Waiver wire pickups: How Dillon Brooks can fire up your lineup
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.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (Rostered in 43.2% of ESPN leagues): There is a clear ceiling on Quickley’s minutes and shot diet in his role as the bench microwave for the Knickerbockers. This role also has a fairly stable fantasy floor; as he’s still a nice source for shooting and scoring results at a position that doesn’t offer a ton on the wire this week.
Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (17.6%): This one is more of career recognition than specific to this season, as Trent’s notably strong steal and shooting results the past several years with Toronto merits some trust beyond this slow start. The Raptors’ offense has shifted a good bit this year amid a coaching change, so patience could be rewarded once Trent adapts.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (13.3%): The shooting results might not look pretty (they don’t), but lots of steals and atypically strong rebounding rates reveals some value for those in category formats.
Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (65%): Simply awesome fantasy production has already emerged for this young rookie; he’s delivering plus production across multiple categories, including deft defense and unique rebounding savvy.
Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (20.6%): An ankle injury to rising star guard De’Aaron Fox means more meaningful minutes and opportunity rates for Monk. This fearless scoring guard even has some really fun rim-protection results thanks to a massive wingspan.
Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers (39.3%): The shooting remains steady even as Strus’ strong start on the glass has cooled. The Cavs paid the man to space the floor and punish close-outs; he’ll do that for real and fantasy purposes going forward.
Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (38.6%): Every year offers breakout players we didn’t really see coming. Johnson embodies such a trend, as he has become a key part of the Atlanta rotation and has produced the vertical juice John Collins once provided.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz (12.8%): Still truly underappreciated by the fantasy market, “THT” claims the most added value in assists among all small forward eligible players. The Jazz start this dude at the point most nights, evidence he’s going to sustain his distribution rates.
Dillon Brooks, Houston Rockets (28.0%): If your league counts trash-talking, fines, and/or technicals then Brooks is a star. Jokes aside, he’s opened his Houston career brilliantly and has been the team’s trusted closer in several key outcomes.
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (18.3%): With Trey Murphy III on the mend, Jones’ awesome defensive efforts really shine in the Pelicans’ rotation. For context, Jones rates in at least the top 15 in both small and power forwards over the past week on the Player Rater.
Grant Williams, Dallas Mavericks (14.8%): From complementary cog with the Celtics to a bigger role in Dallas, Williams is splashing catch-and-shoot looks from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving with elite efficiency.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (35.7%): Finally healthy and in a great spot to produce next to a generational rookie, Collins is a great addition to any roster, especially those that reward diversity among several categories.
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (43.9%): A gifted rim-runner who brings spark to many Atlanta lineups, Okongwu has been productive despite not seeing tons of minutes.
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.
Steals: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (24.6%) of the Nuggets is among the league leaders in swipes. The scoring can prove light, but the defense is surfacing so far for the feisty vet.
Blocks: While Jones is swatting shots for the Pelicans, Charlotte is leaning on Nick Richards (2.3%) to protect the rim.
Assists: Horton-Tucker is the best widely available source of dimes. At center, Collins is also providing passing volume.
3-pointers: Beyond Strus and Monk, Brooklyn’s Dorian Finney-Smith is splashing 3-pointers with proficiency.