Top 5 NBA Waiver Wire Picks for the Second Half
The first half of the NBA season is in the books. Well, more than half of the NBA season is in the books, and we are staring the fact that we’ve only got two months or so in the regular season left. The window is closing on players making a push to win their NBA fantasy leagues, so the waiver wire is going to be our friends down the stretch.
What I want to do here is break down five players that I think have appeal in the second half of the season that are still available in the vast majority of season long leagues. I am basing this, for the sake of time, on Yahoo ownership.
Malcolm Brogdon – PG, SG – Milwaukee Bucks – 39% owned
I think perhaps my favorite player on this list could be Malcolm Brogdon. What his biggest issue? Right now, it’s Khris Middleton. With Khris Middleton coming back from injury, that reduces, to some extent at least, Brogdons’s upside, especially on the second unit. It seems like Jason Kidd prefers keeping Brogdon with the second team, as he has a very good rapport with Greg Monroe.
The good news here, and one that I am hoping will go overlooked by fantasy players, is that Khris Middleton isn’t going to be on the second unit too much longer. His minutes are starting to increase, and he’s already had his first monster game of the year. If you are looking for someone who is going to have a monster role, it’s going to be Middleton, but he isn’t available in most leagues.
With Middleton moving into the starting lineup, it will put Tony Snell on the second unit. With all due respect to Snell, he’s a 3 and D type player, and isn’t a producer unless he is hitting his three point shot and the game is headed into crunch time. That’s not always going to be the case. Once Middleton moves up, it will signal great opportunity for Brogdon.
So what does Brogdon bring to the table? Well, he’s a pretty solid across the board contributor. He’s going to get points, boards, assists and steals, with blocks being the only category he isn’t astute with. Not a ton of guards are. The free throw percentage is good, and the field goal percentage will get better in time. He does struggle with turnovers at times, but you are going to get that with most rookies. I’m expecting a big second half from him.
T.J. McConnell – PG – Philadelphia 76ers – 50% owned
I was really trying to keep the ownership percentage under 50%, but two on this list are right at or slightly above that number. McConnell is one of them. The Sixers have been trying all year to figure out their point guard position. Sergio Rodriguez was mostly poor, and Jerryd Bayless has been injured all year. Ben Simmons is going to be awhile still, and unless the Sixers trade, it’s look like McConnell is going to be the guy they roll with through the remainder of the year.
McConnell’s strengths lie within the assist and steals category. He is a double-double threat each and every night, despite the fact that he isn’t going to score over a dozen points too often. Blocks are out of the question, and he will cough up the ball here and there as he tries to make things happen on the offense. The field goal percentage Is pretty strong, and so is the free throw percentage. The biggest issue is that he isn’t getting to the line much at all, which means if he has a poor shooting game, it could affect that category drastically.
The Sixers are a fun team, and I think things are only going to get more fun in the second half of the season. Unless the team makes a move before the trade deadline, I think it’s a must to grab McConnell and get him into your lineups.
Ty Lawson – PG – Sacramento Kings – 12% owned
Lawson comes in as the lowest owned of all the players on the list, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why. He’s playing on an injury riddled team, and he was playing well enough at the time of his own injury that he will be the team’s sixth man when he returns from his brief absence. The reason why he’s not getting much attention is due to the time he’s missed throughout the year. That should not be the case all year.
Lawson’s biggest contributions are going to come through points and assists. He isn’t going to kill you with turnovers like a lot of other ball handlers will give you. He’s going to average about a steal and a half a game, as long as he is seeing minutes in the mid-20’s. His field goal percentage and free throw percentage are both good enough as well that he should be a good bet to continue to exceed his value.
What are the Kings going to do? They can’t keep playing Arron Afflalo, as he is a shell of his former self. Ben McLemore looks like he’s turning the corner, but he isn’t quite there year. Despite the fact that Lawson has been around the league for quite a few years, he still possesses the Kings best chance to win. When he returns from his brief hiatus, I fully expect him to put up a great second half.
Tyreke Evans – PG, SG, SF – New Orleans Pelicans – 52% owned
As I said above, I was really looking for guys that were under the 50% ownership level, but it’s really tough to pass on a guy like Evans at the ownership level he’s at. What’s not to love about him? Let’s go through all of the specific reasons.
First, Evans is eligible for three positions, which is fantastic. The biggest reason that this is fantastic is because he’s both guard and forward eligible, so on any given night, you can play him in your PG, SG, SF, G, F and UTIL spots. That’s a ton of versatility. It saves you from those nights where you might be loaded on active guards, but not at forward. Evans will come through big in that way.
Second, he’s only bound to see his minutes increase in the second half of the season. He’s been ravaged by injuries throughout his career, and while I think that is a big time reason to worry, I’m optimistic that he’s going to remain healthy through the remainder of the season. He’s a playmaker, a ball handler and he can play well off of the ball, so there’s a ton to love here.
Last, the Pelicans are looking to be active in the trade market over the next week. One of the pieces that they look to be willing to move is Jrue Holiday. If Holiday was the go, more of the ball handling responsibilities will fall on Evans, and it could even see him move into the starting lineup.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Evans is worth the pickup right now. I think he’s going to have a far greater second half than he did the first, and with that being the case, he’s someone I think you need to drop into your rosters sooner rather than later.
Wily Hernangomez – C – New York Knicks – 43% owned
Right now, the New York Knicks are looking to be the biggest bust of the NBA year. The move, bringing in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, is looking pretty bad right now. What has been looking good, though, has been the progress of Wily Hernangomez.
The Knicks are going to have almost no choice but to turn the reigns over to Hernangomez. Noah is a shell of himself, and has missed a copious amount of time this year due to injury, which just seems like the same story with a different year attached to it. It will undoubtedly only continue into the second half of the season.
Hernangomez has seen his minutes move into the late 20’s, which seems right considering the team has to give some run to Kyle O’Quinn, and can also tend to run small, which boxes Hernangomez out most of the time in favor of Kristaps Porzingis. This still shouldn’t affect his value overall.
I think for the most part, Hernangomez is the total package. The only area he usually won’t contribute too much in will be assists. Everything else, though, he can pay for in spades. I think that he will be able to come through for you down the stretch.
Ish Smith – PG – Detroit Pistons – 18% owned
I think there was a lot of hope for the Pistons coming into the season. That quickly faded. Once Reggie Jackson returned from his injury, the chemistry seemed to disappear altogether and the Pistons couldn’t seem to get things moving. Prior to that, with Ish Smith at the helm of the team, they were vibrant and playing with a great deal of a great sense of urgency.
Going into the All-Star break, a lot of rumors were swirling regarding the future of Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond with the Detroit Pistons. I think it would be pretty clear to everyone that Drummond is not going to be easily replaced, and that Jackson is the element that isn’t exactly working out in the equation. The Pistons are going to have two choices they can make in the next week or so.
The first decision is if they should trade Reggie Jackson. I think the biggest question is what the market is going to be for him. He had a market coming out of OKC, a situation he made much worse than it had to be, effectively ruining what was a perfect situation for him. The development really hasn’t been there since that time. There aren’t a ton of teams that would view Jackson as an upgrade, but he could certainly end up being a quality backup somewhere.
The other scenario is that they move Ish to the starting lineup to see if they can catch lightning in the bottle. He’s been playing very well going into the All-Star break, and I think that is going to give Stan Van Gundy all the motivation he needs to make the change. The only thing he’s done is move Tobias Harris into the second unit, which has worked out well, but he very well might have to do the same with Ish and Reggie.
Ish isn’t the flashiest player, and if you look through his stats, it isn’t like he’s setting the world on first. If you bump his minutes into the 30’s, though, I think you are looking at a guy who can be a good contributor in a multitude of categories.