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.
Will Barton, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets (45.6% owned)
There’s a “growing belief” that the Denver Nuggets are “prepared to move” Danilo Gallinari prior to the NBA’s Feb. 23 trade deadline, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, pushing Will Barton into must-own flier territory. During the 18 games he’s started this season, Barton has erupted for 16.2 points on 46.0 percent shooting, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 triples in 31.9 minutes, whereas he’s averaging only 11.3 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 4.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 treys in 25.8 minutes off the bench. If Denver trades either Gallinari or Wilson Chandler — the latter also wants to be moved, according to USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick, due to frustration with his inconsistent role — Barton could be a primary beneficiary.
Jusuf Nurkic, C, Portland Trail Blazers (33.7% owned)
Fantasy basketball owners who’ve been clinging to Jusuf Nurkic in the hopes of a trade received a lifeline Sunday, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Denver Nuggets were sending Nurkic and Memphis’ top-five protected 2017 first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. While the trade is a blow to Plumlee’s fantasy value — potentially putting him in droppable territory — it’s an undeniable boon to Nurkic, who now won’t be buried on the bench behind Nikola Jokic. Owners in need of rebounds or blocks should take a flier on Nurkic in case he does take off in Portland, although it’s hardly a sure thing.
Brandon Ingram, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers (33.6% owned)
After making an appearance as a “riser” in Friday’s risers and fallers column, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram promptly proceeded to lay an egg against the Milwaukee Bucks, finishing with only two points on 1-of-3 shooting and two rebounds in 20 minutes. While Ingram will continue battling typical rookie growing pains moving forward — i.e., this isn’t the last dud he’ll post this season — his ascension to the starting lineup makes him a tantalizing pickup regardless. The Lakers owe their first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside of the top three, so they have legitimate reason to play Ingram and their other core young players heavy minutes as a stealth tanking maneuver.
Matt Barnes, SF/PF, Sacramento Kings (21.6% owned)
In the wake of Rudy Gay’s season-ending Achilles tear in mid-January, Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger had to rejigger his rotation to find an adequate replacement. It took a few games, but Matt Barnes has taken off and running with the opportunity in recent weeks, going off for 11.0 points on 46.4 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 triples in 30.8 minutes across his past eight games. If the Kings don’t make any major moves to bolster their wing rotation by the NBA’s Feb. 23 trade deadline, Barnes could have sneaky top-100 rest-of-season upside, as he posted seventh-round value over this eight-game stretch.
Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Charlotte Hornets (16.8% owned)
After missing seven games with a quadriceps strain, Cody Zeller returned Thursday against the Houston Rockets, only to aggravate the injury in the second half. With new addition Miles Plumlee still getting up to speed in head coach Steve Clifford’s system, second-year big man Frank Kaminsky has been the primary beneficiary in Zeller’s absence, averaging 14.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.7 triples and 1.1 steals in 27.4 minutes across his last seven games. His 39.6 shooting percentage over that span leaves much to be desired, but until Zeller puts this quad injury in the rear-view mirror, owners in need of a short-term boost should give Kaminsky a look.
Seth Curry, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks (48.5% owned)
Jamal Crawford, SG, Los Angeles Clippers (42.6% owned)
Marvin Williams, SF/PF, Charlotte Hornets (41.8% owned)
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Atlanta Hawks (37.1% owned)
Willy Hernangomez, C, New York Knicks (26.7% owned)
Deeper-league adds (owned in fewer than 20% of leagues)
Danny Green, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs (14.1% owned)
Dewayne Dedmon, C, San Antonio Spurs (13.5% owned)
Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (11.7% owned)
Kyle O’Quinn, PF/C, New York Knicks (10.7% owned)
Andre Roberson, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (10.3% owned)
All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Monday, Feb. 13. All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position info via FantasyPros.