We’re just over a full week into the NBA season and injuries, suspensions and rotation changes are already shaking things up in season-long fantasy basketball. With the ever-changing landscape, season-long fantasy players have to stay on top of the latest trends and rising stars. To help you pinpoint players who can give your team a boost, each week we highlight the best waiver wire pickups. I’ll also be taking your questions throughout the week on Twitter @ZT_Sports.
Looking at the week ahead, the Hawks, Hornets, Warriors, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, Blazers and Bucks all play full four-game schedules. With all those teams playing four times, their players make stronger short-term pickups than options from the Jazz, Kings and Clippers, who only play twice.
While there are a lot of strong options available in many leagues, you can start your waiver wire work with these four under-owned producers and check the other options at the bottom of the page for more ideas. All stats are going into Saturday’s games.
C ARON BAYNES, PHO (vs. PHI, vs MIA, vs. BKN)With Deandre Ayton serving a 25-game suspension, Baynes has gone from backup to one of the key parts of the Suns’ offense. In his four games since joining the starting lineup, Baynes has averaged 16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game. He had his best game on Thursday when he had 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Phoenix will continue to lean heavily on the veteran Aussie while Ayton is out, and he should continue to be a great source of scoring and boards while boosting your FG%. He has even started hitting a few three-pointers but typically does most of his work close to the basket. Three games all at home set him up for continued success this week.
SG/SF DANUEL HOUSE JR., HOU (at MEM, vs. GSW, at CHI)While James Harden and Russell Westbrook melding in the backcourt has deservedly gotten most of the fantasy attention in Houston, the Rockets have gotten solid contributions from House, who has started for them all year up until Sunday. In his five games, he is playing an average of 30.8 minutes per night and has been one of the Rockets’ best perimeter defenders, which will help him keep his playing volume high going forward.
House has been doing solid work on the offensive end too, averaging 2.8 three-pointers per game as part of his 12.6 points to go with 5.4 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 assists and 0.8 steals. House’s shots may fluctuate depending on how the dynamic duo in the backcourt are faring, but his solid work across multiple stat categories make him a solid fantasy asset that should be involved in plenty of high-scoring games going forward.
PF/C GOGA BITADZE, IND (at CHA, vs. WAS, vs. DET, at ORL)The Pacers grabbed Goga with the No. 18 pick in last year’s draft, and the 20-year-old has suddenly been asked to step into a larger role with Myles Turner (ankle) officially listed as week-to-week and Domantas Sabonis (calf) also battling injury. Bitadze had success in the EuroLeague as a shot-blocker and three-point shooter, and he should get the chance to show off those skills with a four-game week against Eastern Conference opponents ahead.
In his first game with meaningful minutes, Bitadze had 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 25 minutes against the Cavs. He played more than half those minutes next to Sabonis, showing the two can both operate at the same time and stretch the floor. Without many other attractive frontcourt options, the Pacers will have to give Goga good minutes if Sabonis is out or limited. Bitadze has excellent short-term upside and dynasty potential, although his role for the season when Sabonis and Turner are healthy could be limited.
PG/SG ISAIAH THOMAS, WAS (vs. DET, at IND, vs. CLE)After a few very rough years with stops in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Denver, Thomas is making quite the comeback so far this year with the Wizards. Granted, he has only played two games since coming back from his latest injury which resulted in left thumb surgery, but IT has looked impressive despite a minutes limit.
The Wizards needed him badly with Ish Smith as their only real PG option and very little scoring in their second unit. In his first game back, he played 20 minutes and had 16 points to go with five assists and three rebounds. He looked even sharper on Halloween night when he had 17 points and 10 assists, making his case to be a fantasy zombie that deserves a shot on your roster going forward.
Other options worth watching
- PG Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets
- PG/SG Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG/SG Jordan Clarkson, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SG Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
- SF Taurean Prince, Brooklyn Nets
- SF/PF Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors
- SF/PF Kevin Knox, New York Knicks
- PF/C Richaun Holmes, Sacramento Kings
- PF/C Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
- PF/C Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns
- PF/C Meyers Leonard, Miami Heat
- C Jahlil Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.