Waiver Wired: Week 16

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Jonas Nader
·11 min read
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For those of you heading into the fantasy playoffs, I wish you the best of luck and hope that this article has been helpful throughout the season. Now let’s go get some championships with all of our shares of waiver-wired regulars in Robert Williams, Moses Brown and Jakob Poeltl.

For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

Week 16 Games Played:

5 Games: DET, TOR

4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, PHX, POR, SAS, UTA, WAS

3 Games: BKN, CHA, GSW, LAL, MIA, ORL, PHI, SAC

Back-to-Backs:

Mon-Tues: DET, TOR

Tues-Weds: ATL, BOS, DEN, IND, MEM, NOP

Weds-Thurs: DAL, OKC, PHX, UTA

Thurs-Fri: CHI, CLE, LAC, MIL

Fri-Sat: GSW, HOU, PHI, WAS

Sat-Sun: DET, POR, TOR

Sun-Mon (Week 17): CHI, DAL, DEN, MEM, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL, SAS

Top Pickups: These are players that are available in 55% or more of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues. The format I traditionally use when talking about rankings are 9-category leagues, and these players are listed in the order that I’d prioritize them.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (45%)- He barely qualifies for this list and has the look of a fantasy league winner with the Pelicans missing half their roster. Lonzo Ball (hip) is without a timetable, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are day-to-day and Josh Hart’s (thumb) season could be over. The Pelicans appear to be tanking as well, so there’s little to incentive to playing Eric Bledsoe -- that’s good news for NAW when Lonzo comes back.

NAW has been on quite the tear and is peaking just in time for the fantasy playoffs, putting up 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.1 blocks, 0.9 steals and 3.6 triples over his last seven games. He’s one of the league leaders in deflections per minute so it’s no surprise to see those defensive numbers, and his ability to fill up the stat sheet has never been in question when the minutes are there. He will be on a lot of championship teams.

Jaden McDaniels (39%)- The secret is out with McDaniels going from 2% rostered to 39% in the span of a week. We got the jump on the competition with this rookie, as he’s been on our radar for a long time now due his stat set similarities to Jonathan Isaac with a tremendous block rate to go with a really nice looking 3-point shot.

He has run away with the starting PF job in Minnesota and is thriving alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, ranking 43rd in 9-cat over his last six games. He’s averaging 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 dimes, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 triples on 54% shooting, and the FG% may be somewhat sustainable too because this is a player who feasts at the rim and from beyond the arc, only taking 20 mid-range attempts on the season.

He has the look of a potentially special player and has showcased his First-Team All-Defensive upside in recent games with lockdown performances on James Harden, Julius Randle, Luka Doncic and even some flashes against Joel Embiid Saturday.

Aleksej Pokusevski (27%)- The rookie was dropped in a lot of leagues after entering the protocols but was surprisingly back in action after one DNP on Friday. He’s played at least 30 minutes in six of his last seven games, and the Thunder are using him all over the floor. He’s even been getting some run as a point guard which is just unheard of for a 7-footer. There are some serious unicorn vibes here and it’s becoming blatantly obvious that this kid is going to be a superstar some day.

His assist rate doubles with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) off the court, and he’s averaging 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 dimes, 0.7 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.1 triples over his last seven games. “His pace these last 10 games or so has been significantly different and more controlled than early on,” coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s a good indicator that the game’s slowing down for him.”

Hamidou Diallo (43%)- The Pistons have five games on the schedule this week, but don’t be fooled because Diallo is likely to sit one or two as the Pistons continue to exercise cautious after he recovered from a groin injury. Plus, that helps their tank which I don’t think is any secret.

But he can still make a big impact in the worst-case scenario of him playing three games, as he’s been a top-45 player in his last few appearances with 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 dimes, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals and 1.7 triples. Coach Dwane Casey has really talked him up and we know the front office is high on him too, as GM Troy Weaver said Diallo was his first target when he took the job. With five games this week you can also take a look at guys like Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Cory Joseph (yes it’s that bad in Detroit), but don’t expect much.

De’Anthony Melton (12%)- I promise Melton is not paying me to feature him on this article every week. Taylor Jenkins’ favorite player in Grayson Allen is back, but Melton’s minutes actually didn’t take a hit with 24 minutes compared to 22 for Allen. And as usual, Melton was a +17 compared to a -2 for Allen, posting 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and four triples. He’s been a 6th-round value over his last four in just 23 minutes per game, averaging 13.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.5 steals and 2.8 triples. Is this the beginning stages of Melton’s breakout, or will Jenkins continue to let us down? The fact that we even have to stress about this is ridiculous considering Melton’s real plus-minus rating ranks 18th in the NBA ahead of the likes of Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard.

Theo Maledon (24%)- If you care about your FG% I suggest looking elsewhere, but Theo checks every other box and has done a tremendous job filling in for SGA. Well, at least before his dud vs. Portland… But even if you include that one, Theo is averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 0.8 steals and 2.5 triples over his last six games. He’s shooting 32% from the field in that span, drawing inspiration from the Dillon Brooks’ of the world.

Kira Lewis Jr. (4%)- There’s still a lot of mystery box upside here and Lewis Jr. hasn’t gotten many opportunities until recently. But with Josh Hart possibly out for the season, Lonzo without a timetable and Eric Bledsoe one Tweet away from asking for a change of scenery, Kira’s minutes could be consistent the rest of the way. Over his last four games, the rookie is averaging 13.0 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.8 triples in 25.0 minutes, so he’s just a few minutes away from top-100 territory.

Daniel Gafford (8%)- For those of you with a first-round bye, I recommend stashing Gafford this week. He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated in a few days, so the hope here is that he’s cleared in time for next week. In just 14.5 minutes across his first two appearances, he was an absolute monster with 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Coach Scott Brooks called him a “keeper” and Bradley Beal was really excited about having a lob threat instead of a mascot enthusiast in Robin Lopez, so I would anticipate a big role down the stretch.

Tomas Satoransky (22%)- This one’s pretty simple. Satoransky is sticking in the starting lineup because he’s more of a pass-first PG with Coby White able to focus more on scoring with the second unit. There isn’t a ton of upside here, but Satoransky is certainly getting the job done. Over his last seven games, he’s averaging 10.4 points, 5.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks and 0.9 triples.

Patrick Williams (14%)- The light is slowly turning on for the rookie and the minutes are still secure with Nikola Vucevic in town. He’s been a top-90 player over his last three, averaging 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 triples.

Kenrich Williams (4%)- Lastly, Kenrich Williams continues to be a sneaky asset in OKC, playing minutes at four different positions for the short handed Thunder. He’s coming off an 18-point game and is sitting on 10th-round numbers over the last two weeks in just 23.5 minutes, putting up 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.4 steals and 1.4 triples. Once we see some positive regression with his usually good defensive stats, he’ll offer mid-round upside as the tank picks up speed.

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Streamers

*These players could fall off the radar in the blink of an eye, but could get the job done in the short term.

Rudy Gay (17%)- The Spurs are in 8th and are looking to get back into the playoffs. They don’t have the luxury of resting Gay anymore, and there’s a lot of minutes available in the frontcourt. In his last five games, Gay has been a top-70 player with 14.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.2 triples in 23 minutes.

Isaiah Hartenstein (5%)- If Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) continue to miss time, don’t hesitate to stream Hartenstein. I don’t trust Kevin Love to wake up without stubbing his toe and suddenly missing 4 months, and there’s little reason for the Cavs to play him anyways. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has really talked up Hartenstein for his physicality and ability to play in the pick-and-roll with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, so I expect him to get decent run. In his last three games he put up 8.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.3 blocks and 0.7 triples in 21.1 minutes.

Sterling Brown (4%)- Jae’Sean Tate and Kevin Porter Jr. get all the love but Sterling is trending up too and is widely available. He’s been red hot from 3-point range all season, and we know the minutes are going to be there. Over his last five games he’s doing just enough to be considered as a streamer with 11.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 triples in 28.0 minutes.

Malachi Flynn (1%)- Kyle Lowry (right foot infection) is likely to miss at least one more week and Fred VanVleet tweaked his hip on Friday and has been frustrated with his conditioning levels since recovering from COVID. That leaves Flynn as the next man up if FVV misses time in a five-game week. We haven’t seen much of him this season so the jury is still out, but he looked good on Friday with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 31 minutes.

Terance Mann (11%)- The lack of defensive stats and 3-pointers really holds him back, but he’s been getting a ton of burn for a reason and Paul George is struggling to fend off his toe injury. Over his last seven games, Mann is getting nearly 30 minutes per night with 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 dimes and 0.9 triples.

Bruce Brown (5%)- He’ll get the job done as long as James Harden (hamstring) remains out. Brown had 14 points (7-of-10 FGs), six rebounds, two steals and one block in 29 minutes in his last game and has a per-36 line of 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 dimes, 1.0 steals and 0.4 blocks with Harden and Kevin Durant off the court.

James Johnson (3%)- I’m expecting Zion and Ingram back soon, but if not, don’t be afraid to turn to Johnson who has put together two really nice performances in a row.