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.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (rostered in 43.6% of ESPN leagues): Back on the floor and proving efficient and effective as the Heat's sixth man, Dragic has impressively slashed for 16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.5 3PG and 0.8 SPG in four games since returning from injury. Savvy fantasy mangers will make Dragic a key priority in waiver decisions this week.
Elfrid Payton, New York Knicks (13.1%): With 14 combined assists and rebounds and 1.4 stocks (steals plus blocks) during the past week, the shift at head coach in New York has been a key boon for Payton's playing time and production.
Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers (6.5%): Fresh from a career-high 25 points in a game against his older brother Jrue that also included contributions from his other older brother, Justin, Holiday shined in what Elias deemed the first game in league history where three brothers suited up. Malcolm Brogdon has dealt with injuries for much of his career, and Holiday becomes a fantasy star when his productive teammate is sidelined.
Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (24.5%): One of the more popular additions in fantasy leagues these past few weeks as his versatile skill set continues to surface in box scores, Sato is a solid contributor in several key statistical categories such as dimes, 3-pointers and steals.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings (22.0%): This past week in a double-overtime loss to the Timberwolves, Bogdanovic became just the fourth player to miss 20 field goal attempts off the bench in a game. This might read like a negative stat, but it's a telling measure of the rare shooting and creation freedom afforded to the Kings' sixth man. Shooters gonna shoot, as the kids say. Don't sweat his recent dip in efficiency, as a return to form is likely around the corner for this gifted playmaker.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets (7.9%): Widely available in ESPN leagues thanks to sitting out since early November with a knee injury, Gordon splashed four 3-pointers and delivered 20 points in his return to action over the weekend.
Damion Lee, Golden State Warriors (8.9%): A two-way player for the Warriors pushing for a full-time roster spot, Lee has become a key perimeter scoring source as Golden State is finally proving competitive on the NBA floor of late.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (12.8%): Hot from the floor in December, Brooks just produced his eighth game with at least 20 points this season, one more than he tallied in his first two professional seasons combined.
Alec Burks, Golden State Warriors (27.9%): With the emergence of Lee and his looming decision date, trade talks are growing around Burks. While staying with the Warriors is almost surely the best scenario for his fantasy stock, strong free throw and scoring rates continue to serve fantasy mangers well in the interim.
Troy Brown Jr., Washington Wizards (9.2%): The absence of Davis Bertans to a multiweek injury has Brown playing nearly 33 MPG the past week. He has responded to the uptick in exposure with a rich line that includes 16 PPG and more than 10 combined assists and rebounds while providing strong shooting and defensive results. Even if it's just an interim surge in value, Brown is a fun addition to fantasy rosters this week.
Kris Dunn, Chicago Bulls (10.6%): The main and arguably sole reason to roster Dunn is for prolific production in the steals department; the Bulls' combo guard is second only to Philly's Ben Simmons in total steals on the season.
Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings (33.8%): This past weekend saw Bjelica deliver 27 points on an array of 3-pointers and crafty floaters. A solid block rate complements a fun scoring ceiling, especially while the team deals with injuries in the frontcourt.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards (28.7%): From coveted shooting specialist to the most-dropped player in ESPN leagues during the past week due to a quadriceps injury, Bertans' fluctuating fantasy stock reveals a window for value to exploit. The team is proving patient with Bertans' injury, but buzz from the beat suggests a mid-January return is likely. We can prove a bit reactive to short-term injuries in fantasy leagues that have short benches, while those who prove patient or proactive in holding and adding shares of Bertans could be rewarded down the stretch by this breakout stretch-forward.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks (3.4%): Like plate appearances in baseball, minutes are essentially the coin of the realm in fantasy basketball. In a shocking bit of analysis, it helps to be on the court to produce statistics. DFS is playing 31.3 MPG the past week while notching 2.3 3PG with respectable defensive rates as a 3-and-D option on one of the league's elite offensive teams.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (50.1%): Third in the NBA in true shooting amid a spectacular rookie campaign, this Gonzaga product has sustained his efficient scoring pattern even as his minutes have diminished in recent weeks.
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks (39.9%): We often get too caught up in scoring numbers when evaluating depth contributors in fantasy hoops. In Powell's case, he won't wow you in the scoring column, but his blend of rebounds (8.7 RPG the past seven days) and defensive rates (2.4 stocks per game during the past seven days) merits attention from managers, given how shallow center proves past the big names.
Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder, (6.2%): This defensive savant doesn't offer much in the way of scoring or rebounding, but with 4.7 stocks per game the past seven days, the Kentucky product merits a utility spot in deeper roto and category formats.