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.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (Rostered in 20.3% of ESPN leagues): A breakout performance in prime-time against the Celtics should see Quickley become a popular pickup this week. It’s not just a single-game showing that proves impressive, though, as the Kentucky product has scored at least 13 points in 11 straight and has become a fixture in New York’s rotation.
Dennis Schroder, Los Angeles Lakers (31.0%): LeBron James‘ absence combined with the departure of Russell Westbrook means Schroder assumes a major distribution role for the Lakers in the weeks ahead.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (11.5%): The rare player eligible at both power forward and point guard in ESPN leagues, this talented rookie has provided dynamic production in recent weeks.
Dennis Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets (20.3%): The season-ending injury to LaMelo Ball has shifted Smith into an important role for Charlotte. While he’s not always due for a heavy shot diet or load of minutes, there’s real value in a player with strong steal and assist rates on a team with such a shallow backcourt.
Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies (9.9%): With Ja Morant sidelined for a few games, Jones is due to start at point guard this week for the Grizzlies. The scoring numbers are often lean for Jones, but double-digit assist are in play when starts for Memphis.
Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (46.6%): Even with the team missing their top pick Chet Holmgren, this rookie has dazzled with a fun blend of scoring, defense, and playmaking rarely found in a professional freshman.
Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors (15.0%): It’s a good sign that DiVincenzo logged nearly 40 minutes while starting in a three-guard lineup with the Warriors over the weekend. Stephen Curry‘s return didn’t push him to the fringes of the rotation, suggesting this two-way combo guard retains some real statistical impact.
Matisse Thybulle, Portland Trail Blazers (8.5%): One of the league’s more productive perimeter defenders has shifted from a limited specialized role for the 76ers to a full-fledged starting gig in Portland. The scoring and shooting results can prove a bit volatile, but few players can match his wild combination of steals and swats.
Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (25.8%): There are only a handful of players currently flirting with averaging nearly a block and a steal per game, with McDaniels included. This high-level perimeter stopper is also handling more offensive workload since the deadline.
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (19.4%): There are some players who are quite valuable in fantasy terms despite not proving elite at any single category, but rather prove capable at several. Anderson can do a bit of everything, which helps cover the nights when his scoring production in lean while playmaking and defensive rates shine.
Tari Eason, Houston Rockets (10.0%): The lottery-bound Rockets have empowered their young talent with minutes and touches, as Eason is in the middle of a career-best stretch of two-way production.
Delon Wright, Washington Wizards (16.7%): This uniquely versatile wing has eligibility at three positions in ESPN leagues, including a shallow power forward pool that aids his value for those seeking frontcourt depth. After all, Wright leads all players with at least 300 minutes logged in steal percentage and has flashed fun passing prowess in recent games.
Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets (36.4%): A new level of shooting and scoring volume since joining Brooklyn has vaulted Johnson’s fantasy impact, as the North Carolina product has become a steady wingman for an ascendant Mikal Bridges.
Marvin Bagley III, Detroit Pistons (16.9%): The Pistons are looking to empower their collection of former top lottery selections, which includes Bagley thriving in the post and on the glass.
Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies (4.9%): A season-ending injury to Brandon Clarke shifts Tillman into a vital role for an already depleted Memphis frontcourt. Over the past week, Tillman has nearly averaged a double-double.
Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (49.5%): Another week and another endorsement of this rare rookie rim protector. Kessler has collected an astounding 18 blocks over his past four games entering Sunday’s matchup with the Thunder. For some context as to how special this rookie’s interior defense has proven, only Defensive Player of the Year favorite Jaren Jackson Jr. ranks ahead of Kessler in block percentage this season.
Mark Williams, Charlotte Hornets (20.0%): Ranked just ahead of Evan Mobley and just behind Jarrett Allen at 17th among centers on the Player Rater over the past two weeks, Williams is another rising rookie worth of more attention from fantasy managers.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (16.2%): Afforded increased minutes and more responsibility on both sides of the floor since the deadline, Collins has impressively dished at least four dimes in five of his last eight outings and have averaged an awesome three combined blocks and steals over the past week.
Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves (4.4%): A stellar recent stretch has seen this unique stretch big deliver a strong blend of scoring, shooting, rebounding, and steals. Until Karl-Anthony Towns is full back in the rotation, Reid should sustain statistical value.