With Thanksgiving just around the corner, fantasy basketball owners have plenty for which to be thankful. Whether your team has started the season off well or is a raging tire fire, the waiver wire continues to replenish with quality contributors, giving you a chance to continue upgrading your squad no matter where you are in your league’s standings.
At this point in the season, it’s time to abandon thinking about your players in terms of where you drafted them. If a mid-round pick isn’t getting regular burn — hi, Gorgui Dieng! — you shouldn’t hesitate to cut them outright. There are still enough intriguing options in the free-agent pool to justify bailing on an underachiever.
Here’s a look at five such potential waiver-wire pickups, all of who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Avery Bradley, SG, Boston Celtics (47.1% owned)
It’s criminal for Avery Bradley to be owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues, considering how hot he’s been over the past week. After missing two games with a strained left calf, the former Texas Longhorn averaged 18.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 treys and 2.0 steals in just 25.5 minutes over his past four contests while coming off the bench behind Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas.
With Marcus Smart having suffered a bruised left knee on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, Bradley is likely to move back into the starting lineup temporarily, making him even more of a must-grab than he is already. Even if he’s ultimately relegated to the bench once Smart returns — the Oklahoma State product has been ruled out for Boston’s next two games — Bradley has proven capable of making a considerable fantasy impact in such a role.
Darren Collison, PG, Sacramento Kings (45.5% owned)
When an early-season hamstring strain sidelined Darren Collison for five games, fantasy owners began dropping him in droves. Considering his production prior to the injury — he averaged 15.8 points on 45.5 percent shooting, 5.2 assists, 1.3 triples, 1.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game — any owners who cut bait on him prematurely will soon regret that decision.
Since returning on Nov. 18, Collison hasn’t made much fantasy noise, averaging just 8.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting, 2.3 dimes, 1.7 steals, 1.3 rebounds and 0.7 triples in 28.2 minutes per game, but Kings head coach George Karl can’t feasibly continue trotting out Rajon Rondo for 40-plus minutes per game. Once Collison retakes his share of Sacramento’s point-guard minutes, his fantasy value will again begin to soar.
Dennis Schroder, PG, Atlanta Hawks (44.9% owned)
Anyone in need of some help at point guard should be targeting Dennis Schroder, who started three games this week in place of Jeff Teague. The latter returned from his sprained left ankle on Saturday, but Schroder should still maintain late-round value in standard leagues even while coming off the bench, as he’s averaged 10.9 points, 4.3 assists, 1.6 rebounds, 1.1 treys and 0.8 steals in just 21.4 minutes per game in such a role.
Most of Schroder’s best games this season have come as a starter, unsurprisingly, but he’s still doing enough damage off the bench to merit an end-of-the-bench spot in 10- or 12-team leagues. If Teague goes down with another injury, though, Schroder would immediately become a top 75 asset, making him one of the rare handcuff candidates worth rostering in fantasy basketball leagues.
Dwight Powell, PF, Dallas Mavericks (31.4% owned)
In last week’s Waiver Wire Watch, I mentioned Dwight Powell in the deeper-league adds section, but he’s graduated to a free-agent pickup for those in normal 10- or 12-team leagues, too. Despite playing just 22.2 minutes per game over his first 13 contests, Powell is averaging 10.2 points (on 54.2 percent shooting), 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals, putting him just outside the top 100 in eight-cat fantasy value for the year.
Until (if?) JaVale McGee returns, Powell should be set for roughly 25 minutes of playing time per night, making him well worth a pickup if you’re in need of help in rebounds and field goal percentage, in particular. He’s unlikely to ever erupt for a massive, week-winning stat line — he has just two double-doubles to his name this season — but he’s a well-rounded contributor who won’t hurt you in any category aside from free throw percentage.
Jeff Green, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies (29.0% owned)
After a miserable start to the season, Jeff Green finally appears to be rounding into form. Over his past five games —four of which were Grizzlies wins, for what it’s worth — Green is averaging 13.6 points on 41.2 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 treys and 0.4 blocks in 31.2 minutes per game, a marked increase from the 6.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game he averaged over his first nine contests.
Head coach Dave Joerger removed Green from the starting lineup after opening night, but he placed the Georgetown product back into the starting 3-role four games ago. So long as Green remains Memphis’ starting small forward and maintains a 30-minutes-per-game role, he has a chance to return late-round value, making him worth a speculative pickup if you have dead weight at the end of your roster.
Mentioned in previous weeks:
Jae Crowder, SF, Boston Celtics (47.5% owned)
Robert Covington, SF, Philadelphia 76ers (33.2% owned)
Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (24.6% owned)
Mario Chalmers, PG/SG, Memphis Grizzlies (22.6% owned)
Cory Joseph, PG, Toronto Raptors (13.8% owned)
Omri Casspi, SF, Sacramento Kings (11.3% owned)
Luis Scola, PF, Toronto Raptors (10.5% owned)
Gary Harris, SG, Denver Nuggets (7.2% owned)
All Player Rater data and ownership percentages via ESPN.com and are current through Saturday, Nov. 21.