Working the waiver wire is crucial to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the season, we need to source stats from free agency to maximize our imaginary rosters.
In this weekly series, we identify players available in more than 40 percent of ESPN leagues at each position. Some nominations are purely specialists, capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. Either way, we believe the names below -- ordered by ownership rate at each position -- can contribute positively to fantasy rosters.
Austin Rivers, LA Clippers (Owned in 48.8 percent of ESPN leagues): Over the past seven games, with Chris Paul sidelined, Rivers has averaged 34.8 minutes per game with 17.9 points, 4.6 assists, and two 3-pointers per game to show for it. Minutes are the premier commodity in fantasy hoops, as they obviously drive statistical opportunities. For some context, Rivers ranks 19th in minutes per game over the past seven games, just behind Russell Westbrook.
TJ McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (37.2): As evidence of McConnell's prolific volume-driven distribution role, he has averaged 78.9 passes over the past 10 games. The Arizona product is averaging 15.1 percent more passes than any other player over this recent sample. With 8.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game over his past nine games, McConnell is a useful asset for those in need of pure point guard production.
Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks (31.6): From a 10-day pact to two-year deal, Ferrell is one of the best stories of the NBA season so far. With at least five assists in three of his four games with the Mavs, and proficient success from beyond the arc, it's worth rostering Ferrell to see if he can sustain a meaningful role once the team's injured backcourt vets return to action.
Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee Bucks (10.2): "Delly" is back to earning meaningful minutes for the Bucks, as he has played at least 22 in eight straight and offers useful assist and steal production for deep-league investors.
Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks (47.1): The Mavericks installed Curry into the starting lineup in Phoenix back on Jan. 12, and they've gone 9-3 ever since. Over this successful stretch, Curry has averaged 16.1 points, 1.6 steals, and a truly rewarding 2.5 3-pointers per game. Shooting guard is a uniquely shallow position, so we're particularly interested in acquiring shares of Curry during his ascendant stint as a starter.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (34.8): Even when Avery Bradley returns, we can expect steady minutes for this defensive stalwart. Smart is third among guards over the past seven games with 2.1 steals -- among the scarcest of assets among all statistical categories.
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets (29.8): Since returning from injury, Harris has earned eight straight starts with helpful production rates; he's averaged 1.6 steals, 1.6 3-pointers, and 13.3 points over this recent stretch.
Marco Belinelli, Charlotte Hornets (4.8): With at least 13 points in six of his last eight games, it's helpful to consider that Belinelli has also averaged 4.5 3-point attempts over the past 10 games.
P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns (22.3): Second among forwards in steals and 21st in minutes over a 10-game stretch, we find Tucker's fantasy value when we look past his modest scoring pattern and instead notice his unique defensive upside as a key cog for the pace-driven Suns.
C.J. Miles, Indiana Pacers (7.9): With Monta Ellis' significant regression, Miles has become a fixture of the Pacers' starting lineup -- and a key floor spacer to boot. With 2.9 made 3-pointers per game over his last seven starts, Miles is a productive specialist for those in need of shooting support.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers (46.6): Philly's premier perimeter defender is the only player in the NBA currently averaging at least 1.9 3-pointers made, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game. With such a rare blend of statistical production, Covington merits universal ownership in even shallow fantasy leagues.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers (29.5): One of the more productive interior defenders in the league over the past month, Aminu is nearly averaging a double-double over his past 13 games. Looking past Aminu's modest scoring pattern, we can appreciate his helpful defensive rates.
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (58.7): The advanced numbers for this productive pivot -- he's tallied a true shooting rate of 62.9 percent, with a rebounding rate of 18.2 percent --agree with his strong surface numbers; 14.7 points and seven boards per game over his past seven games.