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Fantasy Basketball: Top NBA Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 16 of 2020-21

Zach Thompson gives his top additions from the waiver wire for your season-long fantasy basketball leagues heading into Week 16, which starts Monday, April 5.

Denver Nuggets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

We’re headed into the final four weeks of the NBA regular season with a great playoff race and plenty of postseason positioning still on the line as teams come down the stretch. As teams continue to shift their rotations to get players some rest while also adjusting for injuries, players’ values continue to shift wildly from game to game. You’ll need to stay on top of every roster spot for your season-long fantasy basketball team to have success into and throughout the playoffs (if your league has them). There are some great options on the waiver wire that can help push your season-long fantasy team to the finish line. Each week, you can find my top four pickups for season-long fantasy basketball leagues, with some other options to consider included at the bottom.

Looking at the week ahead, the Detroit Pistons are set up for an extremely busy week with five games in the next seven days. There are 20 teams playing four games in the coming week while the other nine teams are scheduled to play three times. 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 I think you should look for first who are available on most waiver wires.

SG/SF Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans (at ATL, at BKN, vs. PHI, vs. CLE)

The Pelicans have been extremely thinned out by injuries over the past week with Lonzo Ball (hip) still without a timetable to return and Josh Hart (thumb) out for significant time. In addition, Zion Williamson (thumb), Brandon Ingram (foot) and Steven Adams (ankle) are all day-to-day which has opened up a ton of playing time and usage for Alexander-Walker, who the Nets took with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Virginia Tech before trading him to the Hawks. He eventually made his way to the Pelicans, where he seems to be ready to contribute on a regular basis. NAW is still on many waiver wires since he was expected to just be a short-term fill-in for Ball at first but now could slide to the wing even if Ball does return, which also doesn’t seem like it will be very soon.

Alexander-Walker has started the past seven games for New Orleans, averaging 34.8 minutes per game with a 24.4% usage rate. He has averaged 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals while knocking down an average of 3.6 3-pointers each game as well. He has taken at least 13 shots in each game, so his shooting may hurt your percentage a little bit, but his scoring and peripherals should more than make up for it. With Hart going down for a while, Alexander-Walker should stay involved more long-term, so grab him right away if he’s still available. He could be a key difference-maker for your fantasy squad while he picks up work for the depth-challenged Pelicans.

SF/PF Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (vs. DET, vs. CHA, vs. CLE, vs. PHI)

Pukusevski was actually taken by the Timberwolves with the 2020 first-round pick that accompanied Alexander-Walker in the trade from the Nets to the Hawks. The seven-foot Serbian was then traded to the Thunder, and the rookie has started in each of his past 12 games as the Thunder try to give their young players more run. The 19-year-old should keep getting plenty of usage over the next few weeks and makes an interesting fantasy addition on the wing.

In his 12 starts, Pokusevski has averaged 31.5 minutes, 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.8 blocked shots. He has a 20.1% usage rate over that span, and his usage has been trending up with over a 22% usage rate in each of his three most recent contests. His team has been getting blown out on a regular basis, but it hasn’t impacted Pokusevski’s playing time. Look for the youngster to keep getting plenty of work for the rebuilding Thunder to see what they have in him as they head into another offseason of asset accumulation.

SG/SF Hamidou Diallo, Detroit Pistons (at OKC, at DEN, at SAC, at POR, at LAC)

One of the reasons Pokusevski is getting more playing time is that the Thunder traded away Diallo to the Pistons before the NBA Trade Deadline. Detroit views Diallo as one of its core pieces moving forward and the Pistons are expected to continue to get the 22-year-old defensive specialist plenty of playing time for the rest of the season. Diallo has rested a few times on back-to-back sets, but even with a game off or two this coming week, he should be a good pickup for the five-game slate Detroit faces.

Diallo hasn’t been starting for the Pistons but he logged over 24 minutes in each of his three most recent games, averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 steals while getting a 23.1% usage rate. Diallo’s offensive game is still a work in progress, but the Pistons will likely give him plenty of run to show what he can do as they look to continue their rebuild next season with Diallo now a part of their future plans

PG/SG Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (vs. UTA, at HOU, vs. MIL, vs. SAS)

The Mavericks have been using Brunson as their sixth man off the bench, and he has been very productive in that role. He could also get a spot start or two in the coming weeks if Dallas gives their stars a game or two off. Brunson has a very high ceiling if he’s starting, but even off the bench, he has plenty of potential.

In his past seven games, Bruson has averaged over 30 minutes per contest and produced 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 0.9 steals. He had two effective spot starts during that run but also picked up significant playing time in a few blowouts. He has at least nine points in all seven of those games and has remained very efficient with a 63.6% true shooting percentage and 21.3% usage rate. He has shot at least 50% from the field in five of those seven games and should continue to put up meaningful minutes while the Mavericks make a playoff push, trying to avoid the play-in tournament which their current No. 7 seed would land them in.

Other options to consider

  • SG/SF/PF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks
  • SF/PF Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
  • SG/SF Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors
  • SF Terance Mann, Los Angeles Clippers
  • PG Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • PG/SG Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers
  • PG Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
  • PG/PF/C Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • SG/SF/PF Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets
  • PG/SG Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls
  • C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
  • PF/C Markieff Morris, Los Angeles Lakers
  • C Robin Lopez, Washington Wizards
  • PG Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors

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