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Top fantasy basketball waiver-wire pickups at every position

Milwaukee swingman Khris Middleton has looked sharp since returning to the Bucks lineup this past week. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Point Guard

Patrick Beverley, Houston Rocket (Owned in 54.5 percent of ESPN leagues): We find Beverley 21st among point guards on the Player Rater by averages this season, thanks in large part to ranking eighth in added value in steals. I'm nearly positive Beverley is the most popular inclusion in this weekly series this season, as the crowd continues to dismiss his modest scoring production despite such profound proficiency in steals and rebounds. Even over a recent rewarding sample, Beverley has tallied at least three steals in four of the past five games.

T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (37.7): The 76ers lead the NBA in pace by a significant margin over the past 10 games with 105.5 possessions per 48 minutes over this stretch. Once again, we find McConnell leading the league in passes per game with 75.7 over the past 10 games, which is surely a result of such a pace-driven scheme. Much like Beverley, scoring doesn't drive McConnell's fantasy stock, as a steady stream of dimes and steals proves rewarding.

Cory Joseph, Toronto Raptors (20.3): With Kyle Lowry sidelined for at least the next several weeks, Joseph is the starting point guard for a talented Toronto roster. Over the past six games, all starts, Joseph has averaged 33.4 minutes en route to 11.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals. Much like his free agent compatriots above, we find a nice blend of production even without much scoring prowess.

Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks (33.9): Deron Williams is no longer leading the rotation in Dallas, as Ferrell has started all five games since the break with 30 a night. His shot simply isn't falling right now, as he's hit on just 37 percent of his shots over this recent sample, but his opportunity rate (nearly four 3-pointers taken per game) will eventually result in some strong showings.

Ty Lawson, Sacramento Kings (8.5): For the deep-league crowd, we find Lawson earning a nice blend of minutes and touches as the team downshifts for draft pick purposes. We know Lawson loves to shoot threes and is a deft distributor, as he's tallied at least six assists in three of the past four.


Shooting Guard

Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks (47.7): Trades facilitated more time and touches for Bazemore over the past several weeks. With at least 14 points in three straight and a rare mix of blocks and steals from the wing, Bazemore is a helpful addition for injury-riddled fantasy rosters.

Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks (34.3): In the wake of Jabari Parker's injury, Brogdon has assume more offensive opportunity and usage; he's averaging 16.5 points and 2.3 3-pointers made per game over the past four games. While he might not wrest Rookie of the Year honors from South Philly's duo of promising freshmen, Brogdon is worthy of far more interest from the market given this rewarding upward shift in usage.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets (5.3): Murray has averaged 28.2 minutes and nearly 12 shots over the past two games. It's an entirely small sample, but speaks to Denver's shifting rotation in the backcourt and the opportunity Murray could seize on what could be an elite offense.


Small Forward

Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (57.6): Back to earning an impressive workload after a long injury absence, Middleton just netted 24 points in 30 minutes and merits immediate acquisition in even shallow fantasy formats. With seven steals and 14 assists over the past three games, signs of a meaningful fantasy finish are on the horizon for Middleton.

James Johnson, Miami Heat (48.5): Even as his scoring has cooled lately, managers should still admire Johnson's stellar block and steal rates. This versatile forward has even flashed valuable assist potential, as he should be universally owned in competitive leagues.

T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns(48.3): A key beneficiary of the trade deadline, Warren has produced at least 15 points and five boards in five straight. It will be intriguing to see how Warren handles increased shot volume over the coming weeks, as he's currently among the most efficient forwards in the league in points per touch this season.

Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (25.2): With just 16 points over his past two games, we're witnessing the natural variance of Ross's scoring pattern. It all comes down to if his shot from beyond the arc is falling, but it's promising to consider Ross has averaged 35.1 minutes and 12.8 shots with the Magic. Which is to say, we can net some big scoring nights from Ross if we embrace the variance off his shooting pattern.


Power Forward

Maurice Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers (29.8): One of my favorite acquisitions for the stretch run this season, I can confidently advise you to get more Mo. Watching for rotation trends to shift after the All-Star break can prove profitable in fantasy, as we find Harkless suddenly playing well into the 30s in minutes each night since the break. With strong peripherals in steals, blocks, and 3-pointers, Harkless is a must add for those missing Kevin Durant.

Richaun Holmes, Philadelphia 76ers (17.6): Due steady minutes on a suddenly thin Philly frontcourt, Holmes has been stellar in producing blocks and steals for managers over the past two weeks. If he can improve his rebounding rate, Holmes could become a difference-maker down the stretch.


Center

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers (60.3): We're breaking the ownership rule, but it's for the good of the people, as Nurkic is seventh in the NBA in rebounding chances-being within 3.5 feet of an available board-over the past five games. With such steady chances to work the glass on a Portland team entrusting him to man the middle, Nurkic is a worthy addition for the fantasy playoffs.

Frank Kaminsky III, Charlotte Hornets (38.9): Among the league leaders in catch & shoot 3-pointers over the past month, Kaminsky has become a quietly stellar stretch big for Charlotte this season. You'll want some space on the bench if adding "Frank the Tank," as he's dealing with a shoulder ailment at the moment. If you can afford to stash him, Kaminsky offers value in several categories when at his best.