Fantasy basketball waiver wire: Key pickups for assists and rebounds

Rui Hachimura should see increased opportunity with Jarred Vanderbilt out for the season. Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images

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 men's basketball leagues.

Point guard

Tre Mann, Charlotte Hornets (Rostered in 9.3% of ESPN leagues)

Has there been a player who has benefited more from a deadline deal than Mann? He has been a scoring and playmaking revelation since joining the Hornets in the Gordon Hayward deal. Mann has capably filled the vacated role left by Terry Rozier and even upon the return of LaMelo Ball, he should sustain a rewarding secondary creation role on a team in need of his offensive game.

Keyonte George, Utah Jazz (11.0%)

Utah has recently pivoted to featuring George as a lead creator. This has led to some massive lines from the rookie playmaker, including career highs in minutes and scoring just prior to the All-Star break. Assists are difficult to find this deep into the season, so it's prudent to value George's ascent.

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (25.3%)

Sticking in Chicago after months of trade buzz was an ideal outcome for Caruso's fantasy stock. He has locked into a busy role for the Bulls that might have been unrealistic on a contending team. The key to his value is absurd defensive production, as he ranks seventh in steal percentage and 17th in block percentage as a perimeter stopper.

Shooting guard

Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets (22.4%)

Thompson has earned more trust from Ime Udoka that has been rewarding for his fantasy profile. He is a rare rebounding and defensive talent for his size and is an emerging young player to target in the final third of the regular season.

Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors (21.0%)

Podziemski surprising has offset some of the Warriors recent draft woes. He is capable of flirting with a triple-double in most matchups and appears primed to thrive with more support from Steve Kerr heading into the stretch run.

Jordan Goodwin, Memphis Grizzlies (0.9%)

Goodwin was added to the Memphis rotation in a deal with the Brooklyn Nets and is getting good results as an immediate contributor on a team that needs quality minutes.

Small forward

Vince Williams Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (33.1%)

Williams Jr. entered the All-Star break with at least seven dimes in five straight games. He has assumed the playmaking role for a depleted Grizzlies roster and been a key positive amid a down season in Memphis. Williams is also a true two-way contributor for fantasy purposes and a big finish to the season could be brewing.

Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (42.2%)

Thompson has earned more minutes in the Pistons' rotation thanks to rare rebounding and two-way contributions on a thin Detroit team. He has averaged nearly two combined steals and blocks in just 24 minutes per game.

Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers (9.7%)

With Jarred Vanderbilt out for the season, Hachimura has an increased opportunity to produce as a two-way glue guy for the Lakers. He has some gifted passers around him and his cutting and crashing ability reaps real rewards.

Power forward

Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (45.4%)

Avdija merits more appreciation from fantasy managers given what could be a strong finish on a roster without much scoring or playmaking depth. He is fresh off a career outing and on a scoring bender worthy of our attention.

GG Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies (13.0%)

The youngest player in the NBA is building a mature scoring repertoire. Jackson dropped at least 20 points in three of his past four games entering the break. Like Williams, Jackson is an undeniable positive for the Grizzlies in a season defined by making the best of a wave of impact injuries.


Precious Achiuwa, New York Knicks (18.9%)

Achiuwa has earned the trust of Tom Thibodeau and barely left the floor in recent games. The statistical rewards of his massive minutes have proven to be rewarding.

Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers (11.2%)

The team has yet to find a big-bodied center to help solve the rebounding void left by Joel Embiid. This plays into Reed's continued value as a rim-running center for the 76ers in the meantime. His efficient scoring and active defensive hands combine to make a nice fantasy profile whenever he is not in foul trouble.

Special teams

This section focuses on specialists; players who flash in a singular category and can provide specific value to those in category and roto formats. Nominations are based on which category such players are helpful in and will rotate throughout the season.

  • 3-pointers: Utah's George has risen recently as a volume shooter, while it's also worth targeting Milwaukee's Malik Beasley (11.1%) and even Houston's Dillon Brooks (13.6%) as marksmen.

  • Steals: Williams has been doing it all for Memphis, including delivering an elite steal rate. If you can handle the low-volume scoring profile, the Pelicans' Herbert Jones (24.5%) is a maestro of working the passing lanes.

  • Rebounds: The Thompson twins' atypically awesome rebounding remains very valuable. Charlotte's Nick Richards (9.8%) is also adept at cleaning the glass amid Mark Williams' injury.

  • Blocks: Caruso is the king of backcourt blocks, while New York's Achiuwa and even Isaiah Hartenstein (36.8%) both surface as worthy rim protectors.