Rodney McGruder (right) may finally get his chance. (ClutchPoints)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy basketball. (Actually, it’s another decade of Fantasy basketball, but who’s counting?)
This week, potential lottery pick R.J. Hampton (hip) has been cleared for full contact; players and refs will wear black bands to honour former commissioner David Stern; and Caris LeVert (thumb) should return to action on Saturday.
And now, let’s get to our first batch of Fantasy basketball waiver wire recommendations of the decade…
Rodney McGruder, SG, Los Angeles Clippers (ESPN: unowned; CBS: unowned): It’s been nearly two years since we last recommended McGruder during his promising rookie season. The following season was mostly lost to a stress fracture, but last season he bounced back and was mostly used as a starter for the Heat. Claimed off waivers by the Clippers last year, McGruder has not shot well this season and hasn’t been seeing enough minutes to be Fantasy worthy. Earlier this season, he seemed to be finding his groove (see video below), but then suffered an injury. However, with Paul George hurting his hammy on Thursday, McGruder should get a chance to play more. There’s not a ton of upside here, but he was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school and led K-State in scoring as a junior, so there is a pedigree here worth tracking. Consider him a sneaky deep league add while we wait to see how long George will be out.
Darius Garland, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (ESPN: 10.1 per cent; CBS: 47 per cent): As the fifth overall pick last year, Garland’s rookie season hasn’t exactly been awe inspiring as he’s struggled with his shooting. But he was terrific on Thursday, scoring 14 points (his third straight game of at least 12) while adding a career-best eight dimes. Okay, so he was playing the sieve-like Charlotte defense, but still, the kid is starting to turn the corner and set himself up for a big second half. With Cleveland likely to be sellers at the deadline, Garland has a chance to be a real steal down the stretch, so grab him now.
Amile Jefferson, PF, Orlando Magic (ESPN: unowned; CBS: unowned): While he’s proved too good for the G-League, Jefferson has seen very little action in the NBA so far this season. However, with Jonathan Isaac (knee) now out 8-to-10 weeks and Aaron Gordon still sidelined, he may get his chance. On Wednesday, we got a hint what Jefferson is capable of when he pulled down six boards with two points, two assists and a block in just 13 minutes. Give the kid 20 to 25 minutes and let’s see what happens, but consider him merely a flier in deeper leagues at this point.
Christian Wood, PF, Detroit Pistons (ESPN: 1.6 per cent; CBS: 24 per cent): Andre Drummond (illness) may miss Saturday’s game, but the bigger picture here is that he’s rumoured to be on the trade block. So both in the short- and long-term, Wood gets a major boost. Wood’s already seen bigger minutes of late, flashing some offensive upside (10 or more points in three of his last four games) and rebounding prowess (six or more in four straight). He opened some eyes with his play with the Hornets last season, and then in the preseason (when his usage rates soared), but may finally be getting his shot in Motown now, with the possibility of really being set free soon.
- Magic two-guard Terrence Ross is heating up again, scoring at least 15 points in back-to-back games, including 25 on Friday. Despite less PT so far this month, he’s been on fire, and he’s really worked out well for the Magic since being shifted exclusively to the bench last season.
- Danny Green came out of the gates on fire on Friday, scoring 17 points in the opening quarter en route to a 25-point effort. That’s three straight with nine or more points as his PT has been on rise that last couple of months. Like he was in Toronto, Green has strictly been used as a starter, but his minutes overall are down this season.
- After a poor shooting performance against the Raptors on Thursday, Jimmy Butler bounced back big time on Friday, going off for 23 points, 10 boards, seven assists and three steals. He endured a heavy workload last month, but looks better than he did with Philly last season — despite a very poor showing from beyond the arc.
- A video tribute didn’t help Brandon Ingram have a good game in his return to L.A. on Friday. He did have a couple of blocks, but hit just 10-of-27 (2-of-8 from deep) for 22 points. Ingram’s PT has been on the rise in recent weeks, and he’s hitting way more buckets in his breakout debut with the Pelicans, but this was not his night to stick it to his old team.
- Perhaps the frustration got to Isaiah Thomas. He had endured back-to-back games of single digit points and then bumped a referee just 90 seconds into Friday’s game to earn himself an ejection, and — possibly — a second suspension in the last two weeks. Thomas has been much healthier this season, but he’ll need to stay out of trouble to truly have a career renaissance.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli has been building his star status since 1982. In 1999, he released his sixth studio album, Sacred Arias, composed in traditional Christian styles. From this effort comes “Cujus Animam,” from Rossini‘s Stabat Mater.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy basketball waiver wire pick of the week is.