Fantastic Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Watch Al Horford

Working the waiver wire is essential for success in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries, and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to get free agency stats to max out fantasy rosters.

A willingness to entertain the competition for the last spots on your fantasy hoops list can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of stat contributors, it’s helpful to consider your end-of-the-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating around in free agency.

The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position widely available in free agency in the ESPN leagues. Some appointments are specialists who can help in one or two categories, while others offer more diverse and significant statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ranked the players at each position with acquisition priority in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.


Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns (enrolled in 17.2% of ESPN leagues): The Suns will not have team leader and star point guard Chris Paul in the roster for future games as he continues to recover from a foot injury. Payne has been relatively good in his place from a fantasy standpoint, averaging 20 points and 5.8 cents with impressive shooting metrics over his last five games entering Sunday, it all starts. As long as Paul is sidelined, Payne is a fantasy pitcher.

Bones Hyland, Denver Nuggets (17.7%): The Nuggets are currently missing Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic to Covid protocols, moving Hyland to a bigger attacking role in the meantime. Entering Sunday’s roster, the sophomore guard has averaged 19.7 points, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and a whopping 4.5 3-pointers over his past six outings.

Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (8.3%): The Pistons turned to Hayes as a starting point guard with Cade Cunningham dealing with a serious shin injury. Hayes will struggle to score effectively at times, but solid assists and steal rates add value as he gets so many minutes and touches for Detroit.

Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers (2.6%): The Sixers lost another star guard to a foot injury with Tyrese Maxey suffering a broken bone over the weekend, propelling Milton into a big scoring and creative role for a suddenly depleted Philadelphia rotation.

shooting guard

De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers (20.6%): Following injuries to James Harden and Maxey, Melton is among the league leaders in steals and ranked highly as a rebounder for the position in his time at Memphis. Expect Melton to play long minutes until the end of the calendar year.

Malik Beasley, Utah Jazz (45.0%): A confident bucket with the freedom to hunt for his own shot, Beasley has upped it recently with some iconic scoring performances. Utah will continue to feed Beasley on the second unit, making him the rare bench scorer with some level of consistency.

Derrick White, Boston Celtics (44.9%): No stats will blow you away with White, but his assists are up, his block percentage is atypically high for a guard, and that mix puts him 12th among the leaders on the Player Rater over the past two weeks.

Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons (3.7%): A goaltender capable of posting solid rebound rates to go along with his confident shooting, Burks should be busy scoring in place of Cade Cunningham in the coming days.

small front

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (54.0%): With Desmond Bane sidelined and the Grizzlies having a tighter rotation this year, Brooks will command a heavy offensive workload in games to come. Fortunately, as you may know, Brooks is a huge fan of his own game.

Royce O’Neale, Brooklyn Nets (35.3%): Fresh off his first career triple-double, which included the game-winning shot for the Nets, O’Neale filled the gaps capably for the Nets amid serious roster issues last month.

Bruce Brown, Denver Nuggets (11.4%): The jack of all trades O’Neale replaces in Brooklyn this season is Brown, who now brings his versatile ground game to the Nuggets. With his star teammates sidelined, Brown improved his play on both sides of the ball.

Caleb Martin, Miami Heat (4.5%): Another capable wing of the Miami assembly line, Martin has emerged as a fine streaming option during Jimmy Butler’s absence. It’s only a tentative addition, but it’s worth noting that Martin has averaged nearly 41 minutes in the last three games heading into Sunday, backing an impressive two-way line.

Power forward

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (61.5%): Don’t worry about some games being missed due to injury management as the elite block rate and potential for some attacking advantages remain. Jackson, after all, led the entire league in blocks last season.

Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (19.1%): A recent ankle injury could hamper fantasy value as ‘Poku’ was starting to combine big defensive results with usable offensive results.

Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers (39.6%): This regular vet isn’t making a ton beyond 3-pointers for the Clippers as their resident spans four, but he’s at least boasting his highest rebound rate in four years and enough steal clip to have of importance.

Torrey Craig, Phoenix Suns (2.7%): A glue guy for the Suns playing heavy minutes with an ailing Cameron Johnson, Craig has averaged 13 points, 8.3 rebounds and two steals and blocks combined in his last three games entering Sunday’s slate.


Bol Bol, Orlando Magic (49.9%): This guy shouldn’t be on this list any longer; Bol is among the elite fantasy contributors over the past month thanks to a unique mix of blocks, boards and efficient scoring. Make room for him now because there’s a winning statistical advantage in the league with the way Bol has been playing lately.

Al Horford, Boston Celtics (51.3%): After a quiet October, Horford had 13.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and strong defensive results in November. There will be a few quiet lines, but Horford still has a fun 3&D profile.

Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornet (25.2%): Between Plumlee and Utah’s Kelly Olynyk (31.7%), fantasy managers have useful depth options at the pivot to consider. Both are solid passers for the position, while Plumlee is the best source of rebounding and shooting efficiency and Olynyk offers an atypically high steal rate.

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