NBA Fantasy Waiver Pickups & Schedule (Week 9): Donte DiVincenzo’s Return, Xavier Tillman’s Sneaky Value, More
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Xavier Tillman Sr. (center) of Memphis Grizzlies.
Editor’s Note: The NBA has postponed two of the Chicago Bulls’ three games this week — Tuesday vs. Pistons, Thursday vs. Raptors — due to the high rate of players on the team who are in the league’s COVID protocols. Those games will be rescheduled for later dates.
Fantasy managers have their work cut out for them entering this week’s games with injuries piling up for some teams and key returns on the horizon for others.
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 quirks for Week 9.
Read below to see where they are finding small edges this week.
Fantasy Basketball Schedule — Week 9
- Four games: ATL, BKN, CHA, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, MEM, MIA, MIL, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, TOR, WAS (17 teams)
- Three Games: BOS, DAL, IND, LAC, LAL, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL, SAS, UTA (12 teams)
- Two Games: OKC
- One Game: CHI (due to multiple postponements)
Fantasy Friendly Teams in Week 9
- MEM (PHI, @POR, @SAC, POR)
- ATL (HOU, @ORL DEN, CLE)
- POR (PHX, MEM, CHA, @MEM)
Shallow leagues (8-10 team leagues):
- Guards: Tyus Jones, Anfernee Simons, Garrison Mathews
- Forwards: Devin Vassell, Cody Martin
- Centers: Dewayne Dedmon, Jarred Vanderbilt
Deep Leagues (12+ team leagues):
- Guards: Terence Davis, Dennis Smith Jr, Kevin Huerter
- Forwards: Larry Nance Jr, Nassir Little, Marvin Bagley, Bruce Brown, Hamidou Diallo
- Centers: Chris Boucher, JaVale McGee, Xavier Tillman, Trey Lyles
Players to Watch
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
Jerami Grant suffered an injury to his thumb, specifically his UCL, and will be out for at least the next six weeks prior to being reevaluated.
Grant leads the team in minutes, field goals, attempts, plus free throws made, and attempted while possessing the second highest Usage Rate on the team at 25.9%. His absence will open up more opportunities for other Pistons and maybe even the offense as a whole.
Grant scores an absurd 51.7% of his 2 point field goals on his own without an assist — he’s an elite Iso scorer, but that type of player can slow down the offense and does not give other players the ability to generate assists (i.e. Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes).
The Pistons lost their first game without Grant to the Nets (not a surprise), but there are some things we can take away from the game. Cade Cunningham is going to be an absolute usage monster. He posted a line of 26 points (9-of-18 and 5-of-8 from 3), eight rebounds, five assists, and seven turnovers in 35 minutes.
The seven turnovers is a significant uptick from his season average of 3.7. His most recent turnover line was set at 3.5 turnovers. If this does not adjust I would look to play this moving forward. He has cleared that line in eight of his last 10 games with a median total of four.
Besides Cunningham, Frank Jackson and Saben Lee both saw extended run on Sunday, however, neither has been even remotely consistent enough to play so far this season. Jackson is just a source of points and 3s while Lee can grab a few boards and assists.
The Chicago Bulls are in the midst of a massive COVID breakout. Troy Brown, Jr., Zach LaVine, Stanley Johnson, Ayo Dosunmu, Derrick Jones Jr., Matt Thomas, DeMar DeRozan, and Javonte Green.
Coby White just returned to the team’s facility for the first time on Sunday since Dec. 1, but their options are limited for this three game week (Pistons, Raptors, Lakers).
Under league rules, the Bulls need to have eight eligible players vs. the Pistons on Tuesday. There have been no Covid-related postponements in the NBA this season, but the Bulls outbreak — with LaVine and Troy Brown the latest — continues and postponements could be an option.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 12, 2021
Things are getting a bit complicated for those in weekly leagues. There’s some risk that a game gets postponed, so some of the fringe players for the Bulls who would have immense upside given how thin the roster is due to the outbreak could be limited to just one or two games. If you’re in a daily league, this downside is mitigated.
Fantasy Impact: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Nikola Vucevic stand to see significant upticks in their minutes, and Vucevic could be a good buy low option for his points props considering his poor shooting of late, just 32% (24-of-75) over his last four games.
Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks
DiVincenzo will make his season debut on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers after he suffered a season-ending injury when he broke his left ankle in June. His return is a bit ahead of schedule, which is great news for the Bucks who would love to have another of their starters back.
Prior to his injury, DiVincenzo had a great year, averaging 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.0 Threes, and 1.1 steals. He did not command an obtrusive usage rate (17.1%) and his Assist to Usage Ratio of 0.78 was elite compared to other Wings, per Cleaning the Glass. Moreover, the Bucks were +4.7 points per 100 possessions with DiVincenzo on the floor with positive contributions on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Fantasy Impact: His return likely impacts Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton the most. While Allen has started all 26 games he’s played in, it’s likely he slides into the second unit and the Bucks roll out a starting lineup of DiVincenzo, Holiday, Middleton, Giannis, and Portis (until Lopez returns) with Allen, Connaughton, and Hill anchoring the second unit.
Luckily for both Allen and Connaughton their absurd 123.3 and 133.1 Points Per 100 Shot Attempts should allow them to remain effective contributors but DiVincenzo’s presence likely limits their upside moving forward.
Check out our free NBA odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies
Steven Adams suffered an ankle injury and is doubtful to play on Monday against the 76ers and Jaren Jackson Jr. is also questionable for that matchup.
If neither can play this will open up a significant opportunity for Xavier Tillman. He played 23 minutes off the bench on Saturday and posted a well rounded stat line of nine points, six rebounds, one assist, and two blocks against the Rockets.
The comparison for Tillman is what he did last year in 10 games without Jonas Valanciunas. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 26.6 minutes per game.
The Grizzlies likely would love to see if the second-year forward can be productive in an expanded role and he may have his opportunity in this four game week.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Fantasy managers must be panicking about what to do with Buddy Hield. Both his playing time and production have dipped month over month since the start of the 21-22 season.
- October: 17.3 PTS | 6.0 REB | 1.5 AST | 41.5% FG | 40.% 3FG | 25.0% Usage
- November: 16.5 PTS | 3.7 REB | 2.6 AST | 38.4% FG | 36.1% 3FG | 23.8% Usage
- December: 11.0 PTS | 3.8 REB | 1.2 AST | 32.8% FG | 21.1% 3FG | 24.7% Usage
It appears Kings interim head coach Alvin Gentry prefers what Terence Davis has to offer — he’s averaged 19 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, while shooting 53.7% from the field and 42.9% from 3-point range with 1.4 steals per game over his last five contests.
With Hield’s value being tied to his ability to score and knock down threes, shooting slumps like this are detrimental to anyone rostering him in H2H 9-category leagues.
Fantasy Impact: There’s a little optimism here, as Buddy logged minutes 31 minutes and 27 minutes in his last two contests but make no mistake, Terence Davis is a real threat to his near-term outlook. If his shot doesn’t begin to fall, fantasy managers can consider dropping him in shallow leagues. He’s still worth holding onto in 12-team formats but he’s on thin ice.
He’s been on the trade block before, so a change of scenery would probably be the ideal scenario for Buddy and Marvin Bagley at this point.