Some fantasy basketball owners like to take it easy on the weekends — but not the ones who like winning. The early bird gets the worm, as they say, and it’s best to get to your league’s waiver wire while everyone else is still in bed or watching cartoons.
Grab a coffee and a bagel and pull up a chair, because it’s time to check out Saturday’s top deep league waiver-wire pickup, the Utah Jazz’s Enes Kanter.
Enes Kanter, C, Utah Jazz (35.7 percent owned on ESPN.com):
Anyone who’s owned Enes Kanter this year knows how frustrating that can be. Once a highly touted draft-day sleeper, Kanter has put his owners through a roller-coaster of emotions.
Back in October, Kanter was being selected in the eighth round of fantasy drafts, on average. He was getting taken ahead of the fellow centers Andrew Bogut, Marcin Gortat, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Hawes, and Robin Lopez — all of whom are having better seasons than the Jazz big man.
Early on, owners who drafted him were rewarded for their foresight, as Kanter put up averages of 16.4 points (53.4 FG%, 88.9 FT%) and 7.6 rebounds through his first nine games. As long as he continued to shoot with such a high efficiency, it was easy to ignore his paltry 0.8 blocks and 0.1 steals.
Eventually, like fantasy owners, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin grew tired of his lackluster play on defense and decided to go with a smaller starting lineup, inserting Marvin Williams at power forward and moving Derrick Favors over to center. It was most likely his effort vs. the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 22 that set Corbin off. On that night, Kanter allowed opposing center Samuel Dalembert to score 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting and pull down 12 boards. Not good.
Coach Corbin was right, though. For all his excellent offensive play, Kanter was a liability on defense. Fantasy owners were not pleased with the sudden turn of events.
A new opportunity has presented itself for Kanter, though, and fantasy owners should be running to their waiver wires to grab the 21-year-0ld Turk.
Favors, the Jazz’s franchise player, has been dealing with a right hip sprain and didn’t travel with the team for their matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers. Corbin addressed Favor’s injury situation: “We’ve got to try to give [his hip] some rest now. I thought the All-Star break would give him some more time off on it and help. It just hasn’t healed.”
These ominous sounding words preclude what could be a lengthy absence for Favors, meaning Kanter will have the starting center job to himself, something he’s flourished in — at least fantasy-wise — in Favors stead.
The Jazz are 0-8 in games Favors has sat out, but that hasn’t stopped Kanter from performing. In those contests, the third-year pro is scoring 15.8 points and bringing down 7.8 rebounds
Favors’ hip injury has only gotten worse since he originally hurt it, and with the Jazz in tank mode, it serves the team best to let their star player sit out until he is fully recovered. Owners will just have to wait for good news, but until then, Kanter should continue to stuff the box score for as long as Favors is sidelined, making him a must-add player in all fantasy leagues.