Fantasy basketball waiver-wire finds: Diallo, Maledon among key pickups

Healthy now and in a promising role with the Detroit Pistons, Hamidou Diallo appears headed for a strong finish to the season. Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

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 roughly half of ESPN leagues at each position (although we will make some exceptions). 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.

Point guard

T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers (Rostered in 50.5% of ESPN leagues): Leading the league in both total steals and steal percentage, let's hope this is McConnell's last appearance in this column. With stellar assist totals complementing his elite defensive rates, McConnell has become a high-floor fantasy option even without a viable 3-point shot.

Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (21.8%): Maybe the blockbuster the team made at the deadline has benefited Satoransky's fantasy stock most on Chicago's roster. The savvy combo guard has averaged 7.5 dimes with solid scoring, shooting and steal rates during his past four games.

Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder (10.2%): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on the shelf and the Thunder are relying on Maledon for a good deal of offensive creation. The rookie guard couldn't find his touch in Portland over the weekend, but he did erupt for 33 and 20 points in recent outings.

Shooting guard

Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs (42.7%): Averaging 20.0 PPG on strong shooting rates during his past five games, White is finally warming up after a tough start to the season mired by injury and efficiency issues. When you consider his quietly awesome block rate and respectable steal production, White becomes a fun fantasy target.

Hamidou Diallo, Detroit Pistons (26.0%): Recently acquired from the Thunder, Diallo has delivered at least 14 points in three straight. The statistical fun really stems from Diallo's versatility, as he's averaged 1.7 combined blocks and steals to go with a stellar rebounding rate and solid shooting and assist rates.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans (20.7%): The return of Lonzo Ball and an ankle injury to Alexander-Walker combined over the weekend to remove a good bit of luster from NAW's fantasy profile. Then again, Josh Hart is sidelined for a while with a thumb injury and Alexander-Walker would become a key bench scorer if he can return to the lineup soon.

Small forward

Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (48.9%): Orlando sent off several starters in deals last week, leaving Ross as the rare proven scorer on the roster. With unfettered freedom to create his shot and loft from beyond the arc, Ross has fun scoring appeal to consider going forward. One key trend to watch is the uptick in free throw rate, as Ross has been getting to the line more in recent games as a premier scoring valve for Orlando.

Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (18.4%): With an atypically awesome block rate for a wing, and now steady starting minutes protecting the paint next to Karl-Anthony Towns, McDaniels has emerged as a viable value.

Jae'Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (35.1%): During his past five games Tate has slashed for 14.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.8 APG and strong shooting and defensive rates. With Victor Oladipo out of the picture, Tate is asked to create his own shot and shots for others in a depleted Houston rotation.

Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (5.1%): This Thunder roster is going to produce several streaming players at any given time, thanks to the rotation's reliance on young talent. Williams has averaged nearly 13 PPG with solid peripherals his past three outings and merits attention in deeper leagues.

Power forward

Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic (41.8%): Orlando is another place to look for real fantasy upside. Okeke is a red-shirt rookie who has turned in some impressive scoring performances since the All-Star break. Afforded freedom to stretch the floor, Okeke is heading for a strong finish.

Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers (13.0%): His conversion into a dangerous stretch forward now complete, Morris has posted at least 20 points seven times this season and just delivered a team-high 22 in a win on Sunday.

Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (11.3%): You will need to stomach some ugly shooting nights, but there are also nice assist and defensive rates from "Poku" to help bolster his line each night.


Kelly Olynyk, Houston Rockets (39.5%): Congratulations to those of you who bet that landing in Houston would vault Olynyk into an even better role with better numbers than his starting role with the Heat. This stretch center won't often offer the traditional rebounding and blocks you'd want from a center, but he offsets this with awesome shooting and passing metrics for the position.

Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks (20.4%): With Mitchell Robinson once again injured, Noel will play bigger minutes and post stellar block and steal numbers whenever active.