Working the waiver wire is essential for success in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries, and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to get free agency stats to max out fantasy rosters.
A willingness to entertain the competition for the last spots on your fantasy hoops list can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of stat contributors, it’s helpful to consider your end-of-the-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating around in free agency.
The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position widely available in free agency in the ESPN leagues. Some appointments are specialists who can help in one or two categories, while others offer more diverse and significant statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ranked the players at each position with acquisition priority in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.
De’Anthony MeltonPhiladelphia 76ers (registered in 33.6% of ESPN leagues): A career scoring and shooting against the Lakers last Friday highlighted Melton’s ceiling as an offensive option, while his consistent defensive production also continues to generate value. Likely to start and play many minutes while Tyrese Maxey recovers from a broken foot, Melton ranks second only on OG Anunoby in steals per game and leads the NBA in steal percentage on the season.
Killian HayesDetroit Pistons (25.3%): For as long as Cade Cunningham is sidelined, Hayes believes he’s playing an important distributing role for Detroit’s offense, as evidenced by the fact he’s led the team in assists and assists per game for the past two weeks.
Malik BeasleyUtah Jazz (42.4%): A bucket with the freedom to hunt for his own shot, Beasley enjoys the microwave role Jordan Clarkson has thrived in recent seasons in Utah. As a shooting specialist, it’s worth noting that Beasley is fifth in the entire league in 3-point attempts entering Sunday’s list.
Jordan BonwinWizards of Washington (1.4%): With Bradley Beal Sidelined by a hamstring injury, Goodwin became a useful scoring and defensive contributor for the Wizards. The undrafted sophomore winger has an impressive 11 interceptions in his last two games and is expected to play long minutes for Washington’s thin backcourt until Beal returns.
Benoit MathurinIndiana Pacers (55.6%): Never afraid to find his own shot, Mathurin is a fantastic and fun addition given his current and long-term potential as a goalscorer. The rookie has averaged nearly 16 points in his last 10 games and could become an even bigger scoring threat if the team gets busy Boyfriend Hield at any time.
Tim Hardaway Jr.., Dallas Mavericks (22.2%): Even though he’s chilled off the floor in recent games, Hardaway remains confident in his shooting, backed up by 10.3 3-pointers per game over his last seven games. THJ, meanwhile, is averaging 20.3 points and an absurd 4.9 3-pointers over that streak.
Caleb MartinMiami Heat (11.0%): Keeping a busy role even as the Heat have become healthier lately, Martin brings a useful mix of shooting and defensive success on the ground.
Jabari Smith Jr.., Houston Rockets (40.0%): Playing long minutes and starting to find his touch beyond the arc in recent weeks, Smith has averaged 15.8 points, 6.9 boards and 3.0 3-pointers in his last nine outings before the Sunday slate. Given his potential to protect the rim as a wing (one shot per game), Smith boasts real potential as a rising rookie.
Kyle AndersonMinnesota Timberwolves (8.3%): With Karl Anthony Towns suffering, “Slo Mo” took more minutes and touches in the frontcourt for the Timberwolves. Scoring pop was never Anderson’s thing, as he created fantastic value with the Grizzlies through atypically strong passing and defensive rates. The same can be said of his recent play, with Anderson averaging nine pennies and two steals and blocks combined in his last two outings. Until Towns is back, Anderson could offer his own brand of versatility to boxing scores.
Jonathan IsaacOrlando Magic (23.9%): Recently sent to train and play with the G League’s Lakeland Magic as a lead for their long-awaited return to NBA action, Isaac is a worthy speculative addition if you have the roster space or an IL spot for the to hide.
Kelly OlynikUtah Jazz (51.2%): Let’s make it last week, it is necessary to approve Olynyk as a key acquisition. A classic case of a player not scoring much being overlooked by the fantasy market, Olynyk ranks sixth among eligible players at center on the Player Rater thanks to ranking fourth at the 3-point value-added position, eighth in assists, and first in interceptions.
Walker KeslerUtah Jazz (8.3%): Even backing Olynyk has some value for this rookie, as he’s averaged 9.8 points, 8.3 boards and, crucially, 2.8 blocks in his last six appearances. The production floor can turn out to be quite low, especially once Lauri Markkanen returns this week, but it’s still rare to find such an elite block rate on the waiver wire.
Moritz WagnerOrlando Magic (7.1%): While his younger brother has become a fantastic force in his second season, Wagner has only recently provided relevant results. With Wendell Carter Jr.. suffering, Wagner has played a bigger role for Orlando averaging 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in 33 minutes per game over the past week.