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Fantasy basketball waiver wire watch: Week 21

Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ulis (8) plays against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, March 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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.  

Tyler Ulis, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns (44.5% owned)

Tyler Ulis appeared in Friday’s risers and fallers column, but it’s worth underscoring just how much of a must-own he’s become in the wake of the Phoenix Suns shutting Eric Bledsoe down for the year. After his first-ever career double-double on Wednesday, Ulis churned out 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting, eight assists, four rebounds and a steal against the Orlando Magic on Friday, and he followed that up with 17 points on 7-of-24 shooting, 11 assists, three rebounds and three steals in 43 minutes against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. With Devin Booker also nursing an ankle injury, Ulis figures to be in line for 35-plus minutes per game from now through the end of the season, making him the top pickup of the week if you can survive his high-volume, low-efficiency shooting.

Nikola Mirotic, PF/C, Chicago Bulls (18.7% owned)

Just when you thought it was safe to drop Nikola Mirotic, he goes off for 17.7 points on 40.5 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 triples, 1.7 assists and 1.7 blocks in 29.5 minutes over a three-game span. That hot stretch encouraged Chicago Bulls head coach to reinsert Mirotic into the starting lineup against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, where the 26-year-old promptly crapped the bed with only five points on 2-of-7 shooting and four rebounds in 17 minutes. Hoiberg hasn’t hesitated to ride the hot hand between Mirotic and Bobby Portis during any given game, which could make him frustrating to own, but those in need of three-pointers could ride him and hope he stays hot. 

Ivica Zubac, C, Los Angeles Lakers (18.3% owned)

On March 10, new Los Angeles Lakers team president Magic Johnson said he wanted to see rookie big man Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup, per Serena Winters of Lakers Nation. Two days later, Zubac finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, six rebounds and four blocks in 19 minutes during a start against the Philadelphia 76ers, and then erupted for a career-high 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting, 11 rebounds, an assist and a block the following night against Denver. The 19-year-old followed up his career night with a dud against Houston and played only 19 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, so inconsistency may plague him over these final few weeks, but he has top-100 upside moving forward. 

Jamal Murray, SG, Denver Nuggets (13.7% owned)

Save for a scorching four-game stretch in late November, Jamal Murray was far too inconsistent prior to the All-Star break to be on the fantasy radar for owners in standard 10-team leagues. Over his past 12 outings, though, Murray has erupted for 12.5 points on 43.0 percent shooting, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 triples and 1.2 steals in just 22.7 minutes, posting 12th-round value over that span. With second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay mostly glued to the bench over the past few weeks, Murray should continue returning mid- to late-round value moving forward, particularly if you’re punting the field goal percentage category.

Jordan Crawford, SG, New Orleans Pelicans (12.6% owned)

Only hours after signing a 10-day deal with the New Orleans Pelicans on March 6, Jordan Crawford went off for 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, three triples, three assists, two steals and a rebound in 20 minutes. Over the following six games, Crawford stayed scorching hot, chipping in 13.5 points on 50.8 percent shooting, 2.7 assists, 2.7 treys and 2.5 rebounds in just 22.8 minutes, which helped him return ninth-round value since he signed his original 10-day deal. It’s difficult to imagine Crawford continuing to shoot this efficiently, but he’s been a better value on a per-game basis than the likes of Eric Gordon, Lou Williams and Wes Matthews over the past two weeks.

Previously mentioned

Brandon Ingram, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers (39.0% owned)

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Sacramento Kings (37.1% owned)

Richaun Holmes, PF, Philadelphia 76ers (33.6% owned)

Malcolm Brogdon, PG/SG, Milwwaukee Bucks (32.0% owned)

Marquese Chriss, PF/C, Phoenix Suns (21.8% owned)

Deeper-league adds (owned in fewer than 20% of leagues)

J.R. Smith, SG/SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (13.8% owned)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF/PF, Brooklyn Nets (13.1% owned)

Skal Labissiere, PF, Sacramento Kings (12.4% owned)

Joe Ingles, SG/SF/PF, Utah Jazz (7.3% owned)

Denzel Valentine, SG, Chicago Bulls (6.2% owned)

All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Monday, March 20. All ownership percentages via ESPN.comAll average draft position info via FantasyPros.

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