Fantasy Basketball: Waiver wire gems amid wave of NBA injuries

Josh Lloyd
·4-min read
Charlotte's Jalen McDaniels and Boston's Tristan Thompson are two players likely to be available on waivers who could be useful for your fantasy squad this week. Pictures: Getty Images
Charlotte's Jalen McDaniels and Boston's Tristan Thompson are two players likely to be available on waivers who could be useful for your fantasy squad this week. Pictures: Getty Images

The default fantasy playoffs are just days away, so I thought it would be a good time to look at players you could snag off your waiver wire to help in that first-round matchup. 

Looking at the schedule is vital, and some hard decisions need to be made. It is imperative to note that the Raptors play two games, so your Malachi Flynn, Khem Birch, and Gary Trent Jr. hype will be misplaced.

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It is essential to look at how many games a player plays and when they play those games. Adding a player from the Hornets who play all four games on quiet NBA days is a better option than someone from the Suns or the Heat when they only have two of their four games on low volume days. 

The problem is that so many good, available free agents only play two games on low volume days, so moving down the list to find a guy playing three or four may be necessary.

Jalen McDaniels - probably the best player available in over 50% of leagues for week one of the fantasy playoffs. Not only is he starting and producing at a high level, but he plays for the aforementioned Hornets, so for all four games he plays next week, you are likely going to have the active slot available to use him. An absolute must-add player.

Cody Zeller - this one is iffier than McDaniels, given James Borrego’s penchant for starting Bismack Biyombo. Still, Zeller had been getting all of the backup minutes behind PJ Washington, and with four useable waiver games next week, there is a real chance Zeller turns in top 100 value for the week.

Tristan Thompson - he isn’t a sexy option, no doubt, but Thompson and his Boston Celtics play three of their four games on lower volume days, which is 50% more than most free agents who only get two or even one low volume game. Thompson is backing up Robert Williams, but if he can still get 20 minute a night, those three useable games may be enough for him to have use.

Chuma Okeke - Before you dismiss Okeke and his fellow Magicians, remember this. Yes, the Magic play only three games when the vast majority of the league play four. But, all three of Orlando’s games are going to useable in the vast majority of cases. So, if you add Okeke, you can play him three times versus adding someone like Grayson Allen, who you probably will only deploy twice.

Cole Anthony - Anthony isn’t starting yet, but the minutes and production have been good, and like his teammate Okeke, he has those three low volume games for the week. You could also throw Mo Bamba and Terence Ross (if still available) into this mix.

Second-tier waiver-wire pickups

This next bunch of guys all play four games for the week, but two of their games come on a nine-game Monday and a whopper of a 12 game Wednesday, functionally reducing them to two games. So, that still can be helpful, but perhaps not as helpful as it seems on the surface (depending on how your team roster shakes out)

Minutes have opened up for Miami's Kendrick Nunn after the injury to Victor Oladipo. (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Minutes have opened up for Miami's Kendrick Nunn after the injury to Victor Oladipo. (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

Josh Jackson, Kendrick Nunn, Isaiah Stewart, Kent Bazemore, Grayson Allen, Daniel Gafford, Tomáš Satoranský, Keldon Johnson, Rudy Gay, Facu Campazzo, Daniel Theis, Jae Crowder, Saddiq Bey, Monte Morris

There is a lot of intrigue with players on the Thunder, like Lu Dort, Aleksej Pokuševski, Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby, Moses Brown, and even Tony Bradley. 

It can feel like a no brainer to add a bloke like Dort after he drops 42 points, but with OKC playing only three games next week and those three games being on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, there is a chance you add that player, and they sit on your bench until you can use them on Friday. That is a waste and sure-fire way to lose the playoffs.

Targets for deeper leagues

Nic Claxton - Nets may rest, guys, and he plays three low volume games out of his four.

Pat Connaughton - another three-game low volume guy, and we have no idea how much or if Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to play

Kira Lewis Jr. - only three games, but all will be playable. He is ramping up after injury, and I don’t expect Nickeil Alexander-Walker to be out there taking minutes away.

Brad Wanamaker - he is getting 20 minutes a night, and Terry Rozier is now banged up in addition to LaMelo Ball, so in a deep league, Wanamaker’s four games could be helpful.

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