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 53.7% of ESPN leagues): With so many teams relying on just one or two high-usage playmakers, it's been difficult to find helpful passers in fantasy free agency. Dragic is an exception, as Miami doesn't have a traditional starting point guard and has been without Jimmy Butler's strong assist rate for some time now. With a consistently important distribution role off the bench for the Heat, Dragic is a strong addition to consider.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (23.3%): This rookie has been understandably inconsistent in his role as Orlando's starting point guard since Markelle Fultz went down, but he's still at the helm of an NBA offense. This last week saw Anthony hit a game-winning 3-pointer for Orlando, and he's produced as many as six assists twice in the past five games.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (9.3%): Fresh from a career-high 31 points on Sunday night, Quickley became the second-youngest Knicks rookie with a 30-point game in the past 40 seasons. The minutes and touches won't always be there for Quickley, but he's a player to target in deeper and keeper formats.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (6.1%): A wave of Dallas players sidelined in the league's health and safety protocols has vaulted Brunson into an important starting role of late. While he'll likely lose some minutes and touches once Josh Richardson returns to the starting lineup, Brunson remains a rising member of the Mavericks' rotation.
Alec Burks, New York Knicks (34.5%): Regaining an important backcourt role for the Knicks after missing a long stretch to injury, Burks could produce an intriguing blend of scoring and shooting as a favorite of coach Tim Thibodeau.
Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat (41.0%): Another interim fantasy star due to COVID-19 protocols, the absence of Butler for Miami has vaulted Nunn into a vital role for the Heat.
Josh Richardson, Dallas Mavericks (50.5%): With Richardson back on the sideline for the team despite not yet being activated, it appears the two-way wing is nearing a return to the lineup as he works his way back from the league's health and safety protocols. Capable of delivering a strong blend of scoring, passing and defensive rates, Richardson is an ideal acquisition before he fully returns to the Mavericks' rotation.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (36.6%): Playing a key role as a defensive stopper and complementary scorer for the Thunder this season, Dort provides plus value in steals for those in rotisserie and category formats.
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz (43%): With the scarcity of passing production in mind, it helps that Ingles is averaging an atypically high 3.6 APG this season and just posted nine dimes in a recent win over the Pelicans.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Minnesota Timberwolves (3.4%): The absence of Karl-Anthony Towns has been brutal for the Timberwolves on both sides of the ball this season, but one minor positive would be the development of Vanderbilt as a capable rebounder. With two double-double performances recently and a really nice steal rate for his position, Vanderbilt is a fine streaming candidate until Towns returns.
Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers (51.2%): Pacing Portland in rebounding chances and actual rebounds on the season, Kanter doesn't have much competition for minutes at center with Jusuf Nurkic sidelined by injury.
Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics (13.1%): The Tristan Thompson experiment isn't proving very successful for Boston at center just yet, affording Theis steady minutes and touches as the superior offensive option.
Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves (11.9%): Towns serves such a massive role for Minnesota that his absence creates value for both Vanderbilt and Reid, as this center has averaged 14 PPG and 2.3 BPG in 27.3 MPG the past seven days for the Timberwolves.