J.J. Hickson has started the last five games at center for the Denver Nuggets with JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) out, and he had his best game of the season (18 points, 19 rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists) Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Over those five starts he is averaging 12.8 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, and with more playing time over the last three games in particular (over 27 minutes in all three, more than 30 minutes twice) his production has improved even more (14.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game).
Can Hickson sustain the production he has shown recently and become a top waiver wire addition for fantasy basketball owners?
Hickson is not a traditional center in terms of height (6’9″) or defensive acumen (0.6 blocked shots per game for his career) , but coach Brian Shaw clearly seems to prefer him over Timofey Mosgov or Anthony Randolph at this point. Mosgov did have a big game last week against the Los Angeles Lakers, with 23 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots off the bench, but those kind of games are fleeting at best and he is not a real threat to take significant minutes from Hickson.
It’s unrealistic for fantasy owners to expect a lot of games like Monday night from Hickson, and quite frankly his level of production over the last handful of games is not sustainable. But with McGee out indefinitely he has a chance to sustain solid value for awhile, and with starter’s minutes he can contribute in at least two categories (points and rebounds) and possibly a third (blocked shots). As of now Hickson is available in over half of Yahoo! leagues, but that may change quickly.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.