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.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Rostered in 37.1% of ESPN leagues): Your top priority for this week of fantasy hoops should be to make room for Simons on your roster(s). With Damian Lillard‘s season in question due to core surgery, the fourth-year guard has been elevated to a pivotal starting role and has impressively become an elite source of scoring and playmaking. Even as CJ McCollum returns to the floor this week, Simons should sustain real value.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (61.0%): Still starting and still productive even with Luka Doncic back in form for Dallas, Brunson has assuredly earned Jason Kidd’s trust. Even though the numbers won’t be as impressive as when he was orchestrating the offense for Dallas, Brunson remains an underrated option.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (19.4%): Alex Caruso‘s absence has vaulted White into an important role for the contending Bulls. The combo guard has been asked to thrive as a scoring force lately, responding with 18 points and 3.2 3-pointers per game during his last 10 appearances.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (58.0%): A return to the floor for his hustle-driven rookie should see him find his way on offense, as he’s already averaged 14 points and nine combined assists and rebounds in his first two appearances since rejoining the club.
Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers (24.1%): The Lakers need scoring and spacing wherever they can get it, and Monk has capably filled a role as a scoring microwave aside LeBron James in recent weeks. With some fun defensive pop for a smaller shooting guard, Monk merits more attention.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets (65.4%): A decimated Denver rotation leans heavily on Barton to create from the perimeter; thus he’s posting a career-best assist percentage of 19.2% and his highest scoring clip in the last four seasons.
Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers (44.6%): There’s not a single statistical category that Markkanen dominates, so he can fly under the radar in most leagues despite providing just enough 3-point and defensive to provide value.
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (29.7%): A versatile forward tasked with more creation duties given his spot on a Houston rotation that doesn’t field a traditional point guard. Just last Friday, Tate flirted with a triple-double against the Kings and has tallied at least four assists in five of his last seven games.
Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers (60.7%): After months of dormancy on offense and even sleepy defensive rates, Covington has resurfaced with elite defensive numbers. During his last seven games, “RoCo” has averaged 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks to go with 2.4 3-pointers and 6.7 rebounds for a depleted Portland rotation. Even if he’s dealt by the deadline, Covington’s defensive revival does wonders for his fantasy stock.
Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic (56.2%): Evan Mobley has been an amazing impact player for the Cavaliers, but it’s also fun to notice how well Wagner has developed a diverse two-way presence as a rookie. The Michigan product has even flashed more passing prowess of late, including his first 10-assist performance in the pros last week in Washington.
Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers (20.6%): Morris is often included as an endorsement in this space given he’s been a key scoring option for the Clippers for several weeks and yet the fantasy market isn’t very interested. Since rejoining the starting lineup a few weeks back, Morris has slashed for 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and two 3-pointers per game across his last 10 starts. Los Angeles might not get its duo of superstar wings back this season, aiding a big workload for Morris.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks (60.2%): Reclaiming a more prominent role in the rotation in recent weeks, Robinson has averaged a double-double and 1.8 combined blocks and steals during his last nine games, eight of them starts. It’s unlikely Robinson ever emerges as a volume scorer, but I’m interested in rostering him for his league-changing block upside whenever he’s getting 30 minutes per night.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (40.2%): Hitting a career-best 64.3% of his shots from the floor this season and an absurd 68.1% during his last dozen games, Clarke is an efficient source of points and an emergent rim protector. The Gonzaga product has averaged 1.9 swats during his last seven games for the surging Grizzlies and has been a positive fantasy contributor for much of Memphis’ franchise-best winning streak.