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.
This is the final waiver wire column of the season, so good luck!
Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz (Rostered in 28.8% of ESPN leagues): Last fall, I thought Collin Sexton was due for a breakout campaign with the Jazz, but it turns out the Horton-Tucker is the team’s breakout creator this season.
T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers (11.4%): An ability to deliver big lines whenever called on will keep McConnell in the league for a long time. The regular absence of Tyrese Haliburton suggests McConnell is a worthy bench option for the final week of the season.
Delon Wright, Washington Wizards (8.7%): It’s fun to find fantasy gems who aren’t top scorers, but still prove special given unique contributions. Wright’s specialty is steals, as he posts league-altering swipe numbers in addition to a recent surge in offensive production.
Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers (22.3%): With at least 24 points in six of his last seven showings, Sharpe is at least helping Portland feel positive about his potential. With basically no competition for shots and minutes, Sharpe is a savvy addition.
Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks (6.3%): An injury to a ball-dominant Julius Randle has splintered touches and creation duties throughout the rotation, including an uptick in such work for Grimes in recent outings.
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (24.8%): The return of LeBron James hasn’t felled Reaves’ fantasy value, as he’s still being asked to regularly run offensive sets and space the floor when off the ball.
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (39.5%): A key connector for the Timberwolves on both sides of the floor, Anderson has delivered quietly elite fantasy production for several weeks now. With the team leaning into Anderson’s deft distribution skills, the statistical fun should continue.
Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards (2.4%): With the Wizards leaning on their young talent for the final games, Kispert could continue his hot stretch from the floor. With Bradley Beal ailing, Kispert is due for a fun offensive diet.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (25.0%): This two-way forward is playing a big role down the stretch for a Thunder team chasing seeding security ahead of a surprising playoff run. Scoring outcomes can prove reliant on his shot falling, but the minutes will be there.
Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz (32.6%): With at least five dimes in three of his last four games, Olynyk has thrived in the playmaking department since the team dealt Mike Conley
Drew Eubanks, Portland Trail Blazers (3.8%): The team’s pivot to lottery positioning means Eubanks should see steady minutes the rest of the way. The scoring results aren’t ideal, but standout defensive results keep surfacing.
Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets (34.1%): While he’s not quite erupting on offense like Mikal Bridges since leaving Phoenix, Johnson is posting nearly 17 PPG on clean efficiency as a complementary wing for the Nets. You won’t get much more than shooting and scoring, but the minutes and shots should be there for Johnson on a team seeking to avoid the Play-In bracket.
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets (46.5%): A solid finish for this top pick includes a series of double-double performances. Smith’s atypically high block rate spells two-way breakout potential for his second season.
Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies (10.8%): A depleted Memphis frontcourt affords Tillman serious minutes and rebounding opportunities in most matchups. The scoring results are often modest, but there’s enough work on the glass and on defense to prove helpful.