Fantasy basketball waiver wire pickups: Look to Walker Kessler and Harrison Barnes

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 leagues.

Point guard

Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic (Rostered in 41.3% of ESPN leagues): Finding his groove as a scoring threat helps flesh out Fultz' fantasy profile, as he's already a steady source for assists and steals. You should still try to make room for Detroit's Killian Hayes (33.9% rostered) as a priority pickup at point guard if he's available, but Fultz has emerged as a worthy alternative give this recent uptick in offense.

T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers (9.4%): Another former 76ers guard is shining, with McConnell regularly flirting with triple-double outcomes since Tyrese Haliburton's injury last week.

The crafty vet has averaged 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and two steals across his last three outings and should continue to serve a big role until Haliburton returns to the rotation.

Gabe Vincent, Miami Heat (2.4%): Like with McConnell, Vincent is playing a major role for his team due to an injury to the team's lead point guard. With Kyle Lowry ailing, Vincent has impressively slashed for 22.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, four assists, and 3.7 3-pointers per game during the past three games.

Shooting guard

Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (24.8%): Don't sweat his recent one-point showing, as the exciting rookie averaged 14.8 points over his prior 10 outings. Most impressively, the Santa Clara product has averaged two steals and nearly a block during this stretch, signaling the ability to deliver value even when his shot isn't falling.

Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat (23.5%): It's awesome to see this former All-Star thrive in an important bench role for the Heat. Oladipo has averaged 32.5 minutes over his last eight outings, which has helped fuel averages of 17.1 points, 4.3 rebound, 4.9 assists, and 2.2 combined steals and blocks during this sample.

Norman Powell, LA Clippers (21.6%): In his past dozen games since returning from an injury, Powell has averaged nearly 17 points on elite efficiency and brings enough defensive production to help offset cold nights.

Small forward

Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (55.3%): The Kings have been the best offense in basketball for the past five games. Part of this success includes Barnes balling out, with at least 27 points in three of his last four games exiting the weekend.

Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (23.9%): A defensive dynamo who handles the toughest perimeter assignments whenever on the floor, McDaniels is the rare player averaging at least one steal and one block per game.

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans (16.3%): Finding his touch in recent games while averaging three combined steals and blocks last night, Murphy is once again a productive 3-and-D option for fantasy managers.

Power forward

De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (20.6%): The Hawks are notably thing at forward, especially when it comes to defending larger wings. Thus, it's not surprising that Hunter rarely leaves the floor for Atlanta, which helps drive solid scoring and rebounding results.

Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns (9.6%): With Johnson back at practice, it appears he's going to return to real action soon. While he's mostly a shooting specialist, a solid steal rate adds value.


Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets (52.9%): Sure, the Hornets should likely feature rookie Mark Williams more often, but an old-school coach continues to rely on Plumlee for major minutes. Fantasy managers aren't complaining, as this vet has averaged 16 points and nearly 13 boards over the past week and is a nightly double-double threat with an atypically strong assist rate.

Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (22.9%): This former lottery pick is thriving as the team's starting center in place of an injured Clint Capela. A gifted rim protector and improving rebounder, Okongwu might be the most valuable interim addition in fantasy hoops.

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (14.3%): Speaking of rising rim protectors, Kessler has swatted 16 shots across his last four games. No really. His amazing defensive rates from Auburn have quickly translated to this level.