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 (although I will make some exceptions for players hovering right around this threshold). 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.
Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers (Rostered in 48.7% of ESPN leagues): The names Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams are essentially synonymous with elite bench scoring and Sixth Man of the Year candidacy in part thanks to the empowerment coach Doc Rivers afforded them over the years. Rivers now has Milton as his key bench scorer, and the SMU product has been effective in that role, averaging a career-high 16.9 PPG for Philly. With 27.7 PPG during his past three games, Milton is undeniably hot from the floor of late and merits more attention from fantasy investors.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (46.1%): A return to action over the weekend saw Dragic assume lead distribution duties for Miami with a season-high 10 dimes. Even when Jimmy Butler returns to the rotation, Dragic will continue to enjoy heavy usage as a key playmaker on a team light on proven creators and heavy on knockdown shooters.
Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons (53.1%): Fresh from his second 20-point showing of the season, Rose, like Milton, is a high-usage playmaker off the pine for his team. The holdup in getting too excited about Rose's statistical potential is the frequency of absences, as the veteran requires a good bit of maintenance to sustain a high level of play. If you can afford to rest Rose when he sits, there is a good bit of scoring and assist upside present.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (18.2%): Third on Orlando in touches during the past five games (64.4 per game) and second on the team in potential assists per game (9.4 per game) during this sample, Anthony is beginning to gain some comfort in his capacity as a key playmaker for a struggling Magic team. Without much competition in the backcourt for minutes and shots, Anthony has warmed up as a scorer of late and could eventually emerge as a solid source of assists and steals.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets (41.6%): Forgiving an ugly outing this past Sunday, Barton has been effective as a starter for Denver in place of Michael Porter Jr. It appears that MPJ could return to Denver's lineup later this week, but it's worth noting that the Nuggets' strongest commonly used lineups in terms of net rating almost all include Barton. Even if he shifts to a role off the bench, Barton could still provide fantasy value in the weeks ahead.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (20.0%): Heralded as one of the league's better young perimeter defenders, Dort is beginning to emerge as a competent offensive contributor, as well. With plenty of minutes and freedom to shoot from beyond the arc, Dort is becoming a worthy addition for those in deeper category and roto formats.
Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks (15.8%): Even if he's just an interim addition for fantasy purposes until Bogdan Bogdanovic or Kris Dunn are back in the fold, Reddish can help managers with a solid steal rate (1.4 SPG) and developing scoring potential (at least 20 points in two of his past three outings as of Monday).
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans (9.6%): With Lonzo Ball likely sidelined with a knee ailment for the next few games, Alexander-Walker makes for a solid streaming option in deeper leagues, given an ability to score in bunches.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (42.6%): Frigid from the floor for much of the past two weeks, Ross finally warmed up over the weekend with a 23-point showing against the Nets in Brooklyn on Saturday. Orlando relies on Ross's shot-making in nearly every game, suggesting he can continue to help fantasy managers as both a scoring and shooting specialist.
Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers (19.6%): Slashing for 18.7 PPG and 8.3 combined assists and rebounds per game the past week, Osman has thrived with Cleveland's starting backcourt sidelined. Even when his peers are back in the rotation, Osman could retain some value as a versatile option at a relatively shallow small forward position.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (7.7%): This past Saturday night saw Powell produce a season-high 24 points while tying a career high with six 3-pointers. The Raptors badly need Powell to return to last year's strong scoring form and will likely afford him every opportunity to do so.
Jae'Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (5.2%): Only a real consideration for those in deeper category or roto leagues, Tate is the type of fantasy option who helps when we consider the sum of his versatile contributions. Just over the past week, for instance, Tate has averaged two blocks and 9.3 combined assists and rebounds.
Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings (46.5%): On Sunday evening in a loss to New Orleans, Bagley III tallied his fourth career outing with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds and his first such performance since back in March of 2019. The Kings are going to empower Bagley with plenty of minutes and touches, helping foster real fantasy value.
Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks (40.6%): Reports suggest "Gallo" is trending towards a return to the court, making the proven stretch forward a worthy stash for those who can afford to be patient.
Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies (45.6%): Anderson is another one of these players who might not score a ton, but does a little bit of everything to help drive fantasy value. With atypically strong assist and block numbers for a wing, Anderson is a solid addition for those who can afford to offset his sluggish scoring rate.
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (53.9%): With at least eight rebounds in three of his past four outings as of Monday and with one of the league's best block rates, Lopez remains an underappreciated fantasy asset.
Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers (43.2%): In his first start of the season this past weekend, Kanter played a season-high 29 minutes and tied a season high with 15 rebounds in a double-double performance while swatting five shots in only his second career game with as many blocks. Kanter has enjoyed a robust 16.2 rebounding chances per game in just 19.4 MPG -- and now he's likely to hover around 28 MPG in the weeks ahead.
DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets (39.5%): The James Harden blockbuster includes many ramifications for fantasy value, including Jordan vaulting back into a prominent role for Brooklyn. While the days of him being an elite scoring force as a roll man might be over, a solid blend of blocks and rebounds could sustain fantasy value in roto formats.