Jue. Abr 18th, 2024

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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.

Point Guard

Keyonte George, Utah Jazz (Rostered in 23.1% of ESPN Leagues): As winter turns to spring, it’s not just the weather that warms, as young NBA talent can also heat up as a blend of experience and talent merge. George has been empowered as a lead creator for several weeks now and the results are increasingly impressive; flashing a rare mix of scoring and playmaking acumen for a rookie. The time is now to acquire this ascendant guard.

Dalano Banton, Portland Trail Blazers (5.3%): We’ve seen this young journeyman find a home in the Portland rotation in recent weeks. While his minutes and touches have fluctuated at times, his scoring ceiling, confirmed by 28 points against the Pelicans over the weekend, is enticing.

Vasilije Micić, Charlotte Hornets (9.0%): Found at 16th on Player Rater over the past two weeks among point guards thanks to a combination of shooting savvy and assist volume, it’s worth noting this former EuroLeague star has seen his playmaking dim a bit as Tre Mann has resurfaced in the rotation. This said, the offense is still often in Micić’s hands, which will lead to some rewarding box scores.

Shooting Guard

Grayson Allen, Phoenix Suns (36.4%): Tops in the league in 3-point efficiency and 19th in made shots from beyond the arc, Allen is the rare shooting specialist worthy of universal fantasy attention given this unique combination of accuracy and volume. Sneaky good passing and steal rates help his case, as well.

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (24.9%): The Bulls are now facing injuries to Coby White and Alex Caruso, compounding an already thin depth chart in the backcourt. This leads to increased usage and opportunities on both sides of the floor for Dosunmu, who responded with a career scoring effort this past weekend.

Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets (22.3%): Exciting defensive and rebounding rates have been part of this rookie’s profile all season, although now an uptick in offense means we are witnessing the ascent of a future fantasy star. Houston appears committed to running smaller lineups in the wake of Alperen Sengun’s injury, which aids Thompson’s exposure.

Bilal Coulibaly, Washington Wizards (4.3%): Steal rate is one of the stickier stats when assessing transition and translation of pre-NBA production to the league. Coulibaly helps to confirm this trend, as his active hands create chaos in passing lanes and directly for ball-handlers. Now that he’s seeing more playing time, there’s potential for a strong finish on a team that needs to find out what it has going forward.

Small Forward

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans (34.8%): Rounding into form has been the theme of Murphy’s season; recovering from serious surgery has taken time, but patience is paying off in the form of impressive 3-and-D outcomes in recent weeks.

Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers (9.8%): After enduring an offensive slump for several weeks, Nesmith appears back to being an effective complementary scorer and cutter for the Pacers. With Bennedict Mathurin sidelined the rest of the way, minutes won’t be an issue for Nesmith.

Simone Fontecchio, Detroit Pistons (9.0%): Essentially assuming the floor-spacing role vacated by Bogdan Bogdanovic, Fontecchio is often surpassing 30 minutes most nights with freedom to loft from deep in most matchups. With some rebounding and steal savvy on his side, it’s possible Fontecchio is more than merely a specialist.

Power Forward

Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (25.2%): Registering nine blocks past six games, Socahn’s recent leap in scoring marries well with his aggressive work on the boards. The result is production across several categories for a player who, after the early-season experiment at point guard, has eligibility at multiple positions.

GG Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies (6.5%): The youngest dude in the league doesn’t score like a young rookie, as he’s averaged 21.3 points across the past week exiting the weekend. The shots will be there given his spot on a team that has been decimated in the frontcourt by injuries.

De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (14.3%): Endorsing Hunter is always fun for me since we both played at the same high school (albeit many years apart). This former Quaker League prep standout turned collegiate champion has revived his offensive touch in recent games. A lack of peripheral stats limits his upside, but there should be plenty of playing time and touches available on a depleted Atlanta depth chart.

Center

Kelly Olynyk, Toronto Raptors (29.2%): A wily vet with the potential to produce a massive fantasy line even with modest scoring output, Olynyk’s passing and defensive rates have been quietly stellar since he’s assumed a major starting role for the Raptors.

Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers (16.7%): It remains a bit odd that Reed cedes real minutes to Mo Bamba, but such is the case in the Sixers’ rotation lately. Even with the fluctuating role, Reed is a real fantasy asset given defensive energy and efficient scoring and work off the glass.


Special Teams: 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: The Suns’ Allen is the essential specialist in shooting, while Murphy is also top five in added value via 3-point success on the Player Rater the past 15 days. Miami’s Duncan Robinson (17.1%), unsurprisingly, is also a top contributor from beyond.

Steals: Caris LeVert (53.2%) has had his hands in the passing lanes a lot lately, ranking second behind only Caruso in added value via larceny the past two weeks via the Player Rater. Olynyk, remarkably, is 18th in added value via steals during the past two weeks.

Rebounds: Charlotte’s Nick Richards (12.0%) has been a key positive for the team this year, especially as an efficient and active rebounder. Reed, meanwhile, ranks 22nd in added value on the glass the past two weeks.

Blocks: Precious Achiuwa (18.5%) has held up as a rim protector even as his minutes have dipped. Surprisingly, Nesmith has among the most impressive block percentages among all non-centers in the league.

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