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Waiver Wired

Wired: Top NBA Fantasy Pickups

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to the first Waiver Wired column of the new season. I’ll take a look at five players at each position who deserve a look in all leagues. They have to be less than 60 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues to qualify. Here’s what I came up with.


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Point Guards


Ish Smith 49 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues – Reggie Jackson is still at least three or four weeks from returning from his knee and thumb injuries so the starting gig in Detroit is Smith’s for the time being. He’s averaging 11 points, 1.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.0 steals and is shooting 48 percent through two games. He may not hold value all season, but he’s a great short-term option if you need a starting PG.


J.J. Barea 17% owned – Barea turned heads in his season opener when he went off for 22 points, six assists and two 3-pointers. The fluke alert was on, but somewhat negated when he had 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes in Game 2 against the Rockets on Friday. The Mavs have a stable of point guards, most of which are pretty old, while Barea is getting minutes at both backcourt spots. I have no idea how long he can stay this hot, but this could finally be the year JJB breaks out.


Sergio Rodriguez 35% owned – Rodriguez is the default starting PG in Philly and is averaging 13 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.5 steals and a 3-pointer per game. He’s getting over 30 minutes a night and it’s unknown if or when Jerryd Bayless will ever return from his wrist injury. And by the time Bayless is ready to go, Rodriguez may own the job outright. Rodriguez doesn’t turn the ball over much, either, which is just an added bonus.


Ty Lawson 33% owned – Lawson has a very short shelf life, as Darren Collison only has five games left to serve for his suspension. But that still means that Lawson should be a valuable asset for those five games. They start at four-game road trip on Monday visiting Atlanta, Orlando, Milwaukee and Toronto before playing the Pelicans at home a week from Tuesday. Those are all decent matchups and Lawson is quietly averaging 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 3-pointers on 35 percent shooting through three games. 


Terry Rozier 5% owned – Rozier has quickly become a Rotoworld favorite, but he might still be a few weeks away before he’s ready for standard-league work. He’s been all over the board thus far but the minutes are there, his teammates and coach have confidence in him, and he’s only going to get better with time. Rozier is averaging 6.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 3-pointers in 24 minutes through three games. Consider him a deep-league special.


Bonus: Jrue Holiday – If Holiday is unowned in your league I think he’s worth picking up. His wife had successful surgery and while it’s still possible he could miss the entire season, it’s also possible that we could get news any day now that he’s going to come back to the team and start playing.


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Shooting Guards


Bojan Bogdanovic 47% owned – Bogdanovic is averaging 17 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 3-pointers through three games. He doesn’t assist, steal or block, but is hitting 50 percent of his shots and playing 28 minutes a game. There’s really no reason that he’s owned in less than half the Yahoo! leagues out there.


Sean Kilpatrick 11% owned – Kilpatrick is averaging 15.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting in just 24 minutes per game. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been a bit of a disappointment thus far, but Kilpatrick has looked pretty strong, and may keep it going all year.


Allen Crabbe 40% owned – Crabbe’s getting 30 minutes a night and is averaging 13.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.3 steals and 1.7 3-pointers on 48 percent shooting through three games. He’s a big part of the Blazers’ rotation and could have a breakout season. Additionally, he qualifies at point guard in Yahoo! leagues, which is an added bonus.


Jonathon Simmons 35% owned – Simmons is an interesting player right now. He plays for the Spurs, so his minutes will be a crapshoot from night to night under Gregg Popovich. Danny Green is out for a couple more weeks and Manu Ginobili is going to be “day-to-day, old” for most of the season. Simmons has a lot of tools and is averaging 12 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers on 40 percent shooting in 24 minutes through three games. I picked him up in a bunch of leagues after his 20 points and three 3-pointers in the opener and I plan on sticking it out for at least a couple weeks to see how he does. In short, I’m expecting some big games and some real duds, and he could take a hit when Green returns. And speaking of Green, he’s not a bad guy to think about picking up if he was dropped in your league, as he should only be out for about 10 more days or so with his thigh injury.


Tim Hardaway Jr. 13% owned – Hardaway blew up in the fourth quarter of the opener when he scored 12 points and finished the game with 21 points and three 3-pointers. He was quiet on Saturday against Philly when he played just 19 minutes and hit 3-of-11 shots for seven points, but he does look more confident this season and could provide a spark off the Hawks’ bench over the course of the entire season. He’s not a must-own player, but he at least deserves a look in most leagues.


Small Forwards


T.J. Warren 52% owned – I’ll be the first to admit I slept on Warren this year, but the starting small forward job is his to lose and he went off for 30 points, nine boards, three steals and a 3-pointer on 13-of-18 shooting in Friday’s loss to the Thunder. He played 46 minutes in that one, so the numbers might be a little skewed in his favor, but he also had 14 points and five boards in 30 minutes in the opener. He’s averaging 22 points, 7.0 boards, 2.5 steals and 0.5 3-pointers on 56 percent shooting through two games and there’s no reason he should be available in standard leagues.


Joe Johnson 52% owned – Joe was a bit of an afterthought coming into the season but he’s getting 31 minutes a game, mostly because of Gordon Hayward’s finger injury that will likely keep him out until late November. JJ is averaging 20 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 2.0 3-pointers and should be a safe play until Hayward returns.


Moe Harkless 12% owned – Harkless failed to score in the opener in 22 minutes, blew up for 23 points and eight boards on Thursday and then fizzled with seven points before fouling out on Saturday. He’s averaging 29 minutes, 10 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.0 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting thus far. He’s going to be a roller coaster ride, so be prepared to take the bad games along with the good ones if you pick him up.


James Ennis 9% owned – Ennis is getting starts with Chandler Parsons out with a knee injury and should get another solid week of work in before Parsons is back. But Parsons has had trouble staying healthy over the last two years, so Ennis’ workload could continue to be strong throughout the season. He’s averaging 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 67 percent shooting after two games. The shooting percentage will com down, but he looks like a good short-term add, and could continue to get solid minutes if the Grizzlies coddle Parsons and his fragile knees.


Jaylen Brown 10% owned – Brown is getting just 18 minutes a game but has looked good when on the court. He’s only averaging 8.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.7 blocks on 59 percent shooting through three games. Like teammate Terry Rozier in Boston, Brown’s a guy who could start making a fantasy difference a month or so from now.


Power Forwards


Dario Saric 60% owned – Saric’s shot has been broken thus far, hitting just 4-of-21 of them in his two games. That could mean he starts showing up on waiver wires and there’s just no way he continues to shoot it that poorly. He’s also just 1-of-7 from downtown and is averaging a paltry 5.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He’ll get hot sooner or later and is a guy I still think should be owned in all leagues.


Taj Gibson 58% owned – I’m not a huge Gibson fan, but it’s hard to argue with what he’s doing right now. He’s starting at PF for the Bulls and is averaging 15 points, 9.0 rebounds and 0.5 steals through two games. He hasn’t blocked a shot yet, and isn’t a particularly great shot blocker, but he’s getting 26.5 minutes a game right now and should not be available in 40 percent of the leagues out there.


JaMychal Green 31% owned – JaM is getting 29.5 minutes a game and is averaging 11 points, 7.5 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer per game through two of them. He’s the starting PF for Memphis, as Zach Randolph has been moved to the bench, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t start all season long. Go get him.


Trevor Booker 21% owned – Booker is starting at PF for the Nets and has double-doubled in two consecutive games after compiling just four of them all of last season. He’s averaging 10.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and has attempted five 3-pointers this season, failing to connect on any of them. As long as he’s starting for the Nets, he should be owned in fantasy leagues.


Justin Hamilton 20% owned – Hamilton started for Brook Lopez on Saturday and was already getting solid minutes off the bench prior to that. Bro-Lo is going to be micromanaged all season long and Hamilton looks to have carved out a solid role for the Nets. He’s averaging 11 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on 44 percent shooting in three games. He also qualifies at both PF and C in Yahoo!, which is a nice bonus.




Timofey Mozgov 39% owned – Mozzy is averaging 10 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.0 blocks on 50 percent shooting in two games. He’s getting about 23 minutes a night and is locked in as the starting center for the Lakers. There’s plenty not to love about Mozgov, but he should be a serviceable fantasy center as long as he’s starting for the Lakers.


Roy Hibbert 34% owned – Hibbert went off in Game 1 with 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, then promptly went down with a knee injury and hasn’t played since. Hibbert is day-to-day with the injury so there’s some risk involved, but the promise he showed in Game 1 may make him worth it if you’re desperate for a center.


Tyson Chandler 17% owned – Chandler’s no longer a dominant big man, but he is rebounding the ball well for the Suns. He’s averaging 30.5 minutes, 6.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks on 75 percent shooting thus far. Marquese Chriss is another Sun worth a look, but if you need a starting center, Chandler should at least be serviceable.


Dewayne Dedmon 11% owned – Pau Gasol is a mess right now and will be all season, as Gregg Popovich is babying his minutes in hopes of having him fully healthy and fresh for the playoffs. In steps Dedmon, who’s getting 19 minutes a game and averaging 6.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 0.7 steals and a whopping 2.7 blocks through three games. His big game came against the Kings when he had 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Gasol is averaging just 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 20 minutes a game.


Mike Muscala 4% owned – Muscala is enjoying his backup role with the Hawks this season and can play both PF and C, qualifying for both in Yahoo! leagues. He’s quietly averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.5 blocks and 0.5 3-pointers on 71 percent shooting. He’s also getting 24 minutes a game and my guess is he’s going to be owned in a lot more leagues a week from now.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.