Fantasy basketball waiver-wire finds: Marvin Bagley III, Evan Fournier among key pickups

Sacramento Kings big man Marvin Bagley III has gotten off to a slow start this season, but brighter days may be ahead for the former No. 2 overall pick. Kelley L Cox-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 available in at least half of ESPN leagues at each position (although I will make some exceptions for players hovering right around this threshold). 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.

Point guard

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Rostered in 11.4% of ESPN leagues): Thrust into a massive role as the team's starting point guard and lead playmaker this past Saturday in a funky matinee against the Nuggets that saw the Sixers field essentially just seven healthy players due to a wave of COVID-19 concerns, Maxey responded by becoming the first rookie since 1970 to tally at least 39 points in his first career start. With Seth Curry and Shake Milton both in health and safety protocols, Maxey could continue to start and consume a huge role in the coming games for Philly.

Elfrid Payton, New York Knicks (43.4%): The second-most added point guard of the past week in ESPN leagues -- and for good reason -- Payton has produced 17.3 PPG while averaging 8.4 combined assists and rebounds during the past seven days. A key cog in the Knicks' rotation after a slow start to the season, Payton is a fine addition, given how consolidated strong assist production has proved this season.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (20.9%): While he hasn't done much statistically since shifting into a larger role in the wake of Markelle Fultz's season-ending injury, minutes remain the coin of the realm in fantasy hoops, and the rookie has played at least 28 minutes in three straight games entering Monday's action. Better scoring and assist numbers should surface soon for the North Carolina product, and his role should remain robust the rest of the way.

Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (21.3%): Enjoying a scoring and shooting surge in recent games, Mills is mostly a 3-point specialist for those in need of some big nights in that statistic in category and roto leagues.

Shooting guard

Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic (48.3%): Lingering back spasms have kept Fournier out of action through the past five games entering Monday's slate, but patience with -- or proactively adding -- the French scoring guard could prove profitable due to both Fultz's absence and the fact he was a top-60 fantasy option last season in most formats. With some solid creation numbers and a scoring average likely to hover around 20 PPG the rest of the way, Fournier is unlikely to be this widely available in leagues for long.

Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks (30.7%): This sharpshooter sees a sizable jump in fantasy points per minute and has posted a stellar 66.6% true shooting clip in 114 minutes with Bogdan Bogdanovic -- who just suffered a serious knee injury -- off the floor this season. More than just a shooting specialist, Huerter can provide some helpful assist production when on the floor often enough, which should be the case in the weeks ahead.

Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks (9.1%): Sticking with Atlanta, Reddish also benefits from Bogdanovic's absence with what should be an uptick in minutes and shots in the games ahead. With at least 20 points in two of his past six games and a stellar steal rate on the season, Reddish could help managers in deeper fantasy formats.

Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (7.3%): This is more of a bet on positive regression than anything else, as Powell was brilliant as a scoring force for the Raptors last season only to start this campaign decidedly slow. The key here is that the Raptors need Powell's scoring prowess to resurface and will afford him plenty of opportunities to get his touch back.

Small forward

Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks (53.6%): I rarely endorse players above 50% roster rates, but THJ is an exception, given just how well he's playing and how close to this roster percentage he still proves. A recent shift to the bench has actually been great for Hardaway's statistical profile, as he is still earning plenty of touches and shots, and even more freedom to create his own shot in running as the key playmaker on the second unit. Just in his past three games, Hardaway has topped 30 points and sunk eight 3-pointers twice, signaling this heat-check shooter is decidedly hot.

OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors (49.0%): "Stocks" is the key angle when discussing Anunoby's fantasy profile. No, we aren't talking about the market, but rather the fantasy term for combined steals and blocks, shorthand for defensive dynamism. Anunoby is undeniably dynamic on defense, as his 2.5 stocks per game reveals. While the offense flutters at times for a struggling Toronto offense, Anunoby's defense will surface in almost every outing.

Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans (8.5%): An atypically awesome rebounder for his position, Hart is up to 9.3 pulls per game during the past seven days and is averaging 8.4 RPG for the season. Throw in some solid steal and shooting potential, and Hart's modest scoring clip isn't as limiting as it might appear.

Power forward

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets (53.8%): I'm drifting a tad above 50% roster rate again in order to include Washington's rising fantasy profile. He ranks 11th on the Player Rater over the past seven days, thanks to surging in the swat department while also flexing untapped passing and scoring upside for the young Hornets.

Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder (37.1%): Don't sweat some recent modest scoring results, as Bazley remains a key part of the Thunder's starting rotation and continues to deliver strong block and rebounding rates. Bazley makes for an ideal complementary forward if you roster productive offensive centers such as Nikola Jokic or Nikola Vucevic, two fantasy stars without much block upside.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards (24.4%): The load management portion of Bertans' season could be coming to an end soon, as the team just lost center Thomas Bryant for the season to a knee injury, putting more pressure on this sharpshooter to serve as the team's stretch center the rest of the way.

James Johnson, Dallas Mavericks (1.6%): For those in deeper leagues, Johnson is a valid acquisition this week, given both Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith are in the league's COVID-19 protocols. Johnson just played a season-high 26 minutes in the team's most recent outing and could hover around that rate the next few weeks.


Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (48.7%): Speaking of block upside, Lopez is tied for sixth in the league in swats and has finished second and third in total blocks the past two seasons, respectively. Sure, you don't get much rebounding or scoring production from Lopez, but elite block production is hard to come by -- and he throws in respectable shooting results as a bonus.

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings (42.3%): Maybe his dad tweeting a trade request to the Kings was a good thing? Jokes aside, Bagley has played better this past week in averaging 14 PPG and 8.3 RPG with respectable defensive numbers. While he's not taking the leap that some (myself included) expected, Bagley remains helpful, considering his eligibility at both power forward and center for a Kings team dedicated to getting the former No. 2 overall pick on track.

Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics (14.3%): Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams and Robert Williams III are all out for the next few days, at least, due to health and safety protocols. Jayson Tatum will miss even more time due to a positive COVID-19 result, which means Theis could play heavy minutes and see an uptick in offensive and rebounding opportunities in the games ahead.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers (24.0%): You won't get much in the way of defensive rates from Kanter, but he's amongst the most efficient interior scorers and rebounders who are widely available in ESPN leagues.