We’ve reached the point in the 2015-16 NBA season where a number of players will soon become eligible to be traded, which could wreak havoc on fantasy teams in the coming weeks. Owners must stay abreast of the latest trade rumors, as many moves between now and the February trade deadline will have significant fantasy ramifications for each team involved.
According to John Reid of the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans Pelicans are “letting teams know [Ryan Anderson] is available if the right trade deal comes forth.” The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly have already “gauged trade interest in Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith,” per Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears, although no move appears imminent. And the Houston Rockets have expressed interest in Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris, who appears to have fallen out of favor with head coach Jeff Hornacek, per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Until the trade market starts popping, the waiver wire will be one of the best ways to upgrade your fantasy squad. Here’s a look at six such potential pickups, all of who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Lou Williams, PG/SG, Los Angeles Lakers (48.0% owned)
In the latest baffling move from Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott, he’s relegated two of the team’s prized young players, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, to the bench for the foreseeable future (although Russell has started the last two game because of Jordan Clarkson’s ankle injury). He switched those two with rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. and Lou Williams, but only the latter has any sort of fantasy relevance.
Since moving into the starting lineup, Sweet Lou is averaging 17.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 triples, 1.3 steals and 0.3 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game. So long as Scott maintains his undying commitment to giving L.A.’s veteran players heavy minutes, Williams figures to be worth owning in fantasy leagues of all sizes.
Jon Leuer, PF, Phoenix Suns (28.3% owned)
Mirza Teletovic, PF, Phoenix Suns (25.4% owned)
With Markieff Morris picking up DNP-CDs left and right as of late and Tyson Chandler still on the mend from a hamstring strain, the Phoenix Suns have turned to Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic to shoulder more of their frontcourt load. Leuer has taken over as the starting 4 in Phoenix’s past six games, averaging 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 steals and 0.8 triples in 31.2 minutes, while Teletovic is chipping in 14.0 points, 4.5 boards, 3.2 treys and 1.5 assists in 26.0 minutes a night off the bench.
While both Leuer and Teletovic are worth a pickup as the Morris situation shakes out, each is likely a sell-high candidate. Chandler is probable to return Sunday, per Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, while the Pelicans are reportedly willing to flip Ryan Anderson to Phoenix in exchange for Morris, per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania. Add Leuer and Teletovic for now, but don’t necessarily expect them to provide strong value for the rest of the season.
Omri Casspi, SF, Sacramento Kings (26.5% owned)
Omri Casspi has been in the deeper-league adds section for a few weeks now, but in the wake of Willie Cauley-Stein being sidelined for the next couple of weeks with a dislocated right index finger, he’s graduated to a full-scale add in leagues of any size. The 27-year-old swingman has started each of the Kings’ past four games sans Cauley-Stein, averaging 14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 treys, 0.8 blocks and 0.3 steals in 35.5 minutes a night.
Even prior to Cauley-Stein’s injury, Casspi had begun coming on as a standard-league contributor, averaging 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 triples, 1.7 dimes and 0.7 steals in 31.0 minutes over a seven-game stretch to close out November. That suggests he’ll have standalone value once WCS returns, and there’s no guarantee the rookie big man retakes his starting job upon his return.
Patrick Beverley, PG, Houston Rockets (22.9% owned)
The Houston Rockets’ head coaching change was a godsend for Patrick Beverley’s fantasy value, as interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff moved him into the team’s starting lineup in place of Ty Lawson. The former Arkansas Razorback has been cooking as of late, averaging 11.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 triples, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals over his past five games, four of which were Houston wins.
With the Rockets finally snapping out of their early-season malaise, Bickerstaff has no major incentive to shake up his rotation, meaning Beverley should keep hold of his starting gig until further notice. His combination of steals and three-point shooting makes him worth owning in every league, especially with him playing more than 30 minutes a night recently.
O.J. Mayo, SG, Milwaukee Bucks (19.6% owned)
With the Milwaukee Bucks ravaged by injury at the point-guard position, O.J. Mayo has taken over as the team’s de facto starting floor general, as head coach Jason Kidd seemingly prefers bringing in Michael Carter-Williams off the bench. In Mayo’s five games in that role — including Milwaukee’s stunning 108-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday — he’s averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.8 triples in 34.2 minutes a night.
Even once Jerryd Bayless and Tyler Ennis return from their respective injuries, Mayo is no lock to move back to the bench, as he provides the starting unit with some badly needed floor spacing. If nothing else, he’s worth a speculative add until Milwaukee’s backcourt heals up, as he has the potential to return top 100 rest-of-season value if he maintains his grasp on a 30-minute-per-night role.
Mentioned in previous weeks:
Kent Bazemore, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks (48.8% owned)
Darren Collison, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings (46.2% owned)
Ian Mahinmi, C, Indiana Pacers (26.9% owned)
Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Boston Celtics (16.0% owned)
Trevor Booker, PF, Utah Jazz (11.3% owned)
Iman Shumpert, SG/SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (10.4% owned)
Cody Zeller, PF, Charlotte Hornets (7.1% owned)
Kendall Marshall, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (4.5% owned)
All Player Rater data and ownership percentages via ESPN.com and are current through Saturday, Dec. 12.