Deep League Detective

6 min read

Once you get past the standard 12 team leagues, it takes a different type of GM to scavenge and take advantage of the scraps left on the waivers. 16 is a challenge, 20 can make you cry, and 30 team leagues are as empty and pointless as the Kings taking on the Warriors in a game that matters. Particularly in dynasty leagues, 30 team waivers really can be frustrating, but with injuries, and the occasional unexpected growth in a player’s development or role, it’s possible to use waivers to improve your team in any league. It just depends on how you define improve and what your goals are.

This series will highlight different players that represent gems of a variety of levels for your fantasy squads. We’ll analyze their skill set, role, the chance for development and growth, and giving recommendations on how we would act if we were you. This will admittedly be a lot of swing for the fence misses mixed in with solid pickups for leagues and we will try to represent each size of deep league to offer some players to consider.

16 Team Leagues

These are a nice transition into deeper leagues, as it teaches you that waiver moves can make or break your squad. It’s not as easy to grab that top 75 guy. You have to learn to do a little work. Those that love it will thrive. Those that are lazy or never figure it out are destined to remain in the bottom half of their leagues. Dynasty leagues these size let you monitor some of these potential gems before acting, but don’t wait too long because fellow hawkish owners are doing the same.

20 Team Leagues

Another step up and kind of an awkward number of teams. From my experience, this medium level of deep league tends to happen when a commissioner sets out to fill a 16 team league but gets more interest than expected or a 30 team league that doesn’t get the love it needs. Either way, 20 teamers present even more of a challenge as that waiver pool shrinks considerably. It can serve as a nice between league until you feel good for 30 teams.

30 Team Leagues

This is the closest you can get to running an actual NBA team. Whether you incorporate components like salaries or not, 30 teams present their own specific challenges and strategies. Available players in 30 team leagues are guys you would NEVER consider even glancing at in standard leagues. At 360 players + rostered, the pickings are as slim as Brandon Ingram. These leagues allow for GMs to stash guys with that potential to wait and see. Generally, you want to move quickly to grab these types of players, then decide later if they are worth holding. You don’t have the luxury to wait and watch.

Omari Spellman

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16 Team20 Team30 Team
YesDefinitelyWhat are you waiting for?

Spellman was drafted near the end of the 1st round by Atlanta and represents many of what you might hope to see in a modern center. He can shoot and has defensive potential. With John Collins injury lingering and now looking like a multiple week situation at a minimum, go get Spellman who should have an increasing role as Atalanta continues to young work guys like him and Huerter more. Spellman had 17 points and 4 3’s last game! Give him more minutes!

Kevin Huerter
16 Team20 Team30 Team
ProbablyYesDefinitely

Speaking of Huerter, Spellman’s fellow Atlanta rookie had a breakout game the other night, almost nabbing a double-double (9 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and 3 3’s). Please Kevin, don’t Huerter! I’ll keep making that joke until someone acknowledges it. He showed that he could fill it up if given an opportunity and has a fantasy-friendly game that includes playmaking ability, scoring, and 3’s. The youth movement is real in Atlanta. Huerter’s road to consistent minutes is muddied by Bazemore and Bembry, who are also both putting up numbers. Bazemore may get traded this season.

Antonio Blakeney

antonioblakeney

16 Team20 Team30 Team
MaybeProbablyYes

Blakeney was a straight up beast in the G League last season. He’s a natural scorer who has more opportunities to contribute in Chicago as the 3rd guard. At this point, he won’t deliver too much outside of scoring, but the potential is there. Chicago signed Blakeney to a guaranteed 2-year contract which shows how they feel about him. He didn’t get much burn his last game, but in his first 2 games of the season, he hit on 15 and 5, and 10 and 4.

Isaiah Hartenstein
16 Team20 Team30 Team
NoMaybeYes

The Big German offers that modern skillset of sound defense along with the ability to stretch the floor. He’s a perfect fit in the D’Antoni system. He’s looked great in Summer League, preseason and limited minutes so far this season. He should be the clear-cut backup to Capela. There’s not a lot of competition. In his first game getting any real minutes (only 9) he quickly made all 3 of his field goals and grabbed a rebound, a teal and a block (poor man’s triple one). He’ll never overtake Capela, but he should produce enough to be worthy of consideration in those deeper leagues.

Tyus Jones
16 Team20 Team30 Team
YesDefinitelyWhat are you waiting for?

I’ve written about him before. Jones has been a constant favorite amongst the analytics crowd. He plays well from a stat-producing, as well as a real-life perspective. Teague is getting older and may naturally cede more minutes to Jones, especially if Thibs ever leaves or gets fired. He could also explode onto Fantasy if he gets moved as part of any Jimmy trade. In his last game, Jones managed 8 points/4 boards/4 assists/3 blocks/1 steal/2 3’s in just 17 minutes. The potential is huge.

Bruce Brown
16 Team20 Team30 Team
NoMaybeProbably

Coined “The Shark” by Josh Lloyd, Brown brings a defensive grittiness that the Detroit backcourt could definitely use. He had a poor preseason but has flashed enough potential to keep an eye on in deeper leagues and consider adding in 30 teams. Definitely more of a long-term wait and see, but you should just be aware and be ready to move on Bron if things change.

Rodions Kurucs

kurucs

16 Team20 Team30 Team
NoMaybeYes

Kurucs looked like a seasoned scorer in his last 2 games for Brooklyn. With RHJ returning any day now, his role this season could be greatly reduced. He’s still a player that looked confident and effective when on the floor, so I’ve added him in my 30 team leagues and would consider 20 teamers too. His leap could be next season or later, but it’s definitely lurking.

Frank Jackson
16 Team20 Team30 Team
MaybeProbablyYes

Frankie J is the backup to up and down PG Elfrid Payton. Payton’s future is definitely murky and Jackson’s solid play during the preseason has me curious. He could push for more minutes and maybe even gain the starting role as the season wears on. Jackson is an athletic guard (42” vertical at the 2017 combine) who can do a little bit of everything. Follow this closely.

Isiaih Briscoe

isaiah briscoe

16 Team20 Team30 Team
NoMaybeProbably

In a great story, after being cut last season and heading over to Estonia, Briscoe worked his way back into the NBA and into an interesting situation in Orlando. With no clear-cut starter-level guard on the roster, Briscoe has some opportunities. A solid Summer League and preseason put him on the radar for deep leagues. He’s still behind Augustin and Grant, but those guys could definitely be passed, and by the way the season has started for Orlando, Coach Clifford could start playing with rotations. He’s only for the deepest leagues, but again, this is a situation worth keeping tabs on.

 

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