By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week on the waiver wire, we can find some both short and long-term options still available after the rush of the opening week’s transactions. There are seemingly more viable backcourt than front court options, so you may be in luck if you need a guard or wing player.
Domantas Sabonis (33% owned)
Sabonis’ role has been expanded over the past four games with starting center Myles Turner sidelined with a concussion and sore neck. Sabonis has generally played above expectations in his extended run, averaging 10.0 points 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists across 25.9 minutes per game.
His playing time will certainly take a dip once Turner returns, though it’s important to note that Sabonis still managed to tally 16 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes off the bench during the team’s season opener. He can also play both power forward and center, which should help get him time on the floor, even when the team’s normal starting five is intact. He can still probably be ignored in shallow leagues, but his recent play warrants a serious look in standard and especially deep formats.
Ed Davis (13% owned)
With starting center Jusuf Nurkic starting off the year slowly (12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game), Davis has emerged as a legitimate fantasy option. Despite coming off the bench and averaging just under 18 minutes per game, Davis is averaging 8.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.0 block. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but his rebounding and shot-blocking upside make him appealing in categorical formats.
His workload, while not ideal, also seems relatively safe. Davis averaged 17.2 minutes per game last season, but only averaged 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds across 46 total games due to wrist, ankle and shoulder ailments, the latter of which required surgery. During 2015-16, his first year in Portland, he posted 6.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and a combined 1.6 steals and blocks across 20.8 minutes per game – numbers that give a better idea of what he’s capable of in limited action. Fantasy owners in standard formats can likely keep Davis off their radar unless the Trail Blazers’ frontcourt deals with an injury, but owners in deep formats may be able to utilize the big man.
James and Ulis have essentially been splitting minutes at point guard over the past two games with Eric Bledsoe publicly on the trading block and not in uniform. Considering the team’s up-tempo style and youth movement, there should be plenty of opportunities for both players to rack up quality points and assists numbers. There’s also little chance either of them get benched during a blowout, as the team is in a rebuilding phase and both players are relatively young.
Each player’s value should stick provided neither one starts playing consistently better than the other and garnering more minutes. Since it’s only been two games, that is to-be-determined. It is important to note, however, that the Suns turned to Ulis for huge minutes at the end of last season, deploying him 39.4 minutes per game (16.1 points, 8.5 assists), so they certainly have confidence in him. If the Suns end up trading for an upgrade at point guard over James and Ulis, that would undoubtedly affect their value as well.
Evan Turner (42% owned)
Turner played just 65 games last season and missed a significant chunk of that time while dealing with a broken hand. He also struggled shooting the ball, making just 42.6 percent of his looks. But, he’s been more efficient this season (46.2 percent) and it’s led to him averaging 13.3 points per game. Turner’s supplementary stats aren’t eye popping, with 4.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and a combined 1.6 steals and blocks, but his ability to play point guard through small forward should ensure his playing time is safe. And, in the event a Trail Blazers’ starter gets injured, Turner should usually be one of the main beneficiaries. He’s worth consideration in most fantasy formats as a relatively high-floor/low-ceiling pickup.
J.J. Barea (23% owned)
Barea’s fantasy value will likely only last as long as Seth Curry (leg) remains sidelined. Curry is set to have his stress reaction re-evaluated before November rolls around, but there are certainly no guarantees he’ll immediately be ready to suit up. In the meantime, Barea has been stuffing the stat sheet, averaging 13.6 points, 6.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 threes per contest. Picking up Barea is far from a long-term move, but there’s been little word on how quickly Curry will be fully re-inserted into the rotation, so there’s a chance Barea’s bump in value could span multiple weeks.
James Ennis (15% owned)
With Chandler Parsons set to come off the bench indefinitely, Ennis has been drawing starts at small forward for the Grizzlies. Over the team’ past three contests, Ennis posted 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in over 30 minutes per game. Unlike many other waiver wire options, Ennis has potential to be a legitimate long-term pickup who sees starter’s minutes on a consistent basis. That can be difficult to find in Week 2 of the fantasy season, after what is usually a transaction-heavy Week 1.