Player management and moves are critical components to success in fantasy basketball. It’s important to consider what types of players will actually help you out at any given time and to know who to target based on your team’s build. While this is similar to the Weekly Streamer articles from BasketBlogBoy, this series will provide more of a long-term view to grabbing players off of waivers. As opposed to maximizing quality games in one specific matchup like you would in streaming, these waivers are intended to hopefully help you out for a longer period of time. The Fantasy Unicorn writers provide 3 players that they think could fit the mold of more than temporary help. There will be 1 standard league waiver, 1 deep league waiver, and 1 dynasty waiver.
Using Yahoo ownership data, we classified standard league waiver wire candidates as players available in at least 50% of leagues. Our deep league waiver adds are comprised of players available in at least 75% of Yahoo leagues. Our dynasty waiver recommendations are players generally considered outside top 20 dynasty rookies at the moment.
Al Farouq-Aminu – Rostered in 48% of Yahoo Leagues
Points, 3’s, boards, FG%
Aminu is currently ranked 81st in standard 9 cat leagues, which already makes him worth rostering in all but the most shallow leagues. On the whole, he’s a slight positive in 3’s, FT%, and TO’s, while a nice contributor in boards. Over the last week, Aminu has caught fire, while Fantasy GMs have not caught up. He’s now sitting at an astonishing 18th overall, amping up the points, 3’s, boards, and an unsustainably high FG%. Get him while he’s hot!
Aminu – Over the last week (3 Games)
Nerlens Noel – Rostered in 12% of Yahoo Leagues
Boards, FG%, Steals, Blocks
Noel is a multicat specialist that surprised the league when he decided to sign with OKC and serve as the backup to established starter Steven Adams. While only averaging 14.4 minutes per game so far this season, Nerlens is the type of player that can put up stocks in a hurry. He’s produced well in his limited time and his per 36 numbers have been crazy:
Nerlens Per 36
He’s obviously still behind Adams, but that level of production is eye-opening and allows Noel to maintain standard league relevance even in limited minutes. On occasion, like last game, he gets the garbage time treatment and wreaks havoc. Because of this, he’s actually ranked #7 in fantasy over the last week (2 games). Consider adding him in standard leagues, rush to add him in any deeper leagues.
Troy Brown Jr. – Rostered in 0% of Yahoo Leagues
With all of the chaos and unrest currently in DC, changes are probably coming. There are more than a few potential moves and directions for the Wizards that could lead to the team to start to incorporate Brown more than they have. If Wall were to change teams, that leaves a big hole for playmaking on this squad. While it obviously depends on what came back, Troy brings a unique skill set that brings a lot of playmaking ability from the wing position. While his game does resemble Evan Turner’s on the offensive side, I believe his ceiling is higher. In his brief moments on the court this season, he’s played well, including a 6 point, 6 board, and 5 assist game against Philly. On the downside, he only shot 2 for 7 that game, and further emphasized his weakness, shooting.
He showed in his time in college and Summer League that he’s an incredibly intelligent player that always has his head on a swivel, sees the floor well, has quality handles, has nice defensive potential, and displays above-average athleticism. These attributes could prove to be useful for the Wizards around the trade deadline. Even if the team stays pat for the season, the Wizards will want to bring him into the fold much more, starting as soon as next season. If there is a move (or moves) this season Brown could benefit. If they don’t, he’s still shown some nice upside and has been generally a forgotten man in all but the deepest of dynasty leagues. Roster him now and it could pay off nicely down the road.
Standard Redraft Leagues
Joe Harris – Rostered in 46% of Yahoo Leagues
Here we have a good shooter who won’t hurt your FG%, right? But Harris has become much more than that. Yes, he contributes in 3’s and FG% but he also gives you a slight push in Points, some Boards and Assists, and an outstanding FT%. He’s even learned how to Steal the ball as of late. Coach Atkinson has grown fond enough of Harris to give him big, meaningful playing time. He became especially important after Levert went down. We see ol’ Joe with the ball in his hands more now, instead of acting strictly as a spot-up shooter. My one bugaboo with Harris is that I worry about his role if Brooklyn decides to give their youngsters more developmental time. Rookies Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs will need to see minutes down the road to blossom into any kind of NBA-level talent. For now, Harris is as reliable as any player with less than 50% ownership.
Deep Redraft Leagues
Nerlens Noel – Rostered in 12% of Yahoo Leagues
Noel is averaging over 1 Steal and 1 Block in less than 15 minutes per game this year, plus a 63.5 FG% and a nice handful of Rebounds. He also won’t hurt you in FT%, which is nice for a big guy. His ability to put up numbers like that in such a small amount of time is fantastic, but imagine if Steven Adams were to have to miss any time. I never advise being reliant on an injury. Either way, Noel is putting up such fun production that it’s too juicy not to think about his potential per-36 minute numbers. Currently, those per-36 averages are at 15 Points, 13.7 Rebounds, 2.6 Steals, and 3.4 Blocks, in addition to those nice percentages previously mentioned. He still needs to mature out of his aggressive, foul-prone ways as he would be averaging over 6 Fouls per game in 36 minutes, which would obviously force his minutes to trend in the wrong direction. All in all, Noel seems to have finally found a team that appreciates his talents as a backup Center.
Aaron Holiday – Rostered in 1% of Yahoo Leagues
The youngest Holiday brother might be considered a stash at the moment but almost as soon as Nate McMillan granted him meaningful opportunity, he grabbed the bull by the horns. His recent minutes have been a product of Victor Oladipo missing time with an injury. That being said, he’s proved his worth early on – at least as a scorer. Holiday’s mild emergence has created a logjam in Indiana’s backcourt but his ability to get the ball in the basket should at least earn him a few minutes, even when the team is healthy. He was a really solid shooter in college. I think that reliable stroke will translate to the pros once he finds consistent playing time. He has the tools to be a nice playmaker as well. 2018-19 may not yet be his full breakout campaign but I believe next season, you’ll be glad you grabbed and stashed him because Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, and Cory Joseph are all 2019 Free Agents. There’s no way the Pacers keep all three of those guys on the books – especially after Holiday’s shown beautiful spurts of value so early in his rookie year. It’s only up from here after he settles into the NBA. I’ll just leave his per-36 minute averages down here.
Jeremy Lin – Rostered in 22% of Yahoo Leagues
A little bit of everything
I can’t remember a more fun, entertaining, or unexpected NBA phenomenon than Linsanity, when an undrafted Ivy-Leaguer transformed into LeBron James for a month. Lin hasn’t reattained that apex from February 2012, but he has quietly provided steady fantasy value during the long journey that followed. While Lin doesn’t provide the floor of Aminu, he can safely churn out low-end guard stats for as long as he is healthy — which, admittedly, has been a challenge for him this season. I’m looking at Lin:
- If I am risk-tolerant and need a playmaker who provides low-end guard stats
- If I believe there’s a possibility he gets traded to a guard-needy team like Orlando (try not to faint reading his 2018 per-36’s below)
- If, above all else, I want to like the guys on my fantasy team
Lin – Last Month
Lin – Per 36
Mikal Bridges – Rostered in 10% of Yahoo Leagues
3’s, Steals, FT%
I’ve been following Bridges closely since draft night, when the Villanova product and 2x NCAA champion from Philadelphia was drafted by his hometown 76ers, where his mom is a de facto executive, just to be abruptly traded to the Phoenix Suns during his media rounds. That’s the kind of story that makes me pull for a player, and Bridges has the talent and the opportunity to be fantasy-relevant in Phoenix. He moved into the starting lineup before Isaiah Canaan was waived, and injuries to Devin Booker and TJ Warren have opened up even more opportunity. His fantasy production has been inconsistent outside of steals, but that’s to be expected from a rookie. With Trevor Ariza all but guaranteed to be traded, Bridges makes for a great deep league stash with upside.
Bridges – Per 36
De’Anthony Melton – Rostered in 9% of Yahoo leagues
If Melton wasn’t owned in your dynasty league before he piled up 21 points with three 3’s, 5 assists, and a steal on Tuesday, he was probably picked up shortly after. He climbed from 0% to 9% ownership in Yahoo! leagues since then. Sure, his shot wasn’t falling in his follow up performance on Thursday, but his other counting stats were solid — 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals. Okobo is the starter for now, and who knows what happens when Devin Booker returns, but Melton has a chance to win the starting gig. While some sites project Melton outside the top-20 dynasty rookies in this year’s draft class, other models project him as a top-10 talent, likening Melton’s game to Eric Bledsoe’s or Marcus Smart’s. Whether starting or coming off the bench, Phoenix is “not tryin’ for Zion” and has every incentive to give their youngsters heavy minutes. At the minimum, Melton should contribute in key guard categories — with upside for much more long term.