If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! If you’re looking at these waiver wire pickups for season-long fantasy basketball at this point with just a few weeks left in the NBA regular season, you’re probably in a competitive league and are either in the postseason already or at least the midst of the playoff hunt. It’s a crazy time in the NBA season with the accelerated pace of the schedule and teams constantly shifting their rotations to get players some rest, compensate for injuries and see how younger players can fit into their future plans. The constant fluctuations in playing time and usage make managing your team challenging but also present great chances for new options to emerge on the waiver wire, some of which are highlighted below.
Looking at the week ahead, 22 teams play four games while eight teams have a total of three games on the schedule. It’s a fairly balanced schedule as a whole, but it does make sense to grab players with the extra game if your league has a cap on moves per week or asks you to lock in a roster for the entire week of action.
As you look at the upcoming week and fill out your roster, remember to consider your specific team need and league rules. Here are the four players who are widely available that I think you should start your search with, as you look to fine-tune your season-long team for the home stretch.
SF/PF/C Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets (vs. LAL, vs. CLE, at BKN, vs. POR)
McDaniels and Miles Bridges have both stepped up lately for the Hornets, who have been banged up and experimenting with different lineup looks. Bridges is a great add, too, if he’s still available in your league, but McDaniels is still only rostered in under a third of leagues since he just burst onto the scene this past week. McDaniels had only played in 23 games and averaged just 10.5 minutes until his breakout over the past week, but he now looks to be a great part of the Hornets’ rotation after starting the past two games in place of Bismack Biyombo and providing lots of defensive energy in the Hornets’ small-ball starting five.
In his first game starting in place of Biyombo this past week, McDaniels had 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals while hitting three 3-pointers in an 11-point win over the Thunder. He started again on Friday and posted 19 points, six boards, five assists, two blocks and a steal in 31 minutes during an eight-point win over the shorthanded Bucks. In those two games, McDaniels had usage rates of 18.6% and 17.9%. The new-look smaller Hornets should continue to give McDaniels plenty of run, and his defensive stats should prop up any downturn in his shooting. He definitely brings them energy and scoring potential and is a favorite of coach James Borrego, who has heaped praise on him after each of his past two games. His upside is massive with Gordon Hayward (foot) out several weeks and McDaniels brings a unique and helpful stat profile while qualifying at multiple positions in many formats.
PG Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors (vs. ATL, vs. SA, vs. ORL, vs OKC)
While the Raptors opted not to trade Kyle Lowry (foot) at the trade deadline, the veteran PG has been sidelined with a foot infection and Fred VanVleet (hip) has also been out and is facing a suspension once he is cleared to return. Flynn has stepped into a much larger role while the two have been sidelined, especially after the Raptors traded away Terence Davis and Norman Powell at the trade deadline. Flynn will likely remain involved as the primary backup even when Lowry and VanVleet are able to get back and is a big part of Toronto’s future, so he should keep getting a long look down the stretch. Flynn was originally viewed as a short-term fill-in, so he’s actually still available or available again in many leagues.
Flynn has played over 30 minutes in each of his past five games and has averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals in 34.4 minutes per game. He had a season-high 20 points on Saturday night in a 20-point win against the Cavaliers while playing over 39 minutes. His usage rate over those five games has been over 15% in each contest and 18.8% overall. While he hasn’t been the most efficient scorer, he makes up for it with good peripheral numbers and will be a solid PG play as long as he is in a large role for Toronto. The 22-year-old was the Raptors’ first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, so they’ll try to get a good look at him and give him chances to grow the rest of the season.
PG Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (vs. SA, at CHI, at TOR, vs. HOU)
Another rookie PG who should be getting plenty of volume in the coming weeks is Anthony, who was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. With the Magic fully tanking, they should give the 20-year-old plenty of chances now that he’s healthy after he missed two months with a rib injury. Anthony has come off the bench in his two games since returning, but should see more run moving forward and usually gets plenty of opportunities whether in the starting lineup or off the bench. In those two games, he hoisted 26 shots and had a 24.0% usage rate, so he clearly has the green light and no hesitation to try and score.
Anthony could hurt your percentages in the short term since he has not been efficient, but he has been able to add good non-scoring stats. He finished with 13 points, seven assists and one rebound in his first game back and followed that up with eight points, five assists and nine rebounds in his next game. With so much work coming his way, he has a very high ceiling over the next few weeks as long as he is able to get fully past his injury limitations.
SG/SF Grayson Allen, Memphis Grizzlies (vs. CHI, vs. DAL, at CHI, at MIL)
The Grizzlies’ rotation has been volatile throughout the season, but Allen has actually been pretty steadily involved when he has been healthy. While he isn’t likely to get massive usage like the other names on this list, he offers steady production and good upside. He has been back in the Grizzlies’ starting five for 13 straight games and has played 26.0 minutes per contest, contributing 12.6 points, 2.4 3-pointers, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Allen has a high ceiling as he showed with his 30 points against the Hawks this past week and has scored in double-digits in four of his past five contests. His usage rate spiked to 30.2% in that contest, but normally he’s closer to his 19.2% usage rate that he has posted in his 14 games since returning from injury. He has a true shooting percentage of 60.3% during that span and should be able to contribute scoring and 3-point production over the next few weeks as he continues to help the Grizz in their playoff push.
Other options to consider
- SF/PF Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
- SG/SF Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
- SF/PF Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks
- PG Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder
- PF Isaiah Hartenstein, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SG/SF Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
- PG Cory Joseph, Detroit Pistons
- SF/PF Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
- SF Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SF Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pisons
- PG/SG Reggie Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers
- C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
- PF Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic
- PF/C Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons
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