Parsons, Pachulia steadying forces
Now that the trade deadline has passed, we can take a look at the waiver wire without too many concerns over the way rosters will look for the rest of the season. Of course (and especially this season), injuries will still be a factor down the stretch, but now we know the general outline of which players stand a chance of being contributors and which will probably continue to remain bound to their respective benches.
Since -- as we have said before -- the waiver wire is now your only chance of upgrading your roster, and since roster upgrades are absolutely essential this late in the season if you want any chance of winning your league, this time of year is where you really earn your stripes as a fantasy owner. Here are some players you might want to consider adding:
Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston Rockets: I keep writing about him in these columns, and somehow he keeps piling up good fantasy stats while remaining on the waiver wire in most leagues. He missed a game against the Clippers last Saturday, but in his past four games he's played, he's averaging 11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.5 3-pointers and shooting 50 percent from the floor. His value comes in the aggregate, as he's certainly capable of having a bad game from time to time (just four points and five rebounds in 22 minutes against the Suns on Sunday), but if you had been playing him the past two weeks, you'd be reaping larger benefits, as he's 44th on the Player Rater over the past 15 days. Parsons is available in 87.1 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, and if yours is one of them, you should definitely pick him up.
Zaza Pachulia, C, Atlanta Hawks: Much to everyone's surprise, Zaza has improved as the season has gone on in the absence of Al Horford, and lately he looks a lot like a legitimate NBA center. He's been a double-digit rebounder in 10 of his past 12 games, and has been good for better than one steal per game during that stretch as well. He's not giving you much besides that -- right around 10 points without really doing you any favors in terms of field goal percentage -- but if you're desperate for help on the glass, Pachulia's as good an answer as you'll find in most leagues. He's just outside the top 50 on the Player Rater over the past 15 days, and should certainly continue being a player worth owning in fantasy leagues down the stretch.
Greg Stiemsma, C, Boston Celtics: The Celtics are certainly going to try to find a big man somewhere on the real-life waiver wire in order to make up for the fact that they've lost Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal to assorted injuries during the past few weeks. Neither, it would seem, will be coming back this season, and that's where Stiemsma comes in. He's barely inside the top 100 in the past week on the Player Rater, but that undersells him, at least to a certain way of thinking. Stiemsma carries just about all his value in one category: blocks. If that is the category you need, he can certainly help you. For the past five games, he's averaging 2.6 blocks in just 16.6 minutes, which is pretty remarkable; he misses the qualification cutoff, but among qualified players, only Serge Ibaka blocks more shots per minute. That means Stiemsma's recent numbers are not a fluke, and given the miles on Kevin Garnett's odometer, Stiemsma has a good chance of hovering right around 20 or so minutes per game for the long haul, even if the C's do manage to procure some sort of live body to help out in the frontcourt rotation. Ultimately, Stiemsma should only be on your roster if you are desperate for blocks.
Gerald Green, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets: As a green-blooded Celtics fan, it's hard for me to write about this former Celtic with any sort of objectivity. Frankly, I'm terrified he might become a real NBA player one of these days. He seems, at least, to be heading in that direction. In just 26.4 minutes per game in his past five contests, he's averaging a solid 14.4 points on 52 percent shooting from the floor. That is impressive, and it means that even with his across-the-board contributions in steals, blocks and 3s, field goal percentage is where Green has a chance to really earn his keep on your roster. Field goal percentage, especially this late in the season, is a hard category in which to move the needle, but having a guy jack up around 10 shots per game and make 52 percent of them absolutely helps. Green has never been afraid to shoot, and playing alongside a point guard like Deron Williams isn't going to hurt the sort of shots he gets. His windmill alley-oop dunk against the Rockets two Saturdays ago was one of the best in-game dunks I have ever seen, but it also served as a reminder that Green is an off-the-charts talent. That means it's possible that his top-50 ranking on the Player Rater during the past week is no fluke. Pick him up and drop someone with a little less upside while you still can.
Carlos Delfino, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks: Delfino is currently the starting small forward for the suddenly high-octane Bucks. That's a good position to have these days, it seems. He has been right around the team lead in minutes in both games since last week's deadline deal bringing Monta Ellis to town, and seems to be benefitting in terms of his numbers. Delfino's averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals and most importantly, 3.3 3s per game in his past three games. The 3s are the category in which Delfino has the most staying power. For his career, he's a 36.5 percent shooter from long range and has made an impressive 1.2 per game in just over 22 minutes of playing time. This season, he's better, making 1.8 per game, but his recent numbers are no fluke. He's capable of staying hot on a long-term basis, and with the minutes he's currently playing, he belongs in fantasy lineups for lots of other reasons as well. He's still available in nearly 80 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, and should be picked up in just about all of them. Amazingly, he's 32nd on the Player Rater during the past week despite the fact that he's played just three games.
Tristan Thompson, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers: Thompson is capable of not playing up to his potential on any given night, but when he manages to put it all together, it can really be a thing of beauty. See his 27-point (12-for-16 from the floor), 12-rebound performance in a win over the Nets on Monday night for evidence. It was only the second game he's started this season, and if it was a sign of things to come, you'll want to get in on the ground floor. The Cavaliers go up against Pachulia and the Hawks on Wednesday night, so you'll have a chance to see whether Thompson can follow up one great performance with another, but it's worth pointing out that the Cavaliers released Ryan Hollins following Thompson's big night, and Thompson was a high lottery pick last summer, so the Cavs certainly have already invested in him in a serious way. If you need help in points, rebounds and blocks (and can take a hit in free throw percentage, where Thompson shoots just 50 percent on the season), he's worth picking up, especially if you're looking to make a high-risk move that could pay off down the stretch.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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