Top fantasy basketball waiver-wire pickups

Jrue Holiday, who hasn't played for the Pelicans this season due to a personal matter, is expected back later this month. AP Photo/Ben Margot

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 in order to maximize our imaginary rosters.

In this weekly series we identify players available as free agents 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. Either way, we believe the names below -- ordered by ownership rate at each position -- can contribute positively to fantasy rosters.

Point guard

Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (Owned in 34.6 percent of ESPN leagues): ESPN's Zach Lowe shared some revealing intel on his "The Lowe Post" podcast, noting the Pelicans could get Holiday back in the mix by mid-November. Even if this estimate proves optimistic, we should see Holiday return within the month, making him a worthy stash in deeper formats given his ability to immediately become a top-12 fantasy point guard. Last season, Holiday tied for seventh among point guards in usage rate with Kyrie Irving.

Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee Bucks (32.4): A career-high clip of 28.3 minutes helps support a strong steal rate and positive contributions as a passer and shooter. As a bonus, you can also lead your league in grit, determination, and annoying other NBA players.

J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks (21.9): Sixth in the NBA in drives per game, just ahead of guys like John Wall and Dennis Schroder. Barea has at least four assists in each game and is hitting a robust 2.4 3-pointers per game, further evidence he's truly underappreciated as a fantasy option.

Shooting guard

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks (29.8): A down shooting season for Korver is relative, as he shot "only" 39.9 percent from beyond the arc last year. He's back up to 43.3 percent this season from 3-point range.

Sean Kilpatrick (23.1) and Bojan Bogdanovic (20.9), Brooklyn Nets: We endorsed Kilpatrick last week and with the market still asleep on the watch, he merits additional hype given he's produced at least 13 points in every game this season and helps in points, 3-pointers and steals. Fellow Brooklyn scorer Bogdanovic can be considered more of a specialist in the shooting department, as he's hitting two 3-pointers per game and should see steady opportunities on a Nets team that rates sixth in the league in pace.

Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs (16.3): Even with deflated offensive output last season, we still netted a steal and nearly a block per game from Green. One of the truly special block producers from the backcourt, Green is set to return soon and should be speculatively added in deeper formats.

Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks (3.8): You might not know much about Brogdon, but he's played at least 24 minutes and has four assists in each of his past three games. The combo guard also has seven total steals over this span and should see steady exposure as the team is without Khris Middleton for the season.

Small forward

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets (47.5): "MKG" rates ninth in the league in rebounding chances per game -- defined as being within 3.5 feet of an available rebound. Such a rich clip of opportunities supports a high fantasy floor for the versatile forward, while we also appreciate the rare help he can provide in steals and blocks. Simply put, Kidd-Gilchrist is among the most underappreciated fantasy options in ESPN leagues.

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (13.0): Eligible at both small and power forward, don't let Brown's sluggish seasonal rates throw off the trail, as we identify a surging role for this rookie. Brown played 35 minutes this past Thursday after playing just 23 in the previous two games. With impressive 3-point efficiency and a steal per game, Brown is on the rise as a needed scoring complement to Al Horford in the team's frontcourt.

Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets (11.1): Elite in leagues that reward neck tattoos, Chandler is also helpful in standard fantasy formats thanks to steady minutes (30.2) and a secure role as a scoring wing (14.4 points per game) for the Nuggets.

Power forward

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls (41.8): A career clip of 1.3 blocks signals Gibson can help in this scarce stat now that he's seeing over 26 minutes per game. It also helps to consider Gibson ranks in the top 25 in rebounding opportunities and also offers some upside in the steals department.

Ersan Ilyasova, Philadelphia 76ers (6.0): With Brett Brown's system pushing the ball and in need of spacing, the newly acquired stretch forward has averaged 25.5 minutes and 12.5 shots in two games with Philly.

Terrence Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (5.6): Finally deployed as a starter this past Friday, Jones thrived in 28 minutes of exposure. A key 3-and-D asset for a team in need of complementary production for Anthony Davis, Jones could be a truly rewarding addition for those in need of upside at the four.


Andrew Bogut, Dallas Mavericks (41.9): Just ahead of Paul Millsap and Karl-Anthony Towns in rebounding chances per game, Bogut can also help with blocks and assists as a complementary commodity at a shallow center position.

Tyson Chandler, Phoenix Suns (36.0): Third in the league in rebounding opportunities with a rich 22.7 chances per game on the glass so far, it's fitting to find Chandler third in the NBA in rebounds per game. While the 16-year vet doesn't block many shots or score much at this advanced stage of his career, we can expect elite rebounding and shooting efficiency (63 percent from the field) from the big man.

Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (33.9): A favorite sleeper of mine heading into the season, we're starting to see Capela's steal rate rise, although consistent foul trouble has limited his minutes so far this season. As the key rim protector for the Rockets, expect an uptick in blocks for a line that mimics a lesser approximation of what we can net from Philly's Nerlens Noel.