By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Aside from Tristan Thompson (ankle) going down for two weeks and opening up time for Larry Nance to see legitimate starter’s minutes, the NBA has been relatively quiet on the injury front over the past week. Nance, himself, isn’t featured below, as he’s more than 50 percent owned, but should certainly be picked up if he’s available in your league.
Below are a few guys who are under-owned relative to their recent production. Or, in the case of Montrezl Harrell, vastly under-owned relative to his production over the past 30 days. Harrell, along with Nerlens Noel, D.J. Augustin and Ben McLemore — who is seeing some increased opportunity due to an influx of injuries on the Grizzlies — are featured this week.
Nerlens Noel, Mavericks (39 percent owned)
Noel has appeared in four games since returning from surgery to address a broken thumb that caused him to miss 42 games. The first three games were relatively underwhelming as he attempted to get his feel for the game back. Noel posted just 2.7 points on 36.4 percent shooting to go along with 5.7 boards and a combined 2.3 steals/blocks across 16.3 minutes per game.
His most recent game Tuesday against the Nuggets was more representative of his potential for the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign, as he provided eight points, 14 boards, one steal and one block in 26 minutes. Coach Rick Carlisle hasn’t come out and declared a specific role for Noel at this point, but it seems relatively safe to assume he should hover around 20 minutes per night, which is about all he needs to provide fantasy-relevant stats. In the seven games this year in which Noel has played 20 or more minutes, he’s averaged 7.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and a combined 2.0 steals/blocks while shooting 63.6 percent from the field. His workload and production are worth monitoring moving forward, as he’s proven to be a top-level rebounding and defensive talent when given the opportunity.
D.J. Augustin, Magic (26 percent owned)
Augustin has played legitimate starter’s minutes since the All-Star break and is vastly under-owned relative to his production. Over the past eight games, the veteran has averaged 12.1 points, 6.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 30.3 minutes. He’s also shot incredibly efficiently across the board, hitting 52.5 percent of his field goals, 93.3 percent of his free throws and drilling 2.4 threes per game at a 54.3 percent mark. That’s led him to surprisingly becoming the 68th-ranked fantasy player over the past two weeks, nearly 100 spots higher than his season-long rank.
There’s also little reason to believe he’ll see a reduction in workload, as he, along with Shelvin Mack, are the only two point guards on the team following general manager John Hammond dishing Elfrid Payton to the Suns at the trade deadline. All in all, Augustin should make for a safe and effective waiver wire add for the remainder of the season heading into the fantasy playoffs.
Montrezl Harrell, Clippers (28 percent owned)
The lack of minutes may be scaring people away from picking up Harrell off the waiver wire, but he’s more than proved throughout the season that he can provide quality numbers in limited action. Despite seeing just 21.7 minutes per game since the All-Star break, the big man has averaged 17.1 points on 10.3 shots, 4.6 rebounds and a combined 1.3 steals/blocks. For most players, that could be chalked up to a complete fluke, but Harrell has been a different story.
In the 19 games this season that he’s seen between just 16 and 22 minutes, he’s averaged 13.3 points, 5.1 boards and a combined 1.5 steals/blocks while shooting 66.9 percent from the field. His impressive work has led him to becoming the 77th-ranked player over the past 30 days. That sort of production makes him relevant in even shallow formats, something his ownership certainly does not reflect.
Ben McLemore, Grizzlies (8 percent owned)
McLemore has struggled to get playing time most of the season, so my suggestion to add him now is mostly based on the Grizzlies dealing with significant injuries seemingly every night, especially to backcourt and wing players like Andrew Harrison, Tyreke Evans and Chandler Parsons.
That said, McLemore has been impressive over the past seven days/three games, averaging 16.3 points on 48.6 percent shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.3 threes on 41.2 percent. That’s led him to becoming the 43r- ranked fantasy player over that stretch. With that in mind, he’s still probably only an add in deeper formats, as his playing time does seem relatively contingent on other players’ injuries.