The key to winning your fantasy basketball league is not how well you draft, but the players you add off waivers. This is extremely important because securing hidden talent could replace those late-round selections that aren’t having the best season. As always, both opportunity and performance are taken into consideration for these players. Learn to think like a NERD!
Cameron Payne, PG, Phoenix Suns
When Chris Paul was ruled to be out 6-8 weeks with a fractured thumb, Cameron Payne was expected to be the new starting point guard for the time being. He’s done a great job keeping the Suns afloat as a top contender in the Western Conference. In his last seven games, Payne has averaged 15 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He’s also only averaged 2.4 turnovers, giving him over a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. He’s expected to hold the job until the end of the regular season, giving him great value for fantasy playoffs.
Malik Monk, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Once a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Malik Monk has found some new light with the Los Angeles Lakers despite massive struggles as a team. He continues to be a productive scorer and could see himself a solid paycheck over the summer. In his last 10 games, Monk has averaged 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He’s also shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc in those same games. He’s the hot hand to ride with and a great option for the fantasy playoffs.
Josh Hart, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers
Josh Hart has had his wonders since being traded to the Blazers for CJ McCullom. Not only has he totaled 75 points over his last two games. But Hart has averaged 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and 1.4 steals per game in his nine games with the team. His shooting percentages are decent for his volume, maintaining around 47 percent from the field on 13 attempts. He’s already shaping up to be a quality cornerpiece for the rebuilding Blazers. He also has a high upside for the fantasy playoffs as the number one scoring option.
Darius Bazley, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have a plethora of young talent to mix through and watch who may become the next star to partner with Shai Gilgous-Alexander. While far from a star, Darius Bazley has been able to put on productive stretches on games for the team. In his last 10 games, he’s averaged 10 points, six rebounds, and a steal and a block per game. He could still use some improvement in his three-point shooting, as he’s already hitting around 25 percent from beyond the arc. But he’s still a solid option with a ton of opportunity on a rebuilding team.
Trendon Watford, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
With a lot of players on the Blazers dealing with injuries, Trendon Watford has been bumped up in the rotation and has responded well with his production. In his last 10 games, Watford has averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc. His role going forward is unclear once players start coming back. But it is a sign that the Blazers have another player with upside in the future.
Dorian Finney-Smith, SF/PF, Dallas Mavericks
Once going undrafted, Dorian Finney-Smith has worked his way towards earning a four-year extension worth $52 million. His elite perimeter defense and catch-and-shoot threes have been key for the Mavericks this year. He’s currently on one of the better production runs this season. In his last 10 games, Finney-Smith has averaged 15 points, five rebounds, and a steal per game. He’s also done a phenomenal job shooting around 51 percent from beyond the arc. He’s a reliable option for the remainder of the season.
Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors
The seventh overall pick in the 2021 Draft has done a good job creating playing opportunities for himself despite playing on a team with a ton of depth. Johnathan Kuminga has continued to raise his upside and has already solidified himself as a rotation player for the remainder of the season. In his last 10 games, Kuminga has averaged 15 points and five rebounds per game. He’s also done well shooting above 50 percent from the field. Kuminga has also shown solid improvement in three-point shooting, averaging 39 percent in the same 10 games.
Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers
After showing strong flashes with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets, Isaiah Hartenstein is now with the Clippers as a consistent and reliable big man off the bench for the crew. Over his last 10 games, Hartenstein has averaged nine points, five rebounds, three assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s also been efficient, shooting over 70 percent from the field in those same games. He’s not the most appealing player off waivers, but he is one of the more dependable players.