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Waiver wire pickups: Let’s talk about double-doubles

Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to source stats from free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.

A willingness to entertain competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.

The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position widely available in free agency in ESPN leagues. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ordered players at each position with the priority of acquisition in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN men’s basketball leagues.

Point Guard

Chris Paul, Golden State Warriors (Rostered in 63.3% of ESPN leagues): Likely to return to the floor for the Dubs in their upcoming road swing, Paul is the rare backup guard worthy of our attention in fantasy purposes. The reasoning is his continued elite assist rate, one that propels real value even as he has become a role player in his post-prime phase.

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (25.3%): It remains remarkable that Caruso sustains a top-20 block percentage in the NBA all while being one of the best point-of-attack defenders. Don’t let the lack of offensive firepower hold you back from being interested in Caruso, especially as he’s the rare defender productive in both important categories.

Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (13.5%): Hitting a career-best from beyond the arc, Trent Jr. is finally playing enough minutes in the rotation to merit interest in his 3-and-D potential.

Shooting Guard

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (13.4%): The absence of Zach LaVine has led to a revival in Dosunmu’s game; he has become a unique combo guard for the team with the ability to create for others off the bounce. He might just be the most interesting guard addition you can make at the moment.

Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets (30.9%): This dude is already a fun fantasy option in his rookie season. Just consider that in his first three games after the All-Star break, he has amassed eight blocks and 21 rebounds. Few wings will provide as much defensive juice as this ascendant youngster.

Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers (16.2%): This second-year bucket is adding more passing production to his profile, which helps to expand his fantasy impact beyond merely a scorer.

Small Forward

Vince Williams Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (36.7%): Given the team’s loaded injury report, it’s looking like Williams’ runway as a top creator for the team could continue for several more weeks. With at least seven dimes in six straight games entering the new week, Williams has become a key positive for a team that has faced an unprecedented wave of impact injuries this season.

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans (11.3%): The return to form has gone somewhat slowly for Murphy following offseason surgery, but we should be patient for a player who provided league-winning production down the finish last season. Back to putting up big two-way numbers and, most encouragingly, big minutes for New Orleans, another big finish could unfold.

Royce O’Neale, Phoenix Suns (23.7%): Sent to the desert at the deadline, O’Neale was brilliant in a recent spot start and could ascend as a meaningful rotation piece for a team in desperate need of help on the glass and on defense.

Power Forward

Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (30.7%): Not many players can claim games with at least five steals all season, while Jones has done so twice in the past few weeks. The larceny on defense isn’t his only positive, as Jones has upped his offense in both scoring and creation to a degree that demands more interest.

De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (12.1%): The Hawks’ wave of injuries means Hunter is likely to serve a bigger role in the coming weeks. Given that he’s finally healthy himself, Hunter is a player with eligibility at both forward spots with some real upside.

Center

Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers (54.4%): A savvy roll man who is adept at working with James Harden often thrives, as we’re seeing with Zubac in recent weeks. Double-doubles have become common during a recent run of success.

Nick Richards, Charlotte Hornets (11.3%): A breakout season is quietly underway for Richards; he’s averaging a rich double-double since the break to go with impact defensive rates.

Bol Bol, Phoenix Suns (5.5%): The Suns have looked all over their rotation for steady frontcourt help, and might just have unearthed Bol in recent weeks. The ability to leverage his length in the paint has been meaningful recently.

Special Teams

This section focuses on specialists; players who flash in a singular category and can provide specific value to those in category and roto formats. Nominations are based on which category such players are helpful in and will rotate throughout the season.

  • 3-pointers: Miami’s Duncan Robinson (11.5%) remains a key shooting specialist, confirmed by ranking third in added value via 3-pointers on the Player Rater the past two weeks. Malik Beasley (9.2%) serves a similar role for the Bucks.

  • Steals: No player has added more value via steals over the past two weeks than the Pelicans’ Jones, while teammate Murphy is ninth in this regard. These results appear sticky given their career rates.

  • Rebounds: Charlotte’s Richards is cleaning the glass with little competition. The Wizards are getting good minutes from Marvin Bagley III when it comes to collecting loose boards.

  • Blocks: Richards surfaces again as helpful, while Caruso’s atypical swat skills remain remarkable.


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