• Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house… we had a relaxing day to chill out with no NBA games on, and didn’t even bother trying to address something called “rhyme scheme.” Thanks to all who have been reading so far, and best wishes to you and yours as we head into 2024! Let’s see what goodies are under the tree, with a quick look back at the presents we’ve found on the wire so far.

    Best Gift

    You know this one — the very best thing you unwrapped. The bar-none, clear-cut favorite gift of the bunch. All gifts are nice, but there’s always one that sits above the rest. This year, that is…

    Jalen Johnson, F, Atlanta Hawks

    We had Johnson on our list of preseason sleepers but a lot of managers didn’t make room for him during 12-team drafts, opting to go with a more known quantity and mentally preparing to strike on waivers. Hopefully you did just that, as Johnson very quickly established himself as a major player for the Hawks, with a stat set that propelled him to middle-round value right from the jump. As an extra gift, he could be back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday! (Make sure he’s not available in any of your leagues, while we’re here.)

    Honorable Mentions to Dereck Lively and Jalen Suggs, though if Johnson didn’t suffer a wrist fracture this wouldn’t have even been close. Lively remains somewhat widely available, so go make sure that he’s not on waivers in any of your leagues. Like Johnson, he’s expected to return to the court in the near future as well.

    Best Gift Card

    What do you get for the person who has everything? You pass the buck! Toss some cash in and let them decide what the actual gift will be. Sure, that might not be enduring — eventually the gift card balance is zero and you discard it — but permanence doesn’t define joy. Our fantasy equivalent would be…

    Goga Bitadze, C, Orlando Magic

    There were no real illusions about what Bitadze’s deal was. He was going to get some run while Wendell Carter Jr. rehabbed a broken finger, and was no lock to stay in the rotation thereafter. That’s playing out but sandwiched around his DNPs and garbage time appearances, Bitadze proved to be a must-start player. He’s a top-110 guy on the whole campaign, with all of that value concentrated in about six weeks. He had his moment in the sun and the balance has been spent, but Bitadze’s production was a nice gift for managers that were quick on the draw.

    Shiniest New Toy

    A Cabbage Patch kid for the modern age; the hottest thing on the market. Right now that would be…

    Isaiah Hartenstein, C, New York Knicks

    Mitchell Robinson is done for the fantasy season, if not the entire season, and Jericho Sims is hurt for a week or two as well. Despite Tom Thibodeau’s best efforts, there just aren’t any things he can do to justify keeping Hartenstein out of the starting lineup right now. He should be pretty darn close to 100% roster status, with exceptions for leagues with under 10 teams. He’s not, however, which means you have a chance to grab that last Cabbage Patch Hartenstein (or Turbo Man, if you’d prefer) off the shelf.

    Socks

    As a kid, you don’t want them. They’re no fun and not something you’re excited to even see. You can feel the disappointment through the wrapping paper. As an adult? Awesome. They’re no fun and not something you’re even excited to see. But you need them. They’re practical and getting some for free is a gift in itself, as suddenly socks are no longer on your own shopping list. How does that translate to fantasy?

    Grayson Allen, G, Phoenix Suns

    Socks as a gift are also kind of annoying, so there’s another level to the match. Allen has been thrown a lifeline by Bradley Beal’s constant injuries, though looking up and down the roster he always made the most sense as the last starter when the Suns are at full strength. The extra opportunities have allowed Allen to cement his place in the pecking order, and he’s clambered his way to top-80 value with less than a handful of eye-catching lines along the way. You always need socks, and you always need a nice free win off waivers like Allen.

    Honorable Mentions to Malik Beasley, Malik Monk and Cole Anthony, who have been doing their thing all year long, but Allen currently sits highest in the rankings.

    Top Adds

    As always, there are some guys who should be 100% rostered or darn close to it that just aren’t for whatever reason. They’re your real top adds, and in this case those names include Onyeka Okongwu, Isaiah Hartenstein, Dereck Lively, Trey Murphy, Tari Eason, Patrick Williams, Coby White, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen.

    Jaden Ivey, G, Detroit Pistons

    Ivey came to life a little bit last week, averaging 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.7 triples on .525 shooting in north of 33 minutes per game. The Pistons are finding new ways to hit rock bottom every night and while ownership is promising change, it’s unclear exactly what that means. For now, the Pistons’ race to the bottom means that younger guys like Ivey should get more opportunities. He’s no lock to keep this up, and a few of his numbers from last week look pretty out of line, but managers in need of guard help could do a lot worse than a talented player who should become a priority for the team.

    Trayce Jackson-Davis, F/C, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors aren’t fixed by any stretch of the imagination and will still need their older core guys to figure it out, but the team looks noticeably different since dialing up the responsibilities of younger players who have previously been buried on the bench. Chief among them is Jackson-Davis, who gives the Warriors a real dynamic frontcourt option in the ongoing absence of Draymond Green and extended funk for Kevon Looney. He’s crashing the glass like crazy and racking up multiple defensive stats per night, in 22.0 mpg no less. Jackson-Davis is going to face a real test when Green returns or Andrew Wiggins gets sorted, but for now you add him, enjoy the ride and cross that bridge when you get there.

    Brandin Podziemski, G, Golden State Warriors

    Want to get access to the rest of Working the Wire for more potential pickups? You’ll need to have a FANTASYPASS membership. Click here to learn more and sign up!

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    Here’s a freebie because it’s the giving season!

    Bonus Christmas Miracle Potential

    Paul Reed, C, Philadelphia 76ers

    A hot sleeper target entering the season, Nick Nurse’s chatter about a larger role for Reed haven’t led to anything. Joel Embiid (ankle) has already been ruled out of Monday’s Christmas game, and teams typically don’t phone it in for that showcase unless injuries are legitimate. Reed is a must-start whenever Embiid goes down, and he’s someone to think about for his season-long potential in case he can get going.

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