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Notable stretch-run pickups

2/25/2014

It may still feel like the dead of winter in most parts of the country, but there are only seven weeks remaining in the 2013-14 fantasy hoops season. That means crunch time is right around the corner, but it also means there are plenty of players on your waiver wire who can still make a mark for your team.

Today, I examine a number of players available in many leagues, breaking them down into three categories: those with long-term potential, those with short-term potential and those worth a speculative add.

Long-term potential

Louis Williams (18.2 percent), Atlanta Hawks: Yes, Williams will sport a shoddy field goal percentage, but if that isn't an issue for your squad, you could be rewarded with 14 PPG, 1.5-2.0 3-PPG, 3-4 APG, 1.0 SPG and quality production from the free throw line.

In the four games Williams has played since the All-Star break, he has taken at least nine field goal attempts in each game, scored at least 14 points in each, totaled 9 3-pointers and nearly triple-doubled on Saturday. Even before the break, Williams has played at least 29 minutes in each of his past six games, which seems to suggest that he is getting more confident in his surgically reconstructed knee.

He carries legitimate long-term potential for teams that need help in scoring, assists and 3s, despite working as a reserve.

Ersan Ilyasova (59.4 percent), Milwaukee Bucks: If he ever actually comes through this season, I have a feeling that we will have a "boy who cried wolf" situation here. I'm pretty sure that he has been mentioned more times in my column than any other player this season, but so it goes for a guy with potential, opportunity and nothing to show for it. In fact, I wouldn't even mention him this week, despite Larry Sanders being out for the foreseeable future, if it weren't for his past post-break prowess.

Last season, he averaged 6.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.6 3s and 3.3 field goal percentage more after the break. The season prior, 5.7 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.5 3s and 12.3 field goal percentage more after the break.

If you need to catch some lightning in a bottle to win your league this season, Ilyasova's post-break history means that he is on the short list of guys on the waiver wire who could come through for you.

Tony Wroten (10.1 percent), James Anderson (1.4 percent), Byron Mullens (0.9 percent), Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers' season-long battle for pingpong balls has given us plenty of material for our "Garbage Time" segment on the "Fantasy Focus" podcast this season. Last week, their front office continued their waste management-roster management by trading Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, which opens up more minutes for the likes of Wroten, Anderson and Mullens.

None of this trio is going to blow the doors off, but each could have some long-term potential, especially for deep-leaguers: Wroten for points and assists, Anderson for 3s and steals, and Mullens for rebounds and 3s.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (11.4 percent), New York Knicks: He's a one-trick pony (3-pointers), especially because his field goal percentage dropped from 48.5 percent in January to 38.1 percent in February, but he is averaging a ridiculous 6.0 3-point attempts per game this month. Expect that heavy usage to continue for the remainder of the season and for Hardaway to have some stretches where he averages close to 3 3s per game.

Short-term potential

Brian Roberts (19.0 percent), New Orleans Pelicans: It's a bit surprising that Roberts isn't owned in the vast majority of leagues, considering that he's averaged 13.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.3 3-PPG and 1.4 SPG this month. Plus, the latest report has Jrue Holiday out indefinitely. Roberts' value would dry up if/when Holiday does return, but until then, he is a serviceable PG to round out your starting lineups.

Chase Budinger (0.8 percent), Minnesota Timberwolves: He will turn back into a pumpkin as soon as Kevin Martin returns to action, but in the interim, Budinger will be a safe play for teams in need of 3s and scoring. In six games sans Martin, Budinger has 13 3-pointers.

Mike Scott (2.3 percent), Atlanta Hawks: Scott has been a steady contributor in deep leagues for the past couple of months, offering up scoring in the teens, a field goal percentage better than 50 percent and 3-point production from the PF spot. With Paul Millsap out Saturday with a sore knee, Scott went off for 30 points, 6 3s and 8 rebounds. So long as Millsap is out (he's been ruled out for Tuesday and Wednesday already), Scott should be owned in all standard leagues.

Markieff Morris (63.6 percent), Phoenix Suns: His minutes have risen from 23.6 last month to 29.1 this month, and in turn, we've seen his steals and blocks jump up to more than one each per game in February. He's picked up even more steam recently, as he has scored at least 18 points in each of his past three games. He's been streaky this season, so ride him while he's hot -- and hope that he can settle into a rhythm for a longer stretch.

Speculative adds

Enes Kanter (67.4 percent), Utah Jazz: Because Kanter doesn't rack up blocks or steals and doesn't shoot 3s, he requires volume field goal attempts to make an impact for fantasy squads. With Derrick Favors sidelined for the better part of four games, Kanter was in the starting lineup, taking at least 13 field-goal attempts in each contest and tallying a pair of double-doubles and a pair of 25-point games. Overall, in 25 starts this season, Kanter has averaged 15.0 points, 12.8 FGA and 7.3 rebounds. In 29 games as a reserve, he has averaged 9.9 points, 8.2 FGA and 5.5 rebounds.

Unfortunately for Kanter's fantasy value, Favors returned to action Monday, which meant that Kanter returned to the bench, thus chopping his production down to 12 points and five rebounds. Those in deep leagues may consider holding on to him in case Favors' hip injury lingers or coach Tyrone Corbin decides to put Kanter into the starting lineup as the season winds down. There is upside here, but he needs to start in order to make it matter.

Kent Bazemore (2.3 percent), Los Angeles Lakers: We have every reason to be skeptical about his ability to produce like he did in his first two games with the Lakers, but any guy who shows up in Mike D'Antoni's "fantasy-maker" offensive system and cranks out 16.0 PPG, 1.5 3-PPG, 2.0 SPG and 47.8 field goal percentage in two games is worth a speculative add.

Ben McLemore (24.1 percent), Sacramento Kings: I really doubt that the rookie comes through with any sort of consistent play down the stretch, but the door is wide open for him to do so. With Marcus Thornton gone, he started and played 36 minutes on Sunday. Putting up 10 FGA, 1 3-pointer and 3 steals gives hope, but he missed eight of those shots and finished with six points. He's worth a roll of the dice for deep-leaguers.

Kevin Seraphin (0.2 percent), Washington Wizards: Two years ago, in April 2012, he averaged 15.5 PPG, 52.7 field goal percentage, 7.0 RPG and 1.7 BPG. That 15-game stretch seemed to suggest significant upside, but we've barely seen any sign of that level of production since. With Nene Hilario out for at least the next six weeks, the door is wide open for Seraphin to prove he can do it again. With Trevor Booker and Al Harrington in the mix, Seraphin may have a short rope, but the opportunity is there.