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 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.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Rostered in 30.6% of ESPN leagues): Even prior to Zach LaVine's recent injury, White was surging as a shooting, scoring and creation source for Chicago. For confirmation, we find him eighth in NBA in made 3-pointers, between the likes of Paul George and Tyrese Maxey. Now that he'll likely be consuming a good bit of the usage left by LaVine's absence and with an awesome schedule this week facing the Hornets and Spurs, White is an ideal addition in all formats.
Mike Conley, Minnesota Timberwolves (63.1%): Available in free agency in more than one-third of leagues, Conley's passing production has taken a leap of late; he's up to nearly nine dimes per game over the past week and should be busy distributing for the team's strong core of talent.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (42.4%): Like White, Anthony has gone from being a somewhat volatile complementary scorer for his team to a reliable perimeter scorer in recent weeks. Unlike White, Anthony also has some strong defensive rates, including an atypically strong block rate for a guard.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (22.6%): Anthony's teammate has even more prolific defensive rates, if not the same offensive pop. After years of subpar scoring efficiency, however, Suggs has arrived as a worthy two-way force and merits more attention from fantasy managers. After all, Suggs is third in both steals per game and steal percentage.
Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (27.1%): With the Kings hosting the Pelicans in the in-season tournament Monday, Monk will play an important role for the team as their impact scorer for the second unit. Like with De'Anthony Melton and Suggs, Monk has some useful defensive rates, but also the highest scoring ceiling of this trio.
De'Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers (37.4%): Found in the top 30 in made 3-pointers and in the top 20 in total steals, Melton is another combo guard bringing two-way appeal for fantasy purposes. The Sixers are stocked with wings in the wake of the James Harden deal, but remain thin at guard, a reality that boosts Melton's minutes and opportunity rates.
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (47.6%): Entering the new week sixth in the league in total steals and 24th in total blocks, this unique defensive talent brings just enough offensive production to surface as a strong starting option for fantasy rosters.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat (21.7%): A strong rookie season has included an expanded role for Jaquez in the wake of Tyler Herro's ankle injury. It's quite possible he loses a good deal of minutes and touches once Herro is back, but for now there's versatile production being delivered by the UCLA product in most games.
Bruce Brown, Indiana Pacers (21.6%): A massive 30-point outburst against the Heat this past weekend reveals that Brown has some untapped scoring upside to consider. Even as the Boston Celtics are a tougher matchup to open this week, it helps that the game has a massive point total and is being played in Indianapolis.
Saddiq Bey, Atlanta Hawks (19.6%): A multiweek wrist injury to Jalen Johnson has shifted Bey into a more meaningful role in Atlanta's rotation. This team loves to play with tempo and the added possessions help Bey's shooting and rebounding volume.
Obi Toppin, Indiana Pacers (9.2%): An ankle tweak might limit his availability to open the week, but Toppin has been impressively productive in recent weeks with a strong block rate and a significant scoring surge.
Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls (4.0%): While he might never deliver on his lofty draft stock from several summers ago, Williams is proving more capable of handling big minutes for the Bulls this season. Over the past week, he has averaged 15 points with a stellar 2.6 stocks (steals plus blocks) per game.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (58.7%): As long as his penchant for foul trouble doesn't get in the way, Gafford is capable in any given matchup of producing big rebounding and rim-protection numbers. For context, he's seventh in the league in swats.
Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies (13.2%): The Grizzlies remain depleted in the frontcourt, affording Aldama tons of minutes and touches. The blend of scoring, rebounding and defense creates a quietly strong fantasy profile.
Al Horford, Boston Celtics (22.4%): An injury to Kristaps Porzingis means Horford is expected to play a major role on both sides of the floor for this week of knockout stage competition in the in-season tournament. When the stakes rise, we often see Horford's numbers leap too.
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.
Rebounds: Ivica Zubac (45.7%) is top 10 in added value via the glass the past two weeks. With the Clippers' lack of size, Zubac will remain a rotational fixture going forward. New York's Mitchell Robinson (38.4%) is another elite rebounder who also has special steal and block rates over the past few weeks.
3-pointers: White is tops on the Player Rater among all players in added value via 3-point shooting over the past 15 days, while Phoenix's Eric Gordon (25.1%) is seventh on the index amid this sample.
Steals: In addition to Jones, his teammate Dyson Daniels (6.6%) has been uniquely larcenous as well. New York's Robinson, meanwhile, has averaged over two swipers the past week.
Assists: Reggie Jackson (18.9%) has been a great secondary playmaker for Denver lately, though we'll want to see him prove his value once Jamal Murray is fully back. The Utah Jazz have found a gem in rookie point guard Keyonte George (8.9).