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.
T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers (Rostered in 49.0% of ESPN leagues): Just like last season, the fantasy market takes a long time to appreciate McConnell's unique statistical profile. After leading the NBA in steals last season, McConnell is driving value this season as a passer; the point guard is 16th in the NBA in total dimes.
Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers (51.7%): We might never see Rubio match the scoring opus he posted in Madison Square Garden last week, but with Collin Sexton sidelined by a knee injury, this Spanish playmaker is going to play a major role for Cleveland in the coming weeks.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (26.7%): Serving a key role as a complementary scorer next to Luka Doncic and also as a distributor on the second unit, Brunson has impressively averaged 19.2 PPG during the last six games.
Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors (4.3%): Netting a spot start for Toronto recently, Dragic was productive with 16 points and eight combined assists and rebounds in a loss to Detroit. If Dragic plays more consistently for Toronto in the coming days, it's worth scooping up the savvy vet.
Grayson Allen, Milwaukee Bucks (24.6%): A quietly stellar scoring stretch has Allen averaging 20.4 PPG during the last five games. Absurd shooting success during this sample includes the Duke product sinking 4.8 3-pointers per game, evidence he's capable of providing starting fantasy value when afforded such shooting freedom.
Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans (9.1%): One of the league's best rebounding guards since being drafted out of Villanova, Hart is another one of these "glue guys" worthy of your attention. A depleted rotation has tasked Hart with increased passing and scoring duties this season, working well
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (28.8%): Third in the NBA in total steals and second in swipes per game, Caruso, like McConnell, is the rare defensive specialist who can provide real roto value despite anemic scoring results.
Caruso throws up half-court pass to LaVine for big-time slam
Alex Caruso finds Zach LaVine from half court with the nice pass as LaVine slams it home.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (27.4%): Coming off the bench for Memphis last Wednesday night to make his season debut, Brooks scored 17 in that first stint and has since reentered the starting lineup. Solid scoring and steal rates drive potential value for Brooks as the starting scoring guard for the Grizzlies.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (12.3%): Since a slow start to the season, Dort has slashed for 18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.8 3PG, and one combined block and steal per game during the last six games, all starts for Oklahoma City. As the team's top point-of-attack defender, Dort plays heavy minutes, helping drive an underrated fantasy profile.
Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder (14.6%): A career-high block rate helps drive some statistical value for this young rim-running forward. Warming up from the floor lately, Bazley has averaged 13.8 PPG and 7.4 RPG during his last five games and should continue to play heavy minutes on a lottery-bound team.
Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (26.6%): The absence of Khris Middleton has fueled a bigger role for Portis in recent games, with the savvy scoring forward averaging 17.8 PPG an 8.5 RPG during the last week.
Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns (14.4%): Most valuable as a streaming option whenever Deandre Ayton is sidelined, Crowder enjoys the largest leaps in usage rate and fantasy points per minute whenever Ayton isn't on the floor. Just this last week, for instance, Crowder posted 29 points and 10 rebounds with respectable defensive rates across two recent appearances sans Ayton from the rotation.
Andre Drummond, Philadelphia 76ers (57.2%): Roster percentage exceptions can be made at center given just how shallow the position proves. Which is to say, we should be more willing to take on interim values such as Drummond on our rosters. This rebounding machine has averaged 18.3 boards the past week while starting in place of Joel Embiid.
Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs (55.3%): Once again reaching just past the 50% threshold in ESPN leagues, Young has become a key part of the Spurs' rotation lately after a slow start to the season. With his atypically strong assist rate from last year surfacing again this season, Young is a fun fantasy option given his eligibility at center.
Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (42.7%): The scoring results can prove lean, but respectable defensive and rebounding rates -- such as 2.3 combined blocks and steals per game the past week -- help Adams' case as a depth addition.
Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns (11.5%): Ayton's recent injury has seen Kaminsky set a new career scoring peak while proving capable of providing fantasy value whenever he's the de facto lead center for the Suns. Don't sweat the fact that JaVale McGee gets the starts for Phoenix, as Kaminsky is the stretch big of choice whenever Ayton isn't active.