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 widely available in free agency in 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.
Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans (Rostered in 11.4% of ESPN leagues): Found at 10th on the Player Rater among point guards over the past two weeks, Daniels has thrived in a unique role as a jumbo distributor for the Pelicans. He’s delivering a fun blend of rebounding, passing, and defensive rates that appear sustainable given continued trust from Willie Green.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (19.0%): Another oversized creator, Sochan isn’t as productive as Daniels, but is logging plenty of time as a key playmaker for the Spurs (nearly 33 MPG the past week).
Skylar Mays, Portland Trail Blazers (14.4%): This remains an interim endorsement in that Mays is playing big minutes and an important creation role while Scoot Henderson and Malcolm Brogdon are sidelined. There is potential, however, for longer-term value if or when Brogdon is dealt given the team’s aim for a youth movement.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks (30.5%): Only Stephen Curry and teammate Luka Doncic have taken and made more 3-pointers than Hardaway this season. Such incredible volume and efficiency fuels fantasy fun from this veteran floor-spacer, especially given how often he’s seeing clean looks working aside two elite creators.
Keyonte George, Utah Jazz (8.1%): Eligible as a shooting guard, George has become Utah’s lead point guard after Talen Horton-Tucker’s early-season struggles at the helm of the offense. While he’s a green rookie, George is empowered to lead the offense and is one of the better sources of dimes on the wire these days.
Cam Reddish, Los Angeles Lakers (7.1%): The Lakers are entrusting Reddish with a real role in the rotation and he’s responded with helpful scoring and steal results. Will he continue to shine in this elevated role? Time will tell, but the early outcomes have been positive.
De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers (20.3%): While he struggles to finish in the paint, Melton’s deft shooting touch from the outside combined with strong steal and assist rates results in some underrated fantasy value for the two-way combo guard. The Sixers, meanwhile, don’t have much depth in the backcourt, making Melton’s role quite secure.
Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (59.1%): Found in the top 10 of small forwards on the Player Rater the past two weeks, Johnson’s relentless bounce and glue guy game have translated well to fantasy production. Given his awesome production and how well he’s assumed the John Collins vertical scoring usage for the Hawks, Johnson should be universally rostered.
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat (20.6%): Expanding and diversifying his game this deep into his pro career is really cool to see; Robinson is flashing increased playmaking and scoring touch inside the arc that was previously untapped prior to Tyler Herro’s injury. Rookie teammate Jaime Jaquez Jr. (6.7%) is also flashing lately.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks (37.7%): A second Atlanta wing makes the cut, this time for Bogdanvic’s strong shooting and steal numbers. Notoriously streaky, he’s been on a heater the past week.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (46.4%): Back from suspension, Bridges was immediately used as an important offensive contributor for the Hornets and should continue to see shots and touches in this capacity.
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (28.7%): Posting the type of wild defensive rates once only home to the likes of Andrei Kirilenko or Jonathan Isaace, Jones is averaging an absurd 3.7 stocks (steals plus blocks) in a busy stopper role for the Pelicans.
Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (30.5%): A versatile point-forward type averaging nearly four assists on the season, Avdija is an ascendant player on a bad team. That is actually often a winning formula for fantasy purposes.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (52.3%): After years and years of unfortunate injury luck, Collins appears fully ready to thrive in a big role for a young team that values his atypically strong passing acumen from the post.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks (39.4%): Posting some of the best offensive rebounding rates in league history, Robinson is finally upping the block results to complement his statistical profile past being purely a specialist.
Bismack Biyombo, Memphis Grizzlies (23.8%): Stepping in as the resident glass cleaner and rim protector for a team that has been hit with a wave of major frontcourt injuries, Biyombo is a producing roster-worthy numbers these days.
This section focuses on specialists; players who flash in a singular category and can provide specific value to those in category and roto formats. Nominations are based on which category such players are helpful in and will rotate throughout the season.
Steals: In addition to New Orleans’ Jones and his larcenous ways, Reddish and Melton are among the leaders in added value via steals on the Player Rater.
Blocks: Jones is also elite in swats, while Orlando’s Goga Bitadze (3.0%) and Washington’s Daniel Gafford (49.6%) are more traditional big rim protectors.
Rebounds: New York’s Robinson is an elite option on the boards, while Golden State’s Kevon Looney (57.4%) is also among the league leaders in cleaning the glass. Those in shallower leagues will want to pay attention to Mark Wiliams (67.3%).
Assists: Mays is 14th overall in added value in assists via the Player Rater. The Kings’ Malik Monk (30.5%) is also creating for others this season.
3-pointers: Hardaway Jr. and Robinson are proven spacers to consider. The Pelicans found another gem in Jordan Hawkins (7.0%), a player who loves to shoot from deep.