After an abbreviated week to tip off the new NBA season, this week is the first full week of action on the hardwood in the 2021-2022 season. Season-long leagues are just barely underway, but it’s never too early to give your team a boost from the waiver wire. Whether you drafted players to stash on IR, got stuck with a player you didn’t want or are already ready to cash in on a sleeper that didn’t hit, there are definitely some options that are widely available that can help your team in critical categories.
The week ahead is a busy one with 17 teams scheduled to play four games and 12 teams playing three contests. The only outlier from a scheduling perspective is the Phoenix Suns, who have just two games on tap. Considering each team’s upcoming schedule is always something to keep in mind along with your team’s needs and league rules and limitations.
As you start your search for the right additions from the waiver wire to set up your season of success, here are the four players I think will make the most impact
SG/SF Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks (vs. DET, at NOP, at WAS, at PHI)
The Hawks are expected to be a young team on the rise this season after their impressive playoff run, and one way they can take it to the next level is by getting consistent performances from Reddish. Originally the No. 10 overall pick in 2019 out of Duke, Reddish showed promise in his rookie season before being severely limited by injuries last year. He has looked healthy this season and seems to be locked into a key role coming off the bench as the Hawks’ sixth man.
In his first two games this season, Reddish has averaged 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 24 minutes per game while knocking down three 3-pointers in each contest. He has a 29.2% usage rate, trailing only Trae Young for the team lead among players who have played in both Atlanta’s first two games. While some of his success could be due to Danilo Gallinari (shoulder) being sidelined, the young wing looks aggressive and ready to contribute good production in points, 3-pointers and steals, so look for him on your league’s waiver wire ahead of what should be a big four-game week with favorable matchups.
PG Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers (at DEN, at LAC, at LAL, at PHX)
In his first year with the Cavs, Rubio has gotten off to a scorching start and he should continue to get more work for as long as Darius Garland (ankle) is out. Even when Garland returns, though, the Cavs have said they want to use lots of three guards lineups with Rubio, Garland and Collin Sexton. The veteran PG running the offense makes things easier for both those guards and also gives promising rookie big man Evan Mobley a pass-first PG that can set him up in good opportunities.
Rubio has been setting everyone up well so far this season, averaging 9.3 assists per game to go with 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and a solid 22.7% usage rate. That level of PG production can be a boost for any team and will be very hard to grab off the waiver wire later in the season. If Rubio hasn’t already been grabbed in your league, he’s probably the best source of PG help available.
SF/PF Precious Achiuwa, Toronto Raptors (vs. CHI, vs. IND, vs. ORL, at IND)
Achiuwa was traded from the Heat to the Raptors as part of the Kyle Lowry deal, and the 22-year-old has posted three strong games to start the season. While the return of Pascal Siakam and more work for Khem Birch could eventually eat into his role, the promising early results should be enough to keep Achiuwa involved enough to be a fantasy contributor.
While he doesn’t have quite the scoring upside as Rubio and Reddish, Achiuwa brings better multi-category production and has been contributing across the board in each of his two most recent games, which resulted in impressive double-doubles. He had 15 points and 15 boards in 24 minutes on Friday against the Celtics and followed that with 10 points and 12 rebounds Saturday against Dallas. In his three games, he has averaged 10.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.7 assists per game in 25.3 minutes. Precious’ playing time could get cramped as the season goes on, but he’s definitely showing promising upside early on.
SF/PF Obi Toppin, New York Knicks (vs. PHI, at CHI, at NOP)
This is more of a long-term pickup than the other options listed above since Toppin hasn’t fully broken out yet but is showing signs that he could be ready to realize more of his immense potential. In his first two games this season, the former No. 8 overall pick has shot a combined 11-of-17 from the field while averaging 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. He has shown some promise as a small-ball center and has gelled well with Julius Randle in their shared time on the floor.
After a disappointing rookie season, the Knicks are planning on having Toppin more involved this year. Coach Tom Thibodeau is usually hesitant to play rookies too much, but once you’re one of “his guys” the minutes start to climb quickly. Toppin could be moving into that range, so keep a close eye on his usage over the next few games in standard leagues, and go ahead and add him in deep leagues if you like the direction this seems to be heading.
Other options to consider
- PG/SG Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
- PG/SG Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies
- PG/SG Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
- PG/SG De’Anthony Melton, Memphis Grizzlies
- PG Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
- SG/SF Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic
- SF Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
- SF Terance Mann, Los Angeles Clippers
- SF/PF Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets
- PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge, Brooklyn Nets
- PF/C Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz
- PF Nemanja Bjelica, Golden State Warriors
- PF/C Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
- C Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets
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