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Waiver Wire Watch: Week 14

While last week’s edition of the Waiver Wire Watch lacked many high-impact difference-makers — no offense, C.J. Miles — that’s not the case this week. Between injuries, trades and two rookie big men beginning to find their sea legs after injury-marred campaigns, your league’s waiver wire almost assuredly has at least a few options worth considering this week.

With some recent pickups losing steam as of late — say hi, Amir Johnson! — you shouldn’t hesitate cutting bait on an underperformer, particularly if his minutes have been slashed as of late. Those who rode Evan Fournier into the ground earlier this season, for instance, need to be ready to move on if Orlando Magic head coach Scott Skiles keeps him glued to the bench for the foreseeable future.

Assuming you do have a spot or two at the end of your fantasy roster for a streamer, here’s a look at five such potential pickups, all of who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues.

Myles Turner, PF/C, Indiana Pacers (42.0% owned)

After failing to make a sizable fantasy impact for the first two-and-a-half months of his rookie season, Myles Turner has begun embracing his role as a world-destroyer as of late. Over his past four games, the former Texas Longhorn has averaged 20.5 points on 64.8 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in just 29.8 minutes a night, including a 31-point, eight-rebound, two-block eruption against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

While Turner may be hard-pressed to sustain that type of production once Ian Mahinmi returns from his sprained ankle, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel can’t chain him to the bench given his recent production. If the Pacers have any hope of turning their recent slump around — they’ve dropped six of their past eight contests, only beating Phoenix twice over that span — they’ll need Turner to continue providing complementary support to Paul George.

Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Boston Celtics (34.5% owned)

Owning a Celtics frontcourt member in fantasy this year is akin to playing Russian roulette, as head coach Brad Stevens tends to shuffle his big-man rotation without any warning whatsoever. While Amir Johnson was the flavor of the week earlier this month, Kelly Olynyk has usurped him recently, averaging 15.8 points on 52.6 percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 triples, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over his past five games.

Considering how rapidly Johnson faded away from fantasy relevance, owners should take Olynyk’s recent hot streak with a grain of salt, as there’s no guarantee it continues for the rest of the season. That said, if you have a spot at the end of your bench that you’re effectively wasting on someone who hasn’t produced in weeks, Olynyk is worth gambling on in case he’s able to sustain his recent excellence.

Willie Cauley-Stein, PF/C, Sacramento Kings (18.5% owned)

Myles Turner isn’t the only rookie big man making a sizable fantasy impact after a slow start to the season. Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein, the No. 6 overall pick from this past June, has worked his way back into the starting lineup after missing almost the entire month of December due to an open dislocation of his right index finger, averaging 10.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 assists in 31.2 minutes a night over his past three games.

The Kentucky product’s surge as of late aligns with Rudy Gay missing two of Sacramento’s past three contests, but Cauley-Stein did go off for 12 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist against the L.A. Lakers on Wednesday even with Gay active. So long as head coach George Karl keeps WCS in his starting lineup — and with the Kings on a five-game winning streak, there’s no reason to expect otherwise — he has considerable rest-of-season upside.

Josh Smith, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers Houston Rockets (13.5% owned)

Josh Smith was a complete fantasy non-factor over the past month with the Los Angeles Clippers, racking up 10 DNPs over his final 14 games with the team as he fell out of favor with head coach Doc Rivers. After the Clippers decided to trade him to the Houston Rockets on Friday, though, Smith suddenly has a new lease on his fantasy life, given what he did in a Houston uniform during the 2014-15 campaign.

In 55 games with the Rockets last season, Smith averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.1 triples and 0.9 steals in 25.5 minutes a night, resembling a lower-volume version of the fantasy deity he was during his Atlanta Hawks days. In Houston’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Georgia native showed flashes of that stat-stuffing nature, finishing with two points (on 1-of-10 shooting), six assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 21 minutes. If he’s able to maintain his grasp on a 20-minute-per-night role, he’ll be worth a look in all leagues.

Norris Cole, PG, New Orleans Pelicans (9.1% owned)

With Eric Gordon sidelined by a fractured right index finger likely through the All-Star break, Norris Cole has suddenly become fantasy relevant for the next month. Rather than moving Jrue Holiday into the Pelicans’ starting lineup, head coach Alvin Gentry instead opted to leave Holiday on the bench and move Cole into the starting lineup, where he’s averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 triples and 0.5 steals over his past two starts.

There’s no guarantee Cole maintains his grasp on the starting job over Holiday, but it appears as though the Pelicans are being extremely careful with the UCLA product given his lengthy history with stress reactions. Though Tyreke Evans is the primary option in New Orleans’ backcourt, Cole will maintain fantasy value until Gordon’s return so long as he remains in the starting lineup and keeps chipping in points, assists and treys on a semi-regular basis.

Mentioned in previous weeks:

Ersan Ilyasova, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons (49.2% owned)

Taj Gibson, PF/C, Chicago Bulls (45.5% owned)

Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns (43.4% owned)

Jeremy Lin, PG/SG, Charlotte Hornets (43.4% owned)

Donald Sloan, PG, Brooklyn Nets (31.7% owned)

Deeper-league adds:

Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Orlando Magic (13.2% owned)

Derrick Williams, PF, New York Knicks (9.0% owned)

Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers (8.9% owned)

Alex Len, C, Phoenix Suns (6.7% owned)

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Charlotte Hornets (5.4% owned)

All Player Rater data and ownership percentages via and are current through Saturday, Jan. 23.

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