Fantasy Basketball: Final call on these top waiver wire pickups
By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
There are still several diamonds in the rough who are available in more fantasy leagues than not. The continued COVID chaos has done its part to keep the waiver wire overflowing with quality options.
Yet, at some point, the free-agent pool will probably start to thin out. In fact, that day is, in all likelihood, rapidly approaching. As such, now is the perfect time to capitalize on the plethora of superb players still widely available.
Flipping my typical script, this week’s column features several players who have been recommended recently. Without further ado, here are 13 players to consider adding heading into Week 13.
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (49% rostered)
Having already made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball — #NotOnHerb — the rookie forward has taken his offensive game to another level over the last couple of weeks. Over the last six games, Jones is averaging 14.7 points (48.5% FG, 33.3% 3PT, 94.4% FT), 5.7 boards, 2.5 dimes, 2.3 steals, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 threes across 34.8 minutes. A budding two-way player who should continue to play heavy minutes for the Pelicans for the remainder of the campaign, Jones should be scooped up in all but the shallowest fantasy leagues. Add him while you can.
Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets (49% rostered)
In his first game back following a three-game absence due to health and safety protocols, Morris turned in 20 points, five treys, two dimes, one board, and one steal in 29 minutes against the Jazz. With no realistic return date for Michael Porter Jr. (back) or Jamal Murray (knee), Morris is in an ideal position to produce more counting stats than usual. In fact, he’s maintaining career-high averages across most categories, including scoring (12.8 PPG), assists (4.2 APG), rebounding (2.7 RPG) and made threes (1.7 3PG). Moreover, his efficiency, in terms of percentages (48.1% FG, 39.0% 3PT, 79.2% FT) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5-to-1), has not dropped off either. All of this combines to make Morris a must-add player regardless of format.
Nicolas Claxton, Brooklyn Nets (46% rostered)
Claxton was recommended just last week, so regular readers (who know I rarely do this) are probably wondering what gives. Well, for some odd reason, Claxton’s rostered percentage is trending downward (-2% Last Day) despite the growing body of evidence that he has broken out and earned a meaningful role going forward. Boasting averages of 13.3 points (71.2% FG, 70.6% FT), 5.9 boards, 1.9 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steal across the last eight games, he is far and away the most explosively athletic big man in Brooklyn. His leaping and finishing abilities have made him tough to stop offensively in screen-and-roll situations with his superstar teammates, and he’s easily the club’s spriest defensive center. Like Herbert Jones and Monte Morris, Claxton won’t be this widely available for long, so snag him now before it’s too late.
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Coby White, Chicago Bulls (44% rostered)
After logging 25 minutes or less in each of his first 10 appearances this season, White has cleared that threshold in six of the last seven outings. With averages of 17.6 points (48.8% FG, 46.9% 3PT, 84.2% FT), 3.7 dimes, 3.3 threes, 2.9 boards, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 33.0 minutes across his last seven showings, White has probably earned a steady role going forward, though it remains to be seen how involved he’ll be when the team is closer to full strength. Chicago has been leaning heavily on multi-guard lineups all season, so while the eventual return of Alex Caruso (protocols, foot) may soon cut into White’s playing time a bit, perhaps he will remain a viable fantasy option, thanks in large part to his vastly improved offensive efficiency.
Patrick Beverley, Minnesota Timberwolves (39% rostered)
Like Claxton, Beverley was just suggested in last week’s column. Nevertheless, in the four games since then, the 33-year-old veteran is averaging 13.5 points, 7.5 assists compared to 1.5 turnovers, 4.5 boards, 2.3 treys, 1.8 steals, and 1.0 block in 26.8 minutes. When you have teammates like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, assists aren’t so hard to come by even if you’re splitting ball-handling duties with (oft-injured) point guard D’Angelo Russell — and the Timberwolves don’t possess a great deal of depth along the perimeter. Personally, in terms of trust level, I’d put Beverley in the same must-add camp as Jones, Morris, and Claxton.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (38% rostered)
While Ross was recently sidelined for a few weeks due to health and safety protocols, he is averaging 19.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.9 threes and 1.1 steals across his last seven appearances. Like teammate Gary Harris, Ross could very well be a trade candidate as the deadline draws nearer. Still, unless (or until) a deal comes to fruition, both Magic veterans are worth adding in the vast majority of leagues.
Gary Harris, Orlando Magic (36% rostered)
Since recommending Harris two weeks ago, his rostered percentage has risen noticeably. However, given how well he has played since the start of December, it’s safe to say fantasy managers are still sleeping. He has reached double figures in scoring in 17 of his last 18 appearances. Moreover, Harris has been even hotter of late, pouring in at least 17 points in eight of the last 10 games. Though not a significant source of dimes, boards, or blocks, Harris consistently contributes to the points, steals (1.3 SPG over the last 20), and three-point shooting (at least two treys in 13 of the last 15) departments, plus he has been maintaining efficient shooting percentages from the field, beyond the arc and the charity stripe over the last month and change.
Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks (36% rostered)
Reddish (ankle) has come on strong lately, making an impact on both ends of the floor. Even if you include his second-to-last outing, in which he was able to log only 10 minutes due to injury, Reddish is averaging 18.4 points, 2.7 boards, 2.6 threes, 2.1 dimes, 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks in 31.7 minutes across his last seven appearances. While his field-goal percentage still leaves a lot to be desired, Reddish’s stat profile is well-rounded enough to warrant consideration in category formats — and his counting stats make him an appealing add in points leagues, as well.
Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks (36% rostered)
Small sample size alert! Huerter has looked good during the two games since returning from a six-game absence due to health and safety protocols, combining for 43 points, 13 boards, seven dimes, three treys and one steal across 70 minutes. Trae Young (back) missed the most recent contest, and the other one was against a putrid Portland defense, so it’s hard to blame anyone hesitant about adding Huerter. However, he seems to be embracing the sixth-man role and should have more opportunities to create offense for himself and others now that he’s coming off the bench and presumably spending more time on the court without Young.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets (33% rostered)
Gordon has scored in double digits in nine straight games, averaging 14.7 points and 2.4 threes while converting on at least 60 percent of his shot attempts five times during this recent stretch. He has also been pitching in solid assist numbers lately, dishing 4.7 dimes per game across the last 10 contests. Though Gordon is a candidate to be traded or bought out, he’s proving he still has some gas left in the tank. As such, he remains a decent add in most formats.
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (31% rostered)
Clarke could be in the process of breaking out and re-establishing fantasy relevance for the first time since his rookie year.
Or it could be a mere four-game mirage.
In any event, Clarke has cobbled together averages of 14.3 points on 69.2 percent shooting from the field, to go along with 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in 23.8 minutes across the last four contests. The more progress Jaren Jackson Jr. makes in terms of cleaning the glass and avoiding fouls, the more we’ll see of Clarke. The presence of Steven Adams prevents Clarke from being a must-add player for now, but he’s worth keeping an eye on at the very least.
Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks (16% rostered)
Nwora earned a mention a couple of weeks ago, and he’s once again an excellent streaming option heading into Week 13. When you combine Milwaukee’s lengthy injury report with the fact that Nwora has totaled 40 points, 10 boards, and eight treys across 59 minutes in his last two appearances, it’s clear that the case for calling on him in the short term is a sturdy one.
Keifer Sykes, Indiana Pacers (2% rostered)
Lance Stephenson exploded for 30 points, five dimes, four treys, and three boards in 32 minutes during Indiana’s most recent matchup. Nevertheless, the more intriguing add, at least in my opinion, is 28-year-old rookie Keifer Sykes. Having averaged 16.5 points, 7.5 dimes, 4.3 boards, 2.5 threes and 1.2 steals in 34.3 minutes across 13 appearances for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season, Sykes was signed by the Pacers and has essentially replaced the recently released Brad Wanamaker (now with the Wizards) as the team’s backup point guard. Holding down the fort as a starter for the last three contests, Sykes has averaged 16.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.3 boards, and 2.7 threes in 37.7 minutes.
It’s possible T.J. McConnell (wrist) will return by the end of February and that Malcolm Brogdon (Achilles) will enjoy a fairly healthy second half of the season. Nevertheless, the looming possibility of a major shakeup at the trade deadline combined with the injury-riddled backcourt makes Sykes a sneaky add, or at least a player to put on your watch list.
Recent recommendations still rostered in less than 50 percent of leagues: Kelly Olynyk, Chris Duarte, Terance Mann, Matisse Thybulle, Gary Payton II, Facundo Campazzo, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Deni Avdija, Talen Horton-Tucker, Aaron Wiggins, Cameron Payne, P.J. Tucker