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 men’s basketball leagues.
Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs (Rostered in 65.3% of leagues): A return to the starting point guard role has been quite rewarding for Jones in both real and fantasy regards. Ranked fifth among point guards on the Player Rater during the past two weeks, which measures production in each of eight key categories against the standards of each position, Jones has truly revived his fantasy stock. With double-digit dimes in three of four games entering this new week of action, Jones should continue to shine as the team’s top distributor.
Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons (52.5%): Averaging roughly 25 points, six rebounds, and six assist over the past week as Detroit’s top offensive creator, Ivey’s ascent has been impressive to watch. The Pistons might get back Cade Cunningham in the coming days, but it’s likely Ivery retains a major role given his recent success and the team’s intent to limit Killian Hayes’ exposure.
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (18.3%): Another injury to Zach LaVine means more offensive work for Caruso. Rightfully regarded as one of the best backcourt defenders in the league, adding some useful offensive results to elite turnover creation is a recipe for value.
Collin Sexton, Utah Jazz (69.1%): While he’s become a popular addition to rosters in recent weeks, Sexton’s roster percentage should honestly approach universal rates given he’s fourth on the entire Player Rater among shooting guards the past two weeks. The team has trusted him to take on a major scoring workload and the roster’s lack of true point guard talent also funnels creation duties his way.
Grayson Allen, Phoenix Suns (37.6%): Leading the league in 3-point percentage while also being one of the 26 players with at least 100 made shots from deep offers confirmation that Allen is enjoying a uniquely efficient season for the Suns. With solid steal and block rates for a shooting specialist, Allen has quietly become a two-way Contributor. New York’s Donte DiVincenzo (15.8%) offers similar value, albeit over a much smaller sample.
Luke Kennard, Memphis Grizzlies (6.0%): With double digits in the scoring column in six straight entering the week, Kennard is serving an Allen-like role for the short-handed Grizzlies,
Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons (7.7%): A true bucket, as the cool kids say, Burks has been on a tear the past few games for the Pistons. While a trade to another team would likely lower his offensive responsibilities, it’s best to enjoy this interim spike in production from a player with a fearless approach to filling the basket.
Vince Williams Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (19.7%): The most-added player in ESPN leagues during the past week, Williams is popular given his rise as a two-way producer on a roster that has been hit by a nearly unprecedented wave of impact injuries. With Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane weeks from rejoining the rotation, Williams’ newfound value appears entirely sustainable
Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets (48.1%): The continued absence of Gordon Hayward and the Hornets’ sheer need for more offensive output has resulted in a recent leap for the team’s top pick. No longer simply settling as a catch-and-shoot option, more confidence driving to the paint has led to impressive production from the Alabama product.
Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (42.6%): It’s tough to tell if Thompson’s recent rise in playing time is a trend or merely a small sample, but what is clear is that he produces absurd rebounding and defensive rates whenever empowered by Monty Williams.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (23.3%): Jones’ return to the starting lineup has actually helped Sochan’s profile; he’s no longer struggling to deliver as a point forward and appears more comfortable cutting and slashing on offense while enjoying a sizable spike in turnover creation on defense. Such two-way play and eligibility at both power forward and point guard positions Sochan as a flexible option for fantasy managers.
Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors (19.3%): Maybe leaking discontent to the media works? Kuminga has gained real traction as a big part of the Warriors rotation in recent weeks. The lack of defensive production lowers the ceiling, but scoring and rebounding appear to be real elements of his skill set.
Jabari Walker, Portland Trail Blazers (4.8%): The minutes might not always be there for this talented young forward, but we’ve seen that Walker is capable of producing when trusted. You might need to be patient with Walker, but it’s likely Portland leans on youth eventually.
Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic (49.0%): One of the most efficient per-possession scorers in the past two weeks, Carter has been awesome since returning from injury. The market will soon realize how valuable Carter is when he’s healthy and confident, which is clearly the case in recent outings.
Marvin Bagley III, Washington Wizards (16.3%): Did the Wizards pull off a coup in netting draft picks and Bagley in a recent deal with the Pistons? Early returns suggest this is a real possibility, as he’s averaging 18.3 points and 10 boards with Washington thus far.
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.
3-pointers: DiVincenzo is 10th in added value via production from deep over the past two weeks. Burks, meanwhile, is second only to Paul George in this regard during this same sample.
Steals: Williams is seventh on the Player Rater in steal production the past two weeks, while the Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein (45.8%) has been awesome in this category for weeks.
Boards: As long as his recent ankle injury isn’t a long-term issue, Hartenstein is one of the best widely available glass cleaners in the game. Bagley has been a vacuum since joining Washington.
Blocks: Washington’s Daniel Gafford (69.5%) and Dallas rookie Dereck Lively II (19.5%) have been consistent rim protectors for their respective teams for much of the season.