It’s still early in NBA Regular Season, but with a compressed schedule, the games are already flying fast and furious and there has been plenty of action already. Most teams have played about six games already and roles in rotations are already switching on a regular basis due to health and safety protocols, injuries and coaches experimenting with different lineups. To help you keep up with players emerging as fantasy options, I’ll give you my top four widely available pickups each week. 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 with your situation.
Every team in the NBA has either three or four games in the week starting on Monday, with another week of relatively balanced scheduling. If you’re in a format where the league locks rosters for the entire week or limits player movement, make sure to take a close look at who has the best matchups and when you should rotate them through your roster. As you hit the waiver wire this week, see if you can grab these players in your season-long leagues.
SF/PF De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks, (vs. NY, vs. CHA, at CHA)
The Hawks play an up-tempo style that leads to high-scoring games and have three matchups against Eastern Conference opponents that should result in big games for their offense. Hunter has been playing well while filling in for Danilo Gallinari (right ankle sprain), who is expected to miss multiple games with his latest injury.
Heading into Saturday, Hunter was averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest over his past four games while playing north of 30 minutes a night. He had a nice 15-point, 11-rebound double-double against the Grizzlies and posted 23 points on New Year’s Day against the Nets. Hunter was the Hawks’ No. 4 overall pick in 2019 and should be a big part of their future. He looks ready to make the leap as a productive wing and makes a great addition now as part of a Hawks team that looks like it's on the rise. Long term, Hunter has a very high ceiling and he should get a short-term bump with Gallinari limited and tasty matchups on tap.
C Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves (at DEN, at POR, vs. SAS, at SAS)
Reid has gone from just a high-energy scrub off the end of the bench who would fill it up in garbage time to a legitimate fantasy option in just a season. The undrafted big man out of LSU has been producing very solid numbers while starting in place of Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist). KAT is expected to be evaluated weekly after dislocating his wrist and doesn’t seem to be close to coming back just yet.
While filling in as starter, Reid has averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 triples over his past three games. He gets good matchups this week and can be a nice source of big-man numbers for as long as he stays in the starting five.
PF/C Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (vs. DET, vs. DET, vs. UTA, vs. CLE)
Another frontcourt option that has been producing good scoring and rebounding over the pest several games is Portis, who seems to be settling in very nicely to his role off the bench for the Bucks. He is averaging 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1% from the field in his six games this season. He has posted a pair of double-doubles in those contests — one on Christmas Day against the Warriors and one on New Year’s Day against the Bulls.
Some of his production has come during garbage time, but he has logged at least 25 minutes per contest in four of his past five games. With the Pistons on the Bucks’ schedule twice this week and the Cavs visiting Milwaukee at the end of the week, there will likely be more garbage time for him to clean up — he could definitely put together good numbers as a result.
PG/SG Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings (at GSW, vs. CHI, vs. TOR, vs. POR)
If you’re in a situation where you can take a little bit of a longer look with a spot on your roster, Haliburton makes a nice forward-thinking pickup even though he doesn’t offer quite as much in the short term. The Kings may have gotten the steal of the draft when they nabbed Haliburton with the No. 12 overall pick last November. Haliburton is currently dealing with a wrist issue that will keep him out for a couple of games, but at this point it doesn’t appear to be a serious or long-term issue.
Before the injury, Haliburton looked sharp in his five games, playing almost 27 minutes per contest with the Kings’ second unit and averaging 10.6 points, 4.4 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 2.0 three-pointers. He has a true shooting percentage over 70% and a 22.6% assist percentage, which trails only De’Aaron Fox for the team lead. When he comes back, Haliburton could end up being a great option as he continues to grow and take on more work with the Kings. That could be this week or not, though, so if you need short-term help there are other options below worth a look. But if someone in your league gives up too early on the rookie, he makes a great swoop-and-stash addition at this point.
Other options worth watching
- C Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets
- SF Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
- PG/SG Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets
- PF/C Mason Plumlee, Detroit Pistons
- SF/PF Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
- PF/C Tristan Thompson, Boston Celtics
- SG/SF Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards
- PG Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers
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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.