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 at each position available in free agency in at least a third of ESPN leagues. 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.
Reggie Jackson, LA Clippers (Rostered in 65.9% of ESPN leagues): Averaging the most minutes and shots of his decade-long career, Jackson enjoys big offensive responsibilities for a Clippers team thin on shot creation beyond Paul George. There's not much defensive upside present, but entering Sunday's slate, Jackson was tied with Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball for 13th in the league in 3-pointers made.
Reggie Jackson throws up circus shot, stares at his hand
Reggie Jackson gets to the hoop and connects on a reverse shot to seal the Clippers' win.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (41.0%): Tasked as the team's lead distributor in recent games with Luka Doncic ailing, Brunson has scored at least 17 points in five straight and has posted at least five dimes in seven of his last eight games. The production will surely slow down once Doncic's heliocentric game is back in the mix, but Brunson has clearly earned Jason Kidd's trust.
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (43.9%): Cleaning the glass at an impressive rate in recent games, the Aussie teen has pulled down at least eight boards in four straight. The shooting numbers and turnover rate can prove costly in certain formats, but Giddey's floor game is already ideal for points leagues.
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (28.8%): A weekly inclusion in this space, the market is likely letting Caruso's lack of scoring pop get in the way of recognizing his unique statistical contributions. Such as being second in the league steals per game and is just inside the top 50 in total assists. Most valuable in roto and category formats given his singularly elite steal rate, Caruso continues to provide value.
Seth Curry, Philadelphia 76ers (60.1%): Sinking half of his catch-and-shoot shots on the season and ranking just behind the likes of LaMelo Ball and De'Aaron Fox in points per game on pull-up shots, Curry has flashed some serious shot creation craft in a career scoring season with the Sixers.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors (63.1%): Still valuable as a source of scoring and shooting for around another month until Klay Thompson is back in the rotation, Poole is 18th in the entire NBA in 3-pointers lofted, ahead of the likes of Fred VanVleet and Tyler Herro. With such rare freedom to find his shot from deep and some helpful steal and assist numbers for a shooting guard, Poole has at least a few weeks of fantasy fun left.
Grayson Allen, Milwaukee Bucks (25.7%): Only Stephen Curry and Kristaps Porzingis are averaging more points per game on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers than Allen this season. A strong rebounding rate for a guard helps offset modest passing and defensive rates, while Allen is mostly a shooting specialist in fantasy terms.
Talent Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers (32.4%): It's not entirely clear how consistent Horton-Tucker's role will prove with the Lakers this season, but last season's impressive assist rate (20.8%) combined with a strong 2.4% steal rate for his career suggest that there is some real fantasy upside if the team affords him enough work.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (27.4%): There was a great line in Jack McCallum's classic book ":07 Seconds or Less" about the Phoenix Suns' 2005-06 season about an Eddie House scouting report that read, "Won't shoot if the ball isn't in his hands." I'm reminded of this gem when watching Brooks ball, as the man loves the spin of his own shot. Taking a career-high 15.8 shots per game and impressively sinking 44.4% of his 3-pointers, Brooks merits more attention from fantasy managers.
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors (53.3%): Entering Sunday's game against Golden State with some statistical momentum, it's easy to forget that Boucher ranked third in the league in total blocks last season before falling to the fringes of Toronto's rotation this year. Able to build valuable lines if afforded enough burn, it could be worth stashing Boucher to see if this recent uptick in playing time proves enduring.
Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers (37.8%): No longer listed on the team's injury report heading into Monday's tilt with Brooklyn, Markkanen could return to the floor after a nine-game absence due to COVID-19 protocols. The stretch forward could enjoy increased scoring duties with Collin Sexton sidelined, while averaging 2.2 combined blocks and steals on the season aids his fantasy profile.
Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (64.1%): An ejection against the Lakers and foul trouble against the Warriors over the weekend served to deflate Stewart's production recently, but there's some real rebounding and block upside to consider with the second-year center. With Kelly Olynyk sidelined by a knee injury, Stewart should see additional opportunities on both sides of the floor in the coming weeks.
Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (36.3%): A double-double machine in recent outings, Portis has been tasked with increased scoring duties as the Bucks get healthy. Some fun defensive outings only help his case as a strong interim addition to fantasy rosters.