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 around a quarter 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.
Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings (Rostered in 44.2% of ESPN leagues): In the final edition of this column for the season, it’s fitting to tout one of the league-winning free agent forces of the fantasy campaign. Mitchell came on strong immediately in the wake of injuries to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and even when his shot isn’t falling, there’s elite passing production and ball-hawking defensive rates. Theo Maledon is an alternative to Mitchell for those in deeper leagues. Maledon has similarly assumed a huge leap in offensive responsibilities for the Thunder with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out.
Alec Burks, New York Knicks, (33.2%): Burks is a force on the glass even from the backcourt, ranking 48th in the NBA in defensive rebounds. Burks has slashed for 16.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 3.3 APG, to go with 3.4 3PM over his past seven games, all starts. We know that Tom Thibodeau likes to ride with his trusted vets and Burks absolutely qualifies as a high-minute cog in New York’s rotation.
Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (40.6%): Hayes is finally flashing some fantasy value and has been empowered with Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant ailing. Even if Cunningham returns soon, Hayes has enough creation duties in Detroit to help those in 12-team leagues over the final days of the season.
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Donte DiVincenzo, Sacramento Kings (37.9%): DiVincenzo has been flying under the radar in most formats, providing a versatile collection of numbers lately. He has produced 13.3 PPG and 10 combined assists and rebounds per game with volume from beyond the arc and one of the better steal rates available.
Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers (32.4%) Monk’s revival season has him on pace to become one of just four Lakers ever to hit at least 39% from 3-point range on at least five shots from beyond the arc per game, joining Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, and Glen Rice. Monk has been one of the rare bright spots for Los Angeles this season and has averaged nearly 19 points over his last six games.
Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets (57.8%): Gordon has thrived as a complementary scorer next to reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. He has averaged 20 points and nearly 10 combined rebounds and assists over his past six games. You can be confident Gordon plays heavy minutes down the stretch on a Nuggets roster that relies heavily on his defensive versatility.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Washington Wizards (23.7%): Caldwell-Pope has thrived amid Kyle Kuzma’s injury and has posted 23.8 PPG over his past five games. KCP is one of the better wings to target for this final week on a roster light on scoring production. Matisse Thybulle leads the NBA in steal percentage and ranks in the top 20 in block percentage for those in deeper leagues or chasing stocks in a roto format.
Drew Eubanks, Portland Trail Blazers (35.5%): Eubanks cleaning the glass and proving competent offense has been the main constant for a struggling Trail Blazers team. As the wings and guards around him change due to injuries, Eubanks will have plenty of evaluation opportunities playing heavy minutes for Portland this week.
Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (9.4%): Pokusevski is an elite pickup to consider in all leagues fresh off an impressive first-career triple-double over the Suns. The Thunder have shut down several key starters already, supporting heavy usage for this unique talent.
Andre Drummond, Brooklyn Nets (59.6%): It’s hard to imagine there’s a stronger rebounding force this widely available, as Drummond has pulled 12.6 boards per game the last five games to go with two steals and one block per contest. With Brooklyn relying on him down low, Drummond remains a rewarding option. If Drummond is already rostered, look to Sacramento’s Damian Jones or Cleveland’s Moses Brown, as both are playing tons of minutes and producing in return.