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.
Marcus Sasser, Detroit Pistons (Rostered in 9.1% of ESPN leagues): A recent swoon in playing time is hard to read, but the coaching staff appears to still be refining the rotation. We can say that when he’s afforded chances to play, Sasser is what the kids call a bucket; a pure scorer with some playmaking skills on top.
Skylar Mays, Portland Trail Blazers (4.5%): Thrust into a vital creation role for a young Blazers backcourt, Mays is delivering dimes and scoring from the perimeter in Chauncey Billups’ guard-friendly scheme. This might prove to be an interim role given how several players above him on the depth chart are injured, but enjoy the production for now.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (22.6%): One of the league’s best steal rates is complemented finally by some offensive punch. Suggs will likely never be a knockdown shooter, but improvement as a scoring option will allow his defense to stick on the floor.
Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans (3.4%): In a season with some unique point guard experiments, a new one has emerged in New Orleans. Daniels isn’t really leading the offense, but he’s getting in the starting group and is so active on the glass and has busy hands in passing lanes, making him a fun fantasy profile to consider in all formats. Teammate Jordan Hakwins (6.2%) is also a name of note for his scoring prowess.
Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers (42.6%): It was reassuring to see Strus still play heavy minutes and an important spacing role when the team’s starting core returned to health. He’s a key part of opening the floor for a team that tilts big in the frontcourt.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (16.8%): The Bulls don’t really roster a traditional point guard, which aids White’s combo role with increased distribution rates. With at least five assists in four straight entering the new week, White is a worthy waiver acquisition given how scarce assists can prove.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (43.1%): The man known simply as “Dort” has been a defensive menace and a volatile scorer for the first several weeks of the season. You’ll want to be patient with his offensive fluctuations, as the defensive production is simply that good thus far.
Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (25.9%): The continued absence of De’Aaron Fox has meant more playmaking for Monk, who has responded with 18 dimes across his past two games exiting the weekend. Even when Fox returns, there’s enough two-way production to merit interest in Monk.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks (20.8%): Awesome 3-point volume in both sinks and take drives value for Hardaway. Nope, you won’t net much other than scoring and shooting, but when it comes to hunting for perimeter volume, this is your guy.
Cam Reddish, Los Angeles Lakers (2.4%): A shift to the starting lineup feeds Reddish minutes and touches on a team that could use more perimeter pop. Can he stick in this elevated role? Time will tell, but at least he’s finally getting some time.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (49.4%): We might finally see Collins become rostered in more than half of ESPN leagues. For now, he’s still underrated thanks to his Olynyk-like ability to build out valuable and versatile box scores.
Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (23.1%): A versatile combo forward empowered to pass from the post for a team that likes to move the ball, if not play defense, Avdija contributes positively in at least three categories (assists, boards, steals).
Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers (13.4%): An injury to LeBron James might not prove lasting, so Hachimura’s role could prove dependent. This said, he’s a busy glue guy on both sides and merits interim interest.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (49.1%): One of the league’s best shot-blockers has little competition for minutes. The foul trouble can prove tricky, but again, Gafford is often on the floor whenever he’s not getting too many whistles.
Bismack Biyombo, Memphis Grizzlies (16.2%): A wave of major injuries to the team’s frontcourt dating back to last season leaves Biyombo in a big role. Rebounding and rim protection chances drive rebounding results, so this could be a fun fantasy run for as long as it lasts.
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: The Washington Wizards have a fun two-way rookie in Bilal Coulibaly (3.0%), as he’s nearly averaging a steal and block on the season and just recently is becoming relevant on offense.
Blocks: Gafford is the guy to get for real volume, although Biyombo is the widely-available target to consider.
Assists: Detroit’s Killian Hayes (27.0%) is playing tons of minutes and running sets for Detroit, leading to nice assist results most nights.
3-pointers: Beyond Hardaway as a spacer, Phoenix is getting tons of shooting success from Grayson Allen (14.5%). Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic keeps splashing from beyond, as well.