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Fantasy Basketball: Top NBA Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5 of 2020-21

Zach Thompson gives his top additions from the waiver wire for your season-long fantasy basketball leagues heading into Week 5, which starts Monday, January 18.

Charlotte Hornets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Well, that escalated quickly. A flurry of big-time player movement this past week centered around James Harden heading to Brooklyn continued to keep the fantasy basketball world in a constant state of change. With players and teams also dealing with ever-changing roles and rotations due to the NBA health protocols, there are plenty of opportunities for players to step into larger roles all across the Association.

Grabbing some of those emerging options can be key to success in your season-long fantasy basketball leagues. We’re headed into a mostly balanced week on the schedule, as every team is currently slated to play either three or four games, although we’ve seen over the past week that schedules can change in a hurry in the current environment.

As you hit your waiver wire this week, check out the four widely available additions in the list below, with some other options to consider listed at the bottom. If you have specific questions about your roster and format, you can ask me on Twitter @ZT_Sports, where I’ll be happy to let you know what I would do in your situation.


PG Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (vs. ORL, at GSW, at SAC, at POR)

While Obi Toppin got the most attention in the Knicks’ draft class this season, Quickley has actually been the more impressive first-rounder to this point and is staking claim a big role in coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. Like Toppin, he battled some injury issues early in the season, but he looks ready to be more involved right away after an impressive stretch of games over the past week.

On Wednesday, Quickley played 22 minutes against the Nets and had an impressive 19 points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal. He earned even more time in Friday’s game against Cleveland and posted 23 points, four assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block. If Quickley continues to play over 20 minutes per game, he’ll be an across-the-board contributor, and there’s definitely a chance that he’ll push a struggling Elfrid Payton for his starting job. While Payton is an established veteran, he’s only on a one-year deal, so Quickley is viewed as much more of an integral part of the Knicks’ future. He’s owned in under a quarter of season-long leagues and makes a great speculative pickup.


SG/SF Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors, (vs. DAL, vs. MIA, vs. MIA, at IND)

While Quickley is rising to prominence and getting tons of attention, Powell is flying more under the radar but definitely can bring good production to your roster. Powell is owned in under half of season-long leagues and has gotten plenty of work in the Raptors’ rotation. In each of his past six games, he has scored at least nine points while averaging 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.7 3-pointers in 23.9 minutes per game.

Powell started while Kyle Lowry (personal) was away from the team but actually seems to do better coming off the bench as instant offense for the Raptors. As long as the Mavericks are able to play Monday, he has a busy week ahead and seems to be shaking off an early-season shooting slump. Powell has played a dozen games and has improved his true shooting percentage from 44.2% over his first six games to 66.7% over his six most recent games while also improving his defensive rebound percentage to over 10% in each of his five most recent contests.


PF/C Tristan Thompson, Boston Celtics (at PHI, at PHI, vs. CLE)

If you need a big man pickup for boards and high shooting percentage, Thompson is a nice long-term pickup since he’s a big part of the Celtics’ plans going forward. Thompson has started all nine games he has played with Boston and had at least eight rebounds in seven of those contests while averaging 7.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and a 52% FG%.

On Friday, Thompson played 20 minutes in his return after a week off in the health protocols. He had four points and 11 rebounds while also adding a block in that game against the Magic. He opens this week with a pair of games against the short-handed 76ers, who may be without Joel Embiid (knee), and then he’ll finish the week with a home game at the Garden against his former team, the Cavaliers. He has good upside in any game where he gets increased usage and gets good rebounds even when he isn’t scoring a ton of points.


SG/SF Gary Trent Jr., Portland Trail Blazers (vs. SAS, vs. MEM, vs. MEM, vs. NYK)

On Saturday night, the Trail Blazers beat the Hawks, but they lost C.J. McCollum to a sprained left foot. While the news isn’t catastrophic, McCollum is likely to miss some time, which could open the door for Trent to become a much more involved part of the Blazers’ offense. He could start in McCollum’s spot or remain with the second unit while Anfernee Simons moves into the starting five. Either way, Trent is more likely to pick up the offensive production left behind by McCollum.

Trent emerged as a key contributor during the Blazers’ time in the bubble, and he has averaged 26.5 minutes per game in his eight games this month. He has taken at least seven shots in each of those games while averaging 11.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.1 three-pointers per contest. Trent’s best game during that stretch was Saturday when McCollum was injured. He finished with 18 points, three rebounds, an assist and four three-pointers. His scoring and shooting make him a nice pickup option even though he doesn’t normally produce in other categories.


Other options worth watching

  • PG/SG Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers
  • SG/SF Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • SG/SF Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
  • PG/SG Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets
  • SF Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
  • C Dwight Howard, Philadelphia 76ers
  • SG/SF Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans
  • PF/C JaMychal Green, Denver Nuggets
  • SG/SF Delon Wright, Detroit Pistons
  • SF/PF Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • SG/SF Sterling Brown, Houston Rockets
  • PG Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic

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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.


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