Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Work: Elfrid Payton deserves a roster spot
Elfrid Payton, PG Orlando Magic
Averaging 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals on 41.5 percent shooting, Elfrid Payton’s season-long statistics don’t do anything to jump off the page at anyone. But a closer examination, specifically looking at what he’s done since the calendar flipped to 2015, reveals a different side of the wild-haired point guard.
Since we entered the new (calendar) year, Payton has become a different player as his numbers have skyrocketed across the board. Through 10 January games, Payton is averaging 11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.1 steals and shooting a solid 46.1 percent. Then consider the fact that the Ragin’ Cajun is averaging just 2.5 turnovers per contest, an area he struggled with during his initial transition to the NBA, and we start to see the makings of a valuable fantasy point guard.
As the full-time starter (26 games), Payton is averaging 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals on 40.4 percent shooting. While the long-term verdict remains in question as to what Payton’s ceiling actually is for fantasy owners, what he’s shown in 2015 thus far is enough to know that he has no place on your league’s waiver wire.
Marcus Smart, PG Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart is beginning to rewrite the scouting report the NBA had against him. Pegged as a bulldog who had trouble with the jumper, defenses are beginning to learn there’s a new wrinkle in Smart’s game—3-point shooting—and that’s the same thing that’s got him at No. 2 on this list.
Smart was downright horrific to begin the season from distance. After shooting sub-25 percent through November from behind the 3-point line, Smart went on to shoot 37.9 percent in December while averaging 2.6 attempts per game. Now in January, Smart continues to improve. Shooting 42.9 percent on 4.2 attempts per game, Smart has made at least one triple in every game he’s played in since January 3.
Without Rajon Rondo in the fold and the Celtics firmly prioritizing their future, Smart has hovered right around 30 minutes per game over his last six games. January is the first month where Smart has averaged north of three assists per game, and he’s really turned it on of late, racking up 23 assists over his last four contests. With his ability to contribute in the steals department (1.3 per game in January) as well, Smart is someone who can spark your team now, and he’s got a good chance to turn into a long-term contributor sooner rather than later.
Eric Gordon, G New Orleans Pelicans
I can’t believe I’m about to recommend Eric Gordon, but here we are in this brave new world.
Because Jrue Holiday (leg) will be out for a minimum of two-to-four weeks, Gordon is once again going to be a focal point of what the New Orleans Pelicans have to do to survive. After missing extended time (about six weeks) to nurse a shoulder injury, Gordon has found his groove after a slow start. He’s had at least 12-plus shots in five of his last six
games, and Gordon has responded with double-digit scoring in all of them. That used to be a lock in seasons past for Gordon, but that wasn’t the case for him now…until recently.
Gordon, like Holiday, and like Tyreke Evans, is a player who is most effective when he has the ball in his hands. Factor in the human pterodactyl/condor/franchise building block in Anthony Davis, and a healthy Pelicans team has trouble getting all involved as they should. Jrue’s injury changes all of that, and Gordon is going to now have to
play a larger role than he did prior.
Especially encouraging: Gordon’s last three games. He’s played more than 36 minutes in all of them, and he’s racked up an impressive 20 assists over that span. Averaging 17 points, 6.7 assists and 1.3 triples during that stretch, Gordon’s fall from the superstar path has been swift since his trade from the Los Angeles Clippers, but those numbers can help any owner, and Gordon’s role should continue to be a prominent one for
however long Holiday is sidelined.
While Gordon is an injury risk in his own right, the Pelicans have absolutely no backcourt depth to speak of to challenge his minutes so long as he can remain on the floor.
Evan Turner, G/F Boston Celtics
Evan Turner’s best chance at having sustained success in the NBA is as a full-time point guard. With five-plus assists over his last seven games, Turner has taken a liking to his new role as the Celtics’ starting point guard in the post-Rajon Rondo era.
Capable of contributing in points, rebounds and assists, Turner has proven his multi-faceted worth since 2015 got here. With averages of 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists in the month, Turner is going to help do a little bit in multiple areas. Where he won’t help is with his shooting (just 38.1 percent this month), nor in the defensive department, but we knew that a long time ago. Seeing 29 minutes per game this month, Turner’s role is stable.
Turner isn’t going to turn around your club, but he’s an underrated producer in his current role, and it’s not like he’s going to suddenly run out of opportunities on a talent-starved Boston roster. They need him to produce, and that translates into opportunities for opportunistic fantasy owners.