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.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Rostered in 55.1% on ESPN leagues): The most valuable fantasy option available in free agency in at least 40% of leagues at the moment, Simons continues to compile gobs of points, assists, and 3-pointers for Portland. Make room for this ascendant playmaker in any and every format.
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (65.8%): Fresh from a triple-double in Chicago over the weekend and with at least 11 points scored in eight of the last nine games, Giddey has become a bankable fantasy option. This is an entirely rare outcome for a rookie guard, especially a teenager.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (64.5%): While Giddey has flirted with fantasy relevance for much of the season, Suggs is just recently turning the corner. The Gonzaga product produced his first double-double in a tough matchup with Phoenix recently and is a name to watch coming out of the All-Star break.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City (33.1%): Posting a rich usage rate of 29% during his last six games, Dort has become a premier perimeter scorer with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the sidelines. With just enough defensive production to help those in roto and category leagues, Dort is worth rostering until the team gets its leading scorer back.
Donte DiVincenzo, Sacramento Kings (35.4%): The Kings tried last summer to acquire this Villanova product from the Bucks, and finally landed their guy last week. It's unclear if DiVincenzo will see enough work to help fantasy teams, but there are a lot of shots and touches vacated by moving Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton last week.
Josh Hart, Portland Trail Blazers (45.7%): Due for big minutes on a depleted Portland rotation, Hart is one of the best rebounding guards in the league. It's also likely Hart will handle the ball a good bit for the Trail Blazers, suggesting there's some passing upside to pursue, as well.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks (61.6%): Establishing new season scoring highs in consecutive games over the weekend, this notoriously streaky shooter and capable playmaker has become a helpful fantasy option again.
Marvin Bagley III, Detroit Pistons (39.9%): A speculative addition of Bagley could pay off for fantasy managers. The Pistons had eyed the former No. 2 overall pick for some time, per reports, and could afford him a real runway to produce. He'll likely have to compete at times for minutes at center with the guy below, but there's enough skill diversity between them to support value for both Bagley and Stewart.
Thaddeus Young, Toronto Raptors (41.9%): Another worthy guess could be Young becoming an important part of Toronto's rotation. It is possible Young doesn't play a significant enough role to surface as a positive fantasy contributor, but he bears real upside given strong defensive and passing rates for a player with eligibility at three positions.
Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (61.8%): With the team empowering Stewart with heavy minutes lately, he's seventh in the league in rebounding chances per game during the last 10 games. Such great opportunity rates have led to Stewart pulling down 10.6 rebounds per game during this recent sample. With center proving show shallow and Stewart seeing the floor enough to support relevance, he's become one of the better additions at the position this week.
Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz (37.9%): Rudy Gobert won't play on Monday and it's possible we don't see him again until after the break. Whiteside is only worth rostering and playing when Gobert is sidelined, as he becomes a unique source for volume rebounding to go with an elite block rate in such scenarios.