In his most recent clinic, the human waiver wire D.J. Augustin dropped 27 points, seven assists, five rebounds, with no defensive stats but with five threes to make up the fact. This on 57.1 percent shooting from the field and an immaculate showing from the charity half-moon. According to ESPN, in the last seven days only three other point guards have been better statistically: Stephen Curry, John Wall and Isaiah Thomas. When it comes to waiver wire pickups, it’s Augustin over the point guard field.
Now, there’s not much in Augustin’s NBA history to suggest he can keep up the torrid pace he has as a Bull. In the last five games, for starters, he’s averaged 21.6 points, 6.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.o steal, and 3.8 three-pointers. Even more incredibly, he’s shot 57.6 percent from the backwoods during that time. Once he drops back to earth, and it should happen any day now, he might still be capable of meeting his January numbers of 14.6 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 2.1 three-pointers. That’s a highly capable second or third-string point on any squad.
There’s still a lot of apprehension on our part, as we explored about a month ago, this is, after all, an undersized point who couldn’t do anything last year as a backup for an Indiana team who desperately needed an offensive spark and who had one foot out of the league before the Bulls took a chance on him. Once teams get the scoop on Augustin’s armor chinks they’ll go for the deathblow. Plus, the teams the Bulls have played in January have been been bottom of the pack.
But there’s a few reasons why he might be the best late-season point guard pickup (if he’s still available for you).
1. He’s On A Thibs Team – Brace yourself, this doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. It means heavy minutes. With Kirk Hinrich seemingly more fragile than a cryogenically frozen china shop, and with Thibs’ penchant for running players til kingdom come, Augustin is guaranteed plenty of playing time.
2. Gone Deng Gone – With no Deng, Augustin’s shot attempts have gone up a hitch. When Deng was still around, Augustin attempted double-digit shots in only four games. Since Deng’s departure, the puny point has gone for double-digit shot attempts in seven games, all of them in a row. Somehow, despite the added responsibility, he’s also turning over the ball less than during the Deng-era.
3. It’s Time For The PER-Culator – PER isn’t always the best indicator of fantasy hoops value but it is indication that the player is bringing some value to his team and is playing commendable basketball. Yet, despite an abysmal, abysmal half-year with the Raptors, Augustin’s PER stands at 15.24. The league average is 15-even so there’s not much fanfare needed here but look at what other late-season point guard delights are working with. Kendall Marshall is at 13.90. Darren Collison, who has played the whole year and who plays with a studded team, has a PER of 16.76. Reggie Jackson under similar circumstances to Collison’s is currently at 16.08. Mario Chalmers, who is a starting point and has been for pretty much the whole year, dons a PER of 14.86. Augustin is playing good ball even despite our worst estimates.
4. All The Rest Of Them Men – Think about it: out of all of the cats mentioned, Augustin might be in the best position to reap a plentiful short-term future. As mentioned, the only thing keeping him from heavy minutes is a moribund Hinrich. Meanwhile, Chalmers is Chalmers (though a good provider of threes, steals, and threes at times). Marshall will share court time with Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, and possibly Nash, soon. Collison will play second fiddle to CP3 again in a matter of weeks. Jackson can still be a nice play even with Westbrook healthy but won’t have the same opportunities as he does now.
Monitor his efficiency over the time, but for the moment, Augustin might be the way to go. Would even he had thunk it?