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 available in at least half of ESPN leagues at each position. 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.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (Rostered in 24.6% of ESPN leagues): Found at 12th among point guards on the Player Rater during the past seven days thanks to posting an awesome slash of 16.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.0 APG to go with the requisite two stocks per game (blocks plus steals) and a ridiculous 4.3 3PG. With one of the league's strong assist-to-turnover ratios to go with sound shooting and defensive rates, Smart is a, well, smart pickup in almost any format.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards (22.1%): The elite scoring pop from his best days with Boston might never resurface for Thomas, but he's respectably producing 5.7 APG while hitting nearly 41% of his 4.5 3-point attempts per game as a starter with Washington.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (22.1%): The rare rookie to surface as fantasy-relevant in a role off the bench, White has lofted at least five 3-pointers in eight of his past nine appearances and is netting 2.1 3PG even amid shooting just 29.7% from the arc during this sample. This suggests the coaching staff is willing to live through White's shooting volatility in order to develop the UNC product's creation and scoring development at this level. Once some positive regression hits, White could surface as a nice shooting specialist for fantasy managers.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings (25.6%): In the three appearances since De'Aaron Fox was injured entering Sunday, Bogdanovic has slashed for 21.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.7 APG, 2.3 SPG, 3.7 3PG in 32.4 MPG of action. The savvy combo guard has produced positive net ratings in five consecutive games while posting points and assists double-doubles in two of the past three games. Essentially the Kings' top creator whenever he's on the floor with Fox sidelined for several more weeks, Bogdanovic's uptick in usage and distribution duties could result in early-round fantasy production over the interim.
Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (13.1%): A sluggish start to the season saw many managers cut bait on Satoransky just a few weeks into the campaign, but patient investors and proactive waiver wire bidders have been rewarded with a balanced line that includes 11.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.6 3PG, and most valuably 2.0 SPG in his past five appearances, all starts. It's almost a refrain at this point when it comes to endorsing Satoransky,
Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets (3.2%): A strong week that included a game-winning shot saw Monk average 16.5 PPG to with 9.5 combined dimes and boards during his past four games. Seeing more minutes as his shot falls, Monk could be a post-hype sleeper worth rostering in deeper leagues (think 12 teams and up).
OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors (42.1%): Coming in at 18th on the Player Rater for the season among small forwards, Anunoby was actually in the top dozen wings before suffering an eye injury against former teammate Kawhi Leonard last week. Before the injury, Anunoby was the only NBA player averaging at least 1.4 SPG, 1.6 BPG, and 2.3 3PG. These rates are reminiscent of the gaudy 3-and-D production Robert Covington has flashed over the years and merit much more attention from fantasy hoops managers.
Justise Winslow, Miami Heat (32.6%): Another versatile wing dealing with an injury, Winslow is a solid stash until he returns from a lingering concussion. Once he's back in the fold for a strong Miami rotation, Winslow should get back to producing an atypically strong assist rate as a point-forward of sorts for the Heat.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (9.2%): Turning it on as a scorer this past week, Brooks has averaged 18.7 PPG and 2.4 steals + blocks during his past three appearances. Minutes are the coin of the realm in fantasy hoops, which makes Brooks a strong addition given he's netting well over 30 MPG this past week.
Marcus Morris Sr., New York Knicks (45.8%): Up to a career-best 18.2 PPG thanks to a career-high 14.2 field goal attempts per outing, Morris has emerged as a midround value after going undrafted the vast majority of leagues. Playing 33.7 MPG helps drive strong defensive production (1.7 stocks per game), adding valuable versatility to Morris's profile.
PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets (32.2%): A surprising standout found later in the lottery by the Hornets, Washington has made half of his 3-point attempts while netting two stocks per game, as well. With each strong line, the rook is proving his hot start to the season wasn't a mirage.
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers (14.2%): Maybe there isn't much left in the tank and Melo's arrival in Portland won't matter much for real or fantasy purposes. There are some positive angles to consider, however, with Anthony joining a Portland team that might have the thinnest power forward rotation in the league. As Kevin Pelton wrote in this appraisal of Anthony's potential role with Portland, from 2013-14 through 2016-17, Anthony shot 43.2% on catch-and-shoot 3-point opportunities, per Second Spectrum data. That dropped to 37.9% (about league average) during his lone season in Oklahoma City, and Anthony made just 27.5% of his catch-and-shoot 3s in the 10 games he played in Houston. This suggests Anthony is a stronger shooter than his disappointing last impression with the Rockets. Given that the price is merely a roster spot, Anthony is at least worth a speculative addition.
Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards (2.1%): If you were told a young forward is posting 12.8 PPG in just 18.5 MPG while also registering an impressive 1.8 stocks and 1.1 3PG in this limited role, you'd likely want to stash him in case his team finds more room for him in the rotation. This past Friday night, Wagner posted a career-high 30 points and a career-best 15 boards while sinking all four of his attempts from beyond in a breakout performance. On a team with just three wins in need of some ascendant talent, Wagner's potential to earn more meaningful minutes in the weeks ahead appears entirely viable.
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (48.9%): Having made 35.4% of his 1,224 3-point attempts in the three previous seasons leading into this year, it's safe to call his current 28.6% clip an outlier. With the sample size alarm still within reach, it's also safe to expect positive regression to seep into his shooting results. More relevantly, this guy was third in the entire league in total blocks last season while also 17th in made 3-pointers, just ahead of teammate Khris Middleton. Meanwhile, he's averaging more blocks per game this year and a higher usage percentage than last year's underrated statistical opus from this stretch center.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (43.6%): Awesome efficiency has the Gonzaga product posting an absurd .670 true shooting percentage (a measure of scoring efficiency from all three levels) while also sustaining helpful defensive rate. With a steady role in the Memphis frontcourt, Clarke has one of the higher fantasy floors among his freshman peers.
Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat (8.5%): Sinking half of this 3-point attempts during his past six appearances while producing two stocks per game during this sample, Olynyk is a cheap source of shooting with respectable defensive rates at a truly shallow center.