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 we 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.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (rostered in 27.3% of ESPN leagues): Back on the floor for Orlando after an extended injury absence, this empowered rookie playmaker could enjoy a strong statistical finish to the season. Anthony played 34 minutes and dished a team-high nine assists in a loss to the Rockets on Sunday.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (34.0%): A helpful blend of scoring and passing production aids Dragic's case as a depth addition for the final weeks of the season. Dragic's floor is relatively high whenever active, but he becomes a must-start option whenever Jimmy Butler is sidelined.
Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors (21.8%): Averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 dimes during the last four games -- all starts -- Flynn has become relevant in recent weeks. With the Raptors' star backcourt dealing with injuries and the team apparently angling for lottery positioning, Flynn could be on his way to a strong finish to his rookie campaign.
Cory Joseph, Detroit Pistons (9.8%): He's been cold from the floor of late, but "CoJo" remains the top point guard option for the Pistons in the weeks ahead. If you can bear some lean scoring outings, there's enough assist potential to ride with Joseph in deeper leagues.
Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs (51.6%): While you won't be wowed by White's production in any single category, the sum of his versatile skill set clearly equates to valuable fantasy production. Over the last 30 days, White ranks 45th overall on the Player Rater. He has the lowest roster percentage of any player in the top 45 of this value index.
Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (42.4%): Rostered in right around 12% of leagues at the beginning of last week, Dort has been the most popular waiver addition in ESPN leagues thanks to averaging 32.3 PPG during his last three games. As the Thunder continue to lean on his scoring and defense, Dort has become a premier pickup.
Grayson Allen, Memphis Grizzlies (11.7%): Getting more burn lately and turning in strong scoring performances in response, Allen has suddenly become a viable fantasy option at a somewhat shallow shooting guard position.
Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (47.1%): The Raptors are letting Trent hunt for his shot with rare freedom. Fresh from lofting 25 shots in a win over the Thunder this past weekend, Trent is arguably the best volume scorer currently found in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Jae'Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (49.3%): With at least four dimes in four straight and multiple steals in three of his last four games, Tate is providing fantasy value even when his shot isn't falling.
Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons (21.8%): The race for lottery positioning is well underway in the NBA. The Pistons are undeniably jockeying for position, which means key veterans such as Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee could rest often in the final weeks of the campaign. This often leads to healthy offensive usage for Jackson, who has averaged 18.3 PPG during the last week.
Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic (24.0%): The top endorsement at power forward for consecutive weeks, Okeke, like Detroit's Jackson, is afforded strong offensive usage on a depleted roster. It helps Okeke's stock that he's beginning to flash some defensive prowess, as well.
Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets (17.9%): With at least one steal in seven straight appearances and plenty of playing time for a depleted Charlotte rotation, McDaniels has emerged as a helpful contributor in deeper category and roto formats.
Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (9.8%): There will be some inefficient and ugly outings from this raw rookie, but you'll also find some nights that "Poku" provides elite statistical value. For instance, this past Sunday, Pokusevski became the fourth teenager since blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74 to record at least five points, five rebounds, five dimes, and five blocks in a game, joining Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, and LeBron James.
Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks (25.8%): Like Okeke, Noel is once again the top addition at center for a second straight week. Block and steal production are difficult to source, but Noel can drive elite value in both categories. After all, he has multiple blocks in eight straight games.
Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (22.9%): With Plumlee often resting for the Pistons lately, Stewart has been empowered as the team's top rim protector, rebounder, and post scorer. During the last week, Stewart has averaged 15.3 PPG and 13.7 RPG.