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 appointments 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.
Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs (rostered in 44.2% of ESPN leagues): Pacing the Spurs with 8.3 potential assists per game — defined as a pass that leads a possession event such as a shot, foul or turnover — Jones is enjoying a solid start as San Antonio’s starting point guard. There hasn’t been much 3-point volume for Jones just yet, but solid scoring, passing, and steal rates can help fantasy rosters.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (53.6%): With the Markelle Fultz still working his way back from a toe fracture and Jalen Suggs sidelined with an ankle injury, Anthony should be busy as a lead creator out of the Orlando backcourt. Already one of the better rebounding guards in the league, Anthony’s scoring and passing production are likely to leap while his backcourt peers heal.
Dennis Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets (9.3%): This former lottery pick shifted into the starting lineup for the Hornets over the weekend due to injuries to LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. It’s unclear when the team will get either of their star guards back in the rotation, meanwhile Smith brings stellar steal and assist rates as an interim starter.
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz (55.8%): It’s likely Clarkson loses some value as a fantasy contributor if he’s dealt by Utah, but while on the Jazz, he’s due for a huge role as a key offensive engine. After all, Clarkson is second on the team in passes and assists per game (entering Sunday) while also averaging eight 3-point attempts.
Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers (50%): An eye injury to Darius Garland in the team’s opener has seen LeVert assume additional creation duties. Even as he’s struggling to find his shot from within the arc, LeVert is adept at getting to the line and his aforementioned playmaking proves unique from a wing.
Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings (48.9%): The Kings appear content to let Huerter fulfill the Buddy Hield role as the team’s resident floor-spacer. The sharpshooter has lofted 8.5 3-pointers per game through two outings and has averaged more than three dimes per game for his career, suggesting he’s more than merely a specialist.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (27.8%): A key part of the Thunder’s current core, Dort is a bruising 3-and-D wing who can help you on the glass, as well.
Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs (74.3%): We often nominate players available in the majority of ESPN leagues, but Vassell is the type of rising talent worthy of inclusion in this space since he should be nearly universally rostered. Vassell topped 20 points just seven times in his first two seasons, but has done so in two of three appearances for the Spurs already this year.
Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers (38%): An awesome start to his NBA career includes Mathurin averaging 24 PPG to go with solid rebounding results. Still just scratching the surface, this gifted rookie should continue to see unfettered offensive opportunities on a lottery-bound roster.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Detroit Pistons (43.2%): A steady veteran source of shooting and scoring for both the Pistons and fantasy managers, Bogdanovic is posting nearly identical numbers to last season with the Jazz.
Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies (20.6%): Jaren Jackson Jr. is still working his way back from a serious foot injury, vaulting Aldama into the starting lineup until his return. This second-year forward has responded to the uptick in work with respectable scoring, rebounding, and block results.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets (64.3%): An unintentional theme for this week’s free agent nominations is how injuries atop rotations can create value. With Rozier and Ball sidelined, Oubre becomes a more prominent scoring threat for Charlotte. A history of strong steal and block rates further bolsters Oubre’s fantasy stock, even if it’s dependent on his teammates’ status.
Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets (47%): Swatting six shots through two games, Claxton is Brooklyn’s resident rim protector. With Brooklyn’s clear lack of depth at center, Claxton is due for a big role this season, as evidenced by averaging nearly 30 MPG.
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (22%): It can be challenging to look past such modest scoring and rebounding rates for a starting center, but Lopez deliver such a unique volume of blocks and 3-pointers that its’ a palatable trade-off.