Waiver Wire Week 21: Streaming for the Playoff Push

Injuries and tanking continue to dominate the NBA storylines as bad teams begin to turn more to young players and stars continue to fall to injury. We’ve heard it before, but the Kings seem to be committed (finally) to a youth movement as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, and De’Aaron Fox are all seeing more consistent minutes and their fantasy values have stabilized as a result. Skal Labissiere may be next in line, though Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos both remain on the team. The Bulls will also begin to tinker with their rotation this week as Bobby Portis will be a new addition to the starting lineup, though the rest of their rotation remains unclear.

As for injuries, Jimmy Butler went down last Friday, and the Spurs are battling a few injuries in their frontcourt. These will be the topics of this week’s waiver wire article.

Spurs Frontcourt

LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his ankle on Wednesday and he is also dealing with a shoulder injury. He is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Lakers and is generally listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol remains questionable on the injury report but hasn’t played in a game since February 25.

Though neither injury  appears to be season ending or even necessarily long-term, it does open up minutes in the Spurs’ frontcourt in the short-term. Potential beneficiaries of the Spurs thin frontcourt include Rudy Gay Davis Bertans, and Joffrey Lauvergne. Gay is the standout based on his place in the rotation as well as his talent level. Specifically, Gay will benefit with either player out, as his increase in value will come more from a usage bump rather than being shuffled in and out of the rotation.

He has already shown his upside in this scenario; he posted a stat-line of 19 points, five boards, four assists, three blocks, and a steal in only 24 minutes on Wednesday against the Pelicans. While that kind of line shouldn’t be counted on every game, the performance highlights his upside as a fantasy asset.

Bertans is less of a household fantasy name, but is one to consider in deeper league formats. His place in the Spurs’ rotation is precarious and likely needs both Gasol and Aldridge to remain out to see significant minutes. Assuming he’s on the court, he is a decent streaming option for blocks and three-point field goals. Similarly, Lauvergne needs both Aldridge and Gasol out to see minutes but provides value with his rebounds and high field goal percentage.

To summarize the situation, Gay is the most stable asset of the three as he will see extra minutes and usage in the absence of Gasol and Aldridge but will still be in the rotation upon their return. Meanwhile, Bertans and Lauvergne will carry streaming value while one or both remain out and are relevant mostly in deeper formats.

Nemanja Bjelica

Bjelica is the beneficiary of Jimmy Butler’s unfortunate knee injury and is one of the most added players this week as a result. However, he remains widely available and should be considered in many league formats. Given that Tom Thibodeau is his coach it’s not surprising to know that Bjelica is seeing consistently high minutes and since entering the starting lineup he has seen a minimum of 33 minutes in a game.

He hasn’t posted eye-popping scoring numbers, he has reached double-digit scoring only once prior to Friday’s game, largely due to being a relatively low priority on the offensive end. However, he has found a way to contribute in other ways, posting solid rebounding numbers as well as being a strong contributor in steals.

For the time being, Bjelica looks to be worthy of waiver wire consideration in 14 team leagues and deeper. However,  If he is able to find his shot as he integrates more into the starting lineup, he has the potential to be viable in 12 team leagues as well.

 

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Dan Marcus

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Dan recently moved to Columbus, Ohio but is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan. Fantasy baseball was and always will be his favorite fantasy sport, but he also enjoys football and basketball as well.

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