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 62.9% of ESPN leagues): Leading all rookies in double-doubles, Giddey has recently been asked to orchestrate the offense with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander injured. Stellar rebounding supports a uniquely high floor for this rookie guard.
Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (21.5%): Suddenly one of the most productive passers in the league, this Chicago native and Illinois product is thriving as a second-round rookie this season. With Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso sidelined for several more weeks, Dosunmu figures to pace the team in assists for the foreseeable future.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (53.2%): Posting absolutely stellar splits as a starter this season and now due for even more offensive usage with Norman Powell recently dealt, Simons remains a must-add addition given his rare blend of scoring and passing volume.
Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers (23.6%): With Indiana moving high-usage wing Caris LeVert to Cleveland, this rookie figures to play a sizable role for the Pacers going forward. Duarte delivered a team-best 22 points in a team-high 36 minutes in a loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday.
Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers (21.0%): Compiling 50 points across two games over the past weekend, Monk has emerged as a fun source of scoring and 3-pointers for a Lakers team in need of complementary offense.
Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons (65.8%): Posting at least 21 points in three straight games, Bey has proven he can sustain impressive scoring production even with Jerami Grant back in the mix.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (31.8%): Entering Sunday’s slate, Dort had scored at least 16 points and pulled at least six boards in six straight games. The absence of Gilgeous-Alexander signals Dort should remain busy as a scoring force.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets (64.0%): The rare off-the-bench scorer who also produces strong defensive rates, Oubre posted seven combined blocks and steals against Boston this past week.
Robert Covington, LA Clippers (62.1%): While he changes jerseys pretty often, Covington is coveted by teams for his dynamic help defense. After all, the veteran 3-and-D contributor ranks third in the league in total deflections and continues to post elite block and steal rates even amid a down offensive season. Maybe the change of scenery helps his offensive production, but the “stocks” will show up either way.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (35.9%): Tasked with more scoring and playmaking duties now that the team is so depleted in the backcourt, Love has averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds during the last week.
Kevin Love gets fouled with a second to go in a one-point game and drills both free throws.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Minnesota Timberwolves (26.0%): Much like Covington, Vanderbilt’s fantasy profile is fueled by atypically awesome defensive production. This dynamic defender has tallied multiple steals in seven of his last nine games and has become a steady force on the glass for Minnesota.
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors (59.9%): A healthier Toronto rotation has led to fewer minutes for Boucher in recent outings, but he’s still posted at least one swat in eight straight games. Consistency in rim protection is quite rare, aiding Boucher’s case for a roster spot in weekly and roto leagues.
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets (60.9%): Averaging nearly a block per game this season and with enough scoring and shooting pop to surface at this shallow center position, Washington merits more interest from managers. For those in deeper leagues, teammate Mason Plumlee is also worth a look given respectable rebounding and steal rates.
Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz (35.1%): A contingent endorsement for Whiteside hinges on Rudy Gobert‘s availability. For as long as Gobert is sidelined by a lingering calf injury, Whiteside emerges as a viable, and sometimes valuable, source of rebounds and blocks, even if off the bench behind Udoka Azubuike.