Each week, we'll gather the RotoExperts team of fantasy basketball analysts together to ask them a relevant fantasy basketball question. On to this week ...
Question: Now that the season is finally under way, which player has you rushing to the waiver wire to pick up?
The time between the draft and the start of the NBA season can be a tough time for any fantasy player. Your draft cheat sheets are in a crumpled pile, your team is set and you spend your free time secretly second-guessing your own picks while openly second-guessing everyone else's. After all, it never hurts to undermine your competition's confidence.
Then opening day comes along and everything changes. That guy you thought was going to make the jump to superstar status is wallowing in mediocrity while benchwarmer Bob is putting up numbers that make MJ jealous. So now it's a mad race to the waiver wire with everyone in your league looking to grab one of the early surprises of the season.
I asked some of the experts who they decided to snatch off the waiver wire, and here is what they had to say:
Upon first glance, it looks like Azubuike has to compete with Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette for minutes in Golden State, but in reality he's merely competing with DeMarcus Nelson and C.J. Watson. Jackson will play a ton of point guard, opening up a wing spot for the active Azubuike. He can give fantasy owners a little bit of everything, not to mention some huge games if Maggette misses time with his typical nagging injuries.-- Jeff Andriesse
My first inclination was to pick up Spencer Hawes, since his stock is rising, but it may have hit its peak and is likely to fall once Brad Miller returns. One guy who is not likely to regress, since there is no one breathing down his neck, is Azubuike. I talked about Azubuike in the preseason as a "backup to watch," thinking that he would be a nice player coming off the bench for the Golden State Warriors, however coach DonNelson has me all jazzed up over Azubuike since Nelson tends to do things his own way. He plans on having 6-foot-8 shooting guard Stephen Jackson essentially run the point, which bodes well for Azubuike by opening up minutes at the 2-guard. If that remains the case, and/or Al Harrington is moved then I have no doubts that Azubuike will get his minutes and prove to be a viable fantasy option. A very good scorer who can shoot the three ball and make his free throws -- the kind of guy I'm looking for.-- Tom Lorenzo
It's always interesting to see how injuries open up opportunities for players. Marquis Daniels is one of those guys. With Mike Dunleavy out with tendinitis, Daniels has taken full advantage playing starter's minutes. In Saturday's win against the NBA champion Celtics, he played 40 minutes and racked up a double-double to the tune of 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also added four assists, two steals, two blocks and a three-pointer. While it's unrealistic to expect these kinds of numbers every night, it shows the kind of potential unlocked due to increased playing time. With Dunleavy's status in flux, Daniels should continue to get minutes and put up solid production. Obviously, if and when Dunleavy comes back, Daniels is waiver-wire fodder once again.-- Jonathan Huang
I'm bulldozing over dudes to pick up Hawes. The Kings drafted Hawes with the 10th pick in last year's NBA draft, and he spent his rookie season adjusting to life in the NBA, averaging only 13 minutes a game. With Brad Miller suspended, Hawes got a chance to show that he was ready to prove his worth. In the Kings' opening night loss to the Timberwolves, Hawes played 33 minutes, scored 12 points, grabbed 14 boards, blocked six shots and hit a three. Now do you know why the Kings drafted Hawes with the 10th pick? He won't shoot well from the free-throw line, and he won't contribute assists or steals, but that's just fine. When Miller returns, Hawes will likely see a slight decline in minutes, but he should still play about 25 minutes a game. Considering his rebounding and shot-blocking potential, even in limited minutes, I want that on my team. Bad! He may not be available at this point, but grab him immediately if he is.-- Brad Rysz
We've taken a lot of flack for ranking Chris Quinn among our top 20 point guards in the preseason. Granted, we were wrong. But we were right about one thing -- whoever wins this job will have value, and not marginal value. After watching Chalmers in the last two preseason games and the first game of the season, I'm convinced that the job is his to lose, and I've changed my mind about whether he's ready to play PG in the NBA. This is a kid who, as a full-time starter in Miami, can average 10 points, maybe three or so boards, upward of five assists (with upside between 6.5 and 7.0), close to two steals and easily more than 1.0 treys per game; all while shooting well from the floor a la Deron Williams. Sure, he's a rookie and will have ups and downs, but for fantasy, I actually like him more than the rookie PG getting all the hype, Chicago's own Derrick Rose. Quinn has dropped completely out of the rotation, and Marcus Banks is still ... Marcus Banks, a career backup and little more. Like I said in MeThinks on Tuesday, it will be a long shot for Shaun Livingston to be a game-changer so soon after such a gruesome injury, so he doesn't worry me too much just yet. Chalmers is easily the best bet to benefit from playing with experienced veterans in superstar Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem, not to mention uber-talented rookie Michael Beasley. I've added him in the two leagues where he was a free agent during opening night.-- Tommy Landry
I have to agree with Tommy on the Chalmers pick; he has looked very good in the first few games of the season. Both Beasley and Haslem do a great job of opening up for 15-foot jumpers, which gets the rookie a couple of easy assists every night.
Hawes was a predictable pick, but he has been very impressive so far. A big man who rebounds, blocks shots, and knocks down a three every game? Very nice, but Miller just might spoil that party.
Azubuike is an interesting target, but one that could pay off. The kid has some serious talent, and if he gets enough minutes he won't disappoint.
Daniels, on the other hand, just screams mediocrity to me. Maybe Huang sees something I don't, or maybe I just can't get past the fact that Daniels always looks like he's about to fall asleep. In either case, I personally just can't see him having any lasting value this year.
As for me, the guy I have been targeting is Travis Outlaw . With Martell Webster out until January, the starting spot belongs to Outlaw, and he has the potential to contribute across the board with the exception of assists. 15 points, 5 boards, one steal, one block and one three per game are very reasonable numbers for him to hit with starter's minutes. That's the kind of well-rounded production I want filling the last spot on my roster.
So there you have it, the experts have revealed their top waiver wire picks for the beginning of the 2008-09 season.