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 I 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.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (Rostered in 47.4% of ESPN leagues): Averaging 18 PPG with solid shooting and peripheral stats in the past three games for Miami, the most encouraging stat might just be that the Slovenian guard has averaged 31.3 MPG the past two outings -- a great indicator of his health.
T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers (43.7%): A surprising statistical breakout has McConnell pacing the league in steal percentage while also providing a truly helpful assist rate for those in rotisserie leagues.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (16.8%): You won't net many assists from Brunson in his current role as a scoring microwave off the pine for Dallas, but with 16.5 PPG and steady minutes during the past week, there is some value in rostering the Villanova product.
Dennis Smith Jr., Detroit Pistons (13.8%): While he's not a traditional point guard in the sense of distribution duties, Smith has been effectively aggressive on defense for Detroit while sprinkling in some solid scoring outings this past week.
Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons (36.9%): A steady role as Detroit's key bench scorer has vaulted Jackson to a new level of fantasy value. The wing has averaged 16.9 PPG and 28.1 MPG with solid defensive numbers since the start of February.
Gary Trent Jr., Portland Trail Blazers (39.8%): Lofting an incredible 9.3 3-pointers per 36 minutes with CJ McCollum off the floor this season, Trent has become a valuable shooting and scoring specialist at a somewhat shallow position.
Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets (17.1%): Posting 23.8 PPG during the past week in the midst of a career scoring bender, Monk has established himself as a stellar offensive weapon off the pine for the Hornets. For as long as Devonte' Graham is sidelined, Monk makes for a strong streaming option.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers (45.5%): A recent scoring swoon amid a shift back to the bench has deflated Kuzma's fantasy stock to a degree, but it still helps that he's averaged 10.0 RPG and 1.6 combined steals and blocks during the past week.
Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons (28.4%): This rookie has scored in double figures in 11 straight and is afforded rare freedom in regards to shooting and playing time.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (40.0%): If you can afford to wait on him, Love could possibly return to Cleveland's rotation after the break. While a calf injury has shelved Love for much of this season, last year's awesome blend of shooting and rebounding success signals value once he's back.
Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder (25.5%): Forgiving a weak shooting night this past week, you'll find that Bazley has been a nice source of rebounds and even 3-point production as a player eligible at both forward spots in fantasy leagues.
Trey Lyles, San Antonio Spurs (0.5%): With the Spurs missing several key players due to health and safety protocols, Lyles could provide scoring and shooting value for fantasy managers in deeper leagues ahead of the All-Star break.
Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs (25.9%): Like steals in baseball, blocks have always been a scarce statistic in hoops. Poeltl, meanwhile, swats shots in bunches, with multiple blocks in nine of his past 10 appearances.
Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks (24.4%): Playing for Tom Thibodeau can be a real boon for key starters such as Noel, as he's been on the floor for 81 minutes across New York's past two games. Such a rich role has led to four steals and five blocks across this two-game sample, evidence Noel can really deliver dynamic defensive support for fantasy mangers until Mitchell Robinson is back in the mix.
Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (3.1%): The minutes are finally there for Stewart to flash his impressive rebounding and defensive rates. The rookie has averaged 8.3 RPG and 2.6 combined blocks and steals the past seven days, rates that can prove truly helpful to those in roto and category formats.