Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Work: Bradley Beal’s replacement and Rudy Gobert gets more and more playing time
Rasual Butler, SG/SF Washington Wizards
The Wizards announced that starting shooting guard Bradley Beal (leg) has sustained his third stress fracture in as many seasons earlier this week, and while the team stated he’ll be reevaluated after the All-Star break, there is every reason to think Beal will be out for a longer period of time. When a player has three injuries in as many seasons, you know the team is going to be cautious with his recovery—when a player has sustained the same injury three times over a three-year span, the term “kid gloves” isn’t strong enough for how the Washington medical staff is going to handle Beal’s file moving forward.
Unfortunately for Washington, the team has little-to-no depth behind Beal to speak of (a roster oversight from GM Ernie Grunfeld in rebuilding his team), and that issue is now going to benefit Rasual Butler. Although second-year man Otto Porter, Jr. will likely continue to start at shooting guard for however long Beal remain sidelined, Butler is going to get plenty of opportunities to contribute—and then some. With just Garrett Temple as the alternative to man the two-guard spot in Beal’s absence after Porter and Butler, it’s not like the the veteran has to climb over Mount Everest to earn the lion’s share of minutes given the current state of the roster.
The Butler recommendation isn’t one that comes as a “Beal replacement.” In fact, Butler is a better addition to a team that’s struggling from distance because someone like Nick Young is underperforming. Considering the La Salle product is slated to see between 20-25 minutes per night (his floor) as we move forward (with the potential for a higher ceiling), Butler is someone I’m picking up as a back-end contributor on my roster to fill a very specific role on my team.
Jae Crowder, F Boston Celtics
Jae Crowder reminds me a little bit of Al-Farouq Aminu in terms of how he contributes on the stat sheet. While there is very rarely one thing that jumps out about his game, Crowder does enough across the board to establish himself as an underrated commodity in leagues with at least 12 teams. Although he’s no longer holding onto a starting role in Boston, Crowder has been able to remain productive in a substitute role, and perhaps that’s why he’s not gaining the amount of attention he should among owners looking for under-the-radar assistance.
Although he rode into the All-Star break with a stinker in a surprising win over the Atlanta Hawks (two points, five boards, two steals, one block), Crowder had scored in double-digits in the four games prior, averaging 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, a steal and a triple. That’s a useful player in leagues with at least 12 teams, especially those with deeper rosters where there may be a weekly format involved. Given the fluidity of the Celtics’ roster and Boston’s potential to wheel and deal before the February 19 deadline, it’s possible Crowder could see an even larger role if the Celtics shed another contract (Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton) or two. And if that happens, Crowder won’t be under the radar for much longer. You’ll have missed the boat.
Crowder is the one guy the Celtics got in the Rajon Rondo trade who’s actually still on the roster, and considering that deal is not even two months old, that should tell you what Boston thinks of Crowder both now and going forward. And while Danny Ainge’s track record is checkered at best when it comes to evaluating talent, we can safely project Crowder’s very real opportunity here.
Rudy Gobert, C Utah Jazz
The only way you haven’t heard about Enes Kanter’s desire for a trade at this point is if you live under a rock. Kanter’s agent, Max Ergul, has made it clear that Kanter wants out of Utah due to “inconsistent” playing time, and we could have seen how this played out a long time ago. When the Jazz made the decision to give Gordon Hayward a max deal after extending Derrick Favors, but failed to come to terms with Kanter on a new deal, we knew where this was going. Once upon a time, that trio was seen as Utah’s future with Kanter at the forefront. Now, he’s in the back looking for a new home while those other two have taken millions (read: $$$) of steps forward.
So with Kanter very clearly on the trade block and a future that’s going to be with another team, I expect Gobert to play a more consistent role in the unofficial second half of the season. Although Gobert has been a little rough to own of late—and it’s prompted many of his owners to prematurely drop him—that’s going to look like an awfully foolish decision once he continues to blossom once the action picks back up after the All-Star break. When you have the ability to roster someone who can single-handedly be a difference-maker in any given category, you do it. Those players don’t come around as often as some people may think, and Gobert is very much the real deal in the blocks department.
On his absolute worst night, Gobert is a blocks-specialist who completely changes the Utah defense (for the better) when he’s on the court. On his absolute best night, he’s a walking double-double with the upside to post three-plus blocks on the same possession. With a ceiling this high for a guy who’s already standing over seven feet tall, make sure you grab Gobert if he’s available.