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 available in free agency in at least a third of 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.
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (Rostered in 55.6% of ESPN leagues): With so many of the league’s high-powered offenses run by a handful of heliocentric players, finding an elite source of assists so widely available is relatively rare. Giddey, meanwhile, entered Sunday’s action ranked 20th in the NBA in total assists. The teenager is also tied for 39th in total rebounds, aiding his atypically valuable fantasy profile.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (57.3%): Just ahead of Giddey in the dimes department is Brunson, who has thrived as a lead distributor whenever Luka Doncic has been sidelined, which has been often this season. Even with Doncic back as Dallas’ offensive engine on Sunday, Brunson was efficient as a catch-and-shoot threat who has clearly earned Jason Kidd’s trust.
Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets (56.0%): Seemingly back in the mix after serving a recent suspension, Porter has posted strong lines while flirting with triple-double outcomes the last week.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (16.7%): Sure to be rostered in more leagues as the week matures, news of Damian Lillard missing additional time with a lingering core injury spells more big lines from Simons. This young guard has set a new career-high with 43 points against the Hawks last week and has thrived as a primary perimeter scorer and passer for Portland in recent games.
Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans (41.7%): The market remains slow to pick up on Hart’s rich floor game; he’s averaged 18.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.9 3-pointers, and 1.7 combined blocks and steals during his last seven games entering Sunday’s slate.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets (65.4%): With at least five assists in four straight games and respectable rebounding and defensive rates overall, Barton should continue to provide high-floor production as a key part of Denver’s depleted rotation.
Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic (56.2%): Another solid showing from this uniquely consistent rookie. In fact, his nine points against the Pistons on Saturday evening marked his first game with a single-digit scoring result since just before Thanksgiving. Entering Sunday’s action, Wagner has impressively averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 boards, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 combined blocks and assists during his last 14 games, all starts.
Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers (23.5%): A scoring force in recent outings for the Clippers, Morris has produced at least 20 points in five of his last seven appearances and should continue to consume a heavy workload for a Los Angeles roster missing two All-NBA wings from the rotation indefinitely.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (39.9%): While I’d rather roster Morris instead of Love among scoring-driven forwards, there’s still some real statistical value left in the tank for this former UCLA standout. Love doesn’t always play heavy minutes, but he’s atypically efficient as the team’s featured scorer on the second unit.
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (23.5%): The defensive numbers have been a bit dormant lately, but Tate brings enough rebounding and assist production to merit overlooking this recent swoon in steals.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (29.3%): With 15 swats over his last six games and one of just three NBA players with a true shooting percentage of at least .700 — joining Rudy Gobert and Jarrett Allen — Gafford is arguably one of the most underrated fantasy options in the league at the moment.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (35.7%): Memphis has asked for more from Clarke lately, and the Gonzaga product has responded with 14.5 points, 8.8 boards, and nearly two swats per game during the last week.