Rockets Alperen Sengun
Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) looks to pass the ball while being defended by Charlotte Hornets center Nick Richards (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)


Mike Shara

It’s been a weird season. Covid-19 outbreaks wreaked havoc on the rosters of almost every NBA team at one point or another, meaning that a lot of players who were going to be counted on as mainstays of your 2021-22 fantasy team were inactive for at least a week or two. Add that masked madness to a litany of non-Covid-19 injuries that caused key players to miss months (Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo, Paul George, Ricky Rubio, Jerami Grant, Anthony Davis, among others) and the fact that All-Star Ben Simmons has yet to play a single minute this season and there have been plenty of players who briefly became fantasy relevant for maybe the first time in their career. Some probably became fantasy relevant for the last time in their career.

However, many of the injured players have returned and the Covid-19 plague’s peak damage seems to have passed for NBA players, coaches and staff (for now, anyway), which means that some of those fish can be thrown back into the lake now because they may be weighing down your boat. Let’s have a look at a few players who will need to be cleared from your roster if you’re going to make a run after the All-Star Break.

The Turkish center was a first round pick of the Rockets in this year’s draft, and while I do think he’s going to be a good player for Houston going forward, the league has kinda caught up to him and he may be hitting the infamous Rookie Wall. He’s averaged just 17 minutes played over his last four games and has only recorded more than 7 points in one of them. Playing three or four grinding NBA games a week for six months is not easy, especially for rookies – even good ones. I’m pretty sure you can find more productive players on the waiver wire at the center position (try Robert Covington or Trey Lyles or hope for a return from Brook Lopez). The only reason to keep him or re-acquire him would be if the Rockets traded Christian Wood. 

Despite his relatively young age (29) and uber-elite athleticism, he was out of the league when the season started, unable to find even a bench role. That should tell you something. When Covid struck the Suns thin at a couple of spots, he was signed to a few 10 day hardship contracts and was able to find a real rapport with Chris Paul in DeAndre Ayton’s absence  (seriously though, name a big man who couldn’t find a rapport with CP3 at this point). However, as of last night, Ayton was back in Phoenix’s starting lineup and Biyombo returned to a deep spot on the bench, playing just 6 minutes and recording just 1 rebound and no points. It was a nice story and he’s an easy dude to cheer for, but it’s past midnight, Cinderella.

Another guy that it is next-to-impossible to dislike, Walker has already fallen out of favor with Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau once or twice earlier this season and it looks like it may be happening again. The Brooklyn native, a former four-time All-Star in Charlotte and Boston, has been inactive for two different stretches already this season due to coaching decisions and he’s now down to averaging about 20 minutes per game, not even reaching double digit points in any of his last five. He was never a big contributor in other categories besides points, anyway and is not a strong defender by any measure, which will make it difficult to ever win Thibs over. He’s handled his demotion(s) with nothing but class, but when you’re on a disappointing team and still not playing much, those demotions do mean something. 

Yet another guy to root for.  There was a part of me that was genuinely happy for him as this season started, thinking maybe he could play a nice role on a Lakers team that was gearing up for another championship run. Maybe he would finally get a championship ring while being a modern day Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson (instant offense) for L.A. Well, I think we can agree that that championship parade in Los Angeles this June doesn’t appear imminent. Melo has name brand recognition still, but doesn’t really offer much from a multi-category perspective, and he’s averaging just 13.4 points and 4 rebounds a game. He might still go off once in a while and get hot – but can you really afford to wait around for one or two of those games over the rest of the season?


The Grizzlies have a very deep, talented roster this year and are getting all kinds of production from good young players who continue to show improvement every day. The only players on Memphis’ entire roster who are above age 27 are Anderson and Steven Adams and they’re both just 28. While Adams’ role is pretty clear – he starts every game, gets a few garbage points in the paint and passes the ball well after fighting for rebounds, Anderson’s is not so apparent. He’s only averaging about 20 minutes a game despite being a key contributor last year and his numbers (just 8 starts, 8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game) aren’t voluminous enough to justify hanging on to him – a breakout return to 2020-21 numbers doesn’t seem likely this year. The Grizzlies are now officially an upper echelon NBA team that is clearly headed in the right direction (three first round picks and $25 million in cap space next year)and it’s also pretty clear that there are several players they want to try to reach the Promised Land with. It’s not so clear Anderson is one of them.

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