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 widely available in free agency in 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.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz (Rostered in 9.5% of ESPN leagues): The Jazz have transitioned to Horton-Tucker as a primary playmaker in the wake of dealing Mike Conley to Minnesota. This unique wing has paced Utah in passes and sits second in drives over the past 10 games, signaling valuable usage as the team pursues development and lottery equity down the stretch.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (32.1%): The current favorite for Sixth Man of the Year honors, Quickley has thrived in recent starts in place of Jalen Brunson. No matter his starting status, it’s smart to add “IQ” for the fantasy playoffs.
Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies (26.7%): With Ja Morant still away from the floor, Jones should continue to start and deliver as the team’s top resident distributor. After all, Jones has at least 10 dimes in three of his last four games.
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans (23.3%): A career scoring effort on Sunday capped a strong week of production for this two-way wing. Active defensive rates complement a rising offensive role for a player who could be breaking out at the right time.
Delon Wright, Washington Wizards (27.7%): An ugly recent outing against the 76ers confirms the floor can prove low for this defensive-minded wing. Then again, pacing the league in steals per game and steal percentage (min. 300 minutes) still equates to continued value for Wright.
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (8.4%): The Lakers have relied on Reaves for significant minutes lately as a key glue guy in the rotation. Solid scoring and improved playmaking numbers make Reaves worth rostering until LeBron James is back in the mix.
Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (54.0%): A triple-double skill set and savvy beyond his rookie status means Williams merits more attention from fantasy managers. For some context, he ranks sixth among small forwards on the Player Rater over the past month as peers with the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Edwards.
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (21.4%): The shift from D’Angelo Russell to Mike Conley has opened some scoring and playmaking moments for Anderson in recent weeks. While he won’t wow you in any single category, the sum of Anderson’s contributions can prove rewarding.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks (17.9%): With the Mavericks’ duo of superstars limited of late, Hardaway Jr. could be tasked with increased scoring duties down the stretch for a Dallas team in need of pop on the periphery.
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (30.2%): A steady source of steals and blocks who is recently surfacing with stronger offensive production, Jones rarely leaves the floor for a team in need of his defensive impact.
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets (35.1%): Even if the wins are showing up, Smith’s improvement since the break has been notable; he’s nearly averaged a double-double over the past week while sustaining a quietly stellar block rate.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (9.8%): As long as a seemingly minor knee ailment doesn’t keep him off the floor this week, Sochan makes for a fun addition given versatile role he’s filled in recent outings.
Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (53.4%): Inarguably nominated the most of any pivot as a top free agent find this season, Kessler remains available in far too many leagues for a player with an undeniably elite block rate and newfound double-double pattern. Teammate Kelly Olynyk (30.7%) is also worth rostering given a recent surge in offensive workload.
Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies (9.7%): With Brandon Clarke suffering a serious injury and Steven Adams unlikely to return this regular season, Tillman is positioned for unfettered opportunities to work the glass and collect defensive numbers for a suddenly shallow Memphis frontcourt.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (15.8%): Stringing together some impressive lines in one of the better stretches of his career, Collins has little competition for minutes or post touches on the Spurs