Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Looking ahead with some big-picture pickup options
By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The All-Star break has arrived, which signifies the stretch run both for the NBA regular season and the fantasy basketball one. Fantasy managers are gearing up for that final playoff push, trying to utilize the waiver wire as best they can. As such, this week's waiver wire article focuses on the big picture rather than suggesting short-term streaming options.
Six of the 13 players I'm recommending are available in more than two-thirds of leagues, so unless you're in a 30-team custom league, you should have access to some of these guys.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (49% rostered)
Quickly continues to thrive off the bench for the Knicks, entering the All-Star break with career highs in scoring (12.7 PPG), rebounding (4.0 RPG), steals (0.8 SPG), minutes (27.7 MPG) and field-goal percentage (43.7% FG). His assist-to-turnover ratio, nearly three-to-one, also represents a career-best. Though he's shooting a career-low percentage from the charity stripe (82.4% FT), he's still helpful in that category and beyond the arc (1.7 3PG). If Quickley is still available in your league, add him quickly.
Kenyon Martin Jr., Houston Rockets (48% rostered)
Martin began his breakout in January and reached another level in February. Although he enters the All-Star break coming off an ugly outing in which he scored four points while making only one of his nine field-goal attempts, Martin is maintaining a monthly average of 13.9 points (58.3% FG, 31.6% 3PT, 75.0% FT), 6.3 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.9 blocks, 0.8 threes and 0.5 steals in 32.8 minutes. Only time will tell whether Martin will remain this involved over the final months of the season, but if so, he'll be valuable in most, if not all, formats.
Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors (45% rostered)
Looney is enjoying his best individual season behind career-high averages in scoring (6.8 PPG), rebounding (8.8 RPG), assists (2.6 APG), field-goal percentage (65.6% FG) and minutes (23.3 MPG). His assist-to-turnover ratio of just over five-to-one is absurd, even considering his modest playmaking role. Letting Looney sit on the waiver wire is lunacy; add him immediately.
Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors (43% rostered)
DiVincenzo has seen his offensive efficiency, scoring and three-point shooting rise to new heights in February. However, his minutes have dipped a bit, as has his production in the rebounding and assist departments. Nevertheless, DiVincenzo remains worthy of a roster spot for the stretch run. He has been a consistent contributor for most of the season, averaging 11.1 points (45.1% FG, 44.4% 3PT, 82.8% FT), 4.8 boards, 3.9 dimes, 2.6 threes and 1.5 steals in 29.3 minutes across the last 32 contests.
Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (40% rostered)
Avdija turned in a few sloppy showings heading into the All-Star break. Even still, over the last 12 games, he's averaging 13.1 points (46.9% FG, 35.0% 3PT, 74.0% FT), 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 dimes, 1.4 steals and 1.2 threes in 28.2 minutes. Although he won't necessarily see heavy minutes on a nightly basis unless Washington's frontcourt gets banged up, Avdija figures to continue playing a demanding role for the Wizards during their playoff push.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (39% rostered)
Sochan should earn substantial minutes the rest of the season, making him especially valuable in points leagues. Over the last 11 games, he's averaging 14.5 points, 5.5 boards, 2.9 assists and 1.2 threes. It remains to be seen what level of offensive efficiency the rookie will offer as he sees more playing time against opposing teams' starters, but if he can provide halfway decent shooting percentages, his multi-category production will be useful in most formats.
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (38% rostered)
Minnesota is reportedly hopeful that Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) will be able to rejoin the rotation at some point during the final 10 to 15 games. However, some fantasy leagues will be finished by then, and even those that play on to the bitter end of the NBA regular season ought to consider the possibility that Towns doesn't return as soon as the Timberwolves are hoping.
Meanwhile, Anderson has been a steady contributor across several categories during Towns' extended absence, averaging 9.7 points (49.8% FG, 44.2% 3PT, 76.8% FT), 5.2 boards, 4.8 dimes, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks and 0.7 threes in 28.9 minutes across the last 33 games. Recent injuries led to a significant decrease in Anderson's rostered percentage, so if someone dropped Slow Mo in your league, go ahead and add him.
Terance Mann, LA Clippers (31% rostered)
Mann has scored in double figures in six straight games and has been promoted to the starting lineup, at least for the time being. During this recent six-game stretch, for which the Clippers have been on the healthier side, Mann has averaged 16.2 points, 5.0 boards, 2.8 assists and 1.8 threes in 29.9 minutes. His shooting percentages during this recent run are unsustainable, but he fits well alongside the team's stars and offers some tertiary playmaking without committing many turnovers. Savvy managers are catching on already — his rostered percentage has risen by 21 percent over the last day alone.
Malaki Branham, San Antonio Spurs (27% rostered)
Branham has been balling out lately, pouring in at least 22 points in four of the last eight games while averaging 18.1 points (51.8% FG, 41.3% 3PT, 71.4% FT), 3.9 boards, 2.9 dimes, 2.4 threes and 0.8 steals in 32.6 minutes during this recent stretch. His shooting stroke is among the purest in the league, let alone this draft class. Sochan is an intriguing add, but if I can only snag one Spurs rookie, I'd sooner scoop Branham.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz (26% rostered)
Horton-Tucker was recommended in last week's column when he was rostered in just three percent of leagues. He's not that widely available anymore, but he's still a free agent in nearly three out of every four leagues despite averaging 13.8 points, 7.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 threes in 25.8 minutes over the first five games following Utah's recent trade.
Matisse Thybulle, Portland Trail Blazers (24% rostered)
Thybulle has amassed five swipes and three swats through two games with the Trail Blazers. Perhaps more importantly, though, he combined to play 56 minutes in those two matchups. Expecting anything outside of steals and blocks from Thybulle is a recipe for disappointment. Still, if he keeps earning this much playing time, he'll be valuable to plenty of fantasy managers as a defensive specialist.
Eric Gordon, LA Clippers (17% rostered)
Gordon has thrown up a bunch of bricks through two outings with the Clippers. However, he has been afforded ample responsibility off the bench. Defensively, he has logged two steals and two blocks through two games and should be more motivated to compete on that end now that he's on a contender. Furthermore, he has dished 10 dimes, including seven in 26 minutes during Thursday's victory over the Suns. The team is generally lacking in playmakers, so Gordon should continue to have a green light when initiating offense for himself and others.
The days of Gordon being a must-roster player in all formats are probably over. Nevertheless, he's someone to keep an eye on or add on a speculative basis, particularly in deeper points leagues.
Delon Wright, Washington Wizards (16% rostered)
Wright hasn't received much recognition, flying under the radar despite averaging 6.2 points, 3.7 assists, 3.2 boards and 2.0 steals in 22.5 minutes thus far this season. Part of that is that he's a reserve guard on a middling team who has appeared in only 29 games. But the multi-category production, and especially his career-high average in the steals department, makes him valuable in many formats. If you're in a deep league and Wright is available, don't hesitate to pick him up.