pistons. Both players were a slam dunk this past week, while Trey Murphy was also highlighted an awesome handcuff for whenever the Pelicans have even one starter go down with an injury.

    This week, there are a few players who you absolutely should consider grabbing as soon as possible since they will not last under the 50% cut line for much longer. My hope is to continue helping you find the gems for both short-term and long-term success as the fantasy season pushes towards 2023.

    In this edition of Working the Wire, I will revisit the last week’s takes to see if there was a win or a loss for each player, while also introducing a few new names rostered less than 50% to look at after Week 7 due to new intel. Remember to take this list and use it how you need it. If an obvious surging player is already scooped up in your competitive league, then our hope is to help you find the next gem ahead of time. If managers are ignoring the more obvious value on the wire, then fire away without spilling the beans on these potential studs while waivers reset for many come Monday morning.

    (Positions and rostered percentages are from Yahoo leagues.)

    Win or Loss?

    Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Pistons (49% rostered last week)

    Last week: 17.0 PTS, 10.0 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.7 3PM, .563 FG, .714 FT, 2.7 TO

    Big win, Bagley smashed it this week and is rostered in over 65% of Yahoo leagues now. A huge takeaway for Bagley is that the Pistons have committed to him as a starter next to Isaiah Stewart. Jalen Duren cannot shoot the ball like Bagley or Stewart, so he does not have nearly as much upside as the two starters. Keep rolling with Bagley until he slows down.

    Onyeka Okongwu, C, Hawks (44% rostered last week)

    Last week:7.5 PTS, 4.3 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.8 BLK, 0 3PM, .667 FG, 1.000 FT, 1.3 TO

    Small loss, but keep at it here. John Collins is hurt, so Okongwu should have the pathway to more meaningful minutes as the backup center behind Clint Capela. Earlier this month, as a starter, Big O put up an eye-popping 11 boards, two steals and two blocks to go along with four points. He is due to bust the box line open with more minutes.

    Trey Murphy, SF/PF, Pelicans (41% rostered last week)

    Last week: 21.0 PTS, 4.7 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.7 STL, 1.0 BLK, 4.3 3PM, .467 FG, 1.000 FT, 2.0 TO

    Big win, Murphy is one of the few reliable NBA “handcuffs” to roster. In fantasy football, handcuff is a common term since positions are so specialized. In the NBA, this is harder to rely on due to a movement for positionless basketball. However, Murphy continues to play well when Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson or CJ McCollum have to sit out due to injury.

    Killian Hayes, PG/SG, Pistons (41% rostered last week)

    Last week:16.3 PTS, 2.7 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.7 3PM, .595 FG, 0 FT, 1.7 TO

    Big win, Hayes continues to improve on what was looking like another terrible season. As there is no news about Cade Cunningham (shin) returning any time soon, Hayes will not be able to shoot this well all season, but his value as a steals and assists target is undoubted. The improved scoring is gravy, but that is the upside with this recent surge. Hold tight here.

    Caleb Martin, SF/PF, Heat (37% rostered last week)

    Last week:13.3 PTS, 5.3 REB, 1.7 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.7 3PM, .533 FG, .750 FT, 1.0 TO

    Win, but keep an eye on his usage. Martin has enjoyed more touches due to absences from Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. On the season, Martin is just outside the top-100 in 9-cat rankings. His stat lines are not very appealing, but he is efficient with low turnovers while nabbing some steals. Hold in 12-team leagues at the end of your roster if you need a steady hand.

    Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Wizards (37% rostered last week)

    Last week: 5.8 PTS, 3.3 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.3 BLK, 0.5 3PM, .391 FG, .750 FT, 0.5 TO

    Loss. Avdija was getting big minutes and is still a starter, but his value continues to be sapped by the success of others. He played only nine minutes in a start last Friday, while some bench players had far more success than he did. Avdija is only a hold in deeper formats at the moment, while he may regain streaming status if the Wizards sustain some guard injuries.

    Alec Burks, PG/SG/SF, Pistons (34% rostered last week)

    Last week: 9.0 PTS, 3.3 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 0 BLK, 0.7 3PM, .423 FG, .600 FT, 0.7 TO

    Loss, the Pistons are relatively healthy again. Burks was benefiting from the absence of Jaden Ivey, but now the young guards are more healthy out in Detroit. In deeper formats like 16-team leagues, Burks is probably worth holding onto in his reserve role. In 12-team leagues, it has become clear that he needs more touches in 20-plus minutes with other Pistons hurt.

    Torrey Craig, SF/PF, Suns (28% rostered last week)

    Last week: 9.0 PTS, 5.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 1.0 3PM, .471 FG, 0 FT, 0 TO

    Loss, since Craig has not been a factor on defense as of late. To add insult to injury, Craig has been dealing with a groin injury that held him out of the weekend games for the Suns. When healthy, he is likely more of a 14-team or 16-team asset while he simply is not involved enough to be a low-end contributor in 12-team leagues.

    Tari Eason, SF/PF, Rockets (26% rostered last week)

    Last week: 8.0 PTS, 5.8 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.3 BLK, 0.3 3PM, .414 FG, .778 FT, 0.5 TO

    Push, again. Eason is making this difficult due to his lingering upside while playing for the Rockets. In 29 minutes of play on Saturday, Eason put up 13 points (6-of-10 FG) with 10 rebounds. His status as a specialist with steals cannot be denied, but it is the inconsistency that also remains. In 14-team leagues, he is a hold; for any standard leagues I understand the drop.

    Walker Kessler, PF/C, Jazz (17% rostered last week last week)

    Last week: 8.3 PTS, 6.5 REB, 0.3 AST, 0 STL, 2.5 BLK, 0 3PM, .929 FG, .636 FT, 0.8 TO

    Win, I mean look at those blocks and field-goal percentage! Kessler was given 22 and 25 minutes in two of his last four games, in direct competition with Jarred Vanderbilt as a big man who can play alongside Kelly Olynyk or Lauri Markkanen. Even in only 16 minutes against the Blazers on Saturday, he racked up three swats. Hold tight here if you have made the investment.

    Post-Week 7 Targets

    Lonnie Walker IV, SG/SF, Lakers (48% rostered)

    The clear-cut starter for the Lakers, even when fully healthy, the only real risk to Walker’s playing time is the playing status of the many backup guards that the Lakers have. Between Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves and Kendrick Nunn there are a lot of options for the Lakers. In the end, though, it is Walker who is averaging 16.5 points per game with 1.9 triples every night. His steals are at 0.9 per game, but if he can get that to over 1.0 then his fantasy profile could be changed into a must-roster back-end player.

    Markelle Fultz, PG/SG, Magic (45% rostered)

    A couple solid showings this week as the starting point guard have illustrated that Fultz still has what it takes to be a decent facilitator in this league. He has dished out four, six and four dimes in his first three appearances, while he has been the starter over Cole Anthony in each appearance. The return of Jalen Suggs (ankle) may hurt Fultz’s value a bit, but it may not even be a factor considering how super-sized the Magic keep their rotation. Hold onto Fultz and just wait to see what comes of the minutes spread down in Orlando.

    Kevin Love, PF/C, Cavs (44% rostered)

    Love is healthy again after a thumb injury held him out for five games, and fellow reserve forward Dean Wade is out now for 2-to-3 weeks with his own shoulder issue. On the season, Love sits just outside the top-120 players in terms of per-game averages, but his main appeal is with rebounding and triples at the forward or center spot. If he can start knocking down shots at a higher percentage, he should have 12-team value on a consistent basis. For now, the early investment might be worth it before the rest of the leagues realize his hidden value.

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG/SF, Mavs (42% rostered)

    A streaky shooter who is unafraid to get his attempts up, Hardaway has been receiving more minutes as of late to do exactly what he is good at. THJ has put up 22, 26 and 28 points in his last three games while playing at least 28 minutes in each. Also, he has knocked down an insane 19 triples in that time frame. While this hot streak cannot be continued quite to this extent ROS, he is certainly worth grabbing right now to see where he stabilizes. As a starter, there is no doubt the upside to Hardaway’s fantasy game, but the main risk is the Mavs needing other wings on the floor for defensive purposes — and a good old fashioned shooting slump; check out Hardaway’s game logs before this hot streak to see what that looks like.

    Onyeka Okongwu, C, Hawks (40% rostered)

    As John Collins (left ankle sprain) is set to miss at least two weeks time, Okongwu may gain some minutes off of the Hawks bench. Head coach Nate McMillan will commonly stagger Collins’s and Capela’s minutest, so now it is likely Big O who can run with the reserve unit on his own. I will admit, there are some slow showings from Okongwu even in big minutes. Still, his stats as a starter are appealing due to his potential as a blocks specialist. Eventually, we will be able to see what this man can do in big minutes. Hopefully, the time is sooner rather than later.

    Justise Winslow, SF/PF, Blazers (34% rostered)

    The former Blue Devil has put up 12-8-4 this past week with a steal and a triple per game. He is getting the time to display his point forward playmaking ability with Nassir Little and Damian Lillard nursing their own injuries. If his minutes remain huge above 33 minutes per game, Winslow is likely a 12-team league hold thanks to his diverse statistical pop. The only downside when he gets going is his field-goal and free-throw percentages. If you already grabbed Winslow, keep streaming him until the minutes go down.

    Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Wolves (33% rostered)

    After Karl-Anthony Towns went down for 4-to-6 weeks, Anderson became a must-roster player in 12-team formats. In his last four he has put up 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks. If you can withstand his poor free-throw shooting at times, he is an all-around contributor who has been thrust into a role that should see him play nearly 30 minutes each night either as a starter or off of the bench. If you have the roster space, he is worth grabbing if you have other free-throw punting players like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Luka Doncic and need stats in a few different places.

    Walker Kessler, PF/C, Jazz (25% rostered)

    The thing to watch for here is how the minutes continue to get spread around between Kessler and Jarred Vanderbilt. Otherwise, his 20 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks against the Pacers on Friday are exactly what his upside can bring. Granted, this game was not very competitive and neither was the game prior against the Clippers (five points, four boards and four swats). If you are targeting blocks and field-goal percentage boosts in 12-team leagues, Kessler is worth grabbing to see what happens. In deeper formats, he should be rostered at this point in general due to his defensive upside.

    Immanuel Quickley, PG/SG, Knicks (20% rostered)

    More of a deeper-league look, due to Tom Thibodeau refusing to give him the keys as the outright backup point guard, Quickley has put up inconsistent points totals over his last few games (15 or more in four games, six or less in two games), but the upside is clearly present with the young combo guard. On the year, he is averaging 4.4 boards with 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. These averages immediately go up when he gets more minutes, so keep a close eye on him in 12-team leagues while ready to grab if his role changes. In deeper formats, Quickley is worth grabbing until he stops flashing his potential as a score-first player with small peripheral stat contributions.

    Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF/C, Thunder (10% rostered)

    A lesser-known name, but Robinson-Earl has been receiving around 25-33 minutes per game over the Thunder’s last few. In that time span he has put up 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 3-pointers while being a perfect free-throw shooter. These are streamable numbers that are nice at the end of any roster and comparable to how Grant Williams was earning top-80 9-cat ranking earlier this season in similar minutes. These are the type of low-risk players that can do a little bit of multiple things. In 14-team leagues or deeper, JRE is a confident grab with these minutes while 12-team managers can weigh in if they want to utilize his skill set.

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