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The Wire Troll: Naz Reid Takes the Reins in Minnesota

January 2, 2021 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Naz Reid is thriving with Karl-Anthony Towns out for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Naz Reid is getting his chance to shine. (NBA TV)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy basketball. Given the delayed start to the season, we’re already into the 2021 portion of the 2020-21 season. Crazy, but true. So while we await the James Harden trade, let’s mine the waiver wire!

This week, the NBA announced that it will soon force its players and team staff to wear contact sensors to help avoid Covid-19 exposure; Kris Dunn (ankle) will be sidelined for another two weeks following surgery, so Cam Reddish should continue to cook; and Lauri Markkanen, already dealing with a calf woe, is now sidelined because of the NBA’s health protocol (which we assume is semantics for testing positive).

And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy basketball waiver wire picks…

Naz Reid, C/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN: 4.9 per cent; CBS: 42 per cent): Reid has been off the Fantasy radar so far in his career, but he’s getting his chance to shine now with Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) expected to miss several games. Even if Reid has limited appeal in a redraft format, he makes a superb DFS play at the moment, having averaged 11 points, five boards, 1.6 assists and a combined 1.7 blocks/steals in games that KAT has missed since the beginning of 2019-20. Reid has scored double figures in each of the last three games, and his bucket count is up a smidge over his rookie season — with the upside to rise even more. On Friday, he really stepped up offensively and defensively… with a thunderous block — see video below. When he came out of LSU, Reid showed strength and a solid jump shot, plus was considered a leader. However, he wasn’t the most athletic player and didn’t necessarily have the size or defensive skill to be a starting centre in the NBA.

Cameron Johnson, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns (ESPN: 13.2 per cent; CBS: 40 per cent): In late-February, we tabbed Johnson as a player that could help for the stretch drive. It’s hard to quantify that pick as bad as the kid went off in his only game in March before a knee injury ended his season just before the pause. In the bubble, Johnson continued to excel, and so far he’s been a pleasant surprise this season, averaging 14.4 points to really help provide frontcourt scoring depth. Healthy so far, he’s been playing exclusively off the bench (thanks to the addition of Jae Crowder), but it’s a role that has not limited him in the least as he looks like he can be a primary scoring option in the second unit. Given the youngster’s upside, don’t overlook the idea that Johnson could ultimately earn the lion’s share of the minutes in this position battle.

Quick Dribbles

  • In our 2019-20 season review of the Indiana Pacers we identified Damantas Sabonis‘ progression as the best thing that happened to the team, but wondered how effective he’d be under a new coaching system. The answer is clear now: he’s better. On Thursday, Sabonis canned 10-of-14 for 25 points (2-for-2 from downtown; 3-of-3 from the line) with 11 boards and seven dimes. His PT keeps rising, as does his production, earning him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honours.
  • Joel Embiid was super efficient on Thursday, needing just 27 minutes and three quarters to rack up 21 points, nine boards, two assists and two blocks as Philly ended Orlando’s perfect start. Because of the reduced workload, it was the first time in four games that he didn’t record a double-double, but overall this season, he’s seeing more minutes, and his bucket count is up as a result.
  • We started falling in love with Collin Sexton in February and you can certainly see why given what he’s doing this season. On Thursday, he filled the stat sheet en route to his fifth straight game of at least 20 points to begin the campaign. Sexton’s bucket count has gone way up, but note that his red hot shooting from downtown is likely unsustainable.
  • Nikola Vucevic took a step back last season — injuries likely didn’t help — but he’s been a tad more effective early on this season. Despite playing just 24 minutes on Thursday, he recorded his second straight double-double — and fourth in five games. Vucevic’s rebounding is up, and will likely improve further assuming he gets back to his usual pace on the offensive glass.
  • Otto Porter Jr. is another player that dealt with injury issues last season, and he struggled as a result. Relegated to mostly a reserve role so far this season, he’s doing more with less. On Thursday, Porter went off for season-bests of 28 points, 12 boards and three steals, giving him double-digit points in all five games. He’s not getting any more touches this season, but is certainly being more efficient with them, and looks more like the player he was at the end of 2018-19 when he first got dealt to Chicago.
  • Damian Lillard will be hard pressed to equal his performance from last season, when he did everything but stay healthy enough to play in the All-Star Game. But that’s not to say he won’t try. On Friday, Lillard went off for 34 points, six treys, eight assists and a steal — his third 30+ point game over the last four. More importantly, he cemented himself in Trail Blazer lore by reaching 15,000 career points — a total previously only accomplished in club history by Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

One of our personal faves, The Brand New Heavies were instrumental in us getting big into acid jazz back in the day. The band formed in 1985 and is still at it today. In 1997, BNH released one of its biggest hits, “You Are the Universe,” which peaked at No. 4 on the U.K. R&B charts.

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