Trevor Ariza has experienced a renaissance with the Blazers. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy basketball. We’re now officially in February, meaning there’s only about two-fifths of the season remaining. Don’t let your foot off the pedal now.
This week, news of Kobe Bryant‘s untimely death rocked the league, causing a wave of emotion and in some cases, missed games (Chris Paul missed his first game of the season Monday because he was mourning); Grayson Allen (hip) is out indefinitely, prompting the Grizz to recall Josh Jackson, the fourth overall pick in 2017; and the Cavs finally stopped the bleeding by beating Detroit on Monday night.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy basketball waiver wire picks of the week…
Trevor Ariza, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (ESPN: 12.3 per cent; CBS: 42 per cent): Ariza, who had been struggling as a bench player in Sacramento, was dealt to Portland last week and paid immediate dividends. Shifted into the starting lineup, the veteran went off for a season-high 21 points, seven boards, two steals and two assists in his Trail Blazer debut, before trailing off in his second game, yet still seeing nice minutes. Ariza’s three-point shooting has been much better this month, and as long as he keeps getting the PT he’s seen so far in Portland, he looks like a very nice pickup. He’s always been able to fill the stat sheet when healthy (which has been a bit less often in recent seasons), so he could be a second-half steal for your team. Just keep Ariza away from LeBron James‘ crossover (see video below).
- Kevin Love scored all 20 of his points in the first half Monday, giving him a third straight 20-point game. His bucket count is way up in January, and his shooting has rebounded nicely this season, as he’s taking slightly fewer from downtown.
- Kyle Lowry hasn’t been piling up the points recently, but on Tuesday, he flirted with a triple double, logging 11 assists (setting a new franchise career record in the process) with eight boards. His touches are down this month and for the third straight season, his shooting percentage has dipped as he slowly regresses from his All-Star starter days.
- Reggie Jackson is really picking up the pace for the Pistons lately, scoring at least 14 points in each of his first three games since returning from a 42-game absence because of a back injury. He’s logged five steals combined over this stretch, and while he’s not jacking up as many treys so far this season, he’s definitely trending in the right direction.
- Vince Carter doesn’t play much anymore, but he can still light it up from time to time. He scored five points in 16 minutes Sunday and then on Tuesday he put up 10 in 18 minutes against his original club, the Raptors. Vinsanity’s PT has dipped the last couple of months, and he’s now strictly a reserve. This has to be his final season, doesn’t it?
- Terry Rozier has been inconsistent lately, but when he’s on, look out. On Tuesday, he went off for 30 points — including nine in the second quarter alone — with 10 boards. His PT has risen steadily each month, and his touches are through the roof in his first season in Charlotte as he and Devonte’ Graham have become the two top options in the Hornet offense.
- After taking Monday’s game off to mourn Kobe, Chris Paul returned to action Wednesday and despite dropping 10 dimes and picking up seven boards, clearly wasn’t himself, shooting just 3-for-12 for only nine points. CP3 has been shooting more and more as he season has progressed and is sinking more buckets in his first season in OKC.
- Julius Randle cooled off offensively on Wednesday, struggling with his shot en route to just 16 points, but he salvaged his Fantasy line with 14 boards and six assists. His PT is up this month, but shooting woes this season have cut into his overall bucket count after last season’s breakout performance.
- Every time it looks like Nemanja Bjelica is worth grabbing, he slinks back into a hole. After putting up nine straight double-digit scoring games, including four straight with at least 13, he laid a goose egg on Wednesday and then managed just nine on Thursday (although at least he had eight boards). Bjelica has actually shot better from outside the arc in January, and while he continues to rack up the starts, it’s these disappearing acts that make him hard to recommend.
- Serge Ibaka sure has stepped up his offense this week, pouring in 24 points on Tuesday (with 10 boards and two steals) and then 26 on Thursday (with a block and a steal). He’s doing a much better job of protecting the ball this month, and despite finding himself starting less often this season, he’s been more productive with slightly less PT.
- After starting the week on fire, Pascal Siakam was held to 19 points on Thursday, but he still contributed four steals and a block. While he’s been healthier this month, it’s been his least productive one of the season. Still, last season’s Most Improved Player is making a case for back-to-back wins as he’s really begun to deploy an outside game this season, more than doubling his three-point attempts per game.
- It’s high time we gave some Fantasy love to Collin Sexton. He poured in 23 points with four boards, four assists, a steal and a block on Thursday, marking three straight games of 23 or more. Sexton has been doing a better job on the boards this month, and — given slightly more PT in his sophomore season — has taken a nice step forward in his overall game.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Although Canadian musician Burton Cummings is best known for his work with The Guess Who, he’s had a pretty good solo career too. In 1980, he released a greatest hits package, The Best of Burton Cummings, and from this effort comes “I Will Play a Rhapsody,” originally released on 1978’s Dream of a Child.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy basketball waiver wire pick of the week is.