Picking up injury replacements off the fantasy basketball waiver wire can be tricky. I try to avoid replacements who are in there on a day-to-day basis and focus on guys with more sustainable production, even if it isn’t for the entire remainder of the season. When Jon Leuer replaced Ed Davis, it looked like a solid pickup but Davis would be back shortly, and he was, just 10 days later. The same with Tony Wroten who took over for Michael Carter-Williams who remains out longer than his initial timetable with a skin infection. Instead of losing their jobs to the original starters, however, Leuer appears to have basically replaced Davis who played less than seven minutes in the Grizzlies’ last game while Wroten has a good chance to start at shooting guard when MCW does return.
Let’s take a look at why you should grab those two guys and some waiver wire pickups for every position as we head into Week 8.
Tony Wroten (Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues): I avoided Wroten because Michael Carter-Williams will soon be back from his skin infection but now, Wroten’s hot play has the Sixers considering a dual point guard backcourt. That’s probably not great news for Wroten’s already inconsistent assist numbers but the guy can flat out score and suddenly appears poised to keep him 30+ minute per game role. Since taking over as the starter earlier this month, Wroten is averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 three-pointers per game. In a four game stint as a starter back in November, Wroten averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and two steals per game. He’s not a high-percentage shooter but he will certainly continue to see volume if he remains in the lineup.
Jon Leuer (19 percent): With Ed Davis moving to a more limited role, playing less than seven minutes on Sunday against the Timberwolves, Leuer’s recent production suddenly seems more sustainable. Since taking over Davis’ spot when he got hurt earlier this month, Leuer is playing 30 minutes per game and averaging 16.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and shooting 53 percent from the floor and 42 percent from downtown. We’ve never seen Leuer play this many minutes so it’s hard to gauge if this is a hot streak or what we can expect him to produce if he continues to see 30 minutes per game but, at just 24, there’s a good chance it can be the latter.
Brandan Wright (19 percent): Last season, Wright emerged as a solid contributor off the Mavericks bench. He missed the first 23 games of the season but made his 2013 debut on Saturday against the Bucks. He played just 19 minutes as he was being eased back in but certainly didn’t show any rust as he shot 9-for-10 for 19 points while bringing down six rebounds. Although he’s been in the NBA since 2007, Wright is only 26-years-old and continues to improve. Last season he averaged a solid 17 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes and should see a larger role this season than he did in 2012-13.
Andray Blatche (23 percent): After a couple of games that saw him play fewer than 15 minutes, Blatche appears back in his usual 25 minute per game role and is producing once again. Over his last four games, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 9.5 rebounds. The points will be inconsistent but the guy is a rebound machine and can help a ton in that category despite fairly limited minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (4 percent): More than just a fun name to try to spell, I first took note of Antetokounmpo in the preseason when the 6-foot-10 Greek native was routinely playing shooting guard. The 15th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft didn’t come into the season with the same hype as a Trey Burke or a Victor Oladipo but the 19-year-old has quickly shown that he can play and has earned a serious bump in minutes of late. After averaging an inconsistent 16 minutes per game over his first 16 games, he’s averaging 30 minutes per game, 12 points, 8.7 rebounds, and shooting 47.6 percent from the floor in three games since. That’s not necessarily “run out and buy now” stuff, especially since rookies can’t be trusted, but you should definitely keep an eye on this kid because he plays three different positions and has exceptional athleticism.
Pablo Prigioni (6 percent): Prigioni is not a scorer. In 23 games this season, he has reached double-digit points just once, 11 on Saturday against the Hawks. Prigioni’s value lies in his assists and steals, particularly now that Raymond Felton is out for a few weeks. Assuming the Knicks don’t land a point guard on the trade market, Prigioni should continue to start at the one and is averaging 5.3 assists (7.0 over his last two games), 2.7 steals, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.0 three-pointers per game since taking over for Felton. If you need some help in the point guard categories and can live with seven points per game, Prigioni makes for a solid band aid for your roster.
Tobias Harris (60 percent): Harris is back. Again. Harris returned in late November from a leg injury and managed to play just 16 minutes before being shut down again. He returned once again on Friday and played two games over the weekend, putting up 10 points, five rebounds, and two assists over just 15 minutes against the Cavs and eight points, four rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 23 minutes against the Thunder. He should be back to his 30+ minute per game role pretty quickly and has the highest upside of anyone in the Magic front court. Last season, the 21-year-old averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks over 27 games for the Magic and continues to grow as a player.
Permanent Honorary Mention: John Henson (64 percent): Henson has been on this list just about every week, mostly because I’m not sure what a guy has to do to get universal ownership. He was impressive as a rookie last year, despite playing limited minutes, averaging 16.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes. This season, he started out on the bench and still managed a decent 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game on just 24 minutes. Since taking over as the starter at the end of November, however, he’s been a beast, averaging 33 minutes, 15 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 2.3 assists, and a steal per game over nine games. He’s blocked 12 shots over his last four games while bringing down 43 rebounds. He has only failed to score double-digits once since taking over as the starter and should be owned everywhere.