Waiver wire pickups: Look to Jaren Jackson Jr., Seth Curry

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.

Point guard

John Wall, LA Clippers (Rostered in 53.1% of ESPN leagues): Working his way into the mid-20s in minutes for most games, Wall has become a steady source of steals and assists. With at least six dimes in six of his last seven outings, those seeking passing production can lean on this proven vet.

Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls (4.0%): The Bulls have turned to Dragic to help provide scoring and distribution to a thin backcourt. The results haven’t been stellar just yet, but it’s encouraging that Dragic has scored at least 14 in four of his last six games entering Sunday’s slate.

Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns (8.5%): This nomination is dependent on Chris Paul‘s status, as Payne is most valuable fantasy-wise with Paul sidelined. After all, Payne has 19.7 PPG and 5.7 APG as the Suns’ starting point guard over the past week. The same can be said of Milwaukee’s Jevon Carter (6.7%) in regards to Jrue Holiday‘s availability.

Shooting guard

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Denver Nuggets (23.9%): The unintentional theme this week appears to be steady vets the market is overlooking. “KCP” certainly qualifies, as he presents a 3-and-D production pattern that includes career-best efficiency from beyond the arc and a career-high steal clip even into his 10th pro season.

De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers (20.6%): Regularly nominated in this column, Melton would likely be a more popular waiver addition if he wasn’t dealing with some injury issues lately. After all, he’s been playing heavy minutes as a starter when active and has a green light to shoot from deep while also ranked third in the NBA in steal percentage.

Seth Curry, Brooklyn Nets (21%): The Nets are finally finding a rhythm with their rotation, which includes bringing Curry off the pine as a scoring microwave. Finally seeing a normal allotment of minutes and shots, it’s time to pick up Steph’s little brother.

Small forward

Royce O’Neale, Brooklyn Nets (35.3%): The scoring results won’t wow you, but O’Neale does a little bit of everything to help his team, and maybe your fantasy squad. The versatile forward is posting career highs in scoring, 3-point volume and success, and assists.

Norman Powell, LA Clippers (18.7%): A frigid start to the season from deep limited Powell’s scoring impact, but he’s made around 47% of his 3-point attempts during November and should continue to provide perimeter scoring while Kawhi Leonard works his way back to the court.

Tari Eason, Houston Rockets (6.6%): A nomination for deeper leagues, Eason is already leading the NBA in steal percentage as a rookie. The LSU product is earning more playing time for the young Rockets and the results are increasingly impressive.

Power forward

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies: Upgraded to a doubtful designation over the weekend, Jackson is clearly getting closer to a return for Memphis. The league leader in blocks last season, “JJJ” brings immense value to the floor for managers patient enough to stash him over the coming days.

Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (13.8%): Flashing fun rim protection rates and improved scoring prowess, “Poku” has emerged as a fun fantasy addition in his third NBA campaign.

Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers (29.1%): The Clippers are a popular team for productive pickups, especially with Morris thriving as the team’s resident stretch forward with double-digit scoring results in all but one game this season.


Bol Bol, Orlando Magic (39.1%): Currently pacing the NBA in block percentage by swatting nearly eight percent of opponent’s two-point field goals while on the floor, Bol is enjoying one of the greater leaps in fantasy value we’ve witnessed in some time.

Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets (17.7%): Point guard Plumlee is a new vibe in Charlotte, as this center is averaging a career-best 4.4 dimes as an atypically value pivot.

Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons (27.3%): There will be some lean scoring nights for a player fairly low in the pecking order when it comes to shot creation for Detroit, but Stewart is effective cleaning the glass thanks to a career-best defensive rebounding percentage of 25.6% (the percentage of a team’s defensive rebounds that a player has while on the court).

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