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Waiver Wired

NBA Waiver Wired: Week 15

by Jonas Nader
Updated On: March 29, 2021, 2:22 am ET

We’ve had a lot of success this season scooping up Robert Williams, Moses Brown, Jakob Poeltl and more before the competition, and luckily for us, the trade deadline created several more opportunities on the Waiver Wire. We’re at the point in the season where “stashing” is no longer a thing, so let’s focus purely on the 10 best adds available in over 60% of Yahoo Leagues.

 

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Week 15 Games Played

4 Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAC, SAS, UTA, WAS

3 Games: CLE, DEN, LAL, PHX, POR, TOR

 

Back-to-Backs

Mon-Tues: LAC, WAS

Tues-Weds: PHX

Weds-Thurs: BKN, DET, MIA, SAS

Thurs-Fri: ATL, CHA, GSW, NOP

Fri-Sat: DAL, IND, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, POR, SAC, UTA

Sat-Sun: ORL, PHI

Sun-Mon (Week 16): BKN, HOU

 

Top Pickups: These are players that are available in 60% 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.

 

Note: Moses Brown (fantasy league winner, 56% rostered) and Jordan Poole (46%) are now rostered in too many leagues and did not qualify. Other players that should be rostered but didn’t qualify includes Ivica Zubac (wouldn’t rule out a starting role rest of the way), T.J. McConnell, Nerlens Noel (with Mitchell Robinson news) and Gary Trent Jr. (massive opportunity in Toronto).

Nicolas Claxton (17%)- The second-year “unicorn” is coming off a pair of duds, but that’s OK and maybe that means an impatient fantasy manager cut him loose. A lot of people are under the impression that the arrival of LaMarcus Aldridge will ruin Claxton, but I’m willing to bet that it’s DeAndre Jordan who loses his role and not Claxton. 

He’s been better in every aspect for Brooklyn, as his mobility allows the Nets to push the pace. He can handle the ball in a pinch and even played some PG in college, his rim protection has been outstanding and he’s feasting around the rim with James Harden and Kyrie Irving making his life easier. His per-36 line of 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 1.3 steals and 2.7 blocks just oozes upside, so if he can stay in that 24 minute range he will offer top-75 upside. 

Brooklyn’s opponents score 14 points per 100 possessions fewer with Claxton on the floor which comfortably leads the team, and if you remember just a few short months ago, they literally couldn’t stop anybody before he showed up. So if Steve Nash doesn’t do the right thing here, that will be a huge mistake.

Theo Maledon (10%)- The Thunder’s tank is picking up speed and it’s going to be a youth movement from here on out. Just ask Al Horford. Theo scored 22 points (7-of-16 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and four triples in 37 minutes, though I did warn in his blurb on Saturday night that these aren’t realistic numbers going forward -- before Saturday, Theo had a per-36 line of 12.4 points, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.9 triples with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor. SGA doesn’t have a timetable and OKC are going to milk this with their eyes on the lottery, so there’s a lot of opportunity for the rookie.

Daniel Gafford (13%)- He made quite the first impression on Saturday with 13 points (6-of-7 FGs), five rebounds, one steal and three blocks in just 14 minutes. The low minutes were by design, and while Scott Brooks is known for revolving-door rotations at center, I think Gafford will force his hand and win the starting job as soon as next game. 

"We’re excited about Daniel,” Brooks said. “I love his ability to finish around the rim. He’s a big-time lob threat.” Bradley Beal said he was also hyped to play with a lob threat for the first time in years, and we saw the chemistry early on. After the game, Brooks piled on even more praise, saying he had a “fantastic” outing and that he’s “definitely a keeper.” Gafford has a head-turning per-36 line of 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 1.0 steals and 3.2 blocks, so you need to be adding as soon as possible.

Jae’Sean Tate (33%)- Kevin Porter Jr. is all the rage in Houston and rightfully so, but Tate is no joke and continues to put up numbers. In the last two weeks he’s been a top-65 player with 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 dimes, 1.6 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 triples. Victor Oladipo is a goner and John Wall’s shutdown is imminent, so he has another gear to hit as well.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (32%)- He was a trade deadline loser because the Pelicans didn’t move Lonzo Ball or Eric Bledsoe, but at least J.J. Redick is gone. NAW has still been feasting with Lonzo out of the lineup, putting up 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 4.0 triples in his last four games, top-55 numbers in 9-cat. Sure his upside will take a hit when Lonzo gets back, but I’m thinking he can stay relevant if the Pelicans simply replace him for the ineffective Eric Bledsoe in the starting five.

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Jaden McDaniels (2%)- The position battle between McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt is no longer a thing. The rookie has played 34.5 minutes in his last two games, producing 14.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 2.0 triples in that span. What you’re not going to get from him is consistent offensive production, but his ability to change the game on the defensive end will translate to fantasy in one of the NBA’s leading block rates among forwards. 

His defense has been all the rage, as he held Luka Doncic to 0-of-7 shooting just a few nights after Luka torched Paul George for 42 points. “He's got special defensive talents,” coach Chris Finch said. Orlando tried to pry Jaden away from the Wolves in exchange for Aaron Gordon at the deadline, but it was a no-brainer for the team to hang up. 

"He's fearless," Finch said. "He's young, but he's fearless. He'll take on any challenge defensively. Not afraid to take a right shot, a big shot and I thought he was really impactful for us both ends of the floor." I can’t say for sure if he’ll break out this year or next, but what I can say with confidence is that McDaniels will one day be a fantasy superstar in the mold of Jonathan Isaac.

Chuma Okeke (35%)- He was whisper quiet up until last week, so it’s amazing what can happen when you move your three top producers in Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Okeke has broken out over his last two, putting up 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 4.0 triples. His usage rate has shot up 6% in that span, and it’s only going to continue rising with the Magic not exactly stocked with talent. Sorry, James Ennis

Okeke was a stat stuffer in the NCAA with 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.4 triples, and it’s important to remember that he sat out his entire rookie season and is slowly working his way back to 100%. I’m also keeping a very close eye on rookie RJ Hampton for pure mystery box upside and opportunity, though we can take a wait-and-see approach here instead of adding immediately.

Aleksej Pokusevski (18%)- He dunked against fantasy superstar Robert Williams on Saturday, so go ahead and throw him in the Hall of Fame. Poku’s fantasy arrow is pointing straight up these days, as his workload has never been safer with Al Horford taking an early vacation and with SGA out indefinitely. That means Poku will get a chance to handle the ball more, and it’s worth noting he averages 3.4 dimes per 36 with SGA off the court compared to 1.7 with him on. He’s putting up 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 dimes, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 triples over his last three games, and he’s just getting warmed. He’s a future superstar and I don’t say that lightly.

Trevor Ariza (4%)- I was hesitant to add Ariza because I assumed the Heat were going to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, but now he definitely has my attention. We haven’t seen Nemanja Bjelica debut yet and yes he’s an obstacle, but I would bet on Ariza starting next to Bam Adebayo for the rest of the season. He had a gem of a line with 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and two triples in 31 minutes vs. Charlotte, and his fantasy resume from past years speaks for itself. If he puts up another good line vs. the Knicks, I’m picking him up.

Gorgui Dieng (2%)- I started stashing Dieng last week when news came out about a possible buyout, and while I was hoping he would end up in Charlotte or Dallas, I’ll settle for the Spurs. I’m not expecting him to threaten Jakob Poeltl’s role, though I do see this becoming a 28/20 minutes split with Dieng getting the 20. If you’ve been playing fantasy basketball for a while, you probably already know all about this guy, as he has three top-55 fantasy seasons on his resume. That was back when he was getting minutes in the higher 20s though, so we do have to temper expectations a bit. Dieng has a career per-24 minute line of 8.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 triples (since he started taking 3s regularly), and while he won’t be a fantasy league winner, there’s top-100 upside here when you factor in his elite efficiency.