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 at least half of ESPN leagues at each position. 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.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (rostered in 49.8% of ESPN leagues): This smooth Slovenian combo guard has been quietly brilliant in a revival campaign for Miami thus far; he's getting to the line and scoring at the rim at rates close to his prime in Phoenix, all while enjoying awesome efficiency as a shooter and effectiveness as a distributor for a thriving Heat team.
Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets (44.2%): Found at 10th in the league in dimes per game thanks to ranking eleventh in the league with 13 potential assists per game -- defined by the league's player tracking data as any pass to a teammate who shoots within one dribble of receiving the ball -- Graham's ascent to deft distributor and consistent playmaker for the Hornets demands much more attention from fantasy managers.
Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (11.5%): A slow start to the season saw Satoransky struggle to score much despite starting and playing plenty of minutes with Chicago, yet a recent offensive surge saw the gifted combo guard average 13.3 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.5 RPG and 1.8 SPG during the past four games. To accurately value his contributions, you'll need to look past modest scoring results with Sato and instead focus on his consistently strong steal and assist production.
Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons (30.9%): A top-50 fantasy contributor so far, thanks to being one of just 10 players to average at least 18 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 2.8 3PG this season, Kennard is arguably the most positive story from Motown this season, save for Andre Drummond's Dennis Rodman-like rebounding rate.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (17.8%): With one of the league's better steal rates and some nice creation equity for Boston -- he's averaging 8.5 potential assists per game to rank second on the team behind Kemba Walker's 8.9 -- Smart is a sneaky-good fantasy contributor often overlooked due to his soft scoring numbers.
Bruce Brown, Detroit Pistons (1.6%): With great defensive rates and 11 combined assists and rebounds per outing, thanks to playing 36 MPG during this past week, Brown has been a strong streaming option on a depleted Detroit roster.
OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors (41.2%): Found at 25th on our Player Rater model -- a standard deviation index that values statistical diversity -- Anunoby is becoming a stocks king in a starting role with the Raptors. Stocks are, after all, basketball jargon for steals plus blocks. Anunoby is averaging 1.4 SPG and 1.6 BPG for a combined three stocks to go with an awesome spike in scoring and shooting success with his newfound busy role on both sides with Toronto.
Danuel House Jr., Houston Rockets (12.2%): Surprisingly found at 36th on the Player Rater despite being somewhat ignored by the fantasy market, House ranks second in the entire league with 2.6 3-pointers made per game on catch-and-shoot attempts. As a floor-spacer on a team with two usage juggernauts in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, House is destined to continue to see valuable shots from the corners and open spots around the arc. It's not just shooting that makes House intriguing, as he's been comparatively awesome with 1.2 SPG and 1.1 BPG this season. Rush to add this awesome two-way contributor in all formats.
Marcus Morris Sr., New York Knicks (37.7%): Found at 26th on the Player Rater, thanks to 24% leaps in both minutes and shots per game since last season, Morris is thriving in a busy role with the Knicks. Even as his hot hand from 3-point range is due for some regression, Morris is averaging an awesome 2.1 stocks while doubling his free throw volume from last season.
Jabari Parker, Atlanta Hawks (24.8%): Awesome offensive opportunity rates such as 14.3 shots per game in nearly 30 MPG the past four outings have fueled 21.3 PPG for the former Duke star. With John Collins sidelined until January with a suspension, Parker should enjoy a rewarding blend of production.
PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets (34.3%): With four blocks one night and four steals a few games later, Washington is flashing impressive defensive rates along with healthy shooting and scoring results.
Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns (48.8%): Deandre Ayton doesn't return from suspension until just before Christmas, which leaves Baynes plenty of time to continue his awesome production as the Suns' starting pivot. In this role, Baynes has scored in all eight of his starts while slashing for 17.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.1 3PG, and 1.4 stocks during this successful sample. It's quite possible Baynes loses nearly all of his fantasy value once Ayton is back as the featured frontcourt option, but he's a must-roster option until that happens.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets (43.0%): Zeller tallied a season-high 24 points in South Philly in a loss to the Sixers this past Sunday evening. You shouldn't expect many big scoring nights from Zeller, but he's ranked 18th in the league with 15.6 rebounding chances per game (being within 3.5 feet of an available rebound) as one of the rare widely available double-double machines.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (38.9%): A defensive savant already seeing meaningful minutes early in his career with Memphis, Clarke is the rare rookie who could prove consistently valuable this season.
Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat (10.4%): There seems to be an explicit agenda to get Olynyk more looks from beyond the arc; he's lofted 4.7 3-pointers per game with impressive efficiency (42.9%) during the past four games, compared to sinking just one 3-pointer during his previous four appearances. For those struggling at center in deeper leagues, Olynyk provides just enough defensive pop (1.6 stocks per game) and shooting prowess (1.3 3PG) to merit attention while he's hot from the floor.