Waiver watch: Look to Jaden Ivey and Max Strus

Jaden Ivey is getting a lot of minutes with Cade Cunningham out. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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

Miles McBride, New York Knicks (rostered in 22.2% of ESPN leagues): For this final week of the marathon, McBride is a prime player to acquire given the immense trust Tom Thibodeau has placed in him as a secondary scorer and point-of-attack defender for the Knicks. With heavy playing time in most matchups, McBride brings several positives to the floor each time out.

Dalano Banton, Portland Trail Blazers (14.6%): A scoring guard by trade with a growing acumen as a distributor, as well, Banton should prove busy for the Trail Blazers in the last several games before the offseason. The most pressing question comes not over his immediate value, but how Banton factors into the team's plans looking ahead in a dynasty context. This will be an interesting summer for a roster that has a unique mix of veterans and prospects.

Scotty Pippen Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (4.2%): The decimated Memphis rotation has afforded players such as Pippen and Jordan Goodwin (5.6%) lengthy looks as rotation contributors. Pippen brings a bit more creation to the floor, but both should see the floor a good deal finishing out the season for this patchworked Grizzlies crew.

Shooting Guard

Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons (47.9%): Inconsistent playing time and a shifting role as a secondary playmaker for much of the first half of the season curbed the fantasy fun for Ivey in his second professional campaign. This said, there's been a revival of sorts in recent weeks, especially with Cade Cunningham shelved. With Ivey consuming a rich usage rate in most contests, there's room for this strong statistical finish to sustain for the next several days.

Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (24.1%): With Alex Caruso (30.7%) ailing a bit with an ankle injury, the two-way combo guard of interest might be Toronto's Trent. With a volume shooting approach and one of the better steal rates over the past two seasons, Trent just needs minutes to shine from a fantasy context.

Small Forward

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans (43.8%): This column has spent a good bit of space endorsing Herbert Jones (40.0%) and Murphy as 3-and-D archetypes throughout the past several weeks. Murphy brings more scoring potential to the floor, while Jones is an entirely elite defensive producer in both swipes and swats. It's really about your statistical needs, but both players are prepared to help your roster(s) in this final stretch.

Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers (44.4%): Expanding his game beyond just shooting and floor-spacing, Strus has flashed serious passing skills the past two weeks to go with a season-long uptick in cleaning the glass. Such diverse production vaults him past the specialist tier of fantasy options and into starting lineups with the Cavs still jockeying for playoff seeding this week.

Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards (8.7%): Unlike Strus, Kispert is still in the phase of his career where shooting is a great portion of his production profile. The good news is his team is leaning on him heavily as a scoring and spacing option. Those who need shooting volume can bank on the Gonzaga product.

Power Forward

Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (53.6%): Sticking with the lottery-bound Wizards, Avdija is putting together some elite lines without fanfare in recent games. Busy box scores are what we admire in this hobby, so it's worth making room for Avdija even in shallower formats given double-double production with ascendant defensive results.

Grant Williams, Charlotte Hornets (6.9%): A lesser version of Avdija's production can be found with Williams, who has been afforded tons of playing time and more creation duties in recent games. The results have been impressive, with Williams capable of scoring, passing, and rebounding at helpful rates.

Jabari Walker, Portland Trail Blazers (2.6%): An NBA legacy prospect with some real zeal for cleaning the glass, Walker has led the NBA in boards the past week and is likely going to finish the season with big minutes as the team continues to seek solutions on the interior aside Deandre Ayton.


Kelly Olynyk, Toronto Raptors (30.9%): The rare point center, Olynyk is helping to orchestrate the Toronto offense on most nights in the wake of the team losing Scottie Barnes to injury. With the potential for double-digit assist outcomes in each start, Olylynk's atypical production profile merits more attention.

Chimezie Metu, Detroit Pistons (2.0%): It's been a steal party for Metu in recent games. The Pistons are asking him to protect the paint and he's delivered in a unique fashion. There is real value in Metu for those in category and roto formats given the scarcity of steals from the center position.

Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (3.9%): It's unclear if Clarke will play enough minutes in these final games to really help your roster, but his efficient scoring and rebounding pattern that defined his pre-injury profile has at least resurfaced.

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: McBride delivers rare shooting volume with impressive efficiency. Trent Jr., meanwhile, is almost always good for several from deep.

Steals: Metu's steal clip is guard-like and worthy of more interest. Pippen Jr. has been larcenous of late, while the Pelicans' Jones has been picking pockets all season.

Rebounds: Walker's amazing rebounding rates for Portland are loud enough to target him in all but the shallowest leagues. From the guard position, Memphis' Goodwin is delivering Josh Hart-like results on the boards.

Blocks: We can look to Clarke for rim protection rates and the potential for multiple blocks when he's active. Metu also has some rim protection potential if the minutes keep coming. Denver's Peyton Watson is flashing some fun block rates lately.