Big men on bad teams lead the way for fantasy hoops waiver-wire pickups

Should you give Dwight Powell a serious look in fantasy for his potential during the waning weeks of the season? Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the season, we'll need to source stats from free agency to maximize our imaginary rosters.

In this weekly series, we identify players available in at least half 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.

A willingness to entertain competition for the last spot or two on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. It can help to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.

Point guard

J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks (rostered in 23.0 percent of ESPN leagues): Dennis Smith Jr. is third in the NBA in touches per game (94.3) during the past five appearances, but we still find Barea tied with Kyrie Irving with nearly 70 touches per game. We also find this veteran dynamo as one of 28 players averaging at least 10 potential assists during this recent sample. Finding productive point guard play can prove difficult in the twilight of the season, which helps differentiate Barea from the rest of the free-agent crowd. Boston's Terry Rozier is another productive complementary guard to consider.

D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic (18.3 percent): We'll need to mine for value from the cadre of tanking teams over the next month. Augustin is an example of a backup-caliber player vaulted into starting minutes and touches on a team in pursuit of lottery glory. He's found at 12th on the Player Rater among point guards during the past 15 days, thanks to a strong offensive rating of 122 points per 100 possessions. With an assist rate above 30 percent during this productive sample, Augustin is helpful across multiple categories.

Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat (15.6 percent): A savvy combo guard who won't blow you away in any single category, Johnson is atypically helpful in defensive rates and should provide steady scoring help throughout the final weeks.

Frank Mason III, Sacramento Kings (1.3 percent): Whenever De'Aaron Fox sits, Mason becomes a valuable streaming option, as these past few games reveal.

Shooting guard

Austin Rivers, LA Clippers (33.8 percent): Acquiring consistent scoring isn't as easy as you might imagine. With Danilo Gallinari sidelined, there is a good bit of offensive workload that splinters throughout the rotation. Rivers has never been shy about shooting the rock -- he's averaged a career high 14.4 shots per 36 minutes this season and a robust 35 minutes per game over his past nine outings.

Allen Crabbe, Brooklyn Nets (16.4 percent): I'm surprisingly enthused by the depth and value of scoring from the shooting guard position at this stage of the campaign. Crabbe will leave you hanging whenever he's not hitting from deep, but a perusal of his game log reveals an exciting scoring ceiling and rare freedom in the Nets' up-tempo scheme.

Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons (13.7 percent): A somewhat weaker version of Rivers, Bullock has scored in double digits in 13 straight while averaging a healthy 14 shots during his past six outings.

Small forward

Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets (19.9 percent): The Nets remain an intriguing source for fantasy value, given how fantasy friendly Kenny Atkinson's agenda proves. LeVert has scored at least 18 points in three of his past five games with valuable contributions as a passer and defender during this resurgent stretch.

Justise Winslow, Miami Heat (18.6 percent): Quietly hitting his stride recently, Winslow's improved 3-point efficiency and elite steal rate stand out among a shallow secondary market at the wing.

Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves (14.5 percent): Tom Thibodeau truly subscribes to the "next man up" theory, as Bjelica has averaged an astounding 38.4 MPG during his past four outings, all starts. Such heavy exposure has led to 15.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 1.5 SPG. This is all fueled by an outlier performance with 30 points, but the minutes alone demand more attention from managers chasing imaginary glory during the fantasy playoffs.

Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors (5.6 percent): The Warriors' versatile wing is working his way back into form after a long season plagued by injuries and inefficient results. If you can look past meager scoring numbers, you'll find strong percentages and elite defensive metrics fueling Iggy's utility.

Power forward

JaMychal Green, Memphis Grizzlies (40.3 percent): The Grizzlies haven't been successful on the court recently, but Green is enjoying an awesome stretch of production, at least. This tweener forward is averaging a double-double and nearly a block during his past seven starts and should be rostered in the clear majority of competitive leagues for the final month of the season.

Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (29.9 percent): You won't find a ton of rebounds or defensive stats with Harrell, but he's been elite from the floor with a field goal rate of nearly 69 percent during his past nine outings. Harrell has delivered at least 11 points in each of his past nine games and should be a target for managers struggling with field goal efficiency.

Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings (10.0 percent): 19th on the Player Rater among power forwards, Labissiere is a valuable plug-and-play forward whenever he's active. Make sure to track the Kings' lineups right up until tip, as we can gain value by taking advantage of an ever-shifting rotation.


Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks (36.7 percent): Much like the Grizzlies' Green, Powell has essentially averaged a double-double the past two weeks. Proving effective in the pick-and-roll with Smith and Barea, Powell is heading for a strong fantasy finish. On this same roster, deep-league gamers should give Nerlens Noel some love; he's still capable of delivering atypically high defensive rates and could see extended minutes down the stretch.

Dewayne Dedmon, Atlanta Hawks (21.7 percent): The theme on the waiver wire this week is widely productive big men on teams collecting lottery balls. Dedmon has six swats and 21 rebounds across his past three games and should be a strong streaming candidate for guard-heavy rosters in the fantasy postseason.

Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat (19.7 percent): Do you need steals, 3-pointers and solid rebounding results from the center spot? Olynyk works well with the Heat's shooting-heavy lineups and is far more consistent than his reputation suggests.