Should Fantasy Basketball Managers Consider Dropping Defense-first Jaden McDaniels?

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With his games played down because of injury, Wendell Carter Jr. has seen his playing time dwindle, making him someone to consider dropping in fantasy leagues. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Special to Yahoo Sports

It’s important to be working the waiver wire throughout the season. Whether it’s grabbing a hot player or adding one who has a favorable upcoming schedule, it’s crucial to be active and exploit any advantage out there. However, adding one of these types of players means fantasy managers might need to make a difficult drop decision. Let’s dig into five players for whom it is time to move on in most leagues.

Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic (58% rostered)

Carter has had a difficult time staying healthy. He has never appeared in more than 62 games in a season. A finger injury has limited him to 12 games so far this season. He began things as the Magic’s starting center and reclaimed that role immediately upon returning from injury.

While Carter jumped right back into starting, he didn’t play more than 23 minutes in any of his first five games back. When he was sidelined, Goga Bitadze and Moritz Wagner filled in well. The Magic have shaken up their lineup the past two games, moving Carter to the second unit. In those games, he logged just 24 and 20 minutes, respectively. Add his limited playing time to his injury risk, and he’s not a must-roster player right now.

Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (50% rostered)

Thompson looks like he is going to be a good NBA player for a long time. He began the season as a starter for the Pistons, averaging 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks in their first 18 games. However, with the team struggling, the coaching staff decided to shake things up and moved Thompson to the second unit. The returns of Bojan Bogdanović and Jalen Duren from injury seem to have cemented Thompson’s role within the second unit.

As a reserve, Thompson has averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds over nine games. The Pistons have been so bad that they could trade some veterans at the deadline, including Bogdanovic. If that were to happen, Thompson could return to starting and playing more minutes. Still, for fantasy managers who can’t afford to stash him on their bench because of injuries to their team, his current role makes him someone to drop.

Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (48% rostered)

McDaniels is a big reason the Timberwolves have one of the best defenses in the league. However, even with him thriving on that end of the floor, he has provided just 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. His playing time is actually down this season at 27 minutes per game, compared to the 31 minutes per game that he logged last season.

The problem with McDaniels from a fantasy standpoint is that he is not overly involved in the Timberwolves’ offense, recording a 15.8% usage rate. He has also averaged just 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Even when he played more last season, he provided just 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. His usage rate isn’t likely to increase anytime soon, which should continue to limit his upside.

Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings (39% rostered)

Adding Huerter before last season gave the Kings a boost that helped them make the playoffs. In 29 minutes per game, he averaged 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.7 3-pointers. He was efficient, shooting 48.5% from the field and 40.2% from behind the arc. Both of those marks were the highest of his career.

Huerter has seen his efficiency decline this season, shooting 42.5% from the field and 34.7% from behind the arc. That could be one of the main reasons he is averaging five fewer minutes per game than last season. Over their past 13 games, he has been down to an average of 18 minutes. He didn’t even start the previous two games. With his role dwindling and his efficiency lacking, it’s OK to move on from him in fantasy.

Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors (35% rostered)

The Warriors don’t ask Looney to shoot much. He averaged 7.0 points per game last season, the highest mark of his career. He also doesn’t provide many blocks for a big man, averaging 0.6 or fewer the past four seasons. The one thing he does well is rebound, providing 9.3 of them per game last season.

Even with Draymond Green missing so much time this season because of suspensions, Looney has logged only 21 minutes per game. That has left him with averages of 5.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 0.3 blocks. Jonathan Kuminga is playing more, Dario Šarić is now in town, and rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis has even worked his way into more playing time. Unless you’re desperate for rebounds in a deep league, there’s no reason to hang on to Looney anymore.

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