By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
What a first two days of the NBA season. Tuesday and Wednesday were coupled with enough serious injuries and absurd scores to make anyone’s head spin. Unfortunately, an essentially one-game sample size doesn’t give us much to work with. But, regardless, I’ll try sorting through the mess to find us some impactful waiver wire pickups.
All ownership percentages are accurate as of the morning of Thursday, Oct. 19.
Jaylen Brown (75% owned) and Jayson Tatum (73% owned)
With Gordon Hayward sidelined indefinitely, both the Celtics’ wings deserve claims wherever they’re still available. Brown and Tatum are both off impressive starts. Brown is averaging 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal through the Celtics’ first two games. Tatum is posting 11.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Those numbers will certainly come down, but the tandem should seemingly have fantasy value for the remainder of the year. Personally, I’m leaning more towards Brown as a pickup, as he’s more experienced and has taken 17.0 shots per game compared to Tatum’s 9.5. Keep in mind, too, that once Marcus Morris returns, that could cut into Tatum’s minutes more than it could Brown’s.
Trevor Booker (36% owned)
Booker dropped 20 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday, so highlighting him here could seem reactionary. The real story here, though, is that he saw 28 minutes. Starting center Timofey Mozgov played just 14 minutes, rookie Jarrett Allen caught a DNP-CD and Tyler Zeller was in street clothes. The team relied upon Booker heavily off the pine at power forward and last season and it appears they’re looking to do the same this year. He averaged 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals across 24.7 minutes per game during 2016-17.
Kelly Oubre (19% owned)
Motioning to add Oubre off the wire is a more short-term than long-term move, but one that can still have payoff. With starting power forward Markieff Morris (hernia) likely sidelined until early November and reserve big man Jason Smith (shoulder) suffering an injury Wednesday, Oubre is seemingly the most talented reserve player to give those minutes to. Though he averaged only 6.3 points across 20.3 minutes per game last season, there’s a chance he’ll show off a more polished offensive game this year considering he’s just entering his third NBA season. He got off to a good start Wednesday, posting 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks across 32 minutes.
Lance Stephenson (16% owned)
I know that Wednesday was a one-game sample size and that the 140-131 (non-overtime) victory for the Pacers was absurd. But, I can’t ignore the fact that Stephenson fired up 19 shots in 24 minutes. We’ve known for essentially his whole career that Stephenson is capable of racking up plenty of rebounds and assists – he just needs the minutes. And, his ability to play multiple positions for a lower-tier Pacers team should keep him on the floor. If he continues to receive sixth-man minutes and fire up shots, we could be looking at a fantasy comeback year for the 27-year-old. After joining the Pacers last season, he averaged 10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists across 23.9 minutes per game.
John Collins (25% owned)
Starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova (24 minutes) and Collins (22 minutes) essentially split time Wednesday. Collins has more than enough talent to garner significant run on a Hawks team that’s expected to be one of the worst in the NBA, but an uncertain workload left him undrafted in many fantasy leagues. His lack of an outside shot is a deficiency, but he’s a top-flight athlete and a great rebounder – things that can translate well right out of college. He also took 10 shots Wednesday, which is an encouraging sign for his upside. He dropped 14 points, five rebounds, two steals and one assist in his debut.
Will Barton (62% owned)
Coach Michael Malone didn’t name a starting point guard until the season-opener, then proceeded to play the two candidates, Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay, only 20 and 19 minutes, respectively. The team also waived veteran point guard Jameer Nelson in favor of Richard Jefferson. I say all this to note that Will Barton saw 31 minutes Wednesday, possibly making him the safest bet in the team’s backcourt besides Gary Harris. Barton dropped 23 points (8-14 FG, 3-4 3pt, 4-4 FT), six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block during his 2017-18 debut. The team also had plenty of faith in him last season, as he saw 28.4 minutes per game and posted 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
Allen Crabbe (63% owned)
The news that Jeremy Lin (knee) will miss the remainder of the season has opened up a spot in the Nets’ starting lineup. Crabbe is a strong candidate to fill that role and is three-position eligible (PG, SG, SF), which is incredibly valuable. He didn’t provide much by way of rebounds (2.9), assists (1.2) or steals (0.7) last season, but was regulated to almost purely a spot-up shooting role with the Trail Blazers, who feature high-usage guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. With this Nets team void of great talent, he’ll likely be a more focal part of the gameplan in 2017-18. Likely the strongest part of his game is three-point shooting. Crabbe made 1.7 threes (44.4 percent) across 28.5 minutes per game last year. Assuming he’s called upon more, that number could rise, along with his scoring in general.