Working on the waiver wire is critical to success in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries, and endless rotational shifts during the marathon campaign, we need to get stats from the free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.
Being willing to compete for the last spots on your Fantasy Hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this flowing collective of statistical writers, it helps to see your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent that is in the open hands.
The goal of this weekly series is to identify players who are available in at least half of the ESPN leagues in every position (although I’ll make some exceptions for players hovering around that threshold). Some nominations are specialists who can help in one or two categories, while others provide more diverse and important statistical offers. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ordered players in each position based on priority of acquisition rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.
Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers (represented in 48.7% of ESPN leagues): The names Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams are essentially synonymous with elite benchmarking and running for Sixth Man of the Year, thanks in part to the empowerment coach Doc Rivers has given them over the years. Rivers now has Milton as their top scorer, and the SMU product has been effective in that role, averaging a career high of 16.9 PPG for Philly. With 27.7 PPG in its last three games, Milton has been undeniably hot off the ground lately and deserves more attention from fantasy investors.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (46.1%): When Dragic got back into action over the weekend, he took over sales for Miami with a season high of 10 cents. Even if Jimmy Butler returns to rotation, Dragic will continue to be used as a key playmaker on a team with proven developers and numerous knockdown shooters.
Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons (53.1%): Like Milton, Rose is a busy playmaker for his team after making his second 20-point appearance this season. The problem with being too excited about Rose’s statistical potential is the frequency of absenteeism, as the veteran needs a good level of maintenance to maintain a high level of play. If you can afford to rest Rose when he’s seated, there’s a good gate out there to help you with it.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (18.2%): Anthony is third for touches in Orlando (64.4 per game) and second on the team for potential assists per game (9.4 per game) in this sample for the last five games. He begins to prove himself in his capacity as a key playmaker for a fighting Magic team. Without much competition in the back seat for minutes and shots, Anthony has warmed up as a goalscorer lately and could eventually turn out to be a solid source for assists and thefts.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets (41.6%): Barton forgave an ugly outing last Sunday and acted as a starter for Denver in place of Michael Porter Jr. It seems MPJ could return to the Denver lineup later this week, but it’s worth noting that the most popular lineups of the Nuggets in terms of net rating include almost all of Barton. Even if he switches to a role from the bank, Barton could still deliver fantasy value in the coming weeks.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (20.0%): There is considered one of the better young full-backs in the league and is also developing into a competent offensive player. With many minutes and the freedom to take photos from outside the arch, Dort becomes a worthy addition for those in deeper categories and roto formats.
Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks (15.8%): Even though he’s just a temporary addition for fantasy purposes until Bogdan Bogdanovic or Kris Dunn are back in the game, Reddish can still manage managers with a solid steal rate (1.4 SPG) and scoring potential (at least 20 points in two his last three) trips starting Monday).
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans (9.6%): With Lonzo Ball likely to be out with a knee condition in the next few games, Alexander-Walker offers a solid streaming option in lower leagues as he can score in groups.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (42.6%): Ross has been cold off the floor most of the past two weeks and finally warmed up over the weekend with a 23-point appearance against the Nets in Brooklyn on Saturday. Orlando relies on Ross’ shot in almost every game, suggesting that he can continue to assist fantasy managers as a goal and shooting specialist.
Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers (19.6%): Osman has posted 18.7 PPG and 8.3 combined assists and rebounds per game over the past week and has done well with Cleveland’s starting deficit. Even with his peers back in rotation, Osman could retain value as a versatile option in a relatively flat little forward position.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (7.7%): Last Saturday night, Powell hit a season high of 24 points while hitting a career high with six 3-pointers. The Raptors desperately need Powell to return to last year’s strong goal form and will likely give him every opportunity to do so.
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (5.2%): Tate is just a real consideration for those in deeper categories or roto-leagues. It’s the kind of fantasy option that helps when we consider the sum of its eclectic contributions. For example, over the past week, Tate has averaged two blocks and 9.3 combined assists and rebounds.
Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings (46.5%): In a loss to New Orleans on Sunday evening, Bagley III finished his fourth career appearance with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds and his first such performance since March 2019. The Kings will strengthen Bagley with many minutes and touch and help to achieve a real fantasy value promote.
Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks (40.6%): “Gallo” reportedly tends to return to court, making the proven route a worthy hiding place for those who can afford to be patient.
Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies (45.6%): Anderson is one of those players who might not make a ton but do a little of everything to add fantasy value. With atypically strong assistant and block numbers for a wing, Anderson is a solid addition for those who can afford to make up for his sluggish hit rate.
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (53.9%): With at least eight rebounds in three of his last four games on Monday and one of the best block rates in the league, Lopez remains an underrated fantasy asset.
Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazer (43.2%): At his first start to the season last weekend, Kanter played a season high of 29 minutes and achieved a season high of 15 rebounds in a double-double performance, while he scored five strokes in just his second career game with as many blocks. Kanter has a robust 16.2 rebound chances per game in just 19.4 MPG – and now he’s likely to hover at 28 MPG for the coming weeks.
DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets (39.5%): The James Harden blockbuster has many ramifications for fantasy value, including Jordan being prominent again for Brooklyn. While the days of being an elite scoring force as Rollman may be over, a solid mix of blocks and rebounds could keep the fantasy value in Roto formats up.