Every Monday — with a nod to fantasy basketball owners in weekly leagues — we’ll present five players owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues who merit a look on the waiver wire if your team is in need of some fresh blood. Some of these players could remain fantasy-relevant all season, while others are short-term fixes who figure to be free-agent fodder once more in a few weeks’ time.
For analysis of the DeMarcus Cousins-to-New Orleans trade — including why Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield are two of the week’s biggest must-adds — click here.
Dario Saric, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers (44.2% owned)
With Ersan Ilyasova having fallen into a cold spell as of late, Philadelphia 76ers big man Dario Saric is picking up the slack, pouring in 16.1 points on 46.3 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 triples in just 28.1 minutes across his last 10 games. Though his relative lack of defensive counting stats limited his fantasy impact (1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks), he’s still sitting just outside the top 100 over that span, ahead of early-round picks such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Kemba Walker and Al Horford. With the rest-of-season availability of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid up in the air, the Homie Dario could have mammoth upside moving forward, making him a must-own in leagues of all sizes.
Deron Williams, PG, Dallas Mavericks (39.6% owned)
Though Deron Williams appeared as a fantasy “faller” a week-and-a-half ago, he’s still worth owning until he goes down with his next injury. After two lackluster outings upon his return from a sprained left big toe—the latter of which was cut short due to him being ejected in the second quarter—D-Will went off for 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting, six assists, two rebounds, two triples and a steal in 30 minutes against the Detroit Pistons in Dallas’ final game before the All-Star break. Head coach Rick Carlisle never entertained the possibility of benching Williams in favor of Yogi Ferrell, per ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, so the veteran should maintain the most fantasy value of any Mavericks point guard for as long as he stays healthy.
Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Boston Celtics (25.3% owned)
After missing one game in the beginning of February with a left shoulder strain, Boston Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk has been a monster, pouring in 13.6 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 triples in just 23.8 minutes across his last eight games. Those averages have Olynyk just outside the top 75 on a per-game basis over that span, which would make him a must-add if he’s able to sustain that production. Avery Bradley could relegate Olynyk back to being a deeper-league option once he returns, but owners with dead weight at the end of their bench could do far worse than the Gonzaga product.
Channing Frye, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers (19.0% owned)
With Kevin Love likely out through March, Channing Frye suddenly holds fantasy appeal to those outside of deeper leagues. In Cleveland’s first game sans Love, Frye erupted for 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, four triples, two blocks and an assist, but he turned in a clunker the following night against Indiana, finishing with four points on 1-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds and two assists. Derrick Williams may cut into Frye’s minutes as he becomes more familiar with the Cavaliers’ system, but the veteran’s long-range shooting ability should help him lock down the starting spot until Love’s return, making him well worth a pickup.
Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Orlando Magic (10.5% owned)
We haven’t yet seen how Terrence Ross will fare with the Orlando Magic, as both he and Serge Ibaka were held out of their new teams’ respective contests Wednesday. However, Ross figures to have far more of an opportunity to carve out a consistent fantasy-relevant role in Orlando than he did in Toronto, as the Magic could badly use a microwave scorer and three-point shooter off the bench with Jodie Meeks sidelined. Ross’ rest-of-season outlook depends on what other moves Orlando makes (if any) by the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday, but it’s worth taking a flier on him in case he takes off in his new role. That said, Cauley-Stein and Hield are each higher-upside pickups.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Atlanta Hawks (43.2% owned)
Jusuf Nurkic, PF/C, Portland Trail Blazers (42.5% owned)
T.J. McConnell, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (36.3% owned)
Gary Harris, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets (34.1% owned)
Frank Kaminsky III, PF/C, Charlotte Hornets (24.5% owned)
Deeper-league adds (owned in fewer than 20% of leagues)
Ish Smith, PG, Detroit Pistons (16.4% owned)
Michael Beasley, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks (7.7% owned)
Larry Nance Jr., PF, Los Angeles Lakers (7.3% owned)
Norman Powell, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors (3.0% owned)
Derrick Williams, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (1.9% owned)
All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Monday, Feb. 20. All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position info via FantasyPros.