NBA Waiver Wire: The Home Stretch

NBA Waiver Wire: The Home Stretch

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

Months turn to weeks. Weeks turn to days. And now just four nights of NBA games remain before the postseason.

Congratulations for making it this far. And congratulations and a tip of the hat for staying active until the end of the season – fantasy leagues are better when everyone stays in it until the end.

On this last waiver wire pickups article of the season, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that this week's waiver pool is deep. Three weeks ago, Bryn Forbes – the last name on this week's "other recommendations list" – might have qualified for a blurb. The bad news is, which could also be viewed as good news if you tilt your head just right, is that there are no singularly dominant options available. The waiver wire is loaded with difference-makers, but none of them are likely to single-handedly deliver a championship.

Now, the lean-your-head-just-so upside is that at least one of the options below is probably a good fit for your roster's needs. Furthermore, you don't need to worry about stopping your opponent from scooping up the basketball equivalent of what Derrick Henry was at the end of the last NFL season (an early-season scrub whose late-season explosion was so overpowering that he alone was able to almost single-handedly eliminate better overall rosters). Prioritize fit and team needs over all else, and one of these players below could help deliver a championship.

14 teams play two games

Months turn to weeks. Weeks turn to days. And now just four nights of NBA games remain before the postseason.

Congratulations for making it this far. And congratulations and a tip of the hat for staying active until the end of the season – fantasy leagues are better when everyone stays in it until the end.

On this last waiver wire pickups article of the season, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that this week's waiver pool is deep. Three weeks ago, Bryn Forbes – the last name on this week's "other recommendations list" – might have qualified for a blurb. The bad news is, which could also be viewed as good news if you tilt your head just right, is that there are no singularly dominant options available. The waiver wire is loaded with difference-makers, but none of them are likely to single-handedly deliver a championship.

Now, the lean-your-head-just-so upside is that at least one of the options below is probably a good fit for your roster's needs. Furthermore, you don't need to worry about stopping your opponent from scooping up the basketball equivalent of what Derrick Henry was at the end of the last NFL season (an early-season scrub whose late-season explosion was so overpowering that he alone was able to almost single-handedly eliminate better overall rosters). Prioritize fit and team needs over all else, and one of these players below could help deliver a championship.

14 teams play two games next week, while 16 play just once. The even split means that most fantasy rosters will probably end up with a similar number of starts as their competitors, but fitting a couple extra players with two games into your starting lineups can make a significant difference.

The teams with two games next week are: 76ers, Bulls, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors

Before I get into the players – thank you for reading this column. It's a pleasure to get to write these all season, and I hope they've helped some of you. If you've liked this column, stay tuned through the offseason, as we'll have a lot of quality content coming. And in this strange media landscape that we live in, one of the best (and easiest) ways to show you've liked this work is to like it on social media or share it with your friends. But, sincerely, thanks for reading, and good luck in your championships.

Richaun Holmes, Suns (9 percent rostered)

Next week's games: at Dal

As a true Process believer and a former resident of the Delaware Valley, I'm a big Holmes fan, which I should acknowledge at the outset. But, in fairness, he's provided ample evidence to justify my faith. The last time he saw big minutes on a tanking team – the last month of 2016-17, for the 76ers – he averaged 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.8 threes in 28.4 minutes. That was his sophomore season, when he was 23 years old. It's not like he's gotten worse.

The Suns are doing their annual "no really we're calling this bunch of G-League cast-offs an NBA team, I dare you to fine us" routine. Deandre Ayton (ankle, apparently*) has missed the last two games, and I'm willing to bet a hefty sum that he won't see the court again this season. Holmes has averaged an extra 13.6 minutes per game when Ayton is out, and Holmes has put up 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks starting the last two games. Holmes, like his teammate Josh Jackson (27 percent rostered), who is featured lower on this list, tends to put up a stinker every now and again. That said, Holmes is the closest thing to add-everywhere-at-all-costs player on this list. He's not quite a Derrick Henry, but might be 60 percent of that, which is still highly impactful.

(In fairness to Ayton, he did actually hurt his ankle in a game last week and needed assistance leaving the court. That was a real injury, and he might still actually be hurt. We just can't trust the Suns, given their recent history.)

Sterling Brown, Bucks (8 percent rostered)

Next week's games: OKC

The Bucks have clinched the No. 1 overall playoff seed, so their top priority for the remainder of the season is making sure their stars stay healthy. Khris Middleton missed two games last week and Eric Bledsoe missed one. Nikola Mirotic (thumb) is probably out the remainder of the season. Tony Snell (ankle) has missed five straight and may not return until the postseason either.

Giannis Antetokounmpo probably wants to keep working on his MVP campaign, but the Bucks would be foolish to let him maintain his full workload over their final three games. Assuming some combination of players keeps getting nights off, backup Bucks will continue to see inflated roles. 

Brown is the option I trust most going forward, though George Hill (5 percent rostered), Pat Connaughton (17 percent rostered) and D.J. Wilson (0 percent rostered) have also put up some solid lines. A mark in Brown's favor is that his positional versatility means that he could pickup minutes regardless of who is out, while Hill only really has fantasy appeal if Bledsoe is out, and Wilson is only an option if Antetokounmpo sits.

Walter Lemon Jr. (5 percent rostered), JaKarr Sampson (3 percent rostered), Shaquille Harrison, Bulls (9 percent rostered)

Next week's games: NY, at Phi

Speaking of G-League rosters masquerading as NBA teams, the Bulls current rotation is actually hilarious. Sampson was out of the league last week. "Walt Lemon Jr." sounds like something a random name generator would spit out before the finished tinkering with the algorithm. Harrison couldn't crack the rotation for the notoriously point-guard-thirsty Suns. Yet, with the Bulls working hard to lose their way into the bottom-three and with no incentive to play their actually-injured long-term players, Lemon, Sampson, Harrison, Wayne Selden (1 percent rostered) are all seeing major minutes. None are particularly exciting options, but with two games next week and tons of minutes to go around, each could help in a few categories.

Wayne Ellington, Pistons (25 percent rostered)

Next week's games: Mem, at NY

One of the stories of the season has been the ongoing churn of points-and-threes specialists. Ellington, Reggie Bullock (listed below) and Bryn Forbes (listed below) are the three hottest shooters entering this final stretch. Ellington's role is more important than Bullock's (injured and on an eliminated team) or Forbes (fewer minutes and field goal attempts), Ellington has the highest ceiling, and Ellington has made the most threes recently, which is why he gets the nod up here. Ellington has made at least four threes in four of the last five games. Added bonus – the Pistons' playoff hopes may not be settled until the final game of the season, so they're unlikely to get into much hanky panky.

Josh Jackson, Suns (27 percent rostered)

Next week's games: at Dal

With Devin Booker (ankle) done for the season and Ayton unlikely to play again, the Suns are missing 34 percent of their scoring, 31 percent of their rebounds and 30 percent of their assists. That's just from Booker and Ayton, and the Suns are also without T.J. Warren (ankle) or Kelly Oubre (thumb). The Suns have a lot of reasons to hand the car keys over to Jackson for the final few games – the only question is whether he'll be able to do anything with them. If you were to decide your pickup completely on the basis of "what waiver wire option is likely to have the most opportunities to produce", then my recommendation would be Jackson by a considerable margin. I just don't have a ton of faith his ability to deliver.

Christian Wood, Pelicans (45 percent rostered)

Next week's games: GS

I remain convinced that Anthony Davis (the league isn't fining us – have you seen the Bulls starting lineup?) is done for the season. Over the last four Davis-free games, Wood is averaging 17.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals. That production is front-loaded – his last two games were much worse than the first two – but he's still getting a ton of run and putting up a lot of numbers in this depleted, tanking frontcourt. Don't be overly deterred by the most recent game.

Other recommendations: Dion Waiters, Heat (18 percent rostered); Delon Wright, Grizzlies (47 percent rostered); Kevin Knox, Knicks (33 percent rostered); Reggie Bullock, Lakers (10 percent rostered); Tyus Jones, Timberwolves (36 percent rostered); Seth Curry, Trail Blazers (29 percent rostered); Ante Zizic, Cavaliers (5 percent rostered); Cedi Osman, Cavaliers (46 percent rostered); Bryn Forbes, Spurs (19 percent rostered)

Very high upside, very low floor recommendations: Richaun Holmes, Suns (9 percent rostered); Caris LeVert, Nets (44 percent rostered); Justise Winslow, Heat (40 percent rostered)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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