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Waiver watch – Triple-double potential in fantasy championship round

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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 men’s basketball leagues.

Point Guard

Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers (Rostered in 50.9% of ESPN Leagues): We are at the time of the season when youth movements on losing rosters become widespread. The Trail Blazers are longer leaning on veteran playmakers to drive the offense, instead empowering the likes of Henderson to grow via trial and error. After a slow start to his career, he’s finally finding some success both scoring and facilitating. Fellow rookie Keyonte George (14.1%) is filling a similar role for the Jazz down the stretch.

Miles McBride, New York Knicks (11.8%): Example 426 of the value of earning Tom Thibodeau’s trust, McBride rarely hits the bench lately. Regularly hovering around and past 40 minutes in most games over the past few weeks, McBride’s blend of shooting, scoring, and steals drives value.

Dalano Banton, Portland Trail Blazers (8.9%): While Henderson is being asked to learn how to run an offense, Banton is tasked with being a scoring microwave. This is a role he’s adapted to capably thus far; flashing a level of irrational confidence that would make Eddie House proud. It also helps that we’ve seen Banton deliver high-end rebounding and passing results in recent games.

Shooting Guard

Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic (24.5%): A dynamic defensive player since joining the pro ranks, this former top-five pick has become a productive offensive contributor into his third season. The scoring might never be prolific, but absurd defensive clips and plenty of chances to touch the ball on offense combine to make an underrated fantasy profile.

Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (29.0%): One of the better steal rates over the past three seasons drives a high floor for Trent, especially now that he’s adding in volume shooting as part of a more complete 3-and-D package. The Raptors are in need of perimeter points in the final few weeks, which means impact minutes for this combo guard.

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (29.8%): Elite steal results has always been part of the deal with Caruso, but now we find more creation results thanks to leading the pick-and-roll often for a team without a true pure point guard.

Small Forward

Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets (39.5%): An ascendant rookie on one of the hottest teams in the league, Thompson has averaged a double-double the past week and paces the team in rebounding chances and actual boards in the past 10 games with Alperen Sengun sidelined. Even when the team’s star center returns, Thompson should retain a meaningful two-way role.

Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards (6.6%): Another losing team angling to empower younger prospects, the Wizards are allowing Kispert to find his own offense on most nights. The results can sometimes mean a lower floor for a player dependent on his shot falling, but there’s also growing rebounding skills that serve to expand his fantasy impact.

Power Forward

Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (42.3%): If you need volume shooting from the wing, then maybe Jones’ teammate Trey Murphy III (43.8%) is your guy, but if you desire some of the best defensive results in the league, you’ve found your dude. Jones is an efficient shooter, but it’s really all about his epic steal and swat percentages for those in category-driven fantasy formats.

Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (27.9%): Increased run in the wake of Karl-Anthony Towns’ injury has resulted in valuable versatile production from this slow and steady playmaker. You won’t find many power forwards on the wire who can match his blend of passing and defensive rates.

Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers (18.0%): Emerging at a needed time as a complementary scorer and all-around glue guy for the Lakers, Hachimura’s energy on the boards and as a budding off-ball cutter are driving impressive box score impressions.

Center

Kelly Olynyk, Toronto Raptors (28.0%): This is not the first spring that Olynyk has emerged as a league-shifting fantasy force; he did this as a member of the Rockets just a few seasons ago. Now thriving for the Raptors as a pseudo point-center, Olynyk brings legitimate triple-double potential to the floor each time out.

Marvin Bagley III, Washington Wizards (11.5%): A savvy midseason addition by the Wizards, Bagley has been cleaning the glass and finding room in the post in most games. The lack of defensive pop is sometimes tough to stomach from a frontcourt big, but those who desire double-double potential are in the right spot.

Special Teams:

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.

  • 3-pointers: McBride is lofting from deep with real confidence, as he’s 12th on the Player Rater in added value via 3-pointers during the past two weeks. Kispert is similarly blending volume and efficiency as he comes in 17th in this index over the same sample.

  • Steals: The Kings’ Keon Ellis (3.4%) is due to play big minutes with Malik Monk sidelined and the defensive rates could prove special, especially in the steals department. Suggs, meanwhile, ranks fifth in added value via steals the past two weeks.

  • Rebounds: Houston’s Thompson brings atypical glass-cleaning skills, evidenced by sitting 13th in added value via rebounds the past two weeks. Once he’s healthy enough to go, the Spurs’ Jeremy Sochan (24.6%) has been impressive on the boards.

  • Blocks: The Jazz have ruled out Lauri Markkanen for essentially the rest of the season, which means more minutes and rim protection chances for rookie Taylor Hendricks (2.5%). Sacramento’s Ellis even has some swat upside, while the Pelicans’ Jones is bringing up Andrei Kirilenko vibes with each weakside swat.



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