Two players have been ruled out indefinitely since last week: Kawhi Leonard (quad) and Kris Dunn (concussion). That’s opened up some fantasy value in what would have been an otherwise relatively quiet week on the waiver wire. Two Spurs and a Bull are featured below, as well as a familiar face from the Kings, who was productive fantasy player at the end of last season.
If I refer to a player’s ranking, it’s based on their average stats in an eight-category format that does not account for turnovers.
Dejounte Murray, Spurs (47 percent owned)
Coach Gregg Popovich handed over the starting point guard job to Murray beginning with Sunday’s game against the Pacers, effectively ending Tony Parker’s 16-year run as the starter. Over Murray’s first three games at the helm he’s averaged 12.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 steals while shooting 46.9 percent from the field. While he’s undoubtedly a good rebounder and defender, averaging 9.5 boards and 1.8 steals across 36 minutes per game, his numbers over the past three contests are slightly inflated due to the fact that he posted a career game against the Cavaliers on Tuesday. In that win, he recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven steals and three assists in 30 minutes.
Tony Parker, Patty Mills (and to a lesser degree, Manu Ginobili) haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, however, and will still likely play significant roles in the backcourt. So, it’s unlikely that Murray will garner 30-plus minutes on a nightly basis. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a highly productive fantasy asset. In the 17 contests in which Murray has played 24-30 minutes this season, he’s averaged 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals.
He’s not traditional point guard in real life or in fantasy, making him an interesting add in categorical formats. His numbers mirror those of a wing player –like a better rebounding and defending Nicolas Batum — or even Al Horford without the threes while substituting blocks for steals. Regardless, we’ve seen enough of Murray to conclude that no matter how he gets his stats, he can be a productive fantasy player on a nightly basis. He ranks 78th over the past two weeks, seeing just over 23 minutes per game.
Kyle Anderson, Spurs (41 percent owned)
Kawhi Leonard (quad) being sidelined indefinitely has once again opened up fantasy value for Anderson, who has actually been the 77th-ranked player this season in just over 27 minutes per game, averaging 8.1 points (50.6 percent shooting), 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and a combined 2.3 steals/blocks.
His ranking has jumped to 53 over the past two weeks, due in part to Leonard being off the floor since Jan. 15. While his offensive and rebounding numbers have remained relatively similar over the past 14 days, Anderson has upped his steals/blocks to a combined 3.4 per game, putting him in rare company. That’s probably not sustainable, but Anderson is far too good of an all-around player when Leonard is out to justify leaving on the waiver wire in most scenarios.
Skal Labissiere, Kings (28 percent owned)
With the news that coach Dave Joerger will be sitting his veterans more often and/or playing them fewer minutes, Labissiere has become a significantly more intriguing fantasy option. He did seemed bothered by a shoulder injury on Thursday that will need to be monitored, but heading into the matchup against the Heat, he had posted 10.9 points (50.0 percent shooting), 6.8 rebounds and a combined 1.6 steals/blocks across 24.2 minutes per contest over his past 10 games.
That workload is not ideal, but there’s a good chance it’ll rise as the season goes on. Over the final eight games of the 2016-17 campaign, Labissiere was given 30.8 minutes per game, averaging 12.8 points (50.6 percent shooting), 5.9 rebounds and a combined 1.4 steals/blocks. Picking Labissiere up off the waiver wire now could pay bigger dividends down the line, especially deep in the regular season, which is around the time of most fantasy playoffs.
To some extent, the Kings have so many young assets that it’s hard to determine which may see the biggest uptick come the end of the season. But we’ve seen Labissiere get the minutes before. Plus, he’s actually been one of the best players on the team based on net rating, suggesting he’s someone they want to develop and hang on to. Out of all Kings players seeing at least 10 minutes per game, Labissiere ranks fourth in net rating. He also boasts a solid, 21.5 percent usage rate.
Jerian Grant, Bulls (11 percent owned)
Starting point guard Kris Dunn has been sidelined since suffering a concussion against the Warriors on Jan. 17. In the three games that Dunn has missed, Grant has posted 12.3 points (57.9 percent shooting), 7.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 threes and 1.3 steals across 32.7 minutes per game. That’s made him the 28th-ranked player over the past seven days.
Some of those stats need asterisks, however. He only saw more than 26 minutes in one of those three contests — a double-OT loss to the Pelicans in which he played 47 minutes. Also, his 57.9 percent shooting from the field and 71.4 percent three-point shooting is wildly unsustainable, so his 12.3 points and 1.7 threes will likely take a dip, as well. Plus, with Zach LaVine cleared to play 26-plus minutes per game moving forward, which includes time at point guard, Grant’s usage probably won’t be as high as it was at the beginning of the season, when both Dunn and LaVine were sidelined.
All of that said, Grant is still worth a look off the wire, as we have no idea how long Dunn will be out and Grant has proven he can be a productive player in that 24-30 minute range. Fantasy owners in 12-team leagues can probably get away with holding off, but owners in 14 or 16-plus team formats should find a way to take advantage of the situation.