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The Wire Troll: Can Dennis Smith Jr. Deliver for Charlotte?

January 21, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Dennis Smith Jr. could see a spike in PT for the Charlotte Hornets.
Dennis Smith Jr. could prove quite useful for a while. (Jim Dedmon-USA Today Sports)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy basketball. With January nearing its completion, we are now well past the season’s halfway point. Check your waiver wire for goodies!

This week, Boston shook off a turnover prone effort by Jayson Tatum to exact some revenge against the Warriors; Ben Simmons‘ tough season continued with an ejection on Thursday; and Dallas has lost its second leading scorer and rebounder (see below for the Fantasy opportunity this injury presents).

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Picks

Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Charlotte Hornets (ESPN: 16.4 per cent; CBS: 30 per cent): We pimped Smith in late-October when Terry Rozier was out, and we’re back to give him another nod with LaMelo Ball (ankle) out day-to-day. Since we first looked at Smith, his PT dipped in November before being sidelined for 18 games with an ankle injury. Since his return, he’s done a better job of getting to the line, but is likely available in smaller leagues and worth a look for however long Ball is hurt (note that Ball is listed as doubtful for Saturday). Smith is sinking more treys this season, and he’s been more efficient in terms of protecting the rock, given the substantial decrease in the team’s turnover rate when he’s on the court. There’s tremendous athleticism here, but he remains a liability on D (mind you, he’s better than most of the Hornets in this regard). Still, we like the aggressiveness Smith showed against Al Horford on Monday (see video below), so would like to see what he’ll do with some extra burn.

Dwight Powell, C, Dallas Mavericks (ESPN: 0.6 per cent; CBS: 1 per cent): Powell has never been quite the same since that awful injury he suffered in 2019-20, but every now and then he flashes a little something-something to remind us what he can do (10 points in 17 minutes on Sunday). However, now that Christian Wood has a broken thumb and Maxi Kleber (hamstring) remains out for another a few weeks, Powell will get more burn. Sure enough, Powell played a season-high 33 minutes on Friday, and while the production wasn’t eye-popping, he still flirted with a double-double while recording a pair of steals. His PT has been rising all season, so we’re curious to see what he’ll do when consistently getting 30+ minutes per game. Powell is still mostly a full-time starter, but not necessarily used to the same load he was before his Achilles’ injury a few years ago. Consider him a deep league option with some possible upside in standard formats.

Hamidou Diallo, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons (ESPN: 1.1 per cent; CBS: 7 per cent): Trying to get a jump on players who could benefit from trade deadline moves? Then you might want to consider that when/if Bojan Bogdanovic gets moved, Diallo stands to gain big time. It was just under a year ago that we last picked Diallo, and the results were mixed as he sunk more threes in February, but experienced a big PT drop off in March before a finger woe ended his season. However, look at what Diallo is doing recently with limited minutes: 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting in 21 minutes on Thursday with four straight games of at least 12 points in the previous week. His shooting keeps improving as the season progresses, and even though his role is currently capped, there’s clearly potential waiting to explode after the Pistons free up enough minutes for him. Diallo makes for a great stash in standard leagues and fine current play in deep formats.

Fast Breaks

  • We’ve got a great race to finish dead last in the NBA and get the best crack at Victor Wembanyama in the NBA Draft. Currently, the bottom four (Houston, Detroit, Charlotte and San Antonio) are separated by just four games. French big man Wembanyama is one of the best prospects we’ve seen in a while, and it’s amazing that this 7’3″ kid — who leads the French league in scoring, rebounding and blocks — doesn’t seem fazed in the least by the hype machine.
  • Let’s hope Ball’s injury isn’t too serious, because man, what a roll he’s been on for Charlotte. Before getting hurt Wednesday, he had rhymed off four straight games of 24 or more points, shaking off a slow start to the month from a bucket count perspective. His development into a major source of three pointers has been really something to enjoy this season.
  • Back in November, we observed how Anthony Edwards was developing into a more well-rounded player. He’s been rewarded for his efforts with a ton of PT; in fact, no one in the NBA has played more minutes. And while Edwards has been a bit quiet offensively over the last couple of games, he’s still finding ways to help his owners (nine rebounds and a block on Wednesday; seven assists and three steals on Thursday). Nice to see those boards, as his rebounding work has slipped this month, but overall, his bucket count continues to rise each season. Do note that Edwards (hip) is questionable to play on Saturday, but he’s been playing through this injury for a couple of weeks.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Bob Dylan is without a doubt one of the greatest songwriters in musical history. Here’s the second single from his country album, Nashville Skyline, “Lay Lady Lay,” a track covered by many over the years (including such diverse acts as The Byrds, Duran Duran and Ministry).

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