- Tom Carpenter, Fantasy and Insider
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It's Christmas Eve, which means that my two little kids are giddy with anticipation to see which things on their wish lists that jolly ol' dude from the North Pole will bring them tonight. Santa already brought their ol' man the greatest gift for which anyone could ask: a second championship (in four years) in my most important fantasy football league. However, if Santa feels I have been good enough this year, maybe he'd grant me one extra wish for my fantasy hoops teams. In case the big fella feels extra jolly this year, I wrote out my Christmas Waiver Wire Wish List:
Dear Santa, I Wish That ...
The Dallas Mavericks would take O.J. Mayo back. He simply isn't good enough to be the primary scoring option for an NBA squad, but he can be solid when he plays off better players. Mayo is averaging 35.7 percent shooting from the field and 1.3 3-pointers a game this month, and things aren't likely to get all that much better in the long run.
Andrea Bargnani were either a big man or a swingman. If Bargs were a 6-foot-8 swingman, I could almost stomach his stats; at least they would be generally representative of what one might expect from a small forward. Instead, he's a 7-footer averaging 5.2 RPG and 43.6 percent shooting and we're left shaking our heads at this so-called big man.
Gregg Popovich would spend one season coaching for stats instead of wins. Watching how Pop uses a player like Kawhi Leonard is like knowing that the guy down the street has a Maserati, which he refuses to drive anywhere but slowly around the neighborhood. I get it; the coach wants to win titles, but we have titles to win in Fantasyland, too. It would be great to see Popovich take Leonard out to the proverbial race track and turn him loose, e.g., let him hoist 17 shots per game for a couple of months.
The Toronto Raptors would hurry up and trade Kyle Lowry. Greivis Vasquez led the NBA in assists last season, but he's wasting away behind Lowry. One little phone call to the right team, and Vasquez will be a waiver-wire darling.
Robin Lopez would learn how to rebound. Oh, wait, he already figured that out. Well, maybe I can wish that his brother, Brook Lopez, could get back to his iron-man days. He didn't miss any games in his first three seasons, but now he will have played only 92 games in his past three. Meanwhile, maybe Robin could pass along the secret for his sudden rebounding prowess to his bro.
The Milwaukee Bucks' bigs would get healthy so we can see what they have as a group. Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders have played a combined 21 games. Sanders is making progress in his recovery from thumb surgery, but it's not clear when he will return. Ilyasova has been shut down indefinitely. Meanwhile, John Henson, who has looked terrific, is battling a knee injury. They may all end up eating into each other's production, but I'd just like to get all of them on the hardwood to see how things flesh out statistically.
The Sixers had drafted either Michael Carter-Williams or Tony Wroten, but not both. As a starter, when MCW has been hurt, Wroten has averaged 18.4 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG and 1.1 3-PPG. Of course, Carter-Williams has been even better when he's healthy. If Wroten were on a different team, where he started every game, he'd be a fantasy beast. Instead, his production will remain capped as MCW's backup.
Anthony Bennett would make his 25th career field goal. Only four more to go, there, big fella!
Tony Allen could do something besides steal balls. I probably shouldn't dog him, because he's scoring in double figures for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Still, I have an affinity for guys who swipe two-plus balls per game, but it would be nice if he could do a little more; maybe knock down a 3-pointer per game?
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could get his game revved up. He started the season off in good form, but he cooled off and then broke his hand. Hopefully, once he is healthy again, he can settle in for a solid second half of the season. There still is a ton of upside in MKG, who turned only 20 in September.
The Memphis Grizzlies would trade Jerryd Bayless and Ed Davis to teams that would give them starter's minutes. I don't necessarily think that the ceiling is all that high with either of these former Toronto Raptors. On the other hand, I know both have been solid contributors in the past when given large enough roles. They could well be traded, too, because Bayless and Davis will be unrestricted free agents at season's end.
The 0.1 percent of teams in ESPN leagues that own Allen Iverson had gotten the memo: AI retired. Seriously, Iverson is owned somewhere out there in Fantasyland, even though he hasn't set foot on an NBA court in nearly four years.
Taj Gibson were a starter. I'm not convinced that he would crank out 15-9-1.5 lines every night week in and week out. Yet, I think there is at least a chance he could accomplish that pace, and I'd like to see him get the chance to prove himself.
Amar'e Stoudemire's body had let him grow old gracefully. Usually, there is a gentle downward curve to a player's production that begins around age 30. For STAT, though, his body just gave out before he even reached that mark. Even now, at 31, Stoudemire should be a steady contributor, chipping in 17 PPG and 7 to 8 RPG, but, sadly, his body won't cooperate.
Nerlens Noel were playing -- and not just because it's Christmas. I'd like to see what the kid can do. On the other hand, I also hope they follow through and hold him out for the season, so he can hit the ground running at full speed when he makes his debut with next year's stellar rookie class.
1hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
NBA Free Agency Experts