The Wire Troll: James Johnson Jacking Up the Treys
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hoops. It being Christmas eve and all, we opted to let NBA Editor Adrian Wallace enjoy some merriment. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
This week, Cleveland SG J.R. Smith underwent surgery for his thumb and will miss 12-to-14 weeks; Draymond Green missed Thursday’s game because his baby mama was squeezing out a pup; and Miami retired Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32, ostensibly requiring a crane to hoist it to the rafters.
And now let’s get to this week’s Fantasy basketball waiver wire recommendations…
Courtney Lee, SG, New York Knicks (ESPN: 7.4 per cent; CBS: 20 per cent): The Knicks opened their wallets this summer for Lee, penning him to a four-year, $48 million deal. So far, the team’s starting two-guard has delivered pretty much as expected. Lee’s touches are up a tad and he’s matching his career high by averaging 1.5 three-pointers per game (at a career best 47.6 per cent clip) — and that’s where his real Fantasy value lies, as his contributions in other categories are fairly limited. The beauty of his game for the Knicks is that he’s a top notch defender and can score within the flow of the game — ideal on a team with a ball hog like Carmelo Anthony. Just make sure to keep Lee away from LeBron James (see video below) to avoid winding up on a poster.
Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks (ESPN: 3.9 per cent; CBS: 28 per cent): Some sharp owners are beginning to pluck Middleton off the wire after news emerged that he’s making good progress in his recovery from surgery to repair a torn left hamstring. He’s been doing some light jogging and shooting, but obviously has a long road ahead of him. Still, it’s looking more likely that Middleton will be able to help your Fantasy team before season’s end (possibly as early as mid-February), so if you’re in a format that allows you to stash a player, grab him now.
James Johnson, PF, Miami Heat (ESPN: 12.4 per cent; CBS: 31 per cent): Johnson hasn’t been shy about hoisting them up from downtown this season, averaging 3.1 attempts per game — or 1.4 more than he ever has before. The fact that he’s canning them at a career best 34.6 per cent suggests he won’t suddenly stop putting them up, so if you need a big that can fill it up from downtown, here’s your dude. As a bonus, Johnson is putting up plenty of boards (26 in the last three games alone) and has pitched in with a block in two straight games.
Doug McDermott, SF, Chicago Bulls (ESPN: 3.9 per cent; CBS: 10 per cent): McDermott has turned up his offensive game this week, racking up three straight double-digit scoring games. It was definitely a good sign to see him get a couple points at the line Friday, as this is an area of his game in which he offers massive upside given his superb free throw shooting. McDermott is consistently getting enough minutes off the bench to do some damage, so it’s great to see him finally capitalizing — especially from downtown, with six treys over the last three games. If he can get his three-point accuracy back to anywhere near where it was last year (42.5 per cent; fifth in the NBA) and start getting to the charity stripe more often, look out — his numbers will really take off.
Marreese Speights, C/PF, Los Angeles Clippers (ESPN: 9.4 per cent; CBS: 27 per cent): After the Warriors moved on from him, Speights moved south to L.A., inking a contact with the Clippers last summer. While he’s getting more opportunity in Lob City, he still doesn’t really play enough to be worthy of a spot in standard formats. But it’s hard to ignore the numbers Speights is putting up in his limited minutes, recording four straight double-digit scoring games with solid rebounding and plenty of treys — despite playing over 17 minutes just once. He’s also not been shy about calling out his team despite his relative newbie status on the Clippers. We’re not sure that’s going to get Speights more minutes, but it’s clear he’s capable of producing in very little action, so give him a look in deeper formats.
Amir Johnson, C/PF, Boston Celtics (ESPN: 6.3 per cent; CBS: 18 per cent): Johnson headlined our column in early November, but after a strong showing last month, his ownership has dipped along with his PT this month. However, he’s recently making noise again as his minutes have risen steadily over the last week and change, resulting in a nice boost in production. Johnson has recorded consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, adding six boards in each game and even pitching in with five dimes on Friday. Three total steals and a three-pointer in each of those games round out a nice package for the durable big man.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy basketball waiver wire pick of the week is.