Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to source stats from free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.
A willingness to entertain competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.
The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position available in free agency in at least a third of ESPN leagues. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ordered players at each position with the priority of acquisition in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.
Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns (Rostered in 31.0% of ESPN leagues): There is no better pickup this week than Payne. The playmaking combo guard has at least 10 assists in three of his last four games and brings solid scoring and steal rates to the floor for both Phoenix and fantasy investors. With Chris Paul sidelined for possibly the rest of the regular season, Payne claims league-winning upside.
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (25.2%): Back on the court after a long injury stint, Caruso collected four steals and blocked a shot in his first game in months. The scoring will likely be modest, but amazing steals production and solid passing numbers fuel a uniquely helpful profile for Caruso.
Josh Hart, Portland Trail Blazers (46.9%): The stripped-down Trail Blazers still have some encouraging young talents in the rotation, with Hart chief among them. Fresh from a career-best scoring outing over the weekend, Hart brings enough shooting, scoring, defense, and playmaking to merit much more attention from fantasy managers.
Malik Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves (41.9%): Earning a big role in the rotation after a slow start to the season, Beasley has posted prolific shooting volume and success in recent games.
Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers (20.5%): Now a key part of the Lakers rotation, Monk does just enough defensively to help complement his improved scoring and shooting rates.
Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns (23.7%): The best way to frame Crowder’s current fantasy stock is “tons of steals and enough scoring and passing to be palatable.”
Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks (21.7%): Not only has it been fun to play “DFS” in DFS lately, but he’s really found momentum as a productive rebounder and active perimeter defender for Dallas. Respectable scoring only helps his case as a pickup for the stretch run.
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (54.9%): Stashing players requires some opportunity cost. You’ll take up a roster spot for a given player at the risk of missing out on other opportunities on the waiver wire. Porter’s return remains a bit murky, but his talent and potential production are impressive enough to offset such risks.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (29.8%): A pair of double-doubles in his last five outings and an uptick in playing time and touches has been fueled by Jarrett Allen’s recent injury. While he’s not going to handle heavy minutes, there’s more consistency in Love’s profile with Allen ailing.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz (61.9%): Scoring at least 21 points in four straight games has helped Bogdanovic reclaim some of his lost luster, given that so much of his value comes from shooting and scoring success. Once the scoring cools, however, the fantasy fun is likely over.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks (67.1%): He’s had 11 blocks over his last three games and multiple steals in two of his last three outings, confirming Robinson as a special defensive force whenever given enough run. With Nerlens Noel ailing, it’s a good time to ride with Robinson.
Andre Drummond, Brooklyn Nets (45.9%): With 31 boards and some solid rim protection rates over the last three games as the Nets’ lone legitimate big man, Drummond is particularly helpful whenever Brooklyn faces a team with size (netting him more minutes and touches).