By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Take a deep breath. We’ve reached the All-Star Break, the two-thirds mark of the season. There is still a lot of time left, but the shape of your team is clear. The time to make assertive moves is now.
It’s always important to add players based on their overall fit with your roster, not based only on their abstract, situation-independent, “overall” value, but that only becomes more crucial the farther into the season we get.
If you’re already leading the league in blocks, then Matisse Thybulle (8 percent rostered) is probably not worth adding, though he might be among the best possible pickups if you’re in the middle of a tight pack in that category.
One logistical note: this week’s article will be a normal waiver wire pickups piece — lots of players who have been hot lately or have high short-term value. Since there is only one day of games between today’s column and next week’s, next week’s column will focus on long-term rest-of-season pickups.
Most teams play twice during Week 18. The exceptions are the Bulls, who play three times, and the Magic, Knicks, and Clippers, who play just once. That means there’s a huge amount of extra value in adding a Bull while starting a player with just one game is a massive disadvantage.
The players below are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
This article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues.
Malik Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves (50 percent rostered)
Pretty much everyone knew Beasley was an NBA-rotation player, but few (if any) knew he had this in him. His trade from the Nuggets to the Timberwolves — from probably the deepest roster to one of the shallowest, and arriving as the main replacement at wing for Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington — put him in one of the best situations possible.
But situation alone doesn’t get a guy to 22.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 4.7 made threes per game. Beasley has started all three games since arriving in Minnesota, averaging 33.0 minutes. He’ll probably have difficulty keeping up this scorching-hot pace, but his per-36 numbers in Denver imply that he’ll remain a solid season-long addition in his new expanded role.
Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons (20 percent)
The Pistons have played four games since trading away Andre Drummond for spare parts. Drummond led the team in minutes, was second in scoring, and is the league’s leading rebounder. Maker has started all four, averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 28.5 minutes. Christian Wood is the trade’s biggest winner — and probably the biggest trade-deadline winner league-wide — but Drummond leaves behind a vacuum large enough for multiple fantasy adds to emerge.
On a related note: Why on Earth is Christian Wood still available in 33% of leagues? Fix that ASAP.
Landry Shamet, Los Angeles Clippers (21%)
Shamet is becoming one of the league’s best three-point specialists. He’s steadily improved throughout his first season and a half, and he’s taken on a key role in the Clipper’s crunch time lineups. He’s shooting 45 percent from behind the arc in February, making 3.0 per game. He’s made at least one three in 14 of his last 15 games, with multiple made in 12 of those. His workload has increased throughout the season. There is some risk in adding a three-point specialist directly before the lengthy break — there are now so many threes specialists, and sharpshooters are inherently somewhat streaky — but Shamet’s steadily increasing role should add some confidence.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (5%)
Damian Lillard (groin) is expected to miss up to two weeks. His injury occurred just before the All-Star Break, but assuming he misses the first few post-ASB games, there is a massive opening for fantasy purposes. Lillard averages 37.0 minutes, 29.5 points and 20.4 field goal attempts per game, the second-most, fourth-most and eighth-most in the league, respectively.
Simons and Gary Trent Jr (14%) are likely to be the primary beneficiaries. As has come up before this season, I’m firmly #TeamSimons. The Trail Blazers are invested in him, and he’s been one of the biggest winners in Lillard and C.J. McCollum’s six combined absences so far this season. In Simons’ 15 games playing at least 27 minutes, he’s averaged 13.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 threes.
Other recommendations: Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks (43 percent rostered); Damion Lee, Warriors (20 percent rostered); Ish Smith, Wizards (27 percent rostered); Reggie Jackson, Pistons (44 percent rostered); Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (8 percent rostered); Danuel House, Rockets (40 percent rostered); Ivica Zubac, Clippers (27 percent rostered); Shabazz Napier, Wizards (20 percent rostered)