NBA Fantasy Waiver Pickups & Schedule (Week 7): Ja Morant’s Injury Impact, Christian Wood on the Upswing, More
Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets.
Thanksgiving week is behind us and as football begins to wind down, the NBA is starting to heat up. We’re about one quarter through the season with all but five teams reaching the 20-game mark entering Monday. But, as is always the case, nothing in this league remains constant and that is especially true this week.
Joe Dellera and Dan Titus break down their top injury pivots, players who are rising or falling and note how to benefit on worthwhile player prop angles fantasy trends and scheduling quicks for Week 7.
Read below to see where they are finding small edges this week.
Fantasy Basketball Schedule — Week 7
- Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers are the only teams with two games this week
- Minnesota Timberwolves have the hardest schedule (IND, @ WAS, @BKN)
- Teams with four games: CLE, DAL, HOU, LAC, MIA, NOP, POR, WAS
- Best streaming days: Tuesday (five games), Thursday (five games), Saturday (seven games) and Sunday (four games)
Fantasy Friendly Teams in Week 7
- Oklahoma City Thunder (@HOU, HOU, MEM)
- Houston Rockets (OKC, @OKC, ORL, NOR)
- Dallas Mavericks (CLE, @NOR, NOR, MEM)
Shallow leagues (8-10 team leagues):
- Guards: Alex Caruso, Desmond Bane
- Forwards: Lauri Markkanen, Royce O’Neale, Luguentz Dort
- Centers: PJ Washington
Deep Leagues (12+ team leagues):
- Guards: Tyus Jones, Alec Burks, Malik Beasley, De’Anthony Melton
- Forwards: Kevin Huerter, Matisse Thybulle, Pat Connaughton, Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Centers: Jarred Vanderbilt, Alperen Sengun, Guillermo “Willy” Hernangómez
Players to Watch
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant suffered a left knee sprain against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and is expected to miss the next few weeks. Prior to Sunday’s contest, head coach Taylor Jenkins advised that he avoided a significant injury and there are no tears or ligament damage.
Since Morant entered the league, the Grizzlies are just 7-9 without him. While they were blown out by the Hawks they easily disposed of the Sacramento Kings Sunday.
The Grizzlies are in a three-way tie for sixth spot in the Western Conference. They will need to survive without Morant who has been an engine for their offense. The Grizzlies score 6.9 points more per 100 possessions when Morant is on the floor.
More importantly, all lineups with Morant have a point differential of -12.3 per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. While the Grizzlies may still be able to handle the bad teams, without Morant they likely will struggle against even mid-tier teams moving forward.
Fantasy Impact: The natural pickups for fantasy managers are Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton, but I think it’s more likely that we will see expanded usage from Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane.
Brooks, even in the blowout to the Hawks, had a 33% Usage Rate and last night led all scorers with 21 points. Bane can contribute as well — he should be leaned on more for his shooting — but with Jones entering the starting lineup there will be more opportunities for playmaking when Bane gets minutes with the second unit.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
StatMuse tweeted some interesting stats about Anthony Davis that we thought deserved more attention.
Anthony Davis this season:
16.7% on threes — worst in NBA history by any player with 2+ attempts per game and 20+ games played.
38.3% on midrange — worst in the NBA by any player with 100+ attempts.
33.1% on jumpshots — worst in the NBA by any player with 150+ attempts. pic.twitter.com/KZ2YEYzEjD
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 27, 2021
Davis has a Points Per Shot Attempt of just 113.4, and he’s basically abandoned his short-midrange game. He has taken more shots per game this season, so he’s actually scoring more than last season, averaging 24.3 points per game so far. His other counting stats are solid as well, he’s securing 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.
What’s interesting is that when you actually watch Davis play, his shot selection could make you scream, “WHY are you taking that shot?!” at the television.
Granted, this is the shot selection that, when he ran scorching hot in the Bubble, helped propel the Lakers to an NBA title, but it’s certainly tough to watch your
center power forward taking 2.1 3s per game as he shoots checks notes 16.7% from 3. So while his counting stats are there, his efficiency is clearly down. This could open up a buy-low window on Davis for fantasy purposes, but he’s still impactful regardless of format.
LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Davis have played just 371 possessions together entering Sunday. They’re still figuring out their chemistry, but they are absolutely at their best when Davis plays the Center position. When those three are on the floor with Davis at center, the Lakers are scoring 118.7 points per 100 possessions and have a +6.6 point differential.
That is a lineup that the Lakers likely will run with more during the playoffs, so I’m much less concerned about their future bets, but on an individual game basis, if Davis does not play center, they are much easier to exploit with DeAndre Jordan and/or Dwight Howard on the floor.
Check out our free NBA odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Minnesota Timberwolves
Vanderbilt has played so well that he’s forcing head coach Chris Finch’s hand to keep him in the starting lineup moving forward. While he does not command tremendous usage (11%), he’s been a rebounding machine.
Since Vanderbilt has maintained a presence in the starting lineup, he’s seen his minutes increase from teens to about 25 minutes per game. Over his last five games, Vanderbilt is averaging 7.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 27.1 minutes.
Props Impact: Vanderbilt has seen his rebound prop continue to go up, but it’s still sitting at about 8.5 boards. This is mispriced and something to examine moving forward. He’s secured double digit rebounds in five of his last six games, and playing those alternate lines of 10-plus rebounds at plus-money has been extremely profitable.
While his scoring output is too low and inconsistent to play Vanderbilt’s double-double props, if he is going to play about 25 minutes a game he should have plenty of opportunity to secure rebounds.
Fantasy Impact: Vanderbilt should be rostered in all leagues
Christian Wood, Houston Rockets
Wood looks to be coming alive and the Rockets have come with him as they have won two consecutive games against the Bulls and the Hornets.
Wood is a player whom many expected to take another step this season. He’s averaging 16.4 points and 11.3 rebounds on the season, but he just dropped a career-high 33 points and supplemented that offensive output with 16 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
The notable difference over the past two games is that Daniel Theis has played zero minutes in both wins compared to his 23.3 minute average. It has allowed Wood to operate in a smaller lineup, which is fantastic for his fantasy and prop value.
We should expect a greater output for both Wood and the rookie Alperen Sengun if the Rockets decide to keep Theis on the bench.
Fantasy Impact: Hold in all formats and enjoy the ride if Theis continues to be out of the Rockets rotation.
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Boucher is a lot like Brandon Aiyuk of the 49ers. Both players started out their respective seasons in the doghouse; the difference is Aiyuk managed to get out by mid season. But time is running out for Boucher.
A month into the season, his minutes dipped from 14.8 per game in October to 13.4 in November. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse continues to be vocal about Boucher’s talent as well as his inconsistency. Over his previous 10 games he’s averaging 6.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.4 assists, with 1.1 stocks (steals + blocks).
He’s also sporting a -1.9 Net Rating when on the court per 100 possessions. A mid-round selection in most drafts this season, Boucher is no longer making an impact and fantasy managers.
He finished the 20-21 season 42nd overall in 9-cat, H2H leagues on a per-game basis but currently sits at 262 through 19 games this season. He’s losing minutes to Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa nightly so despite the upside (per-36 averages of 15.2 PTS, 10.6 REB, 1.5 STL, 1.9 BLK), Boucher is not in a position to consistently contribute to fantasy rosters at this time.
Fantasy Impact: He can be dropped in 12 team formats and will only be fantasy relevant with an injury to the aforementioned players.