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.
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers (42.7% owned)
In recent days, the big-man pendulum has finally swung toward Nerlens Noel and away from Jahlil Okafor in Philadelphia. While Okafor has picked up back-to-back DNP-CDs, Noel put up 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals in 25 minutes during the Sixers’ loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday, and he followed that up with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes during Sunday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. While Noel’s rest-of-season outlook will remain cloudy unless (until?) the Sixers resolve their frontcourt logjam via a trade, his production in recent games should encourage Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown to keep him in the rotation moving forward, if nothing else.
Buddy Hield, SG, New Orleans Pelicans (32.6% owned)
It took Buddy Hield about a month-and-a-half to hit his groove in the NBA, but he’s been cooking since mid-December. Starting with a 21-point outing against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 15, Hield has gone off for 12.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 treys and 1.7 assists in just 25.2 minutes across his past 12 games. The odds of him continuing to shoot 52.5 percent from three-point range are infinitesimal, but as he grows more comfortable in New Orleans’ starting lineup, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry may give him more of a green light from deep, helping offset any expected regression to the shooting mean.
Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs (29.3% owned)
After making an appearance in Friday’s risers and fallers column, Tony Parker naturally had one of his worst outings of the season Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets, finishing with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. In his previous six games, however, he had 18.2 points on 58.3 percent shooting, 6.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 0.8 triples in 26.1 minutes, so one can only hope his Charlotte disaster was a one-game anomaly. If nothing else, owners should pick Parker up in case he does bounce back strong over his next few outings, but be ready to cut him loose if his recent hot play winds up being a mirage.
Kyle Korver, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (25.7% owned)
Kyle Korver has yet to make his debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers after Atlanta traded him late last week, but that could come as early as Tuesday, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Though he’s going to come off the bench at first, per Lloyd, he should find himself feasting on far more open shots thanks to the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving feeding him. Korver may not provide fantasy owners much more than volume scoring and three-point shooting, but for those in need of a long-range specialist, he’s worth a speculative pickup, particularly with J.R. Smith out for a majority of the regular season.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Atlanta Hawks (9.2% owned)
With Korver now in Cleveland, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s ownership is poised to soar over the coming days. In his past four outings, THJ has gone off for 19.3 points on 59.6 percent shooting, an eye-popping 4.3 triples, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in just 27.1 minutes per game. There is zero chance he continues to shoot nearly 60 percent overall and 65-plus percent from three-point range, but his expected rise in playing time with Korver gone should help give him standard-league value even once his shooting percentages regress to the mean.
Joakim Noah, PF/C, New York Knicks (41.3% owned)
Malcolm Brogdon, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks (37.9% owned)
James Johnson, SF/PF, Miami Heat (35.2% owned)
Montrezl Harrell, PF, Houston Rockets (22.9% owned)
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Chicago Bulls (21.2% owned)
Deeper-league adds (owned in fewer than 20% of leagues)
J.J. Barea, PG, Dallas Mavericks (15.6% owned)
Doug McDermott, SF, Chicago Bulls (10.1% owned)
Terrence Ross, SG, Toronto Raptors (7.7% owned)
Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans (7.1% owned)
Matt Barnes, SF/PF, Sacramento Kings (6.2% owned)
All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Monday, Jan. 9. All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position info via FantasyPros.